My buddy Dustin requested this one, specifically. So here are my somewhat-annotated top-ten albums from 2015, with a playlist of selected tracks:
Nathanel Rateliff and The Night Sweats - self titled - key tracks: "S.O.B.", "Look It Here." Man, I rocked this one pretty hard and heard S.O.B. on heavy rotation on the AAA stations. It's a fun song about the darkness and drinks required after love lost. The Night Sweats might be the best band name I've seen in a long while.
Frank Turner - Positive Songs for Negative People - key tracks: "Get Better," "Next Storm," "Demons," "Silent Key." You know when you're at the gym or running and listening to music and a song pops on and grabs you and you end up sweating and tired and feeling great? "Get Better" did that to me earlier this year. The guys on NPR's All Songs Considered talked about his show in D.C., and the Turner sounds like a captivating performer.
Punch Brothers - Phosphorescent Blues - key tracks: "I Blew It Off," "Magnet," "Boll Weevil." Saw these guys at the Bijou Theatre in December on their tour I called Crowd Around The Mic. All the players sand and played into a single microphone on stage, without knocking each other out. Seeing them take Radiohead's "Kid A" and purpose it for mandolin, fiddle, double bass and guitar was otherworldly. Also, they got dark during the show. I might have been a little drunk, but the music put me in a place of deeply satisfying sadness and made me feel OK with feelings like grief and loneliness and loss.
The Mountain Goats - Beat the Champ - key tracks: "The Legend of Chavo Guerrero," "Foreign Object," "Animal Mask." This album might be about wrestling on the surface, but in Mountain Goats style, it puts you in the world of metaphor. I'm not sure that being stabbed in the eye with a foreign object is strictly about bringing things into the ring, but maybe cutting a low blow during an argument? Also caught these guys at the Bijou.
A$AP Rocky - At Long Last A$AP - key tracks: "L$D," "Excuse Me," "Jukebox Joints." Because hip hop has stuff to say. And he's on the font end of the trippy, stoned and self-aware rap game these days.
James Taylor - Before This World. I listened to this a couple of times, and know it's good, but I don't know why exactly.
Wilco - Star Wars. Good music from the best touring rock band in the U.S. Saw them twice in the past year - once downtown at the Tennessee Theatre, and again at the Pilgrimage Music Festival in Franklin. They're good, and if you don't like them (you don't have to love them), then you should reconsider what you're listening to.
Ty Segal - Ty Rex - T. Rex covers (badace) - key tracks - "Buick Mackane," "The Slider," "20th Century Boy," "Elemental Child." Play this album. LOUD. Sludge forth wit yo bad self. Segal is prolific, and is pushing rock forward while giving the proper nod to the past. I'm a T. Rex fan.
Dawes - All Your Favorite Bands - key tracks - "All Your Favorite Bands," "Right on Time." These guys hit the sentimental note and run real close to the edge of being sappy. And the drummer left the band this year. IIII-RON-EE!
"Space Song" - Beach House. Spacey and pretty and Beach House-y
"Dreams" - Beck. Big loud Beck flips the script about 2/3 in.
"Baby Blue" - Action Bronson, feat. Chance the Rapper. This line - "I hope you never get off on Fridays, and you work at a Friday's, that's always busy on Fridays."
Oldies, songs and albums, that got pulled back out for a few spins:
Television - Marquee Moon - 10 minutes of post punk, pre-New Wave, on the first song on the album.
New York Dolls - "Looking for a Kiss" - Punk. F-U. Get some.
Steely Dan - Countdown to Ecstasy - Angry white dudes and dark music written cheerily.
R.E.M. - Murmur
Stone Temple Pilots - Purple - I thought this was their best album, and it has two beloved 90s songs on it, and the schmaltzy hidden track at the end. Also, I read every word of this interview of his.
Chicago - "Question 67 and 68" - Let's end this with a love song, no?