This year, the term "peak TV" was thrown around a bunch. We hadn't simply moved past the Golden Age of TV which had started with shows like The Sopranos
and The Wire
. We had reached an era where there was so much great TV that unless your job was to watch TV for a living, it was basically impossible to keep up with all of it. And that's what it felt like to be a music fan this year. We put together a list of our top 10 records of the year
. But the thing about lists like that -- where they're voted on by a decent sized group of people -- is that they tend to represent the records the most people listened to. We stand by our list. Those are 10 fantastic records we're happy to call the best of the year, but there were also plenty of wonderful records this year that might not have been heard by as many people. And here are our 10 favorite albums you might have missed from 2015.
10. If I Should Go Before You by City & Colour
Dallas Green's fans are among the most intense and vocal in contemporary music, but he's still continuing to carve out his niche in the acoustic rock/folk sphere. But the highly soulful If I Should Go Before You
was potentially his best record yet. The way it combines blues, blue-eyed soul, and some of Green's most ornate guitar work with his City & Colour project made for one of the most emotionally and sonically complex records of the year.
9. In the Cards by Robert DeLong
Robert DeLong is one album cycle away from being the biggest star in the EDM scene, and there's an easy reason why: records like In the Cards
. Admittedly,albums generally aren't the most important thing in the EDM scene. What do the tracks play like on the dance floor? We've heard these tracks on the dance floor
, and they crush. DeLong's ability to fuse vacuum tight grooves with expert pop hooks showed In the Cards
as the next step in this EDM artist's evolution.
8. JR JR by JR JR
was the first record that the band formerly known as Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. released under their new (and shortened) moniker. And it's a perfect fit because the band has never sounded more in control of their alt pop tunes.
7. After It All by Delta Rae
Delta Rae's roots rock would have been one of the most pleasant surprises of 2015 if we hadn't known how talented these North Carolina performers have been since 2012's Carry the Fire
. Whether you're into the propulsive strings of "Run" or the massive pop hooks of "Scared" or (like me) the emotional intensity of "Chasing Twisters," After It All
has something for every Americana fan in your life.
6. Then Came The Morning by The Lone Bellow
The Lone Bellow had so much to live up to after 2013's The Lone Bellow
, the band's debut record. Between that album and a whirlwind series of tours across the country, the band had asserted themselves as one of the most impactful alt-country/gospel/folk bands working today. They could have just released more songs like "Tree to Grow" or "Green Eyes And A Heart Of Gold" and their fans would have been happy. But they expanded their sound. They got the National's Aaron Dessner to help produce it. And they've never sounded better.
5. Feels Like by Bully
In a year where there was no shortage of great rock records, Bully still managed to stand out from the pack with their debut record, Feels Like
. With its crunchy guitars, Alicia Bognanno's enormous wail, and the vulnerable intimacy of the lyricism, Bully brought grunge back in a bigger way than anyone has since the 90s.
4. Liberman by Vanessa Carlton
You probably remember Vanessa Carlton for her smash hit, "A Thousand Miles," which was one of the biggest songs of the early 2000s. But despite not having had a major radio presence in the last couple years, Ms. Carlton has only matured as a songwriter. Liberman
is one of the most unrepentantly beautiful and melodically complex records of the year. And if you have the chance to hear the tracks on that album live, we highly recommend it
3. Control by Milo Greene
was a difficult album to engage with at first. After the gorgeous acoustic harmonies and layering of the band's self-titled debut, a more electronic record seemed like a strange direction for the band. It wasn't. Rather than just doing more of the same, Milo Greene translated everything about what makes the band special -- that they're all multi-instrumentalists, the rich textures of their harmonies, their ear for a hook -- and translated it to through a different collage of sounds. The band hasn't changed what you loved about the first record; they've just evolved. And that's what all great artists do.
2. Future Former Self by Chappo
If you need the funkiest, glam-miest, most richly psychedelic record that you can get your hands on this year, you need look no further than Chappo's Future Former Self
. Take a little bit of T. Rex. Grab a healthy helping of Tame Impala. Bring along some Rush for good measure. Throw that all into a vat, and you wouldn't have Chappo because there's still so much more boiling beneath the surface of these freak rockers. Never has a record made us want to dance as much as it has made us want to shoot off into the psych-rock stratosphere.
1. Everybody's A Good Dog by Diane Coffee
You haven't listened to the necessary great records of 2015 until you sit down and give Everybody's A Good Dog
a spin. Diane Coffee is the new project from Foxygen drummer Shaun Fleming, and if we're being totally honest, it's better than anything Foxygen ever produced. Shaun is the spiritual offspring of David Bowie, Mick Jagger, and Spoon's Britt Daniel rolled into one supremely theatrical and talented human being. The band's live performances aren't to be missed
. There's a deep well of wounded emotion running beneath the whole record. Everybody's A Good Dog
is fun; it's groovy; its tracks are catchy but there are so many references and allusions and complex melodies that you return again and again and again. Diane Coffee crafted one of the truly great pieces of music of the year, and we can't wait to hear what he does next.