It is the end of 2015 and I feel like giving a wrap up of my favorite audio I heard this year. I'm going to break this up into three sections. My favorite albums of the year, and favorite singles of the year. Why the latter? There’s a few albums I’ve not gotten to yet, and there was one genuine single this year--with no album in sight that I know of--that really wedged itself in my head. Ready? Let’s dive in.
Albums Of The Year 2015
My friends, after a great deal of thought, meditation, and soul searching I have a rather important announcement to make. I have a tie for Album of the Year. These two records rose to the top for me, and I simply couldn’t sleep well at night with the idea of one of them being relegated to the number two spot--on a list that isn’t even really numbered. My top albums of the year are: “No Cities To Love” by Sleater-Kinney & “Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit” by Courtney Barnett.
If you didn’t check out “Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit” yet, woe unto you, kangaroo boy. Courtney Barnett is one of the best new artists to come along in many a day, her debut record is an absolute must. I can not stress enough how great she is, and how much you need her album in your life. She just got a Grammy nomination for best new artist--which is really the academy trying to make yearbook superlatives look hip, but if that’s important to you, there it is. Lyrics that will make you envious you didn’t write them, and a sound that’s easy to get caught up in. She is the best. If I can’t convince you, keep in mind she appeared on “Austin City Limits” this year based off a debut record. That’s rare.
When Sleater-Kinney announced in late 2014 that they were not only getting back together, but had secretly recorded a brand new album, the internet went nuts. As did I, for Sleater-Kinney is one of my favorite bands. After a nine year hiatus “No Cities to Love” is not only a return from the beloved band, but it’s one of their best records, perhaps their best since their seminal 1997 album “Dig Me Out.” I realize that S-K is not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s an absolute not miss album.
Favorite Albums of 2015
Best Coast--California Nights: Best Coast returned this year with their third LP, a perfect execution of indie pop/rock. Infectious songs about loss, longing, and heartbreak that I simply found irresistible. A solid record from start to finish, I can’t think of a single thing I dislike about the record.
Leon Bridges--Coming Home: Is Leon Bridges the reincarnation of Sam Cooke? For his neo-soul vibe to me sounds like the great soul singer if he had been signed to early ‘60s Motown. It’s not a record of any revolutionary matter, but that’s the point. It’s easy to pin it as a throwback album, but when it’s done so loving and reverently as it has been here, why is that a bad thing?
The Sonics--This Is The Sonics: The garage rock titans returned after a fifty year break with a new album. Sometimes when this happens the results leave a little to be desired, but The Sonics proved once again that they are cornerstones of garage rock with a record that could easily beat bands 40 years their junior.
Special Album Recognition Award
Damn if I didn’t get caught up in Ryan Adams’ cover album of Taylor Swift’s “1989.” I would be remiss if I didn’t mention it on this list. Who would have thought “Shake it Off” could be so moody?
Singles of The Year
“S.O.B.” --Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats: I’ve not had a chance to hear the debut album in full yet--holding out for the record which was out of stock on release day at the label--but “S.O.B.” the lead single off the self titled debut album has been all over the place. Rootsy, soulful, and a track all about struggles with the drink. Not to mention, catchy beyond belief.
“Pretty Pimpin’”--Kurt Vile: Released during the Summer, Kurt Vile’s catch ditty about a series of identity crises is one that planted itself in my mind firmly during the latter part of 2015.
“Giving Up On You”--Wild Belle: I have no idea when Wild Belle’s next album is coming out, but if “Giving Up On You” is an example of what we’re in store for, it may generate more earworms in 2016 than Adele and Taylor Swift singing theme songs to TV shows together.
There it is my friends, my favorite musical sounds of the year. I hope you’ll check out all of them, and I hope you and yours have a very happy new year.