This year, we asked Shank readers and contributors what their favorites of 2015 were without the whole rigmarole of creating a list. We also asked them to give a few sentences what made it their favorite. These are the results.
FAVORITE ALBUM: SOMETIMES I SIT AND THINK, AND SOMETIMES I JUST SIT BY COURNEY BARNETT
BENN RAY: Lyrically one of the more charming albums I've heard in ages. But more than that, Barnett also has some pretty decent songs to back up those lyrics. I'll admit that I had to struggle at first to get past her Australian accent, but listening to her sing "Depreston" on repeat was a pretty easy fix.
FAVORITE ALBUM: I LOVE YOU HONEYBEAR BY FATHER JOHN MISTY
JAMIE PARRISH: It sounds like all those albums from the '70s when musicians would rent a house in the Hollywood hills to hold up and record an album hoping the golden west would produce a sound that would convey their desire for a happier time. This album does all that but much better than any band from the '70s ever did or could.
FAVORITE SONG: "I LOVE YOU HONEYBEAR" BY FATHER JOHN MISTY
LAURIE ROLLINS ANDERSON: Romantic orchestration and raw, graphic lyrics.
FAVORITE ALBUM: SOMETHING MORE THAN FREE BY JASON ISBELL
CARL D. ORR: There are definitely individual songs from other artists I like more than any one song on Isbell's record. But for flat-out quality songwriting and end-to-end listenability, he's doing it right. Thanks for asking.
FAVORITE ALBUM: EDGE OF THE SUN BY CALEXICO
STEVE ASHBY: There was a lot of good music that came out in 2015, but this album spent the most time in my CD player. A beautiful record.
FAVORITE ALBUM: SILVER BULLETS BY THE CHILLS
DON CLARK: After almost two decades, New Zealand's finest return with a super-jangly, guitar-heavy masterpiece.
FAVORITE ALBUM: MCIII BY MIKAL CRONIN
SKIZZ CYZYK: Too often I hear a songwriter described as “original” only to discover “predictable” would have been more accurate. I don’t see a lot of raving about Mikal Cronin’s songwriting, but over the course of his first three albums now, he really deserves a lot of the hype other artists are getting. Catchy, fun influences, and songs that didn’t write themselves… I’ll take more of that whenever I can get it.
FAVORITE RECORD: POISON SEASON BY DESTROYER
HOWARD YANG: No reason given.
FAVORITE ALBUM: FULL OF HELL & MERZBOW BY FULL OF HELL & MERZBOW
JONATHAN SUPER: Noise that is concrete and sterile. You know, something you can hang on to.
FAVORITE ALBUM: 1989 BY RYAN ADAMS
ADRIENNE KINSEY: All of your favorite songs from Taylor Swift's 1989 but now as a folksy version. Can't get enough of this record.
FAVORITE COVERS RECORD: 1989 BY RYAN ADAMS
BENN RAY: Taylor Swift + Ryan Adams = pretty decent Bruce Springsteen
FAVORITE GIMMICK ALBUM: TIE!!!
1989 BY RYAN ADAMS
MEOW THE JEWELS BY RUN THE JEWELS
JESSE MORGAN: Whether it's the former Mr. Mandy Moore singing T.Swift songs, or remixing Killer Mike & El-P to the sound of cats meowing and purring, THESE are the best records from 2015 to bump in your CR-V and get confused looks about.
FAVORITE COMEBACK: NO CITIES TO LOVE BY SLEATER-KINNEY
BENN RAY: I would say shortly after their first or second record, I thought to myself, "I really dig this, but how many records of this sound am I going to need?" Years later, the correct answer is "All of them." S-K manage to explore new areas and with each record, and No Cities To Love is their New Wave record. One of the best albums of the year.
FAVORITE FIRST NEW RECORD IN 50 YEARS: THIS IS THE SONICS BY THE SONICS
BENN RAY: No, this isn't an archival collection - this is The Sonics' first, new, proper record of new material in nearly 50 years. And it hits harder than just about any other rock-n-roll record that came out in 2015.
FAVORITE COUNTRY MUSIC: TIE!!!
TRAVELLER BY CHRIS STAPLETON
PAGEANT MATERIAL BY KACEY MUSGRAVES
BENN RAY: I tend to prefer my country music to include some kind of qualifying prefix like ALT or "Old" or something... anything that delineates it from the mainstream pop sludge that comes out of Nashville and calls itself "country music." This year, these two releases had me dropping the prefixes to my country listening and wrestling my comfortability. And I'm happier for having done it.
FAVORITE SINGLE: BANK ROLLS REMIX BY TATE KOBANG
DIRTY MARTY: I remember years ago reading a Tom Waits interview where he suggested that a good way to make songs more interesting is to use names of your town's specific bars and streets and neighborhoods. Mr. Kobang goes nuts with this advice, filling the track to overflowing with Baltimore geographic information.
Another important aspect of this choice is the fact that that I discovered this song on actual terrestrial radio. I was returning from an errand and happened to have the radio on 92Q. I heard it from the very beginning as I was parking and I was trapped in the car, transfixed. Now, I ask you, how many more times in our lives can this possibly happen? I might hear an NPR interview with a music blogger who has curated a list of important music, sure, but this was a moment where I was listening to a commercial music station and a DJ decided to play a local independent track and I heard it and said “Holy shit, this is amazing!” I’m not sure, but I’m nostalgic enough that I’m already treasuring the memory of first hearing Bank Rolls Remix.
FAVORITE LIVE SHOW: MY MORNING JACKET AT RED ROCKS
JAMIE WATSON: Yeah, we're goddamn hippies.
OTHER FAVORITE MUSIC MOMENTS OF THE YEAR
JONATHAN SUPER: It was great to play with Coke Bust. It was great hear and see O Inimigo. Suck Thoughts is a butt.
FAVORITE PODCAST: MILLENNIAL
JAMIE PARRISH: Once you get past all the stuff indulgent generational navel gazing there is a good story with great production quality.
FAVORITE PODCAST: THE MYSTERY SHOW
HOWARD YANG: Starlee Kine solves mysteries and on the way meets Brittany Spears and measures Jake Gyllenhaal's height
5 FAVORITE REGGAE ALBUMS
BY DAVE ALIMA
5. Iba Mahr- Travelling Home.
While Iba Mahr had a breakthrough hit with his chune Diamond Sox (a tribute to argyle socks) I prefer this one as it displays the subtly and beauty of his voice.
4. King Mas- As I Rise
Great riddim by Green Lion Crew and King Mas rides it tight and heavy.
3. J. Boog and Sizzla- Stand Firm
J Boog,the Compton born singer, has had a nice few years with quality releases. This is on the Social riddim and he has a pretty nice chune going when in comes Sizzla and lights the whole place on fyah!
2. Kabaka Pyramid- Well Done
Kabaka Pyramid is one of the musicians in the new roots revival (along with Iba Mahr, Proteje, and of course Chronixx). This is a brilliant sarcastic applause to all the politicians trying their absolute best to destroy our country/world. As Kabaka says...give thanks for the effort.
1. Macka B- Never Played a 45
Sometimes reggae music is full of word play and double meanings but often times there are songs based on a singular straightforward concept. This song by legendary dancehall toaster Macka B is literally about 7" 45 records. Let me just put this lyric from the song right here....
"Now i'm not saying that you should be playing the 7" 45 only
but if you are able go buy a turntable- you can even get one with a usb."
Listen to this song and watch this video!