Music is kicking ass in 2015!

Sleater-Kinney

I found a lot of music to like in 2013. In fact, I found so much good music, I was able to put together a great top 10 list, with several honorable mentions. 2014, however, was not a good music year. That’s not to say there wasn’t some good stuff but at the end of the year, very little stood out to me as music I’d be listening to much after the new year. I loved the Future Islands album and I liked Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas a lot, but that was about it.

Enter 2015, which kicked open the doors in January and has proceeded to continue wrecking the place with a vengeance ever since. I don’t see how we can possibly keep up this pace, but I’m willing to ride it as long as it lasts. Here are just a few of the very early releases this year that are already better than almost anything we saw in 2014:

Sleater-Kinney: No Cities To Love

Oh my, now THIS is how you start a kick-ass year in music. After a seven-year hiatus, Sleater-Kinney has returned with a terrific album that’s about as accessible as it can be while still melting your face off. As my wife said when I played this recently for the thousandth time already: “Wow, they really play loud, don’t they?” Yes, they do.


JD McPherson: Let The Good Times Roll

This one is quickly becoming one of my most-listened to albums of the year. It sounds like music you’ve known forever. It has a very warm sound; perfect.


Father John Misty: I Love You, Honeybear


Natalie Prass

I’m not usually much of a country music fan, but this is really great. Admittedly, I don’t like every song, but some of the songs here are as good as anything I’ve heard in a long time.


Viet Cong


From The Vaults:

Don’t forget about terrific music being re-issued. 2015 has already seen two incredibly important, vibrant releases. The Staples Singers album is particularly timely right now while the Lead Belly recordings are amazing at any time. Both are so much fun to listen to, in addition to being important in a historical context.

The Staples Singers: Freedom Highway Complete – Recorded Live at Chicago’s New Nazareth Church


Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection


This is the music landscape for 2015 so far and we’re barely into March. If we keep up this pace with this quality, this will undoubtedly go down as one of the greatest years in music in a long time. I’m not sure we can maintain this pace but I’m willing to see how long it lasts. Anything I’ve missed so far that is required listening for you?

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Watch This: Future Islands

I had never heard of the band Future Islands before. I’m guessing you haven’t either. Odds are, outside of reading this post you never will. They’re not going to be U2 or even The National. They are a band making music because they love it and have something they want to say.

All of which makes me very, very happy they landed an appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman. Not only did this band I’d never heard of make an appearance, they made the most of it. Weeks later, people (like me) are still buzzing about this performance.

It’s hypnotic, exciting, fun and passionate. It’s also a great song. More than anything though, it shows someone just going for it, seizing the moment and not caring if he looks silly or cool. He’s desperate to make you understand what he’s saying. It’s an actual performance in a time when so many are more concerned with looking cool than being passionate.

The other thing I loved about this is Letterman’s enthusiasm. This is a man that does not suffer fools gladly (see his interviews with Paris Hilton, John McCain and Lindsay Lohan, for example). His interviews can be contentious if you’re not bringing anything to the table. Likewise, if you bring something interesting or exciting, Letterman will be sure his affection is communicated to the audience on your behalf. Just listen to his joy at the end of this song:

“I’ll take all of that you’ve got! That was WONDERFUL!” -David Letterman

It’s clear he had a terrific time watching Future Islands. You can bet it won’t be their last time on the show.

Watch the YouTube video above. I’ve seen it about twenty times now; I’m addicted to it. That’s the power of music, of performance. Nice job, Future Islands. You made the most of your moment!

Further Reading: