It's weird, when mid-December rolled around and I started to think about this year's list, I actually had trouble thinking of any great music that I had listened to in 2015. But once I started going through Apple Music (I switched from Rdio this summer but was still very sad to see it shut down) I was really surprised by just how much good music there was this year! So here is my list, in no particular order, of my favourite music from 2015!
Something More Than Free, Jason Isbell
Jason Isbell has easily become on my favourite songwriters. There is a vividness to the stories he tells that I once found in the Earles (Steve and Justin Townes). I was in love with his 2014 record Southeastern, but Something More Than Free tops it. The songs are no less potent, but it’s brighter in a way.
Hey Love, Hayden
Hayden. Need I say more? Seriously. Took me a while to warm up to Hayden but every record is better than the last. I haven’t listened to this as much as I should have, but it makes the cut!
Coming Home, Leon Bridges
This record is amazing. It sounds like it was written and recorded in a completely different time than it was, and not in a rip offey kind of way that could have diminished the recording.
Nathalie Prass, Nathalie Prass
I was intrigued about this artist as she was part of Jenny Lewis’ touring band on her last tour, and I devoured any and all videos I could find of them playing live. It’s a really great album, more so because I guess it sat around for a while as the before it was finally released this year. Can’t wait to hear what she’s got coming next!
Goon, Tobias Jesso Jr.
Seriously, if you haven’t listened to this record, stop what you’re doing and go find it and give it a spin. If you’re in a blue mood, all the better. Like Leon Bridges, this record sounds a bit out of time and place (in a very different way than Bridges’ record) and I love that about it. And in a weird way, to me at least, it plays as a male counterpart to Nathalie Prass’ record.
Sound & Color, Alabama Shakes
Do I really need to say anything more about this that hasn’t already been said?
California Nights, Best Coast
I’m on the fence about this record. Part of me wants to toss it into the Disappointment section below and part of me loves it. And I have this reaction for one reason: Best Coast is a band that is basically just doing more of the same. The same is good, I loved their last two records. But there was some growth between them. This? Not so much. So I’ll leave it here for now…
10 000, Emilie & Ogden
This is probably the most interesting record to me of 2015. The lead singer and songwriter is a harpist and the harp is central to the recording, but not in an over the top, annoying way. It’s quite a lovely record.
The Spirit Moves, Langhorne Slim & The Law
I kind of knew who Langhorne Slim was, but it wasn’t until I heard him interviewed on WTF, the Marc Maron podcast that I became interested enough to listen to his music (that’s also how I came to know Jason Isbell!). It’s a lovely, folk-roots record.
Crosseyed Heart, Keith Richards
Richards’ solo record, Main Offender, is one of my all time favourite records. I love him solo. The opening blues track has me dreaming of a record FULL of that kind of stuff. Between his chops on the guitar and that ragged voice, I was engaged right from the start.
Honourable mentions: No Life For Me, Wavves & Cloud Nothing, All Across This Land, Blitzen Trapper (another record that sounds out of time), The Edge of the Sun, Calexico, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, Florence + The Machine (this probably should be on my list, just haven’t spent enough time with it), Restless One, Heartless Bastards, 3 1/2, The Golden Dogs.
Records I Didn't Love As Much As I Had Hoped I Would: I’ve never listed records that disappointed me before. But this year, there were some much anticipated records that just bored me to tears. These are all artists I’ve enjoyed and loved (My Morning Jacket in particular is a long-time fav, and Steve Earle has at times been my favourite songwriter). In each case I wasn’t interested in the directions these records took, either because I wasn’t interested or it was too much of the same.
Vieux Loup, The Acorn
The Waterfall, My Morning Jacket
Terraplane, Steve Earle & The Dukes