If you are out there lamenting that there is no good music anymore, you aren’t paying attention. 2015 was truly a banner year for great music. Which brings me to my best of the best list.
Butch Walker – Afraid of Ghosts
Duh. As if you expected anything else to have the top spot. Butch is the king of “every time I think he can’t top this album, he proves me wrong with the next one.” He handed over the producer reins to Ryan Adams on this one, and it’s pure perfection. I love every song, but “Bed on Fire” is 100% pure [fire emoji]. There’s a reason i traveled to Washington DC, Atlanta, and Nashville to see his live shows this year. #fangirl
Matt Nathanson – Show Me Your Fangs
GIANTS GIANTS GIANTS GIANTS. This song is easily my all-time favorite from Matt. Not to say that the rest of the album isn’t great, because it’s end to end great. It may be my 2015 desk dancing winner. also, my current favorite lyrics snippet is “We had an epic movie trailer love” from Playlists & Apologies. Matt is just so great. His curated Spotify playlist “i like music more than i like people” is a treasure nearly as good as his own music. It’s an eclectic mix – some stuff I wouldn’t ordinarily listen to, and songs that make me say ‘OMG I CAN’T BELIEVE MATT LIKES THIS SONG TOO.’ I’d love to hang out with Matt listening to music and talking books. He is my spirit animal.
Jason Isbell – Something More Than Free
This is one of those albums where every time I listen to it, my favorite song changes. They’re all that good. One bit that always jumps out at me is the guitar in Speed Trap Town. So, so tasty.
Gary Clark Jr. – The Story of Sonny Boy Slim
Speaking of tasty guitar, this is full of it. Gary Clark Jr. is a master of bluesy, soul-tinged rock guitar. This is one of those albums where i just want to put on some headphones, press play, and close my eyes and bliss out.
Marc Scibilia – Out of Style
I discovered Marc (and all his hair) when he opened for Butch a couple tours back (a tour I missed, fyi). Here we are a couple years later and he has a full length album out, produced by Butch in Nashville. This is just a fun rock and roll record, my friends, also in regular desk dancing rotation. If I were forced to pick favorites, Jericho and How Bad We Need Each Other, and When the World Breaks are probably the ones I’d pick. Today, at least. I got to see Marc open for ZZ Ward back in October, and it was a fantastic show (confession: I had only listened to a handful of ZZ Ward songs before this, and really couldn’t get into her for whatever reason, so I left not too far into her set. I saw who I wanted to see, all right?). Also, you need to check out his cover of This Land is Your Land – it was featured in a Jeep commercial that aired during the Super Bowl this year and is AHH-MAY-ZING.
Ryan Adams – 1989
What can I say about this album that hasn’t already been said? Not much. It’s a brilliant adaptation. I was excited beyond words from the minute he first mentioned it on twitter and I wasn’t at all disappointed.
Frank Turner – Positive Songs for Negative People
I had literally never heard of Frank Turner before Butch Walker mentioned him (I want to say it was something about being in a cab with him in Chicago? The details are fuzzy.). Not totally my usual style, but this album is truly a winner. NO, IT’S NOT JUST BECAUSE BUTCH WALKER PRODUCED IT THOUGH I AM SURE THAT HELPED. SHUT UP. Get Better is my clear favorite; I am a sucker for an anthem, what can I say? I also saw Frank live in October. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but he has a dedicated fanbase here, and it was pretty great.
Shovels & Rope – Busted Jukebox Volume 1
This is the sooprize late addition to the list. Dropped out of the blue in November (at least, out of the blue to me), this is a super fun bunch of covers from S&R and some of their friends. Some are covers of the friends’ songs – i unsurprisingly love what they did with Butch Walker on Bullet Belt. My favorite may be how they turned Last by NiN on its head with Caroline Rose. Super great stuff. I am always a sucker for covers so this was totally up my alley.
It was at this point that I started having trouble deciding whether to include some others, so this seemed like a natural cut-off point, otherwise this list would have gone on for days. But, because I can some of the honorable mentions would have been (in no particular order):
- Jonathan Tyler – Holy Smokes
- J. D. McPherson – Let the Good Times Roll
- Harry Connick Jr. – That Would Be Me
- Chris Cornell – Higher Truth
and probably some others if I kept thinking about it. Wow. It was the Year of the Dudes this year, for the most part. In reality, that’s how my music tastes tend to skew anyway, so that’s not really a surprise.
I might actually have an idea for a random post or two, so who knows, there may actually be another music post from me before next year’s list. no promises. 😉