Last week, I started counting down my favorite albums of 2015. There were a lot of brilliant records. Too many, even, to fit into a top 50. Before I started the countdown, I also named 25 honorable mentions. You can see that list here.
I broke the top 50 into chunks of five, and I encourage you to read what I wrote about all of the albums, but here’s the big list:
50)Lower Dens — Escape From Evil
49)Girl Band — Holding Hands With Jamie
48)Creepoid — Cemetery Highrise Slum
47)Thayer Sarrano — Shaky
46)Rachel Grimes — The Clearing
45)Stolen Jars — Kept
44)Hey Anna — Run Koko
43)Speedy Ortiz — Foil Deer
42)Marriages — Salome
41)Haiku Salut — Etch and Etch Deep
40)The Harrow — Silhouettes
39)Casket Girls — The Piano Album
38)Spectres — Dying
37)Eternal Summers — Gold and Stone
36)Esmerine — Lost Voices
35)Diverting Duo — Desire
34)Viet Cong — Viet Cong
33)astrobrite — Deluxer
32)Noveller — Fantastic Planet
31)Godspeed You! Black Emperor — Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress
30)Long Beard — Sleepwalker
29)Hamsas XIII — Encompass
28)Westkust — Last Forever
27)Hop Along — Painted Shut
26)Lanterns On The Lake — Beings
25)Violent Mae — Kid
24)The Black Ryder — The Door Behind The Door
23)Moon King — Secret Life
22)The Soft Moon — Deeper
21)Trementina — Almost Reach the Sun
20)Beach House — Thank Your Lucky Stars
19)No Joy — More Faithful
18)Torres — Sprinter
17)Mount Eerie — Sauna
16)Shana Falana — Set Your Lightning Fire Free
15)Eskimeaux — O.K.
14)Ringo Deathstarr — Pure Mood
13)Pinkshinyultrablast — Everything Else Matters
12)SOAK — Before We Forgot How To Dream
11)Thrushes — Exposing Seas
10)A Place to Bury Strangers — Transfixiation
9)Briana Marela — All Around Us
8)Beach House — Depression Cherry
7)Bully — Feels Like
6)93MillionMilesFromTheSun — Fall Into Nothing
And now, the final countdown will get us down from 5 to 3. I had planned on doing the entire top 5 this morning, but I’m short on time, so I’ll do the top two later today.
Remember to click on album art to go to where you can buy the album.5)Courtney Barnett — Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
This is the debut album by the indie-folk/punk/twee singer/songwriter from Melbourne. She self-released a couple of EPs which were compiled and rereleased as the 2013 double EP A Sea of Split Peas. That really put her on the map and had everyone eagerly anticipating the debut album. Everyone hoped that it would arrive in 2014, and it finally came out on March 23 to unanimous accolades. She was nominated for eight ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) awards, and she took home four of those tall, pointy, triangular pyramids. She has also been nominated for a 2016 Grammy award in the “best new artist” category.
Courtney Barnett is known as much for the clever wordplay in her lyrics as she is for her brilliantly crafted songs. She lists Lou Reed, Neil Young, Paul Kelly, and Nirvana among her influences, and you can hear those and many more in her songs.
She’s done a bunch of amazing covers, including a great interpretation of the entire Kick album by INXS (here), and a cover of The Lemonheads’ song “Being Around” (here), but her own songs are absolutely brilliant. Like most of the others in this final countdown, the first time I heard this album, I immediately locked it in as a top five album. Making light of the odd combination of all of these things, all year long, I kept saying “This is my favorite debut record by a left-handed Australian lesbian”. 4)Wildhoney — Sleep Through It
This is the debut album by the shoegaze/noise pop quintet from Baltimore. They released a couple of EPs that set expectations very high for the debut, and I don’t think anybody was disappointed. The album came out in January, and after I had only listened to about five seconds of it, I had it locked in to a top ten position. By the time summer rolled around, I had bumped it into the top five. Definitely among my favorite of the shoegaze revivalists.
I knew nothing at all about the band when I stumbled upon their album way back in January. I still know almost nothing about them. I just know that I love this record, which is a bit reminiscent of a much noisier Velocity Girl.
Wildhoney played at Hopscotch this year, and I was very excited about that. More excited, actually, than I was about any of the headliners. I put their set very high on my “can’t miss” list, and although I ended up being shut out of a couple of those, I did get to see the Wildhoney set. Read about that here
When you play this record, you play it very loud, and you bounce around like a college kid who’s hopped up on adderall and Red Bull.
3)Waxahatchee — Ivy Tripp
This is the third full-length album by the indie-folk/rock/punk recording project based in Brooklyn. It’s mostly the work of Katie Crutchfield (vocals/guitar), but on this album and the previous one, she’s had help from Kyle Gilbride (guitar/keys/synth) and Keith Spencer (guitar/bass/keys/drums/), and her twin sister Allison. By the way, the 2013 album Cerulean Salt came in at my #15 album of that year. Waxahatchee played at Hopscotch back in 2013, and I got delayed going to that set. I only saw two songs, but those songs were great. Read about that here.
I have to admit that Ivy Tripp isn’t one of the albums that was immediately locked in to a top five position after first listen. It took a lot of repeat listens to bump it up and up the list. And then, I saw Katie Crutchfield play a solo set that secured this album its top five position. She was actually a last-minute substitution at Hopscotch this year. Owen Pallett was supposed to be there all weekend as the “improviser in residence” and he was supposed to play a show in Fletcher on Saturday night. He had a family emergency and had to cancel his appearance. Greg Fox out of Liturgy took over the role of “improviser in residence”, and Katie Crutchfield took his spot at Fletcher. That wasn’t announced until the festival had already started, and for a lot of people, it might have gone unnoticed. I sure noticed, and I made it a top priority, even while there were a couple of other sets happening at the same time that I’d also like to have seen.
I was absolutely blown away by her set. Just Katie and an acoustic guitar. Included in the set was a spectacular cover of the Lucinda Williams tune “Greenville”. She played songs from all three albums, and made them all sound deeper and more real. I was completely awestruck, and I could have been knocked over with a feather after that. I went in expecting to see a good set, but what I saw was one of the best things I’ve ever seen. Maybe it was exactly the right time and place and maybe things were aligned just right for it to hit me the way it did, but I’ve seriously never been as moved by a show as I was by that. You can read up a bit about that here.
That’s it for now. I should finish the countdown tonight, then do a recap tomorrow.