It’s time to take a look back at another solid year in rock ‘n’ roll music! You know, when I was younger I used to think that in 2015 we’d all be listening to electronica and music made by robots, so it’s good to see that real music is still being made. And as usual, pop music and indie were the genres that dominated most people’s playlists in 2015, and that’s totally cool. I turned 32 this year, and it started to dawn on me that my musical tastes are starting to reflect my age. I still listen to a healthy dose of new music, but I can no longer keep up with all the new stuff that’s out there. When I read a lot of the 2015 “Best Of” lists I hardly recognized a lot of the names listed as highlights of the year, so I can see why a lot of people might think that my list is slightly uncool – 90’s bands like Third Eye Blind, Everclear and Veruca Salt are hardly making anyone’s best of lists (as least from what I’ve noticed) and are way past their buzz-date, but who cares! Rock music may not be the most dominant or popular genre in 2015, but I still believe it really is the most powerful musical genre out there, and the following 10 albums will prove it! Here are Vigilante Detective’s TOP 10 ALBUMS OF 2015!
1. Third Eye Blind – Dopamine
It took six years for Third Eye Blind to release their fifth full length album, and it was worth the wait. Front man and main songwriter Stephen Jenkins still knows how to deliver catchy hooks with meaningful lyrics and an emotional delivery. I have always been a huge fan of this band, and having a new album from them that I love as much as their past releases is a real treat. “Dopamine” is classic Third Eye Blind while still looking forward, and the band’s future has never looked so bright. KEY TRACKS: “Everything Is Easy” “Dopamine” “Rites of Passage” “Something In You” “Blade” “Exiles”
2. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Chasing Yesterday
Noel Gallagher is always asked in interviews if Oasis will ever get back together. His answer is always an emphatic “no” and this makes me super happy. We don’t need Oasis when Noel Gallagher is putting out solo material of this caliber. It’s undeniable that he is one of the best songwriter’s of all time, and his sophomore effort adds another clutch of instant classics to his discography. His gig at the Sony Centre in Toronto in May was a highlight of the year! KEY TRACKS: “Riverman” “Lock All The Doors” “The Right Stuff” “You Know We Can’t Go Back” “The Ballad of the Mighty I”
3. Best Coast – California Nights
Los Angeles, California’s Best Coast are still an essential part of my summer soundtrack, and “California Nights” is another collection of sunny, melodic and catchy as hell pop rock songs. Bethany Cosentino’s voice and melodies are still the main attraction, with Bobb Bruno providing the sweet sun-drenched licks. This is their first album to feature really big production and a full band to go along with the tunes, and it sounds great. Looking forward to seeing them live with Wavves in February! KEY TRACKS: “Feeling Ok” “Heaven Sent” “So Unaware” “Run Through My Head” “Sleep Won’t Ever Come”
4. Foo Fighters – Saint Cecilia EP
Foo Fighters came out of nowhere in November 2015 and released this 5-song EP for free on their website, and the result are the best songs the band have released in a few years. Last year’s “Sonic Highways” was a good record, but felt forced after it had to musically and lyrically fit into the story the band was telling on their HBO TV series. Recorded earlier this year, these five tracks feel far more natural and reflect all the different sides of the Foo Fighters sound. My hope is their next full length record will be just a great record, and not attached to some huge project. KEY TRACKS: “Saint Cecilia” “Sean” “Iron Rooster”
5. Everclear – Black Is The New Black
Every band that was ever popular from the 90’s is back together and making music in 2015, and Everclear is no different. Art Alexis re-formed the band in 2012 with the “Invisible Stars” album, which was a great pop rock record. With this new album, he turns up the crunchy guitars to 11 and lets it rip. The hard rock riffs are plentiful on this baby and the melodies are pure Everclear. KEY TRACKS: “The Man Who Broke His Own Heart” “American Monster” “Complacent” “This Is Your Death Song”
6. Tame Impala – Currents
I will admit it, I don’t know too much about Tame Impala. I haven’t really investigated their first two albums as much as I would like to, but man do I love this record! From what I understand their previous efforts are more in the psychedelic-rock vein, with this album being somewhat of a departure. Departure or not, this album is an electronic, soul-infused trip down awesome lane, and most likely the only album on this list that would also appear on snooty indie rock best of lists as well. KEY TRACKS: “Let It Happen” “Yes I’m Changing” “The Less I Know” “Cause I’m A Man”
7. Wavves – V
For me, Wavves and Best Coast (#3 on this list) are a package deal. It may be because Wavves front man Nathan Williams and Best Coast front woman Bethany Cosentino are a couple, or because the two bands tour a lot together. I just look at them as two sides of the same sunny California pop rock coin, with Wavves being the slightly darker and fuzzed out side. Their fifth album reflects Williams’ strong songwriting abilities and punk rock sensibilities, like a mix of the Beatles and stoner rock. KEY TRACKS: “Way Too Much” “Pony” “Heart Attack” “Flamezsz”
8. Veruca Salt – Ghost Notes
I’m not all that familiar with Veruca Salt’s back catalogue beyond “Seether” and “Volcano Girls” but my girlfriend had this record in her car and it quickly became a favourite. Nina Gordon and Louise Post reunited after almost 20 years apart, and put out an album of 90’s rock made for 2015. The way they harmonize and sing together is one of the many highlights here, but there’s no lack of fuzzy guitars and grunge rock hooks. KEY TRACKS: “Black and Blonde” “Eyes On You” “Love You Less” “Laughing In The Sugar Bowl”
9. Nothing But Thieves – Nothing But Thieves
These guys hail from Southend-On-Sea, England – a town I’ve actually been to! I’m still a sucker for British rock and these guys were one of the country’s best exports in 2015. They didn’t make a huge dent in North America (not yet) but they did have a solid year of releasing singles that resulted in their first full length release this past fall. The band’s sound is influenced by Jeff Buckley and Muse, with a dash of Beastie Boys thrown in (check out the video below). They’re super young and really talented, these guys have a great future ahead of them! KEY TRACKS: “Ban All The Music” “Wake Up Call” “Itch” “Hostage” “Trip Switch”
10. Surfer Blood – 1000 Palms
Florida’s Surfer Blood have gone in a few different musical directions over the last 5 years. Their 2010 debut “Astro Coast” was a verbed-out surfer rock indie record, then they signed to a major label and released 2013’s more mainstream “Pythons”. I loved both the indie and major label versions of the band and was starting to dig the more mainstream direction of their sound, but it wasn’t meant to be. They were dropped from Warner Bros and returned to their indie roots on “1000 Palms”. It’s not their best record, but still a really enjoyable listen from start to finish, a great album to listen to on summer nights. KEY TRACKS: “I Can’t Explain” “Feast/Famine” “Point of No Return” “Covered Wagons” “NW Passage”
TOP 5 SONGS of 2015
I’ve listed the Top 10 Albums of 2015, but some of my favourite songs of the year were not on those records. Here are Vigilante Detective’s Top 5 Songs of 2015!
1. I Mother Earth – Blossom
May the Gods of Rock bless I Mother Earth FOREVER! “Blossom” is already an instant IME classic, with a soaring melody and killer vocals from Brian Byrne.
2. Kacey Musgraves – High Time
The best stoner song of the year came from a country singer/songwriter from Texas! Kacey Musgraves has a beautiful voice, amazing songs and likes to smoke the reefer!
3. Coheed and Cambria – You Got Spirit, Kid
Coheed is known for their album-spanning rock opera “The Armory Wars” but they took a break from that on their latest record “The Color of the Sun”. I loved the band’s past work, but this song is accessible in a whole new way for them.
4. Stereophonics – C’est La Vie
This is the best song the Phonics have put out in a decade! It’s fun, lighthearted and it rocks – the rest of their new album “Keep The Village Alive” isn’t quite as peppy, but hearing the band release a song like this keeps me invested in their’ future.