2015 was a weird year. New Year’s has this way of making you (I’m saying “you” but I’m really speaking for myself here, hoping that you, the reader, can relate) feel like you’ve accomplished nothing, but then you look back and remember that it’s been a whole 365 days. A lot of the hype is that you’ll make resolutions that you’ll follow for maybe the first month, and that this year will be better than the last. While that can be true, something I learned in 2015 is that nothing is always good, all the time. In a whole year, you might have around 30 days that are standout, out of this world and that are deemed the “best day of your life.” You might have the same amount of days that totally suck. So that means, a majority of your days are just... Average. Not bad, but not extraordinary. I didn’t want to do a “best and worst of 2015” list, as I hate being critical, but a lot of stuff this year was just average, in my opinion. So that’s why I wanted to write this post. Let's call it: “The Best and Not Best but Still Better Than Most” of 2015.
As far as albums go, there’s always that hype, and this year a TON of good music was released. However, I found myself trying to like certain records more than others, but now reflecting, I’ve realized they’re good, I do like them, but they’ve not been life changing. Let’s get started with albums that I loved this year.
The Wombats - Glitterbug
My favourite album that was released this year is The Wombats’ Glitterbug. It might be a bit of personal bias, as this record was what my friends and I jammed to on my 18th birthday, but it’s just a standout of the year for me. The Wombats fall into a musical genre that can easily be labelled generic, or cliche, but somehow this album maintains wit and originality that makes it sound like no one other than The Wombats. With clever lyrics and catchy hooks Glitterbug is a must listen.
Download: "Your Body Is A Weapon", "Pink Lemonade", "Headspace"
Sufjan Stevens - Carrie & Lowell
Sufjan’s semi-autobiographical album, Carrie & Lowell, was another one of the standout albums for me this year. This is his seventh studio album, and is one of his best. Despite it being 2015, with some massive albums being released with insane production, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel, as Carrie & Lowell proves. Sufjan’s simplicity (some of this album was recorded on an iPhone) and poignant lyrics paint a picture of his childhood, and if you close your eyes, you’re right along side him as he tells his story.
Download: "Should Have Known Better", "Death With Dignity"
Fall Out Boy - American Beauty/American Psycho
I didn’t think this one would actually make my list this year, but Fall Out Boy could probably release an album of Patrick Stump singing his grocery list and I’d probably buy three copies (digital, CD and vinyl, of course). No, this is not Fall Out Boy’s best album - not by a long shot. But it’s the album that has propelled them into even more commercial success, with "Centuries", "Irresistible" and "Uma Thurman" being pop friendly radio hits. It's 2015 and Fall Out Boy are still on the radio, and with new material? This album was a quick turnaround from Save Rock And Roll, being released a little less than two years after. This record proves that Fall Out Boy are just one of those bands that will be around for a long time yet to come, and that they still have the desire to create great music. For that reason alone, I like this record.
Download: "Fourth of July", "The Kids Aren’t Alright", "Irresistible"
Other Notable Releases of 2015:
Titus Andronicus - The Most Lamentable Tragedy
BØRNS - Dopamine
Beach House - Depression Cherry
FIDLAR - Too
Most anticipated releases for 2016:
The 1975, Drowners, Moose Blood, Modern Baseball
Next up is a list of albums that I like, but aren’t totally standouts. The aforementioned albums are the ones that, when I look back on 2015, will be able to name off the top of my head as favourites. The next few I bought, listen to, and like. It’s just little reasons that are completely subjective that made them not my absolute favourites, but I still wanted to highlight.
Twenty One Pilots - Blurryface
I really wanted to love this album, and in some ways, I do. It’s no question that it’s a great album, as it has pushed Twenty One Pilots into the realm of mainstream success. There’s huge tracks and catchy choruses that translate phenomenally to their live show, and despite it being love at first listen, has grown into one of those “it’s good, but not my favorite,” type of albums. There’s no question that it’s solid, and not really one bad track, just not my favorite album of the year.
Download: "Polarize", "Doubt"
The Maine - American Candy
The Maine’s fifth studio album, American Candy, is an uplifting album that showcases lead singer John O’Callaghan’s lyricism flawlessly. While their third album, Pioneer, is one of my absolute favourites, I had a difficult time listening to this album and not comparing. However, this record, like all of The Maine’s albums prior to it, is a totally different story, which is one of the reasons I do enjoy it. The Maine will never be a band that “sells out,” as they continue to create music that is just as authentic as they are.
Download: “English Girls”, “American Candy”
The Wonder Years - No Closer To Heaven
I had a similar issue with this album as I did with American Candy. The Wonder Years’ The Greatest Generation is one of my absolute favorite records. It came out in a time when I really needed to hear it. While No Closer To Heaven is a different sound and in some ways, a more mature and more dark record, it still has yet to grow on me as one of my favorites. I feel like it’s an incredible follow up given how high they set the bar on their previous record. Despite it not being a personal favorite, it’s going to be the record that bridges the gap from angsty pop punk to a different, more mature realm.
Download: “I Don’t Like Who I Was Then”, “Cigarettes & Saints”
I don't want to leave this on a somewhat negative note, and to change it up a bit from just focusing on studio albums, I wanted to mention some of the best concerts I attended this year. I've honestly never been to a bad show, but I wanted to discuss three of the best tours that I saw this year. I was fortunate enough to see most of these shows in different cities as well, which makes for a memorable experience as well.
The Boyz of Zummer Tour (Fall Out Boy, Wiz Khalifa, Hoodie Allen)
This tour would take the prize for “Weirdest Tour Lineup... Ever.” With my obvious bias towards Fall Out Boy, it’s no surprise that these shows (yeah, I went to two dates...) made my list. While the lineup wasn’t quite like Monumentour (co-headline with Paramore and support from New Politics), the show Fall Out Boy put on was unlike any other. It seems that with every new album they release, their live show changes, despite playing only handfuls of new songs and a majority of their “old” stuff. I don’t think I can really emulate the magic of seeing Fall Out Boy live in writing - especially seeing them in an amphitheater in the summer heat. You might just have to go to a show if you don't know what I mean.
Against Me! (with frnkiero andthe cellebration)
Against Me! were probably one of my favourite bands to photograph this year. I’ve been wanting to see them for years, but was never able to. Against Me! shredded through a long set of both old and new material, with the audience hanging on to every second of it. I’m grateful that I got to see them now, as it’s amazing to see lead singer Laura Jane Grace as her true, authentic self.
Blurryface Tour (Twenty One Pilots, Echosmith, Finish Ticket)
Twenty One Pilots are known for putting on amazing live shows. When I saw them in Seattle on the Blurryface Tour this October, my mind was blown. One of the downsides is that yes, they do use a lot of backing tracks in their live show, but the energy they deliver and the transition of the songs on the record to the live show is stellar, and enough to make up for that small, nit-picky observation. They're just two guys, of course they’ll have to use pre-recorded loops. The authenticity and passion that they leave on the stage is what you’ll remember.
Most Anticipated Tours of 2016:
Twenty One Pilots - Blurryface Tour Canada, Emotional Roadshow
Fall Out Boy, Awolnation, PVRIS - Wintour is Coming
Brand New - Canadian Tour 2016
Happy New Year!