My Favorite Albums And Songs Of 2015 (So Far)

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This isn’t so much a list of the few albums and songs that I loved more than anything else in 2015 as it is a list of the music that I’ve listened to the most and have the strongest associations to this year. When I think of 2015, I think of these albums and songs.

Also, to say that the following albums and songs are “the best” is dumb, so I’m going to say that these are my favorites of 2015 so far aka some music from 2015 that you should check out if you haven’t already.

Here are my 10 favorite albums, in alphabetical order:

Alabama Shakes – ‘Sound & Color’

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Belle & Sebastian – “Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance’

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Courtney Barnett – ‘Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit’

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Jamie xx – ‘In Colour’

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Jeff Rosenstock – ‘We Cool?’

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Juan Wauters – “Who Me?”

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Kendrick Lamar – ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’

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Natalie Prass – ‘Natalie Prass’

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Tobias Jesso Jr. – ‘Goon’

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Will Butler – ‘Policy’

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Honorable Mentions: Algiers (‘Algiers’), Blur (‘The Magic Whip’), Father John Misty (‘I Love You, Honeybear’), Hop Along (‘Painted Shut’), Josh Rouse (‘The Embers Of Time’), and State Champion (‘Fantasy Error’).

And here are my 20 favorite songs, in alphabetical order. To make things more interesting, I didn’t include any songs that came from any of my favorite albums (because most of those songs would be on this list).

Beach Slang – “Too Late to Die Young”


 

Best Coast – “Feeling Ok”


 

Carly Rae Jepsen – “I Really Like You”


 

Chromatics – “I Can Never Be Myself When You’re Around”


 

Colleen Green – “TV”


 

Craig Finn – “Newmyer’s Roof”


 

Dawes – “Don’t Send Me Away”


 

Desaparecidos – “MariKKKopa”


 

Diet Cig – “Scene Sick”


 

Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment – “Sunday Candy”


 

Downtown Boys – “Dancing In The Dark”


 

Hop Along – tie between “The Knock” and “Happy to See Me”


 

Hot Chip – “Huarache Lights”


 

Kacey Musgraves – “Dime Store Cowgirl”


 

Leon Bridges – “Smooth Sailin'”


 

Panda Bear – “Mr. Noah”

(The single came out last October, but I heard it for the first time when I listened to this year’s ‘Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper’, so I’m including it on this list.)


 

Sam Outlaw – “Jesus Take the Wheel (And Drive Me to a Bar)”


 

Sufjan Stevens – “Death with Dignity”


 

Titus Andronicus – “Dimed Out”


 

Tobias Jesso Jr. – “True Love”

(note: this song technically wasn’t on ‘Goon’, so I don’t feel bad about including TJJ on here)


 

And in case you missed it, here’s a Spotify playlist that I update throughout the year of all the songs that I like this year.

Headphone Nation’s 100 Favorite Songs Of The Decade (So Far): 2010-2014

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Am I an idiot for thinking that I can only pick 100 songs to share with y’all and not feel guilty about all the other music that I’m leaving out? Is this list completely bias? Am I brain-dead from trying to write about why I love every single song on this list?

The answer is yes.

Reminder: this is a list of MY FAVORITE songs of the decade, not THE GREATEST songs of the decade. There is a key difference. Same rules apply to this list as they did for my favorite albums of the decade so far.

Also make sure to check out the spotify playlist with all these songs at the end of this list.

Alright, let’s begin.

One Sentence Reviews Of Headphone Nation’s 40 Favorite Albums Of The Decade (So Far): 2010 – 2014

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Congratulations – you made it halfway through the decade. How does it feel? Did you come up with a good nickname for this decade yet? Is it as catchy as “The Noughties”? What were the highlights?

It’s easy to get caught up looking back at a particular year (or years) and try to pick out the few highlights that defined the year out of all the countless events. For any pop culture publication, it’s a cheap, bias way to get more hits, and it usually doesn’t do the year justice to what it was actually like.

But hey, we all love to make these lists, and we all love to read these lists.

One of the ways to define a decade is by the most popular (i.e. the easiest to define) musical trends of the time: the 60s were the age of Psychedelia, the 70s saw the height of Big Hair Music (heavy rock and disco), the 80s were the dawn of Indie and MTV, the 90s the mass takeover of Pop music (Grunge-Pop, Britpop, Rap-Pop, Noise-Pop, Trip-Pop, Boy Band-Pop, Riot Grrrl-Pop, it goes on), and the last decade saw the boom of the streaming revolution that we’re still in the middle of. Obviously there were more to these decades than those broad themes, but it gets the job done.

So what is the trend that will define this decade? Is this the age of Doomsday Disco (EDM, Reflektor), Mumblecore (what much of “Indie Rock” has become), or Black Stadium Rock (Kanye West and the realization of his Thriller-sized ego)? Or will we just clump together all this music, much of it angry and noisy, and call it “Great Recession Music”?

It’s too early to tell – we’re only halfway through this decade. There’s no telling to what we’ll be listening to within the next five years and what albums will come to define this decade. So to try and find any sort of pattern in the beginning of 2015 is challenging and probably not necessary.

But like I said, we all love these lists – so let’s have a little fun.

Below is a list of my 40 favorite albums released between 2010 and 2014 and the albums that have defined this decade for me so far. I tried to make things more interesting by describing each album using only one sentence. Of course you cannot properly sum up an entire album in one sentence – but it’s fun to try to anyways!

Please note – this is NOT a list of the GREATEST albums of the decade. This is just a list of my personal favorites, and I hope I introduce you to some great albums that you might have missed in this decade. If this were a GREATEST list, then there would be some albums that I wouldn’t have omitted and some that I would have taken off. For example, Kendrick Lamar’s 2012 good kid, m.A.A.d city is without a doubt one of the best quality albums of the decade, but I have no personal attachment to it – I just like it because it’s good.

There are also lots of albums that I’ve heard are great but I’ve never sat down with and listened to all the way through (Frank Ocean, Grimes, Tame Impala, etc). When I do my inevitable End-Of-Decade list at the end of 2019, some of those albums might appear after I listen to them more.

Also, some of these albums on this list aren’t necessarily “good”, but there’s something about them that I absolutely love or can relate to. Maybe it’s because it’s from a favorite artist, or maybe I have a strong association with that album and where I first heard it or who/what it reminds me of. No matter the reason, these are the albums that I loved the most in this decade so far.

And yes, there’s a good chance that I left out one of your favorite albums. Please forgive me.

This list is in alphabetical order, and click on each album cover for a link to a song from the album.

 

Alright, let’s begin.

End Of Year Report: 12 Different Perspectives On Music In 2013

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If you’re a fan of mainstream and indie variations of rock music i.e. Arcade Fire, Kurt Vile, Arctic Monkeys and Vampire Weekend, 2013 was a good year for you.

If you’re closer to my dad’s age and was still wishing for that new My Bloody Valentine and David Bowie album or that Replacements reunion back in January, 2013 was a good year for you.

If you’re Pharrell, 2013 was a good year for you.

If you’re Kanye West, 2013 was a good year for you.

If you’re a female pop star and your name isn’t Lady Gaga, 2013 was a good year for you.

If you’re a Lou Reed fan, 2013 was not a good year for you (though you probably went back through all your old Reed records and rediscovered your love for Transformer and “Street Hassle”, so maybe it was a good year).

If you like music, 2013 was a good year for you. 2013 was a good year for (almost) everyone, but there are several different way to look at this past year. Here are 12 of those perspectives as we celebrate the end of a historic year in music.

2013: The Year Of Lou Reed’s Passing

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One of rock music’s most influential poets and explorers passed away in 2013, and fans around the world went back to their Velvet Underground and Transformer records and mourned. It was one of those deaths that united all people to celebrated an incredible life, for Reed was one of those few musicians that nearly everyone knew, even if they didn’t know that song they really liked is called “Walk On The Wild Side” (or that it’s about cross-dressing). Even towards the end of his life, Reed never stopped exploring the possibilities of music, and we’ll miss his sense of wonder and beauty that he found in even the ugliest of places.

Check out these 10 songs that’ll introduce you to Lou Reed.

 

2013: The Year Of Impressive Women

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2013 was a quite a year for women in music. You had Miley Cyrus, Lorde, Janelle Monae, Kacey Musgraves, Beyonce, and Brandy Clark all making headlines and selling tons of records in 2013 (“tons” is adjusted to a modern time when few musicians are selling enough records to keep their jobs). We also had new music from Lady Gaga and, though Artpop wasn’t as good as we all thought it would be, it’s big news whenever a new Gaga album is released (in fact, it’s even bigger news that Artpop flopped and that the modern pop era that she helped create has moved on from her). And on the other side of the spectrum, we had Laura Marling, Haim, Savages, Sky Ferreira and more ladies making some of the best alternative music of 2013.

 

2013: The Year Of Nostalgia

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If you told me on December 31, 2012 that in the next 12 months we would have new music from My Bloody Valentine, David Bowie, Pearl Jam, Nine Inch Nails, Dismemberment Plan, Boards of Canada and Jay Z AND that The Replacements, Neutral Milk Hotel, The Postal Service, The Breeders and *NSYNC (!) would reunite and perform, I would have told you that you were crazy. Well 2013 was a crazy year indeed.

 

2013: The Year Of The Modern Classics

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Vampire Weekend made their best album, Kanye West made his Kid A to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy‘s Ok Computer, Arcade Fire loosened up and still made an enduring rock record, Daft Punk returned with the biggest hit of their career, Arctic Monkeys became the best soul-rock band in the world, James Blake won the Mercury Prize, and we heard new music from Kurt Vile, The Strokes, The National, Kings Of Leon, Justin Timberlake, Nick Cave, Queens of the Stone Age and many more.

Yeah, 2013 was a year for modern classics.

 

2013: The Year Of The Rookie

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Back in January we didn’t know much about Haim, Palma Violets, Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, CHVRCHES, Foxygen, Disclosure, Chance The Rapper, Savages, Perfect Pussy and Lorde, but now we all know who theses guys are.

 

2013: The Year Of Trying To Figure Out Spotify

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It’s hard to remember life before Spotify and before having the ability to stream nearly every song you wanted to hear anytime you had an internet connection. For music fans Spotify is a blessing, a free gateway to (almost) any song you want to stream. For artists however, it’s a completely different story.

In 2013 Spotify became one the dominant music streamers in America, and we began to understand its place within a music industry that desperately needs to adjust to how most people listen to music. Those who oppose Spotify’s model include prominent musicians such as David Byrne, Thom Yorke, Beck, and many more who claim that Spotify still hurts musicians with their money breakdown.

The above picture is from a Stereogum article discussing how Spotify works and how it makes money and pays back the artists.

Only time will tell if the Spotify model can last and, more importantly, if it can be changed to benefit the musicians, but in 2013 there was movement (good or bad) to determine a future for the music industry.

 

2013: The Year Of The Open Letter

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In the age of smartphones and social media, it’s nice to see that musicians are keeping in touch by writing letters to each other and letting us all see what they’re saying.

Sinead O’Connor Reaches Out To Miley Cyrus To Not Whore Herself Out

Sinead O’Connor Writes Another Letter To Miley After She Compares Her To Amanda Bynes

Sufjan Stevens Corrects Miley Cyrus On Her Grammer

(But then we have this awesome Miley Sinead mash-up video that makes the whole fued ironic)

Childish Gambino Writes A Letter Via Marriott Hotel Stationaries

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Jay Z’s song “Open Letter” Addressed

 

2013: The Year Of The Fox

 

2013: The Year Of The Rise And Fall Of The Harlem Shake

 

2013: The Year Of Pharrell

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Here are some of the things that Pharrell accomplished in 2013:

  • He was nominated for seven grammy awards for this upcoming Grammys.
  • He created the first 24 hour music video for his song “Happy”, which you can view here.
  • He’s featured on Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” and Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”, two of the biggest hits of 2013.
  • He helped produce Jay Z, Azealia Banks, 2 Chainz, Mike Posner, Nelly, Mac Miller, Mayer Hawthorne, John Legend, The Weeknd, Aloe Blacc, Miley Cyrus, Pusha T and many more.
  • He helped produce the soundtrack for Despicable Me 2 and Man Of Steel, two of the biggest summer movies of 2013.
  • He got married and celebrated his 40th birthday (serious, the dude looks 20 and he’s 40).
  • He announced his next solo record for next year which will have the help of Columbia Records, and it’ll feature “no rapping”.
  • He seems like a real chill guy.

So yeah, Pharrell won 2013.

 

2013: The Year of Creative Album Releases

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In 2013 there were many popular musicians who were either willing (or desperate) to make their album release THE event of the year, which required a lot of creativity (and money). This year was full of creative releases that built up so much hype, or in some cases there was no time for hype to build. Here are some examples:

  • In 2013 Arcade Fire became The Reflektors and released cryptic messages via chalk on walls and performed with big heads on The Colbert Report and released the album on YouTube for one day that was matched to the visuals of the movie Black Orpheus, one of the key inspirations behind Reflektor.
  • Jay Z and Kanye, both members of The Throne mind you, released major solo albums in 2013, but they both promoted their albums in the most polar opposite ways. Magna Carta Holy Grail was announced via The NBA Finals and Jay Z partnered up with Samsung to sponsor the album. Yeezus had no radio, no TV, no sponsors – only Kanye himself proclaiming he was a God on one of the most memorable SNL performances of all time. He also projected his face on the sides of buildings and premiered a softcore-porn music video on Ellen. In short, Jay Z was corporate America, and Kanye was the counterculture.
  • For their Lollapalooza set, Death Grips decided not to show up at their own show (or they never planned on showing up, we’ll never know) and then they canceled the rest of their 2013 tour. And oh yeah, they happened to release a new album (Government Plates) to a sharply divided fan base and had everyone else talking about it – it appears that from now on, whenever someone unexpectedly drops a new album, it’s called “pulling a Death Grips”.
  • Childish Gambino released a massive 72-page screenplay for this year’s Because The Internet.
  • Daft Punk unveiled Random Access Memories by premiering “Get Lucky” at Coachella which was followed by multiple billboards and SNL appearances.
  • Katy Perry promoted Prism via a gold truck.
  • Very recently, Beyonce dropped her self-titled album out of nowhere. This technique has worked with Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails and other indie artists (like I said before, Death Grips), but for a pop megastar like Beyonce to do this it was potentially revolutionary.

 

2013: The Year of Insanely Great Music

In addition to all these artists I’ve mentioned before, we also had great music from Deafheaven, Mikal Cronin, John Mayer, MGMT, Drake, Iron and Wine, Josh Ritter, Phoenix, The Thermals, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Phosphorescent and so many more. There were countless other hit songs that I didn’t include that are in my Spotify playlist of my favorite songs of 2013, and there were plenty of great records that I didn’t have room to talk about that are included in my list of my favorite albums of 2013. And of course, it was a fun year for Headphone Nation – there was never a time when there was nothing to talk about.

Here’s to a mind-blowing 2013, and here’s to what 2014 might bring us.

Happy holidays y’all.

My 31 Favorite Albums of 2013

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In alphabetical order.

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Arcade Fire – Reflektor

 

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Arctic Monkeys – AM

 

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Bill Callahan – Dream River

Stream the record here.

 

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Chance The Rapper – Acid Rap

Download here.

 

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Charles Bradley – Victim of Love

 

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CHVRCHES – The Bones of What You Believe

 

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Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

 

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David Bowie – The Next Day

 

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Dawes – Stories Don’t End

 

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Deafheaven – Sunbather

 

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DJ Koze – Amygdala

 

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Foxygen – We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic

 

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Jason Isbell – Southeastern

 

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John Mayer – Paradise Valley

 

THE 20/20 EXPERIENCE ALBUM COVER AND TRACK LIST REVEALED!

Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience

 

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Kacey Musgraves – Same Trailer Different Park

 

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Kanye West – Yeezus

 

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Kings Of Leon – Mechanical Bull

 

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Kurt Vile – Wakin on a Pretty Daze

 

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Laura Marling – Once I Was An Eagle

 

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Mikal Cronin – MCII

 

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My Bloody Valentine – m b v

Stream the album here.

 

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The National – Trouble Will Find Me

 

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Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Push The Sky Away

 

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Of Montreal – Lousy With Sylvianbriar

 

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Rhye – Woman

 

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Savages – Silence Yourself

 

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Sky Ferreira – Night Time, My Time

 

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Speedy Ortiz – Major Arcana

 

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The Strokes – Comedown Machine

 

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Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the 

My Favorite Songs of 2013 (With A Spotify Playlist!)

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Here they are, in no particular order, a Spotify playlist of all my favorite songs of 2013.

Brandy Clark’s “12 Stories”: One Of The Best Country Albums Of 2013 That You Haven’t Heard Yet

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As I make my end-of-year lists of my favorite songs and albums, I scan other music websites to see what all I missed in 2013. I’ve always been pretty good about keeping up with the hype and updates from the music blogosphere, but every now and then I’ll come across a record that I never knew existed and hear about how great it is.

Brandy Clark’s “12 Stories” is one of those albums.

This is a country album for the singer-songwriter enthusiast, which means it has some of 2013’s best written songs, and no other country album this year has better lyrics or storytelling. The production is minimal and unassuming on most tracks, which are rare qualities that you don’t find on most popular country records. I’ve always liked my country music in the style of Gram Parsons and Ryan Adams, and 12 Stories fits right in.

Kacey Musgraves’s Same Trailer Different Park is the other big country album of 2013 that has gained critical praise from non-country listeners (including myself), and these two albums are comparable in that both albums are written by smart women who know how to tell a good story with black humor and vivid imagery. But where Musgraves is younger and more freewheelin’, Clark is older and wearier. Both women released their debuts in 2013, which means that country music has a bright future.

Playlist: 20 Songs For November 2013 (Via Spotify)

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And we’re in the home stretch for 2013! This month’s playlist is more focused on past great music with the exception of Blood Orange and a better-than-I-would-ever-like-to-admit One Direction song.

Here are your 20 songs for November 2013.

Kacey Musgraves: The Country Singer-Songwriter You Secretly Want Taylor Swift To Be

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It’s easy to hate on mainstream country music, a genre littered with overproduced songs about trucks full of beer and horny Jesus-loving southern guys (and gals). But of course, there are always exceptions to the stereotypes of any music genre. 24-year-old Kacey Musgraves is that exception to country music.

Her debut album Same Trailer Different Park was released earlier this year, and it’s so well crafted that any country hater could like this record. Musgraves sounds a lot like Taylor Swift, but instead of singing about boys she sings about cheating, smoking pot and small town boredom, and that’s all just in one song. This is a songwriter’s album, and the strong lyrics married with simple production will remind many people of Ryan Adams and other great country artists that appeal to non-country fans.

So is Kacey Musgraves the female Ryan Adams, or is she the Taylor Swift that you secretly wish that Taylor Swift was? Either way, give Same Trailer Different Park a spin.