Monday 14 December 2015

Review of 2015: Music - 10 Favourite Albums

2015 was a year when a lot of my most memorable music experiences happened live: whether it was Barb Jungr’s soul-shakingly great reinventions of material by Cohen and Dylan, The Beatles  and others, Sufjan Stevens turning the delicate autobiographical intimacies of Carrie & Lowell into  a staggering rock spectacle, or Carmen Consoli  inspiring awe-inducing expressions of Italian adoration at her show as part of David Byrne’s Meltdown. These experiences live only in memory now, and are, perhaps, all the more potent for that. Below, though, is a list of the motley crew of albums that I listened to and loved the most this year, along with links to a few choice tracks from each.

 The Light Princess, Original Cast Recording
"My Own Land", "Queen Material", "No H20" 

The Trackless Woods, Iris DeMent
"From the Oriental Notebook", "Listening to Singing", "Like A White Stone"

Skeleton Crew, Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear

Music Complete, New Order

Carrie & Lowell, Sufjan Stevens

The Rose of Roscrae, Tom Russell

"The Last Running," "Ain't No More Cane on the Brazos", "The Rose of Roscrae"  

Joy of Living: A Tribute to Ewan MacColl, Various Artists
"Jamie Foyers", "Schooldays Over", "The Terror Time"

The Other Side of Desire, Rickie Lee Jones

Honeymoon, Lana Del Rey
"Freak", "Music To Watch Boys To", "Salvatore"

Leonard Cohen: Zaśpiewany, Various Artists
"Lawina",  "Jestem Twój",   "Tańcz mnie po miłości kres"

Bonus: the Made in Dagenham OCR loses a few points for only being available as a download. But I have such affection for David Arnold and Richard Thomas's witty, wonky, silly, smart score that leaving it off the list for that reason seems a bit churlish. These songs make me really happy, especially the sublime (Toby Keith-inspired...?) account of US self-image that is "This is America". (Take a listen, below.) A list book-ended by the scores of musicals that should still be on, in other words ... Merry Christmas!   


  1. Interesting choices! Just gave ’This is America’ a listen which has fun lyrics. Sufjan’s album impressed me, the theme of loss felt timeless.
    Maybe will grow on me, I felt Honeymoon was a step down from her two previous albums. I actually prefer the orchestral non-album Salvatore:

    1. Thanks, Chris. Yes, the orchestral version is really good; thanks for the link. For me, the album was much more satisfying than ULTRAVIOLENCE, which I never really got into, somehow. Apparently she's having "early thoughts" about the next one already...:

      Yes, CARRIE & LOWELL is special, and what he did with it live was really incredible.

      Looking forward to your lists and recommendations. I'm sure you've heard alot of stuff that I haven't.

  2. Excellent list as always, Alex. I'm still listening to "Superheated," the Brandon Flowers song from New Order's new album. And I'm curious to hear the Ewan MacColl tribute album. Of course, I already knew what your top pick of the year would be!