2015 was a most excellent year for music. The Waterboys with a comeback of sorts, released an excellent record. Chris Stapleton ventured out from behind the quill taking a break from crafting New Country classics to deliver his own semi-classic, and the singer songwriters were tunefully represented by Tobias Jesso, Ryley Walker, and Gretchen Peters.
Hair raising Rock and Roll had a vintage year with the Biters, Von Hertzen Brothers, and The Libertines all delivering fine sets of Classic Rock inspired mayhem. The old guard dusted off the rust with Paul Weller delivering a fine set of tunes, Graham Parker, who is incapable of putting out a bad record doing it again, and even Rod Stewart didn’t even disappoint with a nice selection of listenable tunes. Boz Scaggs also joined the fray this year.
Genres continued to blend with Country, Rock, and Americana all coming together courtesy of Sons of Bill, Whitey Morgan, and Blackberry Smoke. Throw all of this in a blender along with Leon Bridges, the best Soul singer to come along in a very long time, along with the return of Sleater-Kinney and a visit from The Pope himself and your ears should definitely be buying you a round for treating them very well this year.
01. Chris Stapleton – Traveller
This one goes down as smooth as a glass of Tennessee whiskey. A veteran songwriter steps out from behind the quill to create one for the ages.
02. Dawes – All Your Favorite Bands
Take a trip through Laurel Canyon courtesy of what should be one of your favorite bands.
03. Blitzen Trapper – All Across This Land
A finely tuned set of Rock meets Country bliss. Key track “Rock and Roll (was made for you.”
04. Leon Bridges – Coming Home
The heir apparent to Sam Cooke, “Smooth Sailing” is one of the songs of the year.
05. Fool’s Gold – Flying Lessons
Soul, Funk, Pop, and a lot of fun is the order of the day on this infectious every songs a winner release.
06. The London Souls – Here Come the Girls
This one will take you back to the streets of London circa 1968. New age retro music of the finest order. Big Star, Raspberries, and The Beatles are all obvious influences.
07. Sons of Bill – Love and Logic
The entire record is good, however “Lost in the Cosmos (Song for Chris Bell)” is worth the price of admission alone.
08. Biters – Electric Blood
Hands (and ears) down, the Rock album of the year.
09. Gretchen Peters – Blackbirds
Another Nashville songwriter steps up behind the microphone with stellar results.
10. Ryley Walker – Primrose Green
Shades of Donovon and 60’s Brit-Folk. Listen to this one once all the way through then give it a secondary listen for the guitar playing. It is exquisite.
11. The Deslondes – The Deslondes
Americana collides with old school country. There is even a touch of The Texas Tornado’s here from a branch of the Hurray for the Riff Raff New Orleans based family tree.
12. The Waterboys – Modern Blues
The boys are back and better than ever. Sometimes less is more, and here we have a tidy nine songs worth of powerful Irish Rock.
13. The Orange Humble Band – Depressing Beauty
A startlingly good record that floats somewhere between present day Americana and 70’s Cosmic Cowboy deliciousness.
14. Houndmouth – Little Neon Limelight
A lot to like here with this Americana with a dusting of Roots Rock number.
15. Josh Ritter – Sermon on the Rocks
Josh Ritter channels his inner Rock gospel on what might be his best record to date.
16. Danielle Nicole – Wolf Den
Bonnie Raitt by way of Grace Potter. This one sets the groove and lays it down.
17. Heartless Bastards – Restless Ones
Rock, Americana, and more than a little dose of Fleetwood Mac Americana Rock Chick noir.
18. Nigel Hall – Ladies and Gentlemen..Nigel Hall
Who is Nigel Hall? Introduce yourself to this soulster. You will be glad you did.
19. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit
aggressively cool Aussie Rock. This one has put Courtney Barnett on the map.
20. The Peterson Brothers – The Peterson Brothers
The next big thing in the Gary Glark Jr. Blues Rock mold.
21. The Statesboro Revue – Jukehouse Revival
This one takes you back to early Poco and Loggins and Messina. Good Cosmic Cowboy stuff.
22. Low Cut Connie – Hi Honey
This piano based party stomper is pure Rock and Roll adrenaline fun. Listen to this one and you will have the most fun you could possibly have with your clothes on.
23. Lucero – All a Man Should Do
Another band that is incapable of putting out a bad record. “Went Looking for Warren Zevon’s Los Angeles” is the drop the microphone winner for song title of the year.
24. Sufjan Stevens – Carry and Lowell
This record is beautifully tender. Tough subject matter dealing with the death of a loved one, presented her with poignant dignity.
25. Dale Watson – Call Me Insane
A true Texas treasure. “Jonesin’ for Jones,” “Everybody’s Somebody in Lukenbach Texas,” “Heaven’s Gonna Have a Honky Tonk.” Need we say more?
26. J.D. McPherson – Let the Good Times Roll
Creedence, Buddy Holly, and pure fun are the order of the day.
27. Jason Isbell – Something More than Free
A more than satisfying follow-up to last years classic.
28. Peace – Happy People
A good time, psychedelic tinged good feeling record.
29. Kurt Vile – b’lieve I’m Going Down
“Pretty Pimpin” has song of the year possibilities while the rest of the songs come pretty close in their own right.
30. Vintage Trouble – 1 Hopeful Road
Probably the Blues Rock record of the year, along with a whole lot of Soul.
31. Paul Heaton – Wisdom, Laughter, and Lines
If you are not aware of the partnership between Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abott and their work with The Beautiful South, this is a fantastic way to make their eloquent acquaintance.
32. The Vaccines – English Graffiti
A slightly fuzzed out 80’s tinged Rock and Roll triumph.
33. Wolf Alice – My Love is Cool
Atmospheric and cool, this one is not for the tame of ears.
34. Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard – Django and Jimmy
Willie does much of the heavy lifting on this one, but these two Icons are worth their worth in Country gold. Their version of “Swinging Doors” here throws the clock back 50 years. “Missing Ol’ Johnny Cash is a history lesson in a song.
35. Whitey Morgan – Sonic Ranch
One of the best Country Rock Honky Tonk bands in the business. “Goin’ Down Rockin” is stellar as is “Still Drunk, Still Crazy, Still blue” is most excellent, how could it not be with a song title like that, but the game changer here is their cover of the Townes Van Zandt tune, “Waitin Round to Die.”
36. Tobias Jesso – Goon
More than a few singer songwriter influenced make their way into this piano based sublimely excellent record including Harry Nilsson early Paul Simon, and Randy Newman.
37. Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin – Lost Time
The Blasters pretty much paved the way for the No Depression Roots Rock movement, so it is all the more exciting to have the Alvin brothers back in the fold for a lot more fun on a Saturday Night.
38. Natalie Prass – Natalie Prass
Written some time ago but just released this year this one sounds a bit like Carole King with a touch of Diana Ross. The string arrangements here make this a next level, must listen.
39. Sleater-Kinney – No Cities to Love
A fabulous comeback record after a 7 year hiatus, No Cities to Love is a Post Punk girl power marvel.
40. Anderson East – Delilah
Blue-eyed soul with a lot of punch. Keep your ears on this guy, he is poised for greatness.
41. Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers – Loved Wild Lost
This record comes across like an early Linda Ronstadt album with a touch of Sheryl Crow. Some Country a good dose of rock, with a bit of an underlying smoldering energy that holds the day.
42. Gloria Volt – Recharged
This one is the driving record of the year. Sunset Strip vintage Rock and Roll with a melodic bent. If Gun’s and Roses went straight they might sound like these guys. “Flyin’ and Rollin'” is the best Rock and Roll song of the year.
43. The Night Flight Orchestra – Skyline Whispers
If a super group were to be put together that combined elements of Styx, Grand Funk Railroad, and The Electric Light Orchestra this is what they would sound like. If you like 70’s and early 80’s over the top Rock and Roll your spaceship has just come in.
44. Fraser A. Gorman – Slow Gum
There is a lot of Ryan Adams in this exciting new Aussie singer songwriter that hangs with Courtney Barnett.
45. Reverend and the Makers – Mirrors
When the musical references are Paul Weller Syd, Barrett Pink Floyd,and Dexy’s Midnight Runners there is not a lot not to kike, this one is old and new at the same time. Listen to is with the proper head phones.
46. Boz Scaggs – A Fool to Care
Boz get’s bluesy again on this more than solid effort. The title song is vintage Scaggs.
47. Widespread Panic – Street Dogs
Not just your Aunts favorite jam band, this one would have made the list even if “Honky Red” wasn’t such a kick-ass song. Extra props for the cowbell on “Steven’s Cat.”
48. The Lone Bellow – Then Came the Morning
Coming from the same Americana on steroids noir of Dawes, the Lone Bellow deliver another finely crafted set of songs.
49. Delta Deep – Delta Deep
Def Leppard wing man Phil Collen and his side project Delta Deep provide some deep delta blues courtesy of Debbie Blackwell-Cook and the rest of the band. Guest vocal turns from Joe Elliot and David Coverdale serve as bonuses on an already impressive set.
50. James McMurtry – Complicated Game
The master of the 3:00 story song delivers another stellar set of man on the street noir.