11) Spock’s Beard “Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep”
I like Ted Leonard, possibly because he just seemed like a cool guy after seeing him question the number of Jack and Coke’s he was drinking during the Progressive Nation at Sea cruise in 2014. I don’t always love his voice though. The standout track to me on this one is Bennett Built a Time Machine, which is fitting since it’s a rare chance for Jimmy Keegan to take over lead vocals. Hopefully he does more singing in the future.
12) School of Rock Musical Soundtrack
I’ve always had a soft spot for the original movie, and most things that Jack Black has done have been fairly entertaining. It doesn’t appear that Jack had anything to do with the musical however. The music seemed very similar to Springs Awakening, which is fitting since they both depict life at a boarding school. Luckily, however, no one appears to kill themselves in School of Rock.
13) Dave Rawlings Machine “Nashville Obsolete”
Everything about this album is brilliant, even down to the album artwork. It’s hard to categorize as well; maybe Progressive Americana? Songs range from the insomnia-inducing catchyness (in a good way) of “Candy”, to the hauntingly confusing “Bodysnatchers”. Dave and Gillian Welch surround themselves with some younger talent that add a modern progressive bluegrass twist to Dave’s unique genius.
14) Iron Maiden “The Book of Souls”
Iron Maiden aren’t going to fade-away and phone things in. They will eventually metal themselves to death. They’ve been rocking for nearly 40 years but it’s not surprising that their 2015 album was a double album full of epic tunes. Sometimes their epicly long songs can get repetitive (see The Clansman), but in this case the songs earn their length.
15) Dawes “All Your Favorite Bands”
While not quite as good as “Stories Don’t End”, this album shines with the thoughtful lyrics of its ballads.
16) Jason Isbell “Something More Than Free”
This album’s easy to digest quickly, but repeated listens show that the genius of this album is in its simplicity. It doesn’t try to be alternative like the Drive-by Truckers did. It just tries to sound good.
17) Finding Neverland Musical Soundtrack
Overall this was a good year for musicals, though everything was out-shined by Hamilton. It was written by a British pop-song writer but it sounds more like Andrew Lloyd Webber than School of Rock did. That’s a compliment.
18) Dear Hunter “Act IV: Rebirth In Reprise”
I don’t think I give Dear Hunter enough credit, or listens. I loved some of the early ACT albums, but I never fully digested The Color Spectrum. I blame myself.
19) Winery Dogs “Hot Streak”
I like the Winery Dogs but this album seemed more of the same to me. Songs were catchy but I don’t think I listened to it after the first few months of play. It’s still one of the better post-Dream Theater projects from Mike Portnoy. Certainly better than 2015’s Metal Alliance.
20) Nightwish “Endless Forms Most Beautiful”
I don’t really care who their singer is at this point. Nightwish is Nightwish and they always provide a nice soundtrack to slay dragons to.
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