Slowly but surely, I'm getting better about writing these "Best of" lists in something approaching timeliness. Even if it might be a bit late for holiday gift-giving purposes, I'm writing about the best of 2015 in 2015.
This past year was another good one in terms of new releases, so once again it was difficult to narrow down the musical year -- I'd guess that I once again listened to 250-300 albums -- to what is, in essence, the my favorite 10%.
As always, my year-end best-of list matches the Fids and Kamily year -- that is to say, from October 1, 2014 through September 30, 2015. So some good albums from the last couple months [waves at They Might Be Giants] will just have to wait for next year's list.
#1 (tie) - The Pop Ups - Great Pretenders Club
[Review] - "So often trailblazing releases are notable more for their context than their content, but in the case of Great Pretenders Club, the album's music is every bit as notable as the way it's been introduced to the world. This is, simply put, one of the year's best albums."
#3 (tie) - Lori Henriques - How Great Can This Day Be?
[Review] - "After winning the Joe Raposo Children’s Music Award, named for the composer of classic songs for Sesame Street and the Muppets, last year, her smart and joyful music, which sounds like it’d fit right in on those classic shows, is finding a wider audience. Her new album How Great Can This Day Be shows off those musical talents."
#5 (tie) - Duke Otherwise - Beehives and Bedheads
[Review] - "Looking for an album that provides guidance on moving through early childhood life transitions? Move along, then, because this album kicks off with a song called “Dancing Pig” that answers the question, “What would a Tom Waits song about a prancing porcine sound like?,” and never really gets any less weird from there."
#5 (tie) - The Amazing Keystone Big Band w/ David Tennant - Peter and the Wolf and Jazz!
[Review] - "The melodies themselves are unchanged, but the band's arrangement brings in a wide variety of jazz styles -- stride piano, hip-hop, free jazz, blues, cool jazz, and the like. None of the stylistic shifts seem out of place -- rather, they feel appropriate to the story."
#8 (tie) - Caspar Babypants - Night Night!
[Review] - "I hope Ballew doesn't take this the wrong way, but his album is forgettable in all the right ways. What I mean by that is the music, while catchy, isn't necessarily one bouncy hook-filled song after another. Rather, it features a more consistent -- and obviously far mellower -- tone."
The eagle-eyed among you will note that that list includes a baker's dozen of albums, not ten. I didn't squeeze an extra three albums into my ballot -- only 3 of those 6 albums tied for 8 made it in. But it was such a hard choice that I'm sure I'd pick a different 3 every week. For Fids & Kamily I need to make a choice. But this is my list, and so I'm listing thirteen albums.
After these top thirteen, distinguishing between the rest of my list becomes even more difficult. So once again I'm taking the easy way out - alphabetical order for albums 14 through 30.