After two years, I’m back! With another end-of-year post! 2013 was a music year for me, 2014 wasn’t. Hence the no blogging thing. There’s also the fact that I realized how long it took to write blog posts and sophomore/junior year in Chemical Engineering meant I had to prioritize schoolwork. Granted, I’m still working on that degree but I feel as though I am on the other side. Just over five months left and I’ll have my degree! Well, 2015 was another music year to be sure. I will sum of the best of it with this post. Also, if you contrast this to my 2013 end-of-year post… its very interesting to notice the changes in my music taste.
10. Mumford and Sons – Wilder Mind
Standout Track: Tompkins Square Park
Standout Lyric: “I only told you one lie when it could have been a thousand/It might as well have been a thousand.”
So basically I hated Mumford and Sons, and then they said they were getting rid of the banjos, and I thought I might give them a chance. This album impressed me. Hardcore Mumford fans might not have liked it, but I actually think I like Mumford and Sons. And I’m obsessed with “Tompkins Square Park”.
9. Muse – Drones
Standout Track: Mercy
Standout Lyric: “And tell me why the men in cloaks/Always have to bring me down/Running from the ghosts and shadows/The world just disavows”
Another fine effort from one of my favorite bands. Mercy is one of my favorite tracks of theirs, ever. However, I thought the rest of the album to be a bit lacking in places. A lot of heavy songs that sounded similar. If you’re an old-time Muse fan who likes their first few albums, this will fit in well.
8. Blurryface – Twenty One Pilots
Standout Tracks: Tear In My Heart, Lane Boy, The Judge
Standout Lyric: “Don’t trust a perfect person and don’t trust a song that’s flawless”
I love love love love their first album, Vessel. I like Blurryface, but I am not sure that it lived up to my hopes initially, but it grew on me. Twenty One Pilot’s unique blend of alternative/hip-hop/electronic has made them crazy popular and I think they deserve the attention. They are truly making unique, genuine music.
7. Venus – Joy Williams
Standout Track: Before I Sleep, Until the Levee
Standout Lyric: “And even though right now, I don’t feel strong/One day I will”
I was never a huge Civil Wars fan, but I like Williams’ voice so I decided to give her solo album a chance. I was so glad I did. This is the perfect collection of peaceful music with meaningful lyrics that cut deep. I was captivated by the authenticity in William’s stories of her pain and triumph. The only criticism I have is that a lot of the songs sound the same and can be rather slow. It’s more the kind of album I would put on in the background (with the exception of a few songs). However, I would highly recommended if you like female folk singer-songwriters.
6. The Desired Effect – Brandon Flowers
Standout Tracks: Dreams Come True, Between You and Me, Lonely Town
Standout Lyric: “Did you lock the door when it shut/Did you see the knife when it cut”
The second solo album from the frontman of my favorite band gave me a lot to enjoy, but nothing to love. There aren’t any songs I would say rank with the best of The Killers. However, when I don’t compare Brandon’s solo effort to The Killers (which I really shouldn’t), it is a fine collection of music. There is still Brandon’s trademark voice, some great beats (“Can’t Deny My Love”, “Lonely Town”), great storytelling (“Between Me and You”, “Digging Up The Heart”, “The Way It’s Always Been”). However, overall, I think Brandon’s lyric writing has seen better days- I especially noticed this when I was looking for a standout lyric. Even though I did enjoy The Desired Effect, I felt like this was just a holdover until the next Killers album.
5. The Firewatcher’s Daughter – Brandi Carlile
Standout Tracks: The Things I Regret, Beginning to Feel The Years
Standout Lyric: “There’s a hole in my pocket where my dreams fell through/From a sidewalk in the city to the avenue”
Apparently Brandi Carlile has been around for awhile, but I discovered her this year when I heard “Wherever Is Your Heart” on the radio. I went straight to the album and within one listen I was captivated by her storytelling, unique voice, and great songwriting. There’s something very authentic about this album that I enjoyed.
4. After It All – Delta Rae
Standout Tracks: Cold Day in Heaven, Scared
Standout Lyric: “I’m swirling softly/Drifting like the cream in your coffee”
The sophomore effort from Delta Rae, After It All, did not disappoint. This is a band that needs more recognition (as with many others on this list). The vocals, the lyrics, the emotion, this album is just beautiful.
3. Something More Than Free – Jason Isbell
Standout Tracks: If It Takes a Lifetime, 24 Frames, The Life You Chose
Standout Lyric: “You made some new friends after the show but you’ll forget their names, in 24 frames”
24 Frames got me hooked on Jason Isbell. Something More Than Free (the album, not the song, although the song is great too) made me fall in love with Jason Isbell and his ability to tell a story. Then I listened to the rest of his discography and I have a new favorite artist. The soundtrack to the second half of my summer, this album is a collection of wonderful stories with incredible musicality. I have Dawes to thank for my discovery of Isbell.
2. Various Artists – Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast)
Standout Tracks: Alexander Hamilton, Satisfied, Wait for It, Non-Stop
Standout Lyric: “Who lives, who dies, who tells your story”
If you like history or Broadway or hip hop or music, listen to Hamilton. If you haven’t listened to Hamilton yet, go listen to Hamilton. The only soundtrack on this list but well deserving of its spot. This album reminded me of why I love Broadway and subsequently, I have listened to little else in the last 2 months or so. However, beware, the second act might bring a tear to your eye. Or more.
1. Dawes – All Your Favorite Bands
Standout Tracks: I Can’t Think About It Now, To Be Completely Honest, Right On Time (and basically all the others)
Standout Lyric: “The universe continues expanding while we discuss particulars of just being friends”
Released in June, this quickly become my summer soundtrack. The lyrics, the songwriting, the solos, the way the band members work together, this is what music should be. This is the best effort Dawes has released to date. Taylor Goldsmith is one of my new favorite people. This album, and Dawes in general, led me to so many more new music discoveries. If I could only listen to one album for the rest of my life, well, it might be this one.
Honorable Mention – other things I enjoyed but didn’t crack the top 10.
CHVRCHES – Every Open Eye
Ryan Adams – 1989
Frank Turner – Positive Songs For Negative People
Death Cab for Cutie – Kintsugi