Part two of my three part series for music in 2015 takes me to my secondary top 10 list highlighting the second tier of my favorite albums of the year. The first part highlighting my honorary mentions can be found here. Stay tuned for the first tier top 10 coming soon.
20-William Fitzsimmons – Pittsburgh (Deluxe)
“Pittsburgh” is the first album of a handful that intimately tackles the subject of the loss of a loved one within my collection of favorites this year. The heavy subject matter and vulnerable lyrics of Fitzsimmons’ make the album difficult to listen to, but easy to relate. Any form of loss experienced within your personal life can be represented in one or more of these songs. “I Had to Carry Her” is one of the more tear-inducing songs I’ve heard in recent memory. Do not listen to this album in public as you may show certain emotions that you would otherwise not want to show spontaneously while not in the confines of your home. The therapeutic nature of the album is enough to be considered as a favorite of 2015.
essential tracks: Better, I Had to Carry Her (Virginia’s Song), Matter
19-Joey Cape – Stitch Puppy
Tony Sly and Joey Cape were two of my adolescent idols growing up. Not a day passed during high school that I did not play No Use For A Name’s Leche Con Carne or Lagwagon’s Trashed during an afternoon that I was supposed to be doing Algebra homework. Since Tony Sly’s untimely passing Cape has become one to dwell on the more dark sides of life. Even records released by Cape with Lagwagon since Sly’s death seem to come with a darker tone to them. Call it a coincidence, call it cause and effect, call it whatever you want but as the punk rockstars of the 90s reach their 40s Joey Cape has found new reasons to write songs without seeming cliché or selling out.
essential tracks: Spill My Guts, Gone Baby Gone, This Life Strange
18-Widowspeak – All Yours
I want to like this album much more than I actually do. Still it remains to be known that I really enjoy it. To compare the collide of two conflicting genres of music would only partially explain the reasons I found to enjoy the songs here. To see nothing more from this duo after this, their 3rd album, would be enough to induce an anxiety attack because they seem so close to that perfect 10-tracked shoegazing pop album.
essential tracks: Narrows, All Yours, Girls
You cannot get much more of a politically opinionated series of songs than you do with Payola. If you can handle a conversation of politics with a family member sharing the same passion of politicizing tragedy, but defers in the outcome of the interpretation then you are probably one who perseveres to the end of Payola enjoying the music and the lyrics. Not really a step forward for Conor Oberst, as it is simply a finished statement that he left with Desaparecidos back in 2002.
essential tracks: The Left Is Right, Backsell, Slacktivist
16-Langhorne Slim & The Law – The Spirit Moves
The newly sober Langhorne Slim presents his most ambitious, most honest, and best album so far with his latest collaboration with backing band The Law.
essential tracks: Changes, Whisperin’, Strangers
15-NoFX – Home Street Home
A punkrock musical not meant for children. Fat Mike released a concept album in the form of a musical that makes Billie Joe Armstrong’s American Idiot a major-label shortcoming. The questionable subject matter in Home Street Home ranges from implied incestuous relations to drug abuse to sodomy to prostitution, but it captures the punk street life so vividly that listeners are reminded at how well of a storyteller Fat Mike can be. He was joined by Matt Skiba as the vocals for the father figure in the story, as well as Frank Turner, Stacey Dee (Bad Cop/Bad Cop), in addition to members of The Descendants, Lagwagon, The Living End, and the late Tony Sly. It has been told by the authors of the musical that it was based on true stories, and the authenticity of that statement is supported by the genuine tone throughout the album.
essential tracks: I’m Suicide, High Achievers, Because I Want To
14-Royal Headache – High
It’s a bit Johnny Rotten, a bit Brandin Lea (circa Flickerstick), a bit of Noel & Liam’s Oasis, and a whole hell of a lot of what makes garage rock bloody brilliant. Frontman, Shogun, permeates a rockstar presence with his Weiland-esque swagger. Maybe the next time we hear from these guys we’ll see them recording videos for their singles in a bigger garage than the one in “Caroline”. Australia brought us INXS in the 80s, Silverchair in the 90s, Jet in the 00s, and now Royal Headache in the 10s.
essential tracks: Need You, My Own Fantasy, Carolina
13-The Brilliance – Brothers
During the most troubling of moments it is easy to get discouraged. It is simply too effortless to get caught in the downward spiral of the indwelling obsession of the horror that comes from life. I cannot remember the last time a self-proclaimed Christian band that marketed toward that genre to have had such an impact on me than The Brilliance did during this last year. In particular, the title track on the album opened up my perspective toward numerous current events. That song, Brother, touched me in a way that no other song has in a very long time. It brought back a perspective toward humanity that I have always believed, but had often forgotten to live by. Each song on this album transforms and uplifts your mood as it helps refocus whatever lost spiritual focus you may have had.
essential tracks: Brother, Yahweh, Love Remains
12-El Vy – Return to the Moon
The National have been able to make a career out of being sarcastically clever and disguising itself within the droning vocals of Matt Berninger. The exact opposite is done with El Vy. The subtleties are accentuated and the playfulness is presented without any cautious desire to hide those tendencies within the music. Instead, the music allows the intended purpose to be what the lyrics suggest. Return to the Moon is a breathe of fresh air when The National were seeming to become routine and predictable. I look forward to hear how this may evolve the future of The National and how their sound may benefit from such a strong side project by Berninger in El Vy.
essential tracks: I’m The Man To Be, Return to the Moon, Paul Is Alive
11-Millencolin – True Brew
Let me just begin by saying this: If there is a Millencolin album that compares to Pennybridge Pioners then this is the one. They are back after being gone for 7 years, and they are here to help contribute to a genre they helped define. Musically they started to concern me with the 2008 album Machine-15, but it looks like that was just a blip on the radar on the “oops-scale” of mistakes. Put your headphones on and allow your mind to take you back to the hey-day of pop punk.
essential tracks: Bring Me Home, Sense & Sensibility, Autopilot Mode