Wednesday, December 30, 2015

This was the year that was ... my new music from 2015 #2015Music #2015inReview

A review of the year that was in new music I listened to. Notables are described below, and best of the best (or at least the ones that got multiple plays from me) are highlighted. I've also noted a few other "honorable mentions" (or disappointments). For the full list, go to the end of the post.

If I had to name a Top Ten (plus 5), this would be it (in order of release):
  1. Fall Out Boy, American Beauty/American Psycho (January 15, 2015)
  2. Belle and Sebastian, Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance (January 20, 2015)
  3. Julianne Hatfield, Whatever, My Love (February 17, 2015)
  4. Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, Chasing Yesterday (March 2, 2015)
  5. Courtney Barnett, Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit (March 23, 2015)
  6. Sufjan Stevens, Carrie & Lowell (March 31, 2015)
  7. Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, After (March 2015)
  8. Brian Wilson, No Pier Pressure (April 7, 2015)
  9. The Weepies, Sirens (April 28, 2015)
  10. Kacey Musgraves, Pageant Material (June 23, 2015)
  11. Keith Richards, Crosseyed Heart (September 18, 2015)
  12. David Gilmour, Rattle that Lock (September 18, 2015)
  13. Don Henley, Cass County (September 25, 2015)
  14. Trey Anastasio, Paper Wheels (October 30, 2015)
  15. Adele, 25 (November 23, 2015)
As a bonus album, I'm going to include Bob Dylan's latest entry in his Bootleg Series, The Cutting Edge: 1965-66, The Bootleg Series Volume 12. It's hard to rank an album like such as this, but it was clearly one of the best releases of the year.

So, here are some notes on this year's albums:

The year kicked off with Meghan Trainor's Title (January 13, 2015) which had some great singles, but didn't really hold together as an album. Driven by a couple of really catchy big hits, Fall Out Boy's American Beauty/American Psycho made my top ten list. New to me was Kitty, Daisy & Lewis's The Third. Belle and Sebastian's Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance continued the groups string of great albums. It was great to see Sleater-Kinney back with No Cities to Love. Likewise, The Decemberists were back with two offerings, What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World (January 20, 2015) and Florasongs (October 9, 2015).

I tried hard to like Björk's Vulnicura and The Dodos' Individ, but neither really kept my attention. Bob Dylan's Shadows in the Night was yet another interesting take by the master of interesting takes. Kate Pierson turned in the interesting Guitars and Microphones (February 17, 2015). Julianne Hatfield turned in one of my favorites for the year with Whatever, My Love. Noel, of the battling Gallagher brothers had an album that I kept playing throughout the year with Chasing Yesterday. Dove Cameron and her Disney TV show are on in the house all the time, so I had to get her Liv and Maddie, Songs from the TV Show.

IMG_20150327_063939637Another artist I learned of this year was Courtney Barnett; her Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit was great. It's hard to categorize Sufjan Stevens and his quirky music (I've heard "anti-folk" as one genera, but his paen to his lost mother, Carrie & Lowell was one of the best albums of the year. I've been a fan of Lady Lamb the Beekeeper and their After was brilliant. Boz Skaggs' had another solid record with A Fool to Care.

Straight from the 1960s, we had Ringo Starr (Postcards from Paradise) with yet more catchy tunes and Brian Wilson (No Pier Pressure) which again saw Wilson surrounded by collaborators trying to deliver a SMiLE. Also delivering from the past was Randy Bachman (Heavy Blues) with an album I was expecting more from . There was also a nice reissue of some classic Reggae with Peter Tosh and Friends' An Upsetters Showcase. 

Peach Kelli Pop released an enjoyable third album, Peach Kelli Pop III and Blur returned with some classic BritPop (The Magic Whip) but April's greatest release was another new artist for me, The Weepies. Sirens which I listened to regularly for the rest of the year. Good albums also came from Faith No More (Sol Invictus); Paul Weller (Saturn's Pattern); and a good, but uneven entries from James Taylor (Before This World), Stereo Total (Yéyé Existentialiste), and Richard Thompson (Still)

I really wanted to enjoy Rickie Lee Jones' The Other Side of Desire, but like much of her recent work, it was very uneven, though the opening track, "Jimmy Choos" was a standout.

From the country side of music, both Kacey Musgraves (Pageant Material) and Ashley Monroe (The Blade). Monroe turned in some very good songs, but as a whole, I found Pageant Material to be one of the standout albums of the year.

2013.07.01-IMG_4575Neil Young released two albums during the year, the first, Monsanto Years, was full of quite catchy polemics about GMOs; the second,  Bluenote Cafe, captured his 1980s tour with the Bluenotes in a spectacular live set that's short on the hits, but still powerful. Wilco gave us a free album, Star Wars, that was very good. And from the pop phenom, Carly Rae Jepsen, we had E-MO-TION that produced another amazing and catchy song ("I Really Like You") that wasn't quite the hit like "Call me Maybe."

Stepping away from Mick and the Stones, Keith Richards' Crosseyed Heart was yet another of the his solo albums that makes one long for a Stones' blues album ... and speaking of the rootsy blues, The Blasters' Brothers (Dave and Phil Alvin) delivered a great set of bluesy rockers with their Lost Time. Also in the blasting from the past categories, David Gilmore (Rattle that Lock) and Don Henley (Cass County) turned in brilliant albums that made you think more of now than their pasts. Los Lobos' Gates of Gold was solid if uninspiring, while Joe Jackson's Fast Forward grew on me after a number of listenings.

Laurie Anderson released an album that was more a story with music (Heart of a Dog) that was quite interesting, but complex to listen to regularly. Teaming up again, Eddie Brickell and Steve Martin gave us a pleasant outing with  So Familiar, but it wasn't as compelling as their previous outing. The Grateful Dead reunion may not have "Let Trey Sing" (as I saw in t-shirts), but Trey Anastasio turned in a great album (with singing) on his Paper Wheels

Bob Dylan, The Cutting Edge: 1965-66, The Bootleg Series Volume 12 (November 6, 2015) first massive appearance of the "thin wild mercury music" that Dylan created over two brief years and formally issued as three classic albums.

The Canadian group Library Voices had a fun album with Lovish and the Foo Fighters produced an excellent EP, St. Cecilia EP. Like Taylor Swift's 1989 last year, 2015 closed out with a massive hit (some called it the music industry savior) in the form of Adele's 25. Closing out my year, was another soulful Brit (er, Welsh) singer, Tom Jones, and another in his recent series of albums (Long Lost Suitcase) that show there was a great singer behind the hype.

  • "Shut Up and Dance with Me" by Walk the Moon 
  • "Geronimio" by Sheppard
And now, the Albums of 2015:

  • Meghan Trainor, Title (January 13, 2015)
  • Fall Out Boy, American Beauty/American Psycho (January 15, 2015)
  • Kitty, Daisy & Lewis, The Third (January 26, 2015)
  • Belle and Sebastian, Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance (January 20, 2015)
  • Sleater-Kinney, No Cities to Love (January 20, 2015)
  • The Decemberists, What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World (January 20, 2015)
  • Björk, Vulnicura (January 20, 2015) 
  • The Dodos, Individ (January 27, 2015)
  • Bob Dylan, Shadows in the Night (February 3, 2015)
  • Kate Pierson, Guitars and Microphones (February 17, 2015)
  • Julianne Hatfield, Whatever, My Love (February 17, 2015)
  • Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, Chasing Yesterday (March 2, 2015)
  • Dove Cameron, Liv and Maddie, Songs from the TV Show (March 17, 2015)
  • Courtney Barnett, Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit (March 23, 2015)
  • Sufjan Stevens, Carrie & Lowell (March 31, 2015)
  • Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, After (March 2015)
  • Boz Skaggs, A Fool to Care (March 31, 2015)
  • Ringo Starr, Postcards from Paradise (March 31, 2015)
  • Brian Wilson, No Pier Pressure (April 7, 2015)
  • Peter Tosh and Friends, An Upsetters Showcase (April 14, 2015)
  • Randy Bachman, Heavy Blues (April 14, 2015)
  • Peach Kelli Pop, Peach Kelli Pop III (April 21, 2015)
  • Blur, The Magic Whip (April 28, 2015)
  • The Weepies, Sirens (April 28, 2015)
IMG_20150327_063939637 MAY
  • Faith No More, Sol Invictus (May 18, 2015)
  • Paul Weller, Saturn's Pattern (May 19, 2015)
  • James Taylor, Before This World (June 16, 2015)
  • Stereo Total, Yéyé Existentialiste (June 8, 2015)
  • Rickie Lee Jones, The Other Side of Desire (June 23, 2015)
  • Kacey Musgraves, Pageant Material (June 23, 2015)
  • Richard Thompson, Still (June 23, 2015)
  • Neil Young, Monsanto Years (June 30, 2015)
  • Wilco, Star Wars (July 16, 2015)
  • Ashley Monroe, The Blade (July 24, 2015)
  • Carly Rae Jepsen, E-MO-TION (August 21, 2015)
  • Keith Richards, Crosseyed Heart (September 18, 2015)
  • Dave and Phil Alvin, Lost Time (September 18, 2015)
  • David Gilmour, Rattle that Lock (September 18, 2015)
  • Don Henley, Cass County (September 25, 2015)
  • Los Lobos, Gates of Gold (September 25, 2015)
  • Joe Jackson, Fast Forward (October 2, 2015)
  • Decemberists, Florasongs (October 9, 2015)
  • Laurie Anderson, Heart of a Dog (October 23, 2015)
  • Eddie Brickell and Steve Martin, So Familiar (October 30, 2015)
  • Trey Anastasio, Paper Wheels (October 30, 2015)
  • Bob Dylan, The Cutting Edge: 1965-66, The Bootleg Series Volume 12 (November 6, 2015)
  • Library Voices, Lovish (November 6, 2015)
  • Neil Young, Bluenote Cafe (November 13, 2015)
  • Foo Fighters, St. Cecilia EP (November 23, 2015)
  • Adele, 25 (November 23, 2015)
  • Tom Jones, Long Lost Suitcase (December 4, 2015)


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