Name: Adam Bernard Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome. See my complete profile
We’ve reached the end of the year, and you know what that means – it’s time for my top ten albums, EPs, and live performances, of the past twelve months! As has been the case in previous years, I’ve also created a few video playlists, so you can check out the music after reading all about it. Here we go!
Top Ten Albums of 2015
1. Halsey – BADLANDS
Alt-pop has a new queen, and it’s Halsey. With a strength, and an edginess, that belies her age, the 21 year old singer never bites her tongue on BADLANDS, nor would you want her to.
2. Meg Myers – Sorry
The musical love child of Courtney Love, Nine Inch Nails, and The Breeders, Meg Myers followed up her stellar 2014 EP, Make A Shadow, with an equally kick ass full length effort.
3. Zella Day – KICKER
Zella Day is one part singer-songwriter, one part alt-pop artist, and the result of the combining of the two is an artist who impresses at every turn, and an album you’ll have on repeat.
4. Frank Turner – Positive Songs for Negative People
Armed with a punk rock ethos, Frank Turner creates singer-songwriter music that can both kick your ass, and effect your emotions. This isn’t your local coffee shop’s singer-songwriter!
5. PHASES – For Life
An 80s dance party waiting to happen, PHASES’ For Life makes you feel as though you’ve been transported back in time with this feel-good effort.
6. Beautiful Bodies – Battles
Warped Tour rock trio Beautiful Bodies, led by frontwoman Alicia Solombrino, have a huge energy, and their album, Battles, beautifully embodies its title, as you’ll feel ready for battle after listening.
7. Parlour Tricks – Broken Hearts/Bones
Veterans of NYC’s indie music scene, Parlour Tricks feature vocals seemingly from another time, courtesy of Lily Claire, and a mixture of pop, and rock, sensibilities that blur the concept of musical eras altogether.
8. MURS – Have A Nice Life!
MURS is one of those rare emcees who continually gets better with age, and this is really saying something being that he’s been one of hip-hop’s elite for quite a while. Have A Nice Life! is another pinnacle for an artist who continues to find new heights.
9. Demi Lovato – Confident
If this were an SAT question, Confident is to Demi Lovato as Stripped is to Christina Aguilera. This is her breakout album, where she’s standing on her own two feet, showing off her impressive pipes, and letting the world know she’s not just another pop artist.
10. Stranger Cat – In The Wilderness
Pushing the boundaries of indie-pop, and featuring electronic music production, and soaring vocals, Stranger Cat has carved out a unique, and ultimately gorgeous, niche that can most easily be described as “grown folks pop music.”
Honorable Mentions: Danielle Parente – Dark Eyes, Lila Rose – WE.ANIMALS, Dead Sara – Pleasure to Meet You, B. Dolan – Kill The Wolf, M-TRI & DJ Leecy T – Monday Morning Music, Jessi Teich – Twisted Soul, Ceschi – Broken Bone Ballads
Late Pass (fantastic albums that came out in 2014, but I didn’t hear until 2015): PVRIS – White Noise, L.A. Symphony – You Still On Earth?
Top Ten Albums of 2015 Playlist
FYI, if you’ve never used a YouTube playlist before, you can skim through tracks using the drop down menu at the top left hand side of the video, or by viewing the playlist on YouTube.
Top Ten EPs of 2015
1. Cady Groves – Dreams
Dreams is a slice of pop perfection, with a slight country influence, and a heart wrenching finale. Cady Groves has clearly found her voice, and it’s great to hear.
2. Aesop Rock & Homeboy Sandman – Lice
Late in the year, Aesop Rock and Homeboy Sandman connected for Lice, and became the tag team champions of hip-hop. OK, that’s not a real title, but man oh man do these two work well together!
3. The Mast – 1
Atmospheric electronic music duo The Mast followed up last year’s incredible full length album, Pleasure Island, with 1, an EP that continues the theme of creating a musical bubble for a listener to temporarily live in.
4. Archis – Archis
Dia Frampton has always impressed as both a singer, and a songwriter. Her latest project, Archis, is a fantastic, slightly avant-garde, pop effort that shows her creativity is on par with all her other talents.
5. Hayley Coupon – Do the Right Thing, Like You Said You Would
Indie singer-songwriter Hayley Coupon has the vocal power of Fiona Apple, and the songwriting ability of A Fine Frenzy. Add it all up, and you have an artist who’s a must-hear.
6. Sick of Sarah – Anthem
Veteran rockers Sick of Sarah returned with an EP full of tunes that remind listeners that, when done correctly, modern rock can still be pretty great.
7. herMajesty – My Body Your Mind
Speaking of modern rock, NYC’s herMajesty is another band that’s doing an excellent job of representing the genre. Their EP, My Body Your Mind, would fit in perfectly alongside the work of R.E.M., The Cure, and Radiohead.
8. Kawehi – Evolution
Looping artist Kawehi has always been a must-see live act, as her shows feature her making songs on the fly. With Evolution she continues to prove she’s also damned good at making songs in a studio.
9. Boh Doran – Boh Doran
Boh Doran is an indie singer-songwriter whose vocals are slightly retro, but not so much as to box her into any specific sub-genre of pop. On her eponymous EP, her sound is equal parts sweet and mature.
10. Molly Moore – Shadow Of The Sun
Another indie singer-songwriter who’s been creating great music is Molly Moore. Shadow Of The Sun showcases everything she’s capable of, which is a heck of a lot.
Honorable Mentions: Broca’s Area – Clarity, baeb rxxth – omw, PremRock – Who Art in Nada, Stef Lang – ARROWS Part 1, Lauriana Mae – City Of Diamonds, Silent Knight – Weaknd
Top Ten EPs of 2015 Playlist
A few quick notes on this playlist – The only video I could find for herMajesty is a live clip, and The Mast have their entire EP posted as one video. With that mind I’ve placed The Mast at the end of this playlist, so as to not mess with the overall pace. Once again, you can skim through tracks using the drop down menu at the top left hand side of the video, or by viewing the playlist on YouTube.
Top Ten Live Shows of 2015
As most of you know, I go to a lot of shows, and in 2015 I once again saw more than 100 artists/bands perform live (that’s pretty much been my average over the years). The following ten performances, which are arranged in date order, are the ones that stood out most.
January 10th – Kawehi at Fairfield Theatre Company
January 15th – Hayley Coupon at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 1
February 21st – BRAEVES, Black Taxi, & The Motor Tom at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2
April 10th – Chaser Eight at The Acoustic
July 11th – PVRIS at Warped Tour
July 11th – Beautiful Bodies at Warped Tour
September 23rd – Sick of Sarah, & The Last Year at Mercury Lounge
October 14th – herMajesty at The Marlin Room at Webster Hall
November 13th – Meg Myers at The Marlin Room at Webster Hall
November 18th – Lights, The Mowgli’s, & PHASES at Irving Plaza
Six Other Memorable Nights
January 15th – Stranger Cat at Rockwood Stage 2
March 28th – IRO at Rockwood Stage 2
April 17th – Jocelyn Arndt at Rockwood Stage 2
May 14th – Chaz Kangas at Leftfield
August 14th – theSHIFT and Station at Mercury Lounge
December 4th – Broca’s Area at The Acoustic
That’s a wrap for Adam’s World’s Best of 2015. I already have some albums in the queue, and concerts on the agenda, for the start of 2016, and hope you do, too!
B-Listers are a select group of artists that were featured in my Artist Of The Week series that ran every Monday from April of '06 to April of '11. All of these artists have two things in common; extreme talent, and a flight path far too under the radar for my liking. They took on the title of B-Listers as they embraced being featured by me, Adam B. Check out the AOTW Archives for all the interviews.