The 10 Best Albums of 2015


Photo Courtesy of Rolling Stone.


  1. Pageant Material by Kacey Musgraves: Kacey Musgraves is somewhat of a rarity in modern country. She doesn’t go for the cliches you’d hear on any other new country single. She is very witty and clever. Musgraves is one of the funniest lyricists around. Her tales of misfits are genius, as they spare no punches, while still showing total empathy.  She’s taking this tired genre back. Hopefully she’s the future of it, because she’s certainly the best of it. 
  2. Carrie & Lowell by Sufjan Stevens: Sufjan Stevens is one of the reasons the term concept artist has not been tarnished yet. As his bizarrely beautiful Illinois provided a touching tribute to a state he’s not even from, his newest album, which is stronger than his 2005 masterpiece, is a gut-wrenching acoustic eulogy to his recently passed mother and her marriage to his step-father. It’s an emotional tour de force, tender and so personal, you almost feel as if you’re intruding.
  3. Thank Your Lucky Stars by Beach House: Beach House released two albums this year—about a month apart from each other—and they both contain some of the dream pop duo’s best work. However, Thank Your Lucky Stars finds the two expanding on the sound that made them so popular, while Depression Cherry finds them delving into new territory. Stars, the second of the two, is pure shoegaze bliss, a lifting sound to balance the heavy lyrics.
  4. Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit by Courtney Barnett: Courtney Barnett has the clever lyrics of Kacey Musgraves, but she channels it through punk. Once the Aussie-rocker starts her show, she doesn’t slow down for a second. However, for all the rawness in these tracks, there’s still a gracefulness. It’s not dumb rock ‘n’ roll. Not one word she sings feels half-assed.
  5. Crosseyed Heart by Keith Richards: The greatest rhythm guitarist of all-time also takes over the mic for his newest solo album. The Stones’ guitarist is just as assured as a frontman like Mick.  Some tracks show Richards’s long love for roots blues, but some seem to bring us back all the way to the Exile days. Crosseyed Heart is evidence enough that Keef isn’t done talking.
  6. What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World by The Decemberists: Colin Meloy heads a new set of anthemic rock, with the lyrics as sophisticated as ever. The band seems to have taken everything that worked on The King Is Dead and take it even further. That may seem like a risk, but the payoff is exquisite. Whether you’re a literary thinker or a casual rocker, The Decemberists are continuing to rise.
  7. Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance by Belle and Sebastian: It might be a far cry from their Sinister days, but everybody’s favorite Glasgow septet are still churning out winners. They might not be the precious band everyone fell in love with anymore, but they haven’t lost their hearts, or their heads, in the process. They also have the best track of the year, the gorgeous “Ever Had A Little Faith?” which easily holds its own against their ‘90s peak material.
  8. Coming Home by Leon Bridges: With a voice reminiscent of Sam Cooke, Leon Bridges has created a record that sounds like it could have been released 50 or 60 years ago. His smooth voice perfectly accompanies these elegant R&B numbers. It’s a wisp of an album that recreates a past era rather than imitates it.
  9. b’lieve i’m goin’ down by Kurt Vile: The War On Drugs guitarist strips down his sound to create a blues rock album in the vein of Clapton. He’s got chops and his voice has charisma of  a young Dylan. There’s even traces of Crazy Horse in this album. There aren’t many studio tricks to these songs, not that Vile would need to hide behind them.
  10. Introducing… by Darlene Love: Old friends Darlene Love and Steve Van Zandt have met again to create a new set of songs for her powerhouse voice. Van Zandt calls favors from several friends and fans to provide Love—one of the greatest vocalists ever—with tunes right for her voice. Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Joan Jett, and Van Zandt contribute compositions that have the appeal of the Phil Spector-produced songs that put her name out there. The E Street sound is alive and well on this tune and Love’s voice doesn’t sound like it has aged in 50 years.