12/15/2015 6:55:34 AM
Todd's top albums of 2015
1. The Butterscotch Cathedral - The Butterscotch Cathedral: Wildly melodic, creatively arranged psych, presented as 2 long suites separated by a short blast of stoner/sludge fuzz rock. Very accomplished and fully immersive. A psychedelic masterpiece.
2. Summer Fiction - Himalaya: Was my #1 for a while. Very twee: too twee for many. And maybe a bit derivative. But, for me, there is no denying the song craft and the gorgeous melodies. Great, lush arrangements, too.
3. The Thons - Hot Fun: Still tons of fun. Great, angular pro to punk, that owes some serious debts to both The Fall and Television. But, with more energy than either of those bands. This is their first album to have a hint of psychedelia creep in. And it's their best-recorded effort, too.
4. The Chills - Silver Bullet: Incredible that a band this far into their career can release an album this damn good. Sounds like classic Chills, and yet, that sound has never gotten old. Definition of "timeless" I suppose.
5. Dr. Cosmo's Tape Lab - Coconut Summer Drop-In 432: One of two albums that this band released this year, both of which made my top 10. This one adopts a very obvious Beach Boys inspiration that some may find cloying. But I think it's extremely well-done and a lot of fun.
6. Courtney Barnett - Sometime I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit: This one was a definite grower. Love her lyrics and delivery, though. reminds me of Liz Phair, if Liz weren't obsessed with blow jobs and fucking.
7. Father John Misty - I Love You, Honeybear: This is just freaking gorgeous, orchestral pop. Some folks might find it kinda bombastic, but not me. I love it.
8. Dr. Cosmo's Tape Lab - Beyond the Silver Sea: The other album these guys released this year that make my top 10. This one is a bit more traditional day-glo pop-psych. A concept album about some journey or somethingorother. Who cares? It's fun as hell. For fans of Of Montreal, Olivia Tremor Control, and the like.
9. Salad Boys - Metalmania: Wraps up a whole ton of great influences (REM, The Chills, The Clean, Sonic Youth) into one great sound. As enjoyable as it is derivative.
10. Ultimate Painting - Green Lanes: Reminiscent of both Flying Nun stuff of the 80s and 90s and bands that I remember from the local Chicago scene in the 90s, two sounds that I adore.
11. Dick Diver - Melbourne, Florida: Great male/female power pop that avoids most of those power pop clichés that I've grown kinda tired of.
12. Joe Pisapia - Nightvision: His first (and only other) solo album came out in 2002, so it's been a long wait. And, while this one is not quite to the level of the other, it's also no disappointment. For fans of : Nick Drake, Elliot Smith, Guster, Songs:Ohia.
13. Yo La Tengo - Stuff Like That, There: Yup. Just another great record from YLT. I dig this side of them.
14. Dogbowl - Zone of Blue: Just got this near the end of the year but, after a first couple of listens, I am plugging it in here as a temporary location on my list. Because, there is no doubt that it will be in here somewhere. It's classic Dogbowl, and I love classic Dogbowl.
15. H. Hawkline - In the Pink of Condition: Produced by Cate Le Bon, this has her fingerprints all over it. And, for me, that is never a bad thing. More Cate = more good.
16. Here We Go Magic - Get Small: Inspired by an album that I love—the Eno/Cale collaboration from 1990. Hits on a lot of the things that I love about that album, too. They did it right.
17. DRINKS - Hermits On Holiday: Speaking of Cate Le Bon, this has her teaming up with Tim Presley from White Fences. But it doesn't really sound like either of them. It's a weird little throwaway record that is more engaging than it has any right to be.
18. Invisible Astro Healing Rhythm Quartet - 2: Combines Ethiopian funk grooves, modern jazz, and Thrill Jockey-style post rock, with the occasional country ingress. Guess you can't help it when you hail from Bakersfield. An album that gives more with each listen, this one may creep up my list at some point.
19. The Pawns - Last Things First: Sneaking its way on to my list, this release from a guy that I met on the long-ago internets. Bob Elliott has a soulful rasp that sounds like Ray La Montagne on a good day. But his songs are so, so, so much better. And the production is just classic soul, with a hint of acoustic country. Really great stuff.
20. R. Stevie Moore & Jason Falkner - Make It Be: Wasn't so sure that I liked this one at first. But, RSM's weirdo tendencies have always been tempered by some very solid melodies, and partnering with Falkner did, in the end, bring out some pretty great stuff. And while there are some definite head scratchers on here, it's still pretty damn good. A grower, for sure.
21. Blur - The Magic Whip: Parts of it are great, parts of it are just good. But it's definitely worthwhile for fans. A very welcome return.
22. Tame Impala - Currents: My first real exposure to these guys and I like it quite a bit.
23. Dungen - Allas Sak: Never really dug these guys so much as appreciated them, until this album. This one I am actually enjoying, as well. Maybe it'll get me going back to investigate their other albums, again.
24. Keith James - From the Grey EP:Yeah, so my friend played bass, but that does not change the fact that there is some outstanding neo-retro soul on this plate. You will dig if you like stuff like Raphael Saadiq's last couple of records and Aloe Blacc's first album.
25. Wilco - Star Wars: It's Wilco. It's a good Wilco record. A couple of their other recent records would not have made my list. But this one does.
26. Ashtray Boy - Painted With the Mouth: Bi-continental (Melbourne/Chicago) indie rock band still sounds like they're stuck in 1987. But I dig that sound, so I am digging this record. And Randall Lee still has a great baritone. For fans of fIREHOSE, Meat Puppets, Hüsker Dü, and the SST sound of the 80s, in general.
27. Belle & Sebastian - Girls In Peacetime Want to Dance: Another fine album from B&S. Not upper echelon, but that would be asking a lot. Still, a fine, enjoyable record. Satisfying for fans.
28. Cleaners From Venus - Rose of the Lanes: Came out in December. If it came out earlier, it might very well be higher up on my list, but… Anyway, it's just another Martin Newell record and, as recent Newell records go, it's a pretty good one. He's always worth listening to.
29. Best Coast - California Nights: Bethany's band got a shiny new coat of gloss for this one. It sounds nice, but I think I like their scrappy stripped-down sound better. Still, the songs are good, like they always are.
30. Mystic Braves - Days of Yesteryear: Pretty much a pure genre exercise (psychedelic pop-rock) and not a whole lot more. But it works on that level. Good songs and the sounds are dead-on. Sounds like it could have been released 47 years ago.
And, for reference, here is a Spotify playlist with songs from most of the albums on the list. (Some of them, like Bob Elliott's album—The Pawns—are not on there.)