In 2015, many music consumers were busy purchasing or streaming albums by Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith and Maroon 5 (all of which came out the year before) or actually going into stores to buy physical CDs by Adele. The latter’s “25” has already raced past the 7 million mark in just over a month’s time. But several truly daring and original releases came from acts outside the mainstream that were unafraid to pen confessional songs (often swathed in reverb), a bunch of Brits who are getting better with age, a grunge rock-era survivor who traded bombast for a fine, stripped down effort and more. The following are my top 10 albums – in order – and some which barely missed the cut.
- Dawes, “All Your Favorite Bands” (Hub)
- City & Colour, “If I Should Go Before You” (Dine Alone/Cooking Vinyl)
- Dustin Kensrue, “Carry the Fire” (Vagrant)
- Lord Huron, “Strange Trails” (IAmSound)
- Blur, “The Magic Whip” (Warner Bros.)
- The Vaccines, “English Graffiti” (Columbia)
- Josh Ritter, “Sermon on the Rocks” (Pytheas/Thirty Tigers)
- The Cribs, “For All My Sisters” (Sony)
- Florence + the Machine, “How Big How Blue How Beautiful” (Republic)
- Chris Cornell, “Higher Truth” (UMe)
Honorable Mention: Joe Jackson, “Fast Forward” (Sharp Practice/Caroline); The Mavericks, “Mono” (Valory Music Co.); Stereophonics, “Keep the Village Alive” (Stylus/Ignition); Don Henley, “Cass County” (Capitol); Chvrches, “Every Open Eye” (Glassnote)
Top 10 Concerts of 2015:
- U2, The Forum (Night 2), Inglewood, Calif.
- The Lone Bellow, Stagecoach Festival (Day 1), Empire Polo Field, Indio, Calif.
- Mike Peters, The Coach House, San Juan Capistrano, Calif.
- Spandau Ballet, Pacific Amphitheatre, Costa Mesa, Calif.
- Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, The Orpheum, Los Angeles, Calif.
- Vintage Trouble, NAMM, Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim, Calif.
- St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Coachella Festival #2 (Day 2), Empire Polo Field, Indio, Calif.
- The Mavericks, Doheny Blues Festival (Day 1), Doheny State Beach, Doheny, Calif.
- Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, Coachella Festival #2 (Day 2), Empire Polo Field, Indio, Calif.
- Blur, Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood, Calif.
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