Craig has managed to put out his list of best music in 2015, so I guess it’s my turn. The albums aren’t in any order, there’s no number 1 and no number 10, putting a list like that together is something I don’t have the time or patience to do, but here’s ten of my favourite albums of the year.
My personal favourite of 2015 has been Courtney Barnett‘s “Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit.” It’s an album that took me a while to get into, I only really started to give it time while travelling around the UK in September and was surprised that it grew on me so quickly.
Artistically, the best album release of 2015 was Sufjan Stevens‘ intimate and haunting Carrie & Lowell. While it’s not my most listened to album of the year, (I need to be in a certain mood to sit with the music) it’s clearly the best of show, clearly overshadowing anything else of the year with his complete honesty, captivating lyrics and at times overwhelming emotion.
The year kicked off with The Decemberists’ release What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World and was followed up with their EP release Florasongs. It’s probably against the rules but if I consider them both as one album they’d be amongst the most listened to albums of the year. The Decemberists can do very little wrong.
My guilty pleasure of the year is 1989, not by Taylor Swift, but by Ryan Adams. Ryan decided to cover the entirety of Taylor Swift’s 1989 and release it online, what makes the album work is he took the project quite seriously and in doing so created one of the best guilty pleasures of 2015.
One of the earlier purchases I made in 2015 was Alabama Shakes‘ Sound and Color, and, ignoring their obvious misspelling of the word Colour was pleasantly surprised. Probably one of the freshest and strongest mood-setting albums of the year the album is full of funk and soul and well worth checking out.
The Waif‘s newest release Beautiful You is another solid album from one of Australia’s favourite folkies. There’s nothing really surprising in this album, it’s familiar, like an old friend and driving through Scotland listening to it through the hire car speakers was a great feeling and a welcome reminder of home.
Another Australian release that’s worth checking out is Dustin Tebbutt‘s EP “Home,” a beautiful and contemplative lyrical, poetic and musical experience, it’s definitely not driving music, but it’s the kind of music you put on loud while you sit quietly with a glass of wine and several lit candles lighting the room.
Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu‘s Gospel Album was one of the more beautiful releases of 2015. I know many people have bagged his use of old methodist hymns and imagery, however I appreciated his sharing of something that was a large part of his life. For those Christians who thought they’d prefer listening to him performing something more contemporary I question our ability to listen, sit with and appreciate other people’s songs and stories, even if we think we’ve moved “beyond” them. To those who aren’t Christian and labelled it just another christian album I ask if e’ve ignored the power of the hymns sung in language might have on our hearts, and how listening to the stories of others can also change our souls. After it’s release I set the local church up with lit candles, an image and backstory of Gurrumul and played the album in the darkness lit only by a handful of candles. Kids with their mum danced to some of the music, others sat silent and allowed the hymns to wash over them.
The Positions by Gang of Youths was the album on highest rotation in the early parts of 2015. An album which had it’s roots in heartbreaking and painful news became a celebratory yell into the darkness, that the pain and hate can be transformed. While it’s no longer on high rotation at home, the album is still a welcome passenger in the car on a long drive.
The final album I’ll include in my top ten is Father John Misty‘s “I Love You Honeybear.” Released in February the albums travelled well over the year and is still as refreshingly cynical, fun, ironic, sincere, complex and tender as it was when it was released.
2015 also saw releases from some of my favourite artists, unfortunately not many of them met up to my expectations. Laura Marling’s Short Movie was more of the same by a beautiful musician, but lacked the consistency of Once I Was An Eagle.
City & Colour’s If I Should Go Before You was another solid release that offered not much new, I listened to it a lot, hoping it’d grow on me as much as Little Hell did but it wasn’t a stand out album of the year.
Unfortunately the same can be said for the Of Monsters And Men release which suffered by not surpassing the outstanding My Head Is An Animal (although it’s still a good listen).
Another album that probably suffered by not matching up to spectacular expectations was Florence & The Machine’s “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful” well worth listening to, but I’d prefer listening to earlier releases if given the chance.
Other albums to check out include:
CHVRCHES – Every Eye Open
Wilco – Star Wars
Jamie XX – In Colour
David Ramirez – Fables
Darren Hanlon – Where Did You Come From
Leon Bridges – Coming Home
Dick Diver – Melbourne, Florida