As they say this time of year, another one has passed and it is quite a thing to look back on what happened that year. Plenty blogs surely will incline to both good and terrible things that happened last year, I would love to concentrate on what music intrigued me this year.
There were plenty comebacks and also plenty interesting and excellent albums. These twenty I have chosen are from my point of view one of the best I have noticed.
20. RINGO STARR – POSTCARDS FROM PARADISE
As solo careers of The Beatles go, I have followed Ringos the least. Apart from “Photograph” I was not very intrigued but I was certainly curious. When Postcards from Paradise were released, on my birthday no less, 31 March, I had to listen. The top note to this album is the fact, that this album is so happy you just have to listen to it. Unlike his other albums where he was looking for his sound, here Ringo came to what he knew best and what he loved. You can feel it through whole album.
19. IMAGINE DRAGONS – SMOKE + MIRRORS
Even though they are sometimes put into mix with many teenage bands Imagine Dragons have their own sound and presence about both studio and live work. Their second album, following high selling debute, Smoke + Mirrors (11.2.2015) was a bit of an unsure ground. At first I was sceptical about this release but the more I listened to it the more I loved it. This albums have it all, it has rock songs (I am so Sorry) and emotional songs (like “Dreams”). To listen to Smoke + Mirrors is to go onto path for many possible moods and it is album I have enjoyed though this year couple times.
18. NEW ORDER – MUSIC COMPLETE
I am a big fan of the good old New Order albums so this new release (even though it is without Peter Hook for first time) took me by surprise. Of course, the sounds would develop but unlike Duran Duran who went completely with the times where music is now (at least in mainstream) New Order stayed true to their sound and listening to Music Complete (25.9.2015), although it feels like new record, takes you to the club back in time. There is no particular melody I would remember but I sure have great moving about when listening.
17. GLEN HANSARD – DIDN’T HE RAMBLE
Out of Glen Hansard & Markéta Irglová duo, I have always inclined to the female singer who comes from Czech republic, as do I (her 2014 album “Muna” worths a check). When “Didn’t He Ramble” was released on 18th September I was nicely surprised by this beautiful indie folk/rock. Hansard placed everything on his second solo album, his charming voice, empathy resonating in his lyrics but also his Irish roots.
16. WILCO – STAR WARS
New album from american group Wilco, Star Wars released July 16 this year will catch you right on. Even though it is labelled as alternative rock music, it reminds me of an arcade games from the 90’s. This album to me is based on its experimental and alternative music than right fitting vocals. Base of this album was so outside mainstream comfort zone it’s Grammy awards nominations surprised me 🙂
15. CRAIG ARMSTRONG – VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN
When I do these sort of lists, I won’t do them without score music, which are my passion. One of my favorite composers is also Brit Craig Armstrong who composed score to new thriller adventure adaptation of Frankenstein story, “Victor Frankenstein” released November 11. I have always admired Armstrong for his unique combination of classical music with electronics and rock elements. And this story asked exactly for that. Soundtrack fits the film beautifully but it’s dark, thrilling and melodic music works just fine alone.
14. SUFJAN STEVENS – CARRIE & LOWELL
The atmospheres and melodies on albums of Sufjan Stevens are always heart-warming and easy to listen to. His new album released 31 March is no exception. What derives Stevens from other endless list of indie genre oriented musicians is his precision with sound and vocals. Right on the first track “Death with Dignity” you are stuck with beautiful melody, lyrics and arranges which continues through the whole album.
13. HURTS – SURRENDER
Sure, it’s not their strongest album and yes, they do sound happier but in my eyes, “Surrender” (October 6th) from British duo “Hurts” should be in my top 20. Unlike Adele, whose heart is still sadly broken (although little lighter on her “25”) Hurts made path from their little flat in Liverpool to big concert halls and their emotion changes are heard on their third studio album. Even though many hardcore fans seem not to hear these melancholic electronic duo in the new release, they are still there. Surrender is lyrically and melodically strong album with little more dancing.
12. PANDA BEAR – PANDA BEAR MEETS THE GRIM REAPER
Playful album from Panda Bear released with freshly new year on January 9th holds energetic approach to dark and psychedelic topic of grim reaper. This album debut single “Mr. Noah” is enough reason to go for the Panda Bear playful release which holds the music ability to transform you to that one magical place you can dream up by the listening. The top of this albums are lyrics and melodies which are both rich and empowering.
11. KEITH RICHARDS – CROSSEYED HEART
The Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards caused quit an excitement this year with his solo album “Crosseyed Heart” released September 18. This was exciting news because it was quite a while we’re heard something new from Mr. Richards and he did not disappointed at all. His album was exactly what you wanted to be, rich blues melodies which are rarely written these days. Of course blues in it’s purest form is big influence to Keith Richards and exactly that can be heard on this album.
10. EWERT AND THE TWO DRAGONS – CIRCLES
Estonian band Ewert and the Two Dragons deserves so much more attention than it is given. Third album from this indie band released on February 20th was named “Circles” and comes with yet another set of thought through indie folk. Ewert and the Two Dragons have heart-warming lyrics and riffs that you simply will remember. As indie folk folks go, these would be my favorite.
9. CAGE THE ELEPHANT – TELL ME I’M PRETTY
Freshly released (December 18) fourth studio album by rock band Cage The Elephant is in my eyes the best so far. From the first son the energy catches you within the energetic rock’n’roll (ish) tempo. To me this album is vocally and musically equal to each other and very honest with what it wants to say. This is one alternative rock (if you like) band to follow.
8. GARY CLARK JR. – THE STORY OF SONNY BOY SLIM
Dear boy, where to start on this one. I have fallen in love with Gary Clark Jr. with first tone I have heard. His first full debut album was a brilliant rough blues music which was so melodic even sceptical blues fans must fall in love with it. But this fourth album, that is one smooth road with story, melody, emotions and perfection. It may feel like little too much praise but this album is just art.
7. GRAVEYARD – INNOCENCE & DECADENCE
Graveyard is a Swedish band which is often put into genres somewhere between hard rock and rock music. They have a lot more in their style than just that. Graveyard are a band whose sound could be easily misled for that of the era between 60’s and 70’s having many influences in their tones. It is melodic, bit psychedelic and heavily energetic music. Their new album released September 25 is no difference.
6. THE WANTON BISHOPS – SLEEP WITH THE LIGHTS ON
The Wanton Bishops are a blues duo from Lebanon who make such an energetic blues rock music that even The Black Keys would jump in joy. Their album is so addictive and you can feel such passion it is one of these music project you just feel need to see live, because you just know it’s going to be great. This guys from Beirut you must listen to.
5. MUSE – DRONES
As a big Muse fan from album number one, I was naturally excited. I was also hopeful for more old sound than that of “2nd Law” and my high hopes were listened to. Drones is a rock pleasure with keen message, as Muse do, this time concentrating on political issues and their blindness. Drones are most rock album they did in last few years. It’s pumped with energy and riffs you just want to run to.
4. DAVID GILMOUR – RATTLE THAT LOCK
David Gilmours highly anticipated album “Rattle That Lock” is just reminder of his years in Pink Floyd and how significant his guitar and voice was to this famous band. Right with first track we are taken couple decades back with this high quality sound. The whole album is a beautiful journey to the Gilmours mind and is very easy to listen to, which was always the quality I admired in David Gilmour.
3. HARRY GREGSON-WILLIAMS – THE MARTIAN
The Martian was a hit as film and the company of it’s both score and soundtrack is equally thrilling. Harry Gregson-Williams ensured that his new score was both melodic and thrilling in and outside of the film. With the film though, this is a pure joy of both picture and music storytelling walking hand in hand, as they say. For me, this was best and most unique score of 2015.
2. FLORENCE + THE MACHINE – HOW BIG, HOW BLUE, HOW BEAUTIFUL
Florence is a magical creature with in today mainstream music unique feeling for authentic creativity and ever so charming weirdness. That all is accompanied by her very strong voice and fascinating music. Her third studio album combines what we heard the the last two releases, one thing remaining the same, epic storytelling in the lyrics.
1. THE FRATELLIS – EYES WIDE, TONGUE TIDE
When I was thinking about all the albums I have listened too these past twelve months, I probably forgot quite a few, The Fratellis would not be my first Top 1 choice but when I look back, it is the album I have most fun listening to over and over. I always find something new and exciting on the new record of my second favorite Scottish band (first being of course The Proclaimers). They have everything I love in their music, fancy tunes with playful addictions of rock’n’roll, indie, rock and all. The Fratellis made a great new album and are my 2015 number 1.
So, there are my top twenty albums of this year. You would most definitely be not your choice, but that is what it beautiful on music. Be it as it may, all of these twenty albums were of high quality and if you did not have the pleasure before, be sure to give it a try.
There are of course plenty I have not mentioned which are just as good as these lot. To name a few: Leon Bridges – Coming Home, Motörhead – Bad Magic, Blur – The Magic Whip, Tame Impala – The Currents or Björk – Vulnicura.
I am writing this in central european time, so for me this is still 2015. And already I am excited about the new music, plenty of which will come right next week. So, HAPPY NEW YEAR.