This is my super bowl. The top 10 albums of the year for me represent a seemingly endless amount of hours sitting and listening to vinyl, my phone at work, on the computer while writing and CDs in my car. This will be amazingly my 6th year doing my personal top 10 list and I hope I get to do one every year before my hearing gives out. Here are the lists from the last few years if you are interested in further reading:
Read and enjoy my list. Also watch for my top 5 concerts coming soon.
Thank you – Clint at VocalsOnTop (vocalsontop at gmail.com)
This Australian fireball decided The Breeders and Nirvana are still cool. She resurrects their sound while adding some wandering tripped out textures in places. This album is simply the universally freshest sound album you will find released in 2015.
Key Track: “Pedestrian At Best”
Craig Finn of the Hold Steady released a brilliant solo debut and followed it up with an album just as good. This was undoubtedly my most listened to record of the year. It is groundbreaking and trendsetting like Courtney Barnett but it is a cohesive, great listen all the way through. Craig Finn is one of the finest storytellers making music today.
Key Track: “Christine”
I know, it’s a reissue so can it really count? Yes is my answer. If I’d never heard this music before it would’ve been #1 without a doubt. Taking into consideration it is demos and bsides takes some of the luster away but this is still a brilliant record. There are great alternate versions here that make this easily worth a long, careful listen.
Key Track: “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat”
William Elliott Whitmore goes electric for his 6th record. His acoustic guitar and banjo still hold their ground but the flashes of electric guitar just add to Whitmore’s stature. The songs switch between the instruments breaking any monotony as Whitmore really sings about topics outside of his farm for the first time.
Key Track: “Healing To Do”
Lucero comes back with another album with brilliant lyrics. This could essentially a Ben Nichols solo record from the sound of it. The rockers are MIA and replaced with a heavier dose of piano/accordion than ever before. Fortunately the songs don’t suffer from it.
Key Track: “Can’t You Hear Then Howl”
This is easily the best Star Wars released in 2015. As a surprise free release it was a little difficult to digest at first. The clean, refined guitars are more distorted and dirtied up for effect. This creates a different sounding record for the best active band in the world. The fact that it is still a great record comes as no surprise.
Key Track: “Random Name Generator”
The most underrated songwriter of the 2000s does it again with “Born On Fire.” His lyrics range from sincere to absurd and fun to devastating all the while his backing band delivers their shot on the mark every time. In a perfect world this album would have littered the radio playlists.
Key Track: “Born On Fire”
After releasing “Southeastern” there was nowhere to go but down for Isbell. He did go down but still delivered a very solid album. He moves further into John Prine/Willie Nelson territory and at this point has totally abandoned the Southern rock sound that initially made him famous. As a songwriter he is still clearly top notch.
Key Track: “Speed Trap Town”
The rowdy St. Joseph, Missouri rockers breathe life into Thin Lizzy and the New York Dolls on their first studio record. The work on creating anthems and achieve their goal as a push to gain popularity. Finding ears to listen is always the biggest challenge. This record will probably never fulfill the potential it has.
Key Track: “High In Missouri”
10. The Deslondes – The Deslondes
There is way better country music out there than Kenny Chesney and Blake Shelton. The Deslondes capture a classic country sound and indulge in the blues and western swing all in one swipe. Always pointed and patient they put together modern country songs that are far better than what fills the radio airwaves.
Key Track: “Still Someone”
Every Year a few albums just barely miss the cut. This year those albums for Vocals On Top were The Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color, Local H – Hey Killer, Bottle Rockets – South Broadway Athletic Club, The Electric Lungs – Don’t Be Ashamed of the Way You Were Made and Radkey – Dark Black Makeup.