There is so much stellar music being made in this DIY, record-company-free age, we don’t have enough space to flag every deserving album each week. So, shoehorn in hand, I will try to cram in a few more hidden gems from 2015.
Let’s start with singer/songwriters. We all know superstar Adele, of course, but are you hip to fellow Brit Laura Marling? Her album “Short Movie” is slaying the critics, and her husky-voiced, Greta Garbo persona will have you hanging on every word. Check out her stirring “False Hope.” The winsome baroque pop of American Julia Holter’s debut “Have You in My Wilderness” is unique and affecting. “Nashville Obsolete” is the second album from Dave Rawlings Machine, and it sizzles with reinvention of the Americana oeuvre. Give “The Weekend” a listen. Philly hipster Kurt Vile conjured up a laid-back masterpiece in 2015 with “B’lieve I’m Goin Down.” Its winning single “Pretty Pimpin” is an infectious gem.
It was a fine year for veteran bands. The minimalist outfit Low from Duluth, Minn., released the hypnotizing collection “Ones and Sixes,” featuring the haunting “Lies.” Boise, Idaho’s favorite sons Built to Spill roared back with “Untethered Moon” after a six-year hiatus, and it’s a rock guitar fan’s dream. Aussies Tame Impala (“Currents”) got poppier with the exhilarating single “Let it Happen,” and St. Louis favorites the Bottle Rockets spawned the hooky, instant classic “Monday (Every Time I Turn Around).” British bands Django Django and Belle and Sebastian also cranked out tuneful pop gems in 2015.
New bands that perked up my ears this year: Philly indie rockers Hop Along delivered big fun and surprising twists and turns on “Painted Shut.” And fellow Philly band Beach Slang rocked my flip-flops – check out “Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas” to catch the buzz. It must still be 1970 out West – just give California newcomers Promised Land Sound and GospelbeacH a listen, and wear a flower in your hair.
And keeping sweet soul alive and kicking are Nashville charmer Willie and the Giant and newcomer Leon Bridges from Fort Worth, Texas.
It’s been a very good music year (especially in Philadelphia). Time to pop those earbuds in!