The year is nearly over and what a great one for new music. We probably say that every year but it’s great seeing so many new records coming out on vinyl as well as tons of great reissues and represses of records we never thought we’d be able to continuously stock and play in our store. We already posted our bestsellers of 2015 so this list is made of up the records we couldn’t stop listening to. Sure there’s plenty of overlap between the two lists but our FAVORITE records are the ones we keep going back to throughout the year. They’re the records that challenge, entertain, baffle, excite us, and stay on the turntable too long. You’ve probably heard them playing in the store while you browsed, or you’ve probably heard us rave about them to other customers and friends. These are the records we think deserve to be on everyone’s shelves at the end of a great year. So come by the shop and check ’em out…we should have them all in stock.
2015 was also the inaugural year of our Record of the Month Club and we can’t thank y’all enough for supporting it. The number of members has grown throughout the year and we’ve heard from lots of happy listeners. All of the records from our ROTM Club deserve a spot on this list, so please go check those records out right here.
Our favorite new releases of 2015 (in no particular order):
– Kamasi Washington, The Epic (Brainfeeder)
If we were picking a #1 record of the year this would be it!
“To be sure, it’s a jazz album, as much about tradition as expanding it, informed by Coltranes (John and Alice), Miles Davis fusions, bebop and more; yet it’s clearly shaped by crate-digger funk and film scores, hip-hop collage and gospel.” -RollingStone
– Beach Slang, The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us (Polyvinyl)
You can read a “Bill’s Picks” review of the Beach Slang release on our blog here.
– Jake Xerxes Fussell s/t (Paradise of Bachelors)
Jake’s debut album was not only one of our bestselling records of the year but also probably the most played record in the shop, and for good reason. Read our review right here.
“One helluva bluesman: my favorite of his generation, and in my opinion, the best young traditional blues artist performing today.” –George Mitchell
– Jamie XX, In Colour (Young Turks)
The best dance record of the year. Jamie XX came through our shop last summer and was just the nicest dude, and his debut full length (on the heels of several banging 12″ singles) is as good as we hoped it would be. In Colour is a definite contender for record of the year.
– Bob Dylan, Shadows in the Night (Columbia)
Dylan takes on the standards made popular by Sinatra. It’s much, much better than it sounds on paper. Dylan’s backing band is the best in the world and this record is hauntingly good. We’ve heard rumors that there’s a volume 2 on the way…please, and thank you.
– Max Richter, from Sleep (Deutsche Grammophone)
The full version of this record is over 8 hours, but luckily you can snag this shortened version on beautifully pressed vinyl. And yea, we actually fell asleep while listening to this record…in a good way.
– Youth Lagoon, Savage Hills Ballroom (Fat Possum)
We’re huge fans of Youth Lagoon here. His debut album, Year of Hibernation, is one of the best records made in the past decade. His latest record, Savage Hills Ballroom, is much cleaner and meaner. He’s growing up and his sound is too.
– Sir Richard Bishop, Tangier Sessions (Drag City)
The story of this record makes it that much more interesting. Read a great interview for some insight between Sir Richard Bishop and Bonnie Prince Billy over on the Oxford American site, then get lost in the guitar playing on this fine record.
– Deerhunter, Fading Frontier (4AD)
We’re under the impression that Deerhunter doesn’t make bad records. In fact, they only make good records. Case in point.
– Jim O’Rourke, Simple Songs (Drag City)
We’ve tried to figure out what this record sounds like. I keep hearing the Cat Stevens influence, which is weird and good. Jim O’Rourke gives us new songs where Eureka left off and this may be his strongest (normal) record yet.
– Sleater-Kinney, No Cities to Love (Sub Pop)
Glad these girls are back. This past year saw the reissue of their whole catalog including a career-spanning box set. It was a great year to be a Sleater-Kinney fan. We just wish they’d come play a show down South.
– Leon Bridges, Coming Home (Columbia)
Coming Home was selected in our Record of the Month Club and was also on our bestsellers list. Read our review here.
– Plume, Resting on My Laurels (EoAM)
This was our third release on The End of All Music “label”–a labor of love. Read lots more on this release right here.
– Craig Finn, Faith in the Future (Partisan)
This release was another “Bill’s Picks.” Look out for the review on our blog later this week.
– Built to Spill, Untethered Moon (Warner Bros)
Built to Spill continues it’s indie-rock dominance with their latest. Untethered Moon was also a selection in our Record of the Month Club. Read more here.
– Little Wings, Explains (Woodsist)
“His new album and first on Woodsist Records, though, secures his position as one of the prime examples of the Northern California sound. Explains is not a departure for Field, but a delicious entrance into his world structured in a way that’s easy for newcomers to grasp.” -Consequence of Sound
– Destroyer, Poison Season (Merge)
Destroyer’s last album, Kaputt, may be his best but Poison Season continues that trend and gives Kaputt an excellent follow up. It was also in our Record of the Month Club.
– Hop Along, Painted Shut (Saddle Creek)
“Unfortunately for some, Painted Shut signals the end of Hop Along’s tenure as a little-known buzz band. For everyone else, it’s the sound of being welcomed to the party.” -The A.V. Club
– John Carpenter, Lost Themes (Sacred Bones)
“Lost Themes naturally conjures such slasher-film associations, but it also evokes the milieu in which Carpenter rose to fame. This is thoroughly ’80s-sounding music, and understandably so; Carpenter wisely sticks with what he knows, leaning on his trademark synth sound rather than forcing his aesthetic into an awkward modern update. Paradoxically, the dated nature of Lost Themes gives it a timeless aura. At 67, Carpenter can still make something frozen in time feel eternal.” -NPR
– Joanna Newsom, Divers (Drag City)
“Most artists on their fourth album settle into atrophy, or at least comfort, Newsom delivers such complex, nuanced music, filled with arcane constructions, that she is only her own yardstick.” -Pitchfork
– Dave Rawlings Machine, Nashville Obsolete (Acony)
“There is so much on Nashville Obsolete that impresses, but what lingers longest is rare and persuasive ability to tap into the ageless mythos of true American folk.” –Uncut
– Andrew Bryant, This is the Life (Sleep)
Bryant is known by many as the drummer in Water Liars, but he’s a damn fine songwriter and has released several records under his own name. This is the Life was on our bestsellers list this year as well. A.B. continues to impress us with his singing and songwriting. We’re glad he’s our pal.
– Pops Staples, Don’t Lose This (Anti)
Produced by daughter Mavis Staples and Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, Don’t Lose This, is an impressive addition to the Staples Singers cannon. Unfortunately the vinyl has been out of stock since this record was first released earlier in 2015. Hey Anti!!! Press more of this record. It’s great!! This release was in our Record of the Month Club.
– Courtney Barnett, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit (Mom & Pop/Marathon Artists)
“An ease surrounds her music, a looseness: Even at their most clever, her songs glide from line to line and thought to thought, a stray observation about cracks in the walls leading to something about the wrinkles in Barnett’s own palm, propelled by rock’n’roll that seems to find itself plenty serviceable but nothing to stop and fuss over. “I just know what I know,” she recently told The New York Times; “I think I’m shit some days, and some days I think I’m pretty good,” she told Grantland. To paraphrase the composer and philosopher John Cage, Barnett has nothing to prove and she’s proving it.” -Pitchfork
Our favorite reissues of 2015:
– Ork Records Story (Numero Group)
Our favorite reissue of the year!
“In August of 1975, the world’s first punk record label was born. Ork Records: New York, New York is a tale of Terry Ork, a film-obsessed fugitive of Warhol’s Factory set. Ork’s impresario ear would pull damaged, literate new rock music from the pregnant Bowery grime of CBGB, resulting in debut 45s by Television and Richard Hell, as well as landmark recordings by the Feelies and Lester Bangs. It’s a tale of Charles Ball, who’d steer Ork Records through solo exploits by Big Star’s Alex Chilton and the dBs’ Chris Stamey.” -Numero
– Bob Dylan The Cutting Edge: Bootleg Series Vol. 12 (Columbia)
Another year, another Dylan Bootleg Series ends up on our “best of” list. They’re always good. Some sage advice; just always buy the new Bootleg Series.
– Chris Knox Seizure (Flying Nun)
One of the best records in the Flying Nun catalog, which is saying A LOT. Thank god they finally reissued it on vinyl. This was the November selection in our Record of the Month Club. Read our review here.
– Son Volt Trace (Rhino)
This year was the 20th anniversary of the debut album from Son Volt. Jay Farrar’s first new music after Uncle Tupelo split. Trace is an alt-country/Americana classic–practically inventing the genre–and we’re glad to have it back in print on vinyl and on our shelves. “May the wind take your troubles away…”
– Pavement Secret History Vol. 1 (Matador)
Read our review over on our blog RIGHT HERE!
– Beale Street Saturday Night (Omnivore)
Beale Street Saturday Night is a Jim Dickinson masterpiece. It was also in our Record of the Month Club, which you can read about right here.
– The Stone Roses LPs (Light in the Attic)
“Some albums hold the blueprint for something bigger than can be contained on twelve inches of vinyl; the self-titled debut album by The Stone Roses is one of them. Despite clocking in at less than fifty minutes long, it’s a record that shaped the next two-and-a-half decades of British music.” -Light in the Attic
– Trojan Records reggae compilations (Trojan)
All the best reggae cuts in bite size compilations from the BEST reggae label in the world. These have made our lives, and ears, better.
– Modest Mouse early records (Glacial Pace)
One word on these releases: FINALLY! Now you don’t have to fork out $200 for a copy of Lonesome Crowded West. You can just walk right into the store any day of the week and buy it for $23.99. This is what life is all about.
– Harmonia Complete Recordings (Groenland)
This set is probably the most impressive of the year–packaging wise. It even comes with a pop-up book, not too mention these records–up until now–were impossible to find and extremely expensive. Krautrock fans rejoice! Check out our write up on the year’s best box sets right here.
– The Beta Band The 3 EPs
We all know the High Fidelity joke…and it’s true. We sold a copy of Champion Versions every time we put it on the turntable.
– Sun City Girls Torch of the Mystics (Abduction)
This reissue gets a 9.0 on the Pitchfork Best New Reissue scale.
“Torch of the Mystics is replete with moments like that—nuggets of hypnotic tunefulness stretched into songs that feel as classic and well-worn as the dusty cassettes the band uncovered on their travels around the globe (later mined for compilations on bassist/singer Alan Bishop’s Sublime Frequencies label). You can actually whistle along to most of Torch’s songs—one even starts with Bishop whistling the melody for you—and even the farthest-out tunes have discernible shapes that quickly burn into memory.” -Pitchfork
– Spooner Oldham Potluck (Light in the Attic)
You probably don’t know Spooner’s name but you most certainly know his songs. This reissue was in our Record of the Month Club. Read more here.
– The Meters Fire on the Bayou (WEA)
This reissue was the inaugural pick in our Record of the Month Club. Read about it here.
– Joe Bussard Presents: The Year of Jubilo: 78 RPM Recordings from the Civil War (Dust to Digital)
“Legendary collector, Joe Bussard is putting records out once again! After running the last 78rpm label in the US (R.I.P. Fonotone Records 1956-1974), Joe had relegated his efforts to promoting old-time music by making cassette tapes for people hungry to hear his rare treasures and producing his radio show Country Classics for stations in Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia. But last year, Joe and his daughter Susannah Anderson had the idea to produce a compilation of Civil War tunes and they rang the office of Dust-to-Digital to gauge interest in distributing such a compilation. It was an easy decision for DTD, mainly because Joe’s always been there for us so it was time to partner together once again.” -Dust to Digital website
“Bussard’s got s**t that God don’t have. It is one of the great glory holds, probably the finest in the world. He was canvassing earlier than most, and he’s been at it longer, and he took everything: He recognized stuff that he really didn’t even like at the time, but he recognized it as being good, and he kept it.” – collector and musician Tom Hoskins, an authority on pre-World War II Delta blues, for the Washington City Paper
– The Replacements Twin/Tone Years (Rhino)
“Despite this long-standing lust for chaos, The Replacements managed to pen an all-time classic in Let It Be. The Twin/Tone Years vinyl boxset tells how a band of hardcore wannabes became some of music’s most celebrated misfits. If you’re already a fan of Paul Westerberg’s gang then you’ll know these songs have been out of print for some time. If not, then settle in for one hell of an origin story.” -Drowned in Sound
– Not the Same Old Blues Crap Vol. 1 and 2 on vinyl (Fat Possum)
THE BEST blues compilations if you’re looking for that raucous North Mississippi Hill Country sound. These remain some of our bestsellers and now they’re both available on vinyl. Volume 3 will drop next year along with tons of blues reissues from our brothers over at Fat Possum.
– Built to Spill There’s Nothing Wrong with Love (Sub Pop)
The second Built to Spill record on this list. They’re latest record, Untethered Moon, is one of our favorite new releases of the year, and this reissue is a much welcomed catalog piece. Long out-of-print on vinyl, this could be Built to Spill’s best record. It’s definitely the one that started it all with classic songs like “In the Morning,” “Car,” and “Dystopian Dream Girl.”
– Beat Happening Look Around (Domino/K Records)
The final selection of the year in our Record of the Month Club. Read more about this career-spanning release from K Records founders Beat Happening.
“We are Beat Happening and we don’t do Nirvana covers. They do Beat Happening covers.” – Calvin Johnson
– Denny Lile Hear the Bang (Big Legal Mess)
Denny Lile was a local legend in Louisville, KY — a gifted songwriter, singer and guitarist who seemed poised for fame, but his once-rising star sputtered out in a tragic spiral that ended with his death from alcoholism at age 44 in 1995. The new CD-and-DVD set Hear the Bang: The Life and Music of Denny Lile blends Lile’s brilliant and visionary unreleased debut album with a documentary film that tells his ultimately tragic story. Within its fabric lie 16 songs that foreshadow the arrival of the Americana genre and were recorded at the same time as Neil Young’s foundational Harvest album. Lile’s story also stands as a broader fable. It parallels that of many other formidable regional talents who lived and died in obscurity within the sprawling landscape of American popular music.