My Favorite Music of 2015

It is again that time of year, for my year-in-review favorite music blog post.  Again, those of you who usually do will get a sampler CD in the mail.  If you’d like to join the ranks of these lucky people, just let me know.  I think it is fair to say this year’s CD will BLOW YOUR MIND.

A quick display of links, if you’re curious to see previous year’s lists.  It’s interesting looking back to see errors I made in retrospect (2010? I love Grinderman but not more than Arcade Fire!!! Man Man beating out Srcade Fire AND The National in 2013!?):

My Favorite Music of 2009

My Favorite Music of 2010

My Favorite Music of 2011

My Favorite Music of 2012

My Favorite Music of 2013

My Favorite Music of 2014


Now, my favorite music of this year! I’m keeping all the entries short and sweet, I just don’t have the energy for this like I used to!

15.  EL VY, “Return to the Moon”

Supergroup consisting of members of The National and Menomena EL-VY-Return-to-the-Moonmanage to actually merge the two groups disparate sounds into a new kind of sullen quirk rock.  It works surprisingly well.

14.  Matt Vasquez, “Austin”

Delta Spirit frontman’s debut solo feature sounds actually very little like Delta Spirit and very much like something new; experimental, riff-heavy, ponderous.

13.  Alabama Shakes, “Sound and Color”

The sophomore effort from super-hip soul/Americana group expands their sound into something more jammy and trippy, to pleasing effect.

12.  El Ten Eleven, “Fast Forward”

Post Rock/ Math Rock looping duo deliver the goods with fifth studio album, somehow find a way to keep the formula fresh.

11.  Marilyn Manson, “The Pale Emperor”

Yes, that’s right: Manson is back and, while maybe not sounding exactly current, manages to make relevant, personal, haunting album.

10.  Will Butler, “Policy”

Arcade Fire guitarist Butler lays down a solo album full of guts, gusto, and deliciously surprising moments.  And he’s not a half-bad singer!

9.  Jennylee, “Right On”

Warpaint bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg drops a solo album (recording as simply Jennylee)–the album is brooding, shadowy, thumping.  This is dirty music.

8.  Sun Kil Moon, “Universal Themes”

Mark Kozelek (recording as Sun Kil Moon) continues his tradition of unexpectedly blunt “blog rock”; although “Universal Themes” fails to live up to his previous album (his masterpiece “Benji”), there are enough disarming, disquieting moments to create a memorable work.

7.  Deerhunter, “Fading Frontier”

The quintessential art rock band’s newest effort surprises at every turn, mostly due to a very unexpected dose of pop and hooky melodies. The styles mesh better than expected with the fuzzy unformed feedback the band is known for.

6.  Willis Earl Beal, “Noctunes”

Beal could not have turned in a more different album from his debut than he did with “Noctunes”: literally songs to fall asleep to, I recommend staying awake–secrets and revelations are tucked away inside the lullabies.

5.  My Morning Jacket, “The Waterfall”

The Jacket return with a concept album that sets its sights as high as possible: an album about lost love and a desire to completely stop time (time is “the waterfall”)–the grandiose vision isn’t quite accomplished but nobody but MMJ could have even got close.

4.  Father John Misty, “I Love You, Honeybear”

Mr. Misty–who has also recorded extensively as Josh Tillman and is a former member of Fleet Foxes as well as Saxon Shore–has finally fully father-john-misty-honey-beararrived with “Honeybear”.  Sporting dreary, catchy songs with take-no-prisoner lyrics (“She says, like literally, music is the air she breathes/
And the malaprops make me want to fucking scream/
I wonder if she even knows what that word means”).  This album is a game-changer.

3.  Foals, “What Went Down”

From huge, sprawling anthems to ponderous, labyrinthine quietude, “What Went Down” set my head spinning and lead me to devour this band’s entire catalogue in a week.

2.  Sufjan Stevens, “Carrie & Lowell”

A delicate album of intensely personal proportions.  I was not prepared for what the words and melodies here would do to me.  It lived in my car’s CD player for almost a month.

1.  Modest Mouse, “Strangers to Ourselves”


Picking this #1 was not even a debate for me.  Not only hands-down the best album of the year, probably the best rock album of the decade.  “Strangers to Ourselves” is not a very intimate, personal album–no songs about lost loves or your good old days–this is a “feel bad” album that attempts to uncover the nasty truth of the universe and comes to the conclusion that humans are pricks, the world doesn’t care about us, and everything, everything dies.  But it also rocks like a motherfucker.




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