My Favorite Music of 2015

2015 is now in the books so it’s time for my annual recap of the music I liked. It’s not a list of the best music and it’s not even all music that actually came out in 2015, but it’s a nice way for me to tie a bow on the year and group together the music I’ll remember when I think back to this year.

First: The albums that I didn’t really have time to form an opinion on
Mutemath: Vitals
Coldplay: A Head Full of Dreams
Hamilton: Soundtrack
Honestly, all of this music arrived about the time I switched to Christmas music so I really haven’t listened to any of them more than once. Coldplay and Mutemath are known entities, so I’m sure they are pretty good. Hamilton is an interesting twist on a musical. I had my musical theater phase 25 years ago so I’m kinda past that format, but the hip-hop element of the soundtrack might draw me back in.

The Top 5
The Lone Bellow: Then Came the Morning
Ryan Adams: 1989
Anberlin: Never Take Friendship Personal: Live
The Oh Hellos: Dear Wormwood
Stranger Kings

The Lone Bellow album and the The Oh Hellos albums are very strong efforts following my discovery of the bands in 2013. I love the Ryan Adams version of 1989 because I always kinda felt like Taylor Swift was playing a character, like the bad girl she sings about on the album is a wink and a nod as she says “okay, boys this is what you want me to be.” On the other hand, I can totally buy Ryan Adams as the unstable, mercurial romantic partner. I also like how the stronger songs on Ryan Adam’s version are the weaker ones from Swift’s original album (and vice-versa, as good as Adam’s tracks are they can’t touch the classic singles from the original.)

The Stranger Kings albums is a great combination of some classic 80’s New Wave with a breath of fresh air and I am very happy to hear familiar musicians like Herb Grimmaud, Jr and Holly Nelson again.

…and the Anberlin live album, it’s from last year, but I’m just not ready to let go of Anberlin yet. The crowd is on fire and screaming along to every song on this live concert recording.

The Next 5

Over the Rhine: Live From Nowhere Farm
Wilco: Star Wars
Sufjan Stevens: Carrie & Lowell
Josh Garrells: Home
Copeland: Ixora/Twin

I’ve been gradually drifting away from Over the Rhine, their current sound is not my favorite style. However, this little live album from their fundraiser for their new barn/performance center is a very good snapshot of what they sound like now in concert. The addition of Bradley Meinerding on guitar, mandolin and backing vocals is the missing piece that I’ve been craving for the last couple of years from OTR. The Sufjan Stevens album is brilliant, but it’s also hard to listen to, partly because it’s so raw emotionally and partly because I’ve gotten used to the bombastic and loud Sufjan Stevens. The Copeland album is a repeat from my “Top Albums of 2014” list, but the Twin additional album gives the songs a new dynamic that it’s almost like rediscovering it again and it’s grown on me so much this year.