OK- Here goes- Not sure how many of you actually read this, but I’ve been doing this the past few years, and I hope you dig it….kind of a top 10 list, but it is pretty hard to keep it to 10, so we spill over a bit...and I usually don't point out things I didn't like, but there's a few notes of disappointment here.....but here it is, my look back at '15.
Comebacks that worked- Sleater/Kinney and Blur!
Comeback we didn’t need-Electric Light Orchestra
Best free album of the year-Star Wars- the album from Wilco…not the movie soundtrack. A really great album.
This year I leaned a bit more to the country side more than the rock n’ roll side, and by far, the two albums that got the most play through my earbuds were “Something More Than Free” by Jason Isbell and Second Hand Heart by Dwight Yoakam. Isbell’s album is just one great crafted song after another- the kind of stuff that stops you in your tracks and say “damn, what did he just say?” - and Yoakum sounds like he had so much fun making this album, and the guitars are cranking, and the songs are hooky, and his voice is just as good as ever… you can’t lose.
Another ear grabber- Lord Huron’s Strange Tails came out early in the year and got a little overlooked- but needs a listen if you missed it- a real reverb drenched mixed of tunes that could of been done more acoustically, but I really liked how this album sounded both from a production and songwriting angle..…and speaking of reverb…I’ll agree with most people tossing out top 10 lists- “Sound and Color” by Alabama Shakes is as good as everyone says it is. I just wish WFUV didn’t beat that one song to death.
Best guitar tones this side of Wooley Bully- J.D. McPherson’s second releases “Let the Good Times Roll” had a bunch of tunes that sound like they could’ve been in a texmex jukebox in 1965. “It’s All Over But the Shouting” -GREAT TUNE. Gary Clark Jr.’s release “The Story of Sonny Boy Slim” is also worth a long listen- pretty honest soul & rock n’roll done modern and real with more than enough guitar from track to track.
Speaking of the 60’s, my vote for best performance straight from the garage is a tie- One that could’ve been considered as comeback of the year, but a special shoutout to THE SONICS- for THIS IS THE SONICS- as much as I love those other old english guys running around touring, these septuagenarians don’t need no viagra. Total garage rock at its finest…….and one from the youngsters, if you love your rock and roll straight from the garage, check out Thunderbitch (www.thunderbitch.com). Like Britney Howard didn’t have enough going on this year….a really good side project that is either available on vinyl or download…no silver disc.
Reissue of the year- Soul Manifesto by Otis Redding- all ten OR albums in a tight little box. Put on one a day for ten days and you will understand why this guy is the definition of soul. Punto finale!
Lots of other women made great records this year, Emily Lou Harris with Rodney Crowell came out with “The Traveling Kind” a follow up to their first collaboration from two years ago. Harris totally slays the tune “Higher Mountains”- worth the price of the album alone. One of those performances that that you wish were there when she recorded it……… and I’ll take Florence and the Machine over anything that Adele lady is belting out. How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful is a mix of power and elegance, and Florence Welch is an amazing songwriter with a voice and band to totally back it up.
So I think that is it til next year- a few more quickies on the “thumbs up” side-The Decembrists, Josh Ritter, and of course a real strong one from Weller round out my list.
In terms of disappointments, really only two- The latest from Blitzentrapper was a bit flat, though I’ll give it a few more listens…. as was the debut from Shaun and Starr-I expected more excitement from Sharon Jone’s backup singers…
Hope you found something new to listen to………til next year- find some good independent radio out there and turn off those “streaming” services that let some algorithm dictate what it thinks you should hear….and check out www.Boombox.fm - if you want to mine some really unique stuff.
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