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Hannah Levin’s Top 11 Musical Moments of 2015

December 9, 2015
Photo by Charlie Chipman.
Photo by Charlie Chipman.

Because I was a music journalist for ten-plus years before I became a radio DJ, it’s been part of my job for a long time to make year-end top ten lists. Editors and publishers love them, and at the end of the day, so do a lot of music fans. However, these are always difficult for all the obvious reasons: some years are ripe with too many viable candidates, others are woefully understocked (much rarer circumstances, thankfully), and at the end of the day, I’m not someone that likes to quantify art in hierarchical terms.

Luckily, there’s no reason myself or any of the wonderful KXCI programmers need to be locked into formulaic lists. I’m encouraging our staff and DJs to craft lists that are uniquely reflective of their personal experience of music in 2015. Soon you will be able to view Underwriting Director Leah Rhey’s top ten Live Covers Songs, Brigitte Thum’s ten Favorite Songs About Trouble, and naturally, Membership Director Michelle Boulet-Stephenson’ top ten Rollerskating Backwards Songs.

I’ve chosen to focus on a mix of experiences–live shows by both local and touring acts, my reactions to new releases, and the special moments where one is reminded how transformative and powerful music can be. Also, since I firmly believe in taking things to eleven whenever it’s warranted, I decided not to stop at ten. These are in no particular order; 2015 was  pretty fantastic year and there’s no way I can say any one moment was better than the other.

–Hannah Levin, Director of Content and Host of The Home Stretch

1) Two pivotal, unforgettable moments with the work of Chelsea Wolfe: First, listening to her wildly unsettling and gorgeous new album, The Abyss (Sargent House Records) the first time through in the middle of a monsoon. Secondly, getting irretrievably fixated on “House of Metal,” a song from her previous album, Pain is Beauty. Hypnotic seems too light a word.

 2) Seeing wildly disparate acts Run the Jewels at the Rialto AND Dale Watson at Congress on the same night, both of them absolutely killing it. Relatedly, this is a phenomenal video.
3) My latent discovery of Benjamin Clementine’s Nina Simone-channeling performance on At Least For Now (Capitol Records) and the look on peoples’ faces whenever I showed them this video for the first time.

 4) Introducing Howe Gelb and Jeremy Cashman so they could collaborate for Rainer Fest. I have no idea how those two didn’t know each other, but anytime I can facilitate talented people meeting each other, everyone wins.

Rainer Fest photo courtesy of David Sherman and Exploded View Gallery.
Rainer Fest photo courtesy of David Sherman and Exploded View Gallery.
5) The warm and wonderful new tradition of Wooden Tooth DJ nights on Thursdays on Che’s back patio (except when Gabe Sullivan gets really out of hand with the smoke machine).
6) Watching Brittany Katter of Katterwaul step into her potential as an artist with such a powerful blossom during her record release party at Congress.


Photo of Brittany Katter by Jimi Giannatti.


7) Carlos Arzate and Kelly Carpenter singing around the bonfire at KXCI board member Jamie Manser’s birthday party.

8) The beautifully raucous L7 reunion show at the Fonda Theater in Los Angeles, quite possibly the most logically and beautifully laid out venue I’ve ever seen.

Photo of The Melvins by Jimi Giannatti.


Mudhoney’s Steve Turner (photo by Jimi).

9) The joy of with welcoming visiting artists associated with my former Seattle home to Tucson and KXCI, including Mudhoney, The Melvins, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, Lord Dying, Star Anna, YOB, and almossubt the entire Sub Pop family, who chose Tucson and Bisbee as the locales for their staff retreat this year.

10) Getting utterly obsessed with 1989–both versions.

11) Being positively floored by Lando Chill’s electrifying performance at La Cocina’s first hip-hop showcase and cultivating serious optimism about the future of Tucson’s growing hip-hop scene.


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