Every year I make the attempt to write about the best new-to-me music I’d discovered the previous year, I think I’ve published a post maybe twice since 2003. Part of the problem is that I’m a glutton for music, and thus spend more than I should purchasing new tunes. Often I’ll be interested in some new LP, purchase a copy1 but not listen to it closely for a year or two.
Anyway, instead of trying to scratch out mini reviews for the hundreds of new albums I added to my library in 2015, here are an arbitrarily selected few, plus a few duds. There are certainly others that I’m accidentally omitting, such is the hazard of working without an editor…
Also, obviously quite a lot of these albums were not first released in 2015, but that isn’t the standard I adhere to, only that these albums were added to my iTunes library this year.
Albums I Listened To The Most
- Verckys Et L’Orchestre Veve – Congolese Funk Afrobeat & Psychedelic Rumba 1969-1978 – a great album, worth tracking down if you like to dance.
- Bob Dylan – The Cutting Edge (1965-1966) – I didn’t splurge on the massive boxset that included even more music later, but 6 discs is a lot of classic Dylan, and mostly good!
- Baba Commandant & The Mandingo Band – Juguya – another winner, hailing from Burkina Faso in West Africa.
- Led Zeppelin – reissues of Physical Graffiti, Presence, In Through The Out Door, and Coda. Coda has some of the best new stuff, including the famous recordings with a Bombay Orchestra.
- Pentangle – Sweet Child – Bert Jansch is a genius, eventually I’ll have every record he ever played on.
- Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard – Django and Jimmie – some great tunes here, Willie Nelson seems immortal
- Old Crow Medicine Show – Big Iron World – OCMS really grew on me this year, as I also had other albums by this band in heavy rotation. Modern string music, folk-rock, bluegrass, who knows. Toe tapping stuff, with clever lyrics.
- Waterboys – Room to Roam – don’t know how I missed this LP all these years, I really love it
Albums That I Liked
- The Staple Singers – Uncloudy Day & Will The Circle Be Unbroken
- Pop Staples – Don’t Lose This
- Brian Eno & Karl Hyde – High Life
- Pete Townshend and Ronnie Lane – Rough Mix – Ronnie Lane is a genius
- Billy Gibbons And The BFG’s – Perfectamundo – Hispanic-bionic boogie
- John Coltrane – A Love Supreme: The Complete Masters
Albums I Probably Will Grow To Like
- Tame Impala – Currents
- Björk – Vulnicura
- Steve Earle and the Dukes – Terraplane
- Meicio Askanasy, José Prates, Ivan De Paula – Tam…Tam…Tam…! Brazilian jazz reissue from 1958.
- Bob Dylan – Shadows In The Night – crooning tunes actually suit Dylan’s voice these days
- Funkadelic – first ya gotta Shake the Gate – George Clinton keeps keeping on
- Grateful Dead – Blues for Allah – occasionally, I do like to listen to the Grateful Dead noodle
- Wilco – Star Wars
- The Arcs – Yours, Dreamily – I could get bored with this, but it isn’t bad
- The Internet – Ego Death – seems promising, but I’ve only had it a month or so
- Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color – same
- Richard Thompson – Live at the BBC – box set, some with Linda Thompson.
Albums I Wanted To Like But Did Not
- Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress – maybe it will just take a while…for this, and the others in this section.
- Lotion – Nobody’s Cool
- Modest Mouse – Strangers to Ourselves
- My Morning Jacket – The Waterfall
- Van Morrison – Duets: Re-Working The Catalogue – sounds too much like elevator music for my taste. Original versions are all better, by far, so why bother? Money I guess, but I wish I had saved mine.
- Jack White – Lazaretto
- New Kingdom – Paradise Don’t Come Cheap
- Newsom, Joanna – Divers – come to think of it, I didn’t really groove on Have One on Me either.
Albums That I Used To Own, And Now Own Again
- Hair Original Soundtrack – don’t ask me why, but I did buy this in a moment of weakness. There are actually a few catchy tunes on here, but limited replayability, no?
- The B-52s – Cosmic Thing – classic from my formative years
- Devo – Freedom of Choice – another classic from my formative years
- Bert Jansch & John Renbourn – After the Dance – awesome collaboration with two great guitarists, both sadly deceased as of 2015.
- Motörhead- No Sleep ’Til Hammersmith – damn, Lemmy died
- Gregory Isaacs – Night Nurse – classic Reggae LP from circa 1982
- Sonny Boy Williamson – Don’t Start Me Talkin’ I’ll Tell Everything I Know – classic Chicago blues from the Chess label
- Poi Dog Pondering – Poi Dog Pondering – I was walking around this summer, and encountered a marquee announcing a 25 year anniversary of some album of Poi Dog Pondering, remembered seeing them play all over Austin back in my callow youth. Cheery pop still has its place.
- I will note that I have zero problems buying used music, especially in the era of compact discs, which means I can find a lot of new-to-me albums for a couple bucks [↩]