Music Uncategorized

My 30 Top Albums of 2015 — A New Approach

21) Sara Bareilles “What’s Inside: Songs From Waitress”

I liked this one way more then expected. It played like Ben Folds wrote a musical in the style of Rent. I made me go back and review some of Sara’s previous (non-broadway) albums to see if I was missing something. I concluded I wasn’t, but I hope she continues down the Broadway path.

22) Bryan Adams “Get Up”

There’s a soft spot in my heart for Bryan Adams and each of his greatest hits play as a different soundtrack to my childhood. But I didn’t know any music from him after “Waking up the Neighbors” in 1991. Most of these songs would have fit well on that album.

23) Watkins Family Hour “Watkins Family Hour”

An album of all covers by a group that I imagine to be a whole lot of fun to see live. My favorite tunes were the ones where I wasn’t familiar with the original recording, though it may have been coincidental. While Robert Earl Keen did an album of covers, Sara’s version of his song “Feeling Good Again” seemed a bit dry. I did really like the build-up and eventual groove of Hop High.

24) Joe Satriani “Shockwave Supernova”

I like my Joe Satriani to have catchy songs that get stuck in my head and make me want to by a Sony Discman. Shockwave Supernova had some hum-able tunes.

25) Shovels & Rope “Busted Jukebox Vol. 1”

What made this album stick out to me was the wonderful selection of cover songs, not necessarily their renditions, though they grew on me. The noodling guitar on Patience (from the Milk Carton Guy) fit perfectly. I’d certainly check out a Volume 2 if it happens.

26) Angra “Secret Garden”

I was first introduced to Brazil’s Angra in 2001 with their rebirth album. It stood out in the sea of symphonic prog metal with some South American nuances. Secret Garden stood out in 2015 as a solid metal album.

27) The Weepies “Sirens”

Most Weepies albums have had some stand-out songs among a few forgettably quirky ones. Sirens stood out to me for being consistent throughout.

28) Teen Beach 2 Soundtrack

I’ve already written more about Teen Beach 2 than a grown man should in his spare time, but as anecdotes go, I have one. My 4-year-old got slightly obsessed with Teen Beach 2 after I had already recorded my second opus cover. The two of us were returning from a hot Green River Festival in western Mass in my 2007 Accord, with no ability to play my iPod through the speakers. We ended up listening to two songs from the soundtrack on the tiny iPhone speakers on repeat the entire way home. As the summer went on she accepted more and more songs in the rotation, but her obsession started on this road trip home. If this list was based on play counts it’s very possible that this album would be #1.

29) Blitzen Trapper

Blitzen Trapper has a few sides to them. They have an Americana singer-songerwriter side, but also a funky side. It’s the combination that makes them unique. The needle moved further towards the funk for their previous few albums, but for this one it was squarely in the middle. A classic rock station could play this album, and Dawes, and no one would question whether or not they came right out of the 70s.

30) Gloryhammer “Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards”

This was one of the first albums I discovered on Apple Music by clicking on albums with cool covers in genres I liked. The album starts with some Aryeon-style synth followed by the lyric “In the distant future of the year 1992, war has returned to the galaxy”. This led me to believe that this could be a funny metal album since it’s hard for me to take the year that Kris Kross released “Jump” seriously. But this wasn’t an album about the separation of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. It was a seriously fun symphonic metal album.

Honorable Mentions

It’s impossible to be sure, but I suspect that many of these albums would have made the top 30 if it was determined by only play count. However, they didn’t seem to make a good, or accessible, solo piano version. Here’s a handful that I’m grateful to be able to electively skip this year.

Native Construct
Vanden Plas
Between The Buried and Me
Nathaniel Radcliffe
Symphony X
Josh Ritter

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