Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays and Joyous Festivus!
Below, you’ll find some of the greatest and best music of this entirely swell year, 2015.
On the compilations, there’s some acoustic folk (Charlie Parr, Mandolin Orange, Sufjan Stevens, Drew Holcomb), some upbeat rock (Bop English, Desaparacidos, Courtney Barnett, Alberta Cross) and some hard-to-categorize weird stuff (Ezra Furman, the Collection, Dad Rocks, Saintseneca).
There are some foot-stompers & handclappers (S.O.B, 15 Years, Singin’ to Strangers, Exeunt, Adventures of You & Me), some soulful grooviness (Music in Your Soul, Only You, O Mother), and at least a few mellow downers (River, How Much Light, On the Banks of the Old Kishwaukee, Death with Dignity, American Beauty).
There are songs by Americans, Kiwis, Brits, Canadians, and Australians.
If you find something you like, please support the artists — buy a cd, buy a t-shirt, go to a show, etc. etc.
Editor’s note: These mixes seem to go particularly well with eggnog.
1. Anderson East – Only You £
2. Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats – I Need Never Get Old β
3. JD McPherson – Let the Good Times Roll ¥
4. Rayland Baxter – Mr. Rodriguez Ω
5. Bird Dog – Rubble to Rubble (live @ Jam in the Van) ^
6. Foy Vance – Where Everybody Knows Your Name (live Gary Portnoy cover)
7. Spirit Family Reunion – It Does Not Bother Me
8. Josh Ritter – Getting Ready to Get Down
9. Bop English – Struck Matches
10. Phil Cook – 1922 (Charlie Parr cover)
11. Houndmouth – My Cousin Greg ~
12. Ezra Furman – Lousy Connection *
13. Christopher Paul Stelling – Hard Work
14. Charlie Parr – Over the Red Cedar
15. The Eastern – Talking Americana Cowboy Yeeha Blues #
16. Anna & Elizabeth – The Devil’s Nine Questions
17. Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear – Yellow Taxi ≥
18. The Decemberists – Anti-Summersong
19. Lord Huron – Fool for Love
20. Ryan Adams – How Much Light (live @ Carnegie Hall)
21. Eels – Fresh Feeling (live @ Royal Albert Hall)
22. Dawes – All Your Favorite Bands
£ Why not start with a swinging, timeless-sounding love song…
Β …or a foot-stomping, timeless-sounding rock song.
¥ Despite what your ears may be telling you, this is not a Chuck Berry cover. It really was written this year.
Ω Sixto Rodriguez is worth a quick google search if you get a minute.
^ “There’s a beauty in the silence that I chalk up to Christmas-time.” Yessir, indeed.
~ Indiana band likes partying and carrying on, dislikes greedy relatives and the limelight
*Chicago indie weirdo doo-wops his way through despondency, loneliness, and optimism
≥ Sibling bands are old hat, apparently. Parent/child bands are super-cool stuff though.
# New Zealand band takes jabs at Nashville, cowboys and “Wagon Wheel”. Usually this would be infuriating, but it’s a really good song.
1. Tyler Lyle – Ditchdigger *
2. Houndmouth – 15 Years
3. Jason Isbell – If It Takes a Lifetime
4. Gregory Alan Isakov – The Universe (live @ Fuel Friends Chapel)
5. Low Cut Connie – Shake It Little Tina %
6. Josh Ritter – Young Moses
7. Pokey LaFarge – Something in the Water
8. Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats – S.O.B. Ω
9. The Wood Brothers – Singin’ to Strangers #
10. Pigpen Theatre Company – Weathervane £
11. Astral Swans – Beginning of the End
12. Julien Baker – Something
13. Fort Frances – These are the Mountains Moving
14. Son Little – O Mother
15. Mandolin Orange – Old Ties & Companions
16. Anthony D’Amato – Good & Ready
17. Craig Finn – Maggie I’ve Been Searching for Our Son ≥
18. Courtney Barnett – Pedestrian at Best
19. Desaparacidos – City on the Hill π
20. The Collection – The Gown of Green
21. Leon Bridges – River
* There was a self-produced demo version of this song on the 2013 cd’s. This is the official one. They’re both pretty great.
% Yup, pretty sure “Tina” is a cross-dressing bearded dude.
Ω It’s too soon to tell, but this might give “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” a challenge for Greatest Drinking Song Ever.
# Ok, some sibling bands are still really good stuff.
$ This one is from arguably the best-titled album of the year: All My Favorite Singers are Willie Nelson
£ The name isn’t a mistake; these folks are a band and a legitimate traveling theatre company.
≥ I listened to this song a dozen times and had no clue what it was “really” about. My wife heard the first 30 seconds and goes “Oh, so this song’s about god and stuff, right? ‘Maggie’ is Mary Magdalene.” Whoa. I think she might be right. Mind=Blown.
π Conor Oberst temporarily trades in bitter, angsty folk for bitter, angry political rock instead.
1. Fort Frances – Anonymous
2. Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats – Howling at Nothing
3. The Oh Hellos – Exeunt
4. Langhorne Slim – To Bring You My Love
5. Ezra Furman – Ordinary Life
6. Mathien – Wurlitzer Crowley
7. Saintseneca – Such Things
8. Iron and Wine w/ Ben Bridwell – Done This One Before
9. Modest Mouse – Lampshades on Fire
10. Alberta Cross – Ghost of Santa Fe
11. Small Houses – Staggers and Rise
12. River City Extension – Indian Summer
13. Ryan Bingham – Adventures of You & Me
14. Ryley Walker – On the Banks of the Old Kishwaukee
15. Dad Rocks! – Waves
16. Lord Huron – Cursed
17. Sufjan Stevens – Death with Dignity
18. Love and the Zealous – Music in Your Soul
19. Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors – American Beauty
20. Adult Mom – Told Ya So
21. Jake Pearson – Chamomile