Thursday, December 31, 2015

Top Five Albums of 2015

There were loads of great albums this year so it was tough to get it down to just five choices. Without further adieu, here are my Top Five Albums of 2015

5. Black Rivers. Black Rivers.

Jez and Andy Williams from the Doves started this side project will their main band was on hiatus. Like Jimi Goodwin's solo album from 2014 (Odulek), Black Rivers sounds a great deal like 5th Doves album. Filled with lush soundscapes and wickedly cool vocals, Black Rivers is a must for your 2015 collection.

4. Gracetown. San Cisco.

The lads and lass from Freemantle, Western Australia turned out another gem with their second offering. Gracetown shows real growth for the band and it's now apparent that like bans like the Arctic Monkeys and the Kooks, San Cisco are just going to keep making good album after good album.

3. 1989. Ryan Adams.

At first glance, an album completely covering Taylor Swift sounds silly. 30 seconds in, no one is laughing. Ryan Adams is a fucking genius and this record takes her upbeat pop songs and paints them with a gray, haunting brush that transforms the tracks into American Gothic. The entire record makes me love life even more than I already do...

2. Blurryface. Twenty One Pilots.

I never would have heard of Twenty One Pilots if it weren't for my 15 year old daughter. I truly appreciate her pushing me to get into them. Every single track on this record is uplifting and wonderful. Is this the future of American music? I hope so because Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun have created a masterpiece with this one.

1. The Balcony. Catfish and the Bottlemen. 

I have a series of items on a checklist when I judge a band and their albums. Welsh band Catfish and the Bottlemen crush all of them on their debut album. Are the songs about love, hope, sex and drinking? Yep. Do I find myself magically being able to sing along with every lyric almost immediately? Yep. Do they have the hearts and souls of the British people? Yes.

Most importantly, does the music transport me to that place I know and love so much?


There are other items on the checklist, of course, but these are the main ones and Van and the lads knock each one out of the park. Not only is The Balcony the best album of 2015, it's one of my favorite albums of ALL time.

It's that fucking good.

Here is their set at Glasto this year.

Top Twenty Tracks of 2015

Usually I do a top 5 but there were just too many good songs this year.

Here they are!

#20. "Game of the Heart" by Donald Cumming. The Virgins lead singer solo effort, Out Calls Only, is a gem. This track is very reminiscent of Dire Straits and the rest of the LP sounds like Tom Petty...very 70s bliss:)

#19. "Baby, Don't You Lie To Me" by The Fratellis.  It's nice to see the lads return to form on their latest offering, Eyes Wide, Tongue Tied!!

#18. "You Cannot Call For Love Like A Dog" by Holy Holy. Aussie fresh faces remind me a great deal of autumn and a time long ago...

#17. "Palace Doctor" by Thee Oh Sees. A San Franciscan treat, this track, taken from the album "Mutilator Defeated At Last," has a most excellent trippy guitar that goes well with the echo-y lead vocals...

#16. "Celestial Bodies" by the Phoenix Foundation. New Zealand's The Phoenix Foundation turned out this corker of a track late last summer. From their LP, Give Up Your Dreams.

#15. "Husbands" by Marker Starling. This Steely Dan-esque gem from Canadian Starling's 5th LP, Rosy Maze, tells the story of what happens when men get together and drink too much...

#14."Your Love's Whore" by Wolf Alice. Finally, a Brit entry in my list for the year (what took so long?:)). This North London's debut, My Love Is Cool, is a stunning opening volley.

#13. "Can't Keep Checking My Phone" by Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Taken from the group's sophomore effort, Multi-Love, this track has an ultra Lounge-y mixed with R and B feeling to it that I enjoy immensely. And hey, they are from Portland, Oregon!

#12. "I Wanna Get Lost With You" by the Stereophonics. Taken from their latest offering, Keep The Village Alive, this track is vintage 'phonics with its fab hook and sultry vocals by Kelly.

#11."Your Low" by the DMA's. Another great band from Down Under, the DMA's first EP (self titled) reminds me of The La's and early Oasis. Their first full length drops on 26 February.

#10. "Better Man" by Leon Bridges. Reaching back to that golden age of soul, Bridges hits a grand slam with his debut, Coming Home. The entire album sounds like it was made in 1965, not 2015!

#9. "(All Afternoon) In Love" by the Vaccines. The West London's lads have a real corker on their hands with this one. A Beatle-y kiss..

#8."Trouble on Oxford Street" by Skinny Lister. It wouldn't be one of my lists without a good, ol' fashioned pub chanter like this. London's Skinny Lister does a fab job of relating the story of yet another drunken pub brawl...

#7."The Obsolete Significant Dignified" by Comet Gain. This London band has been around for 20+ years and continue to make very interesting music. A great track from their current EP, Fingerprint Ritual.

#6. "Green and Gold by Lianne Le Havas. I first heard this Londoner on Jools Holland. After about 30 seconds of this track, I immediately bought both of her CDS. I suggest you do the same.

#5. "The Right Stuff" by Noel Gallagher. Noel's second offering, Chasing Yesterday, is a gem and this dreamy track puts me in a Burt Bacharach meets psychedelia sort of mood that I truly enjoy.

#4. "Magic" by San Cisco. This dreamy track from their second LP, Gracetown, is sung by drummer Scarlett Stevens and reminds one of summer romances past...

#3. "HARDROCKLOVER" by Prince. The Kid from North Minny has been turning out some great tunes lately. Chanhassen life must agree with him. The sexual energy of this track nearly made it #1 had there not been two other strong contenders...

(Link to iTunes track, no video because Prince is strict about the inter webs!!)

#2. "Ride" by Twenty One Pilots. This one was almost number one as I played it incessantly for several months. Ohio boys Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun hit a massive homer with their fourth full length, Regional at Best.

#1. "Cocoon" by Catfish and the Bottlemen. Though released at the end of 2014, this Wales band's first effort, The Balcony, permeated the entire year of 2015.

This track (and indeed the album) is every single fucking thing I love about music (romance, sex, hope, love, drinking, swearing, drama, pubs, soul and heartfelt expression. These guys have captured that same magic that the Stereophonics, the Kooks, the Doves, Keane, the Arctic Monkeys and many others have seized over the years.

This live performance from Glasto says it all...