50. Dinosaur Pancakes Infrastructure (The Significance of the Loaf of Bread)- Bob and the Dangerous Brothers
This song was a labor of love for me. I’m very proud to have played my part in a song that has stuck around for 20+ years. DPCI XX EP is available here https://bobandthedangerousbrothers.bandcamp.com/releases
as a “pay what you want download”, including all the versions of the song which have ever been recorded.
- The Man I Was- Lucero
Lucero are a country-punk group from Memphis, TN. I’ve been aware of their existence for a long time, but this is the first song that has really blown me away by them.
- All I Ever Wanted- Courtney Love
When news broke that Courtney Love was in a musical titled “Kansas City Choir Boy”, I thought that was a great fit for her. Her few acting roles have been above average performances, she was nominated for a Golden Globe for her role in The People vs. Larry Flint. This song is unconventional, but it exceeded my expectations.
- Interview- Night Windows
I first heard Night Windows a couple of weeks ago when Noisetrade.com sent me a free download of their sampler EP. The song is also available on their bandcamp page as part of a free download. https://nightwindows.bandcamp.com/album/greetings-from-night-windows-pilkington
- Pageant Material- Kacey Musgraves
Kacey Musgraves is a modern country artist whose previous album drew my attention. This song discusses how she doesn’t fit the rigorous standards of a pageant participant, a metaphor for how she doesn’t fit into the roles society (and the music business) is giving her.
- Karma Loca- Trent Price
Another Noisetrade.com find http://noisetrade.com/lumberjack/she-weeps-she-sings
Trent Price went solo from his band, Lumberjack, to deliver an album that chronicles the ending of his marriage. This was my favorite song from that album.
- Healing to Do- William Elliott Whitmore
Mr. Whitmore first came to my attention with the 2010 Bad Religion tribute compilation. His folk-punk take on “Don’t Prey On Me” left me wanting to hear more. For his third album since that introduction, his voice and guitar skills still fascinate and entertain me.
- Fine Without You- Best Coast
Bethany Constantino, lead singer and driving force behind Best Coast, continues to be a popular and innovative voice for independent music in 2015. Their new album, California Nights, conjures a feedback-and-distortion version of The Beach Boys.
42. Pedestrian at Best- Courtney Barnett
Like many others, I first heard of Courtney Barnett after her debut album (which was really two EP’s slapped together) broke her into popular consciousness via magazine articles and festival appearances. Her follow up release, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, is frequently being hailed as one of the best releases of 2015. “Pedestrian at Best” is the lead single from the release of that album. I posted the actual video for the song earlier this year.
- Make You Better- The Decemberists
The Decemberists returned in fine form this year with, in my opinion, their best album in several years. The song itself is about a relationship the narrator felt made him a better person. That, however, wasn’t enough to keep the character from wandering, which ended the relationship. Essentially, it’s a longing for having their older, better life back.
- Darkside Gone- Dr. Dre
How good a year did Dre have? Straight Outta Compton, the biopic about NWA was a smash in theaters. The creative process behind putting that all together led him to put out his 3rd album in 20 years, simply titled Compton. NWA is nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (and I voted for them on my fan’s ballot). This track was the standout track from his album, at least for me. It features unused lines from none other than the late Eazy “muthafuckin” E. That alone was worth the price of admission to the album for me.
- Big Decisions- My Morning Jacket
My Morning Jacket is a band that is very popular, but I have been unable to really dig much of their work. A notable exception is this song, which sounds like an exasperative exclamation; “What do you want me to do/make all the big decisions for you”.
- Book of Ages- Jacob Golden
For me, the entirety of my liking of this song rests on the line “and on the screen a long lost film called How I Won The War”. The allusion to John Lennon’s quirky 1967 film held me fast from the first time I heard the line. By the way, Jacob Golden is a singer-songwriter from Portland, OR. His new album, The Invisible Record, has yet to be released, but I’ll be on the lookout for it.
- Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)- Father John Misty
In an album full of lush love songs, this song is the clear standout track. Not only is the song vaguely dirty, but it tells a complex story of two peoples’ relationship from falling in love through the early parts of their marriage, not necessarily in that order. For a guy who left Fleet Foxes to pursue his own recording career, the man known as Father John Misty has quickly made a name for himself.
- Winning Streak- Glen Hansard
As one half of the duo who recorded “Falling Slowly”, which won the Oscar for Best Original Song in 2007, Glen Hansard has already proven that he can write a song that tells a story. Winning Streak is an encouragement to a downtrodden friend, wishing them that the rest of their life will turn out well.
- Not a Fan- Ben Folds
When I heard that Ben Folds was going to be writing orchestral and chamber music, I knew I had to hear the result. If you listen to the introduction to the video posted above, I’ll let Mr. Folds tell the story for himself.
- Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart- Chris Cornell
As the lead singer of Soundgarden, Christ Cornell wrote some of the most indelible songs of the grunge era and the 1990s as a whole, but as a solo artist, his career has stumbled. I was glad to see that his latest album, Higher Truth, was met with acclaim and success. Also a major triumph for him; his first solo album, Euphoria Mourning, which was released in 1999, saw a vinyl reissue in late 2015. This is the first single from Higher Truth. Still all anybody will likely remember is his cover of “Nothing Compares 2 U”.
- Pussy and Pizza- MURS
MURS is the solo rap persona for Nicholas Carter, who is associated with other underground rappers, including Slug (of Atmosphere fame) and Aesop Rock (closely associated with Kimya Dawson). The song is filled with several great lines; including “I fell in love with every girl that I came on/I know it ain’t right but it ain’t wrong”, “need a check with at least three commas”, “I’m on top of the world eating donuts/It’s a mother fucking cheat day, so what”, and of course “give me pussy and some pizza and there won’t be no problems”. Great job, MURS, I look forward to hearing even more form you in the future.
- Missing Ol’ Johnny Cash- Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard
Two icons of country music remembering the life story of a music legend is certainly reason to celebrate. The duo, who released their second album together in 2015, tell stories that recollect the achievements and the person of The Man in Black. Willie Nelson’s story about Cash ordering room service is worth the price of admission alone.
- Jackrabbit- San Fermin
San Fermin are a band which use classical arrangements in indie/alternative music. The title track from their second album tells the story of trying to escape the trappings of life by running into the woods. Of course, even living life in nature has it’s own problems…
- Fool for Love- Lord Huron
Indie band Lord Huron have been active since 2010. Their most recent album, Strange Trails, is their second full length. “Fool for Love” itself was written as a continuation of Bob Dylan’s “Lilly, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts” and tells the story of a man who is trying to win the love of a woman who has run away with a man that goes by the name of Big Jim. Hence the title character is himself a fool for love.
- I Remember- Bully
Bully is a punk band and I searched for their album after reading their review in Rolling Stone. I was not disappointed. “I Remember” tells the story of mourning the end of a relationship, told with rapid-fire intensity and longing in equal doses.
- Run Run Run- Jill Scott
I’ve known of Jill Scott since her 2000 throwback R&B single “A Long Walk”. When I saw she was releasing new music, I had to see what that was all about. This song tells of a fiercely independent woman who resists settling down with anybody who wants to make her “theirs”.
- I Have You- Steve Martin & Edie Brickell
This unlikely duo released their second album, titled So Familiar, just a few months ago. Steve Martin has made a name for himself as being a very adept banjo player, and Edie Brickell has long been active in the singer-songwriter genre (and as partner of Paul Simon). “I Have You” is a simple love song, but sometimes, that’s all you need.
- Tomorrow is My Turn- Rhiamnon Giddens
Another track I talked about earlier this year; Rhianon Giddens recorded this song, originally by Nina Simone, as part of her debut solo album. Previously, she was the fiddle and banjo player in Carolina Chocolate Drops, but her solo material is well worth celebrating.
- Resignation- Success!
The guys from positive punk band Success have been on my radar for more than six years now. Their most recent album, Radio Recovery features re-recordings of some of their best material from previous efforts as well as new original material. After I bought the LP, this track was my favorite from the album. Stream the entire album here: https://www.punknews.org/bands/success
- Beast Mode- Ludacris
Features perhaps my favorite line from any song released this year, “slingin’ chickens out my whip like I was playin’ Angry Birds”. Basically, the song is a bragging rap, but features many nerdy lines, including one about comparing maneuvering cars around in a garage to playing Tetris. Bonus runner up line for “handing in the towel like they work at Bed Bath & Beyond”.
- Postcards from Paradise- Ringo Starr
Essentially, a track about looking back on life using titles of songs from throughout his entire career. It’s a fun listen, even if it’s not very deep.
- Pro-Life?- War on Women
The self-titled debut album from female-fronted punk band War on Women, they make good on the moniker throughout the album. This song, however, brings modern politics to task for those who claim to be pro-life, but also pro-death penalty. All that makes one of the best punk songs released this year.
- Bootstrap Paradox- The Doctor (Doctor Who)
Truth be told, there was another song in this place, but it was apparently originally released in 2013, so The Doctor speaking about becoming Beethoven and proving it by playing a guitar is what made the list. Bonus points because Peter Capaldi used to be in a goth band.