2015 was an incredible year for music. There was almost an indigestible amount of amazing albums, songs, shows, moments, surprises, and festivals. Please let some of our talented staff on the ShowsIGoTo.com team take you through their Best of 2015 lists. And cheers to another great year of music!
Mitch Foster, Founder/Publisher:
Mitch’s Best Albums of 2015:
– The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us by Beach Slang
– Something More Than Free by Jason Isbell
– Kintsugi by Death Cab For Cutie
– Tell Me I’m Pretty by Cage The Elephant
– Payola by Desaparecidos
– All A Man Should Do by Lucero
– Wolves by American Aquarium
And my favorite album of the year: Hospital Handshakes by Rocky Votolato
These are not the chosen themes.
These are the themes that have chosen me.
And I’m writing for my life.”
Hospital Handshakes is what feels closest to me. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love what Beach Slang has done this year, and cannot kick my addiction to dissection Death Cab’s genius release, Kintsugi. Those are obvious best records of the year. But, Rocky Votolato is just one guy with an honest heart, pouring truth out, no matter the pore. Votolato’s 2015 release, Hospital Handshakes displays his best work since the 2004 release, Suicide Medicine. It’s worth noting both albums are the only of Votolato’s produced by Chris Walla, formerly of Death Cab For Cutie. Having Chris Walla as a musical interpreter is exactly what Votolato needed to make the best album of the year. Everything feels right about this record. It seems largely like a secret, too. I know this is an album that I’ll always keep safe in my heart and near my turntable. Thank you for the truth and honesty, Rocky V.
Be thirty my heart. Seek forever without rest.”
Mitch’s Best Songs of 2015:
- “24 Frames” by Jason Isbell from Something More Than Free
- “White Knuckles” by Rocky Votolato from Hospital Handshakes
- “The Losing Side of Twenty-Five” by American Aquarium from Wolves
- “Too Late To Say Goodbye” by Cage The Elephant from Tell Me I’m Pretty
- “Noisy Heaven” by Beach Slang from The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us
- “The Ghosts of Beverly Drive” by Death Cab For Cutie from Kintsugi
- “The Man I Was” by Lucero from All A Man Should Do
- “Ship To Wreck” by Florence + The Machine from How Big How Blue How Beautiful
- “With A Sort of Grace I Walk To The Bathroom and Cry” by Sun Kil Moon from Universal Themes
Mitch’s Best Shows of 2015:
- Alexisonfire twice in one day, at Riot Fest & at The Bottom Lounge.
- Alkaline Trio, night 3 at The Social
- Andrew WK at The Social
- Cursive + Beach Slang at The Social
- Brand New at St. Augustine Amphitheatre
Show that was so bad it was good: Weird Al at Hard Rock Live
Mitch’s Best Feeling Festivals of 2015
Mitch’s Best Surprises of 2015:
Mitch’s Best Moments of 2015:
- Interviewing The King Of Partying, Andrew WK at the Social
- The FEST14 SIGT House Party with Safety, Rich Airchess, and the SIGT family!
- The SIGT Party Bus to Incubus & Deftones
- The SIGT Art Show Benefit
- Watching Tim Kasher from Cursive & The Good Life fail at attempting to pole dance.
- The SIGT Annual House Party w/ Dizzle Phunk & Eugene Snowden & friends.
Eugene gave a semi-sober speech halfway through his set at the party and, somehow through all my substances, it changed my entire year and maybe even life. He says
“What I realize is this:
No matter what I’ve done …
I don’t wanna talk too much about ‘what I did.’
Cause ‘where I’m going’ is a whole lot more interesting.
Posted by Mitchel Foster on Sunday, June 21, 2015
I live in Orlando, Florida. If you would like to contact me, email: [email protected]. Thank you for supporting this amazing community!
Tyler Holland, Staff Writer & Podcast Producer
Tyler’s 10 Best Albums of 2015:
10. Doomtree, All Hands
I kick off my top 10 with my favorite hip hop album of 2015. The album features close to an hour of high energy, a mile a minute rhymes and references. This is a collective of some of the best underground rappers out there. Each with their own unique style. They are ‘The Avengers’ of hip hop. Favorite Track: “My Own Nation”
9. Mutoid Man, Bleeder
A perfect union of breakdowns and progressive metal from the mastermind of another awesome band: Cave In. It is ever changing and never gets boring, this album is a half hour of power. It takes a few listens to absorb it all. This trio has created one of the finest, heaviest albums of the year. Favorite Track: “Bleeder”
8. CHON, Grow
Mostly instrumental prog band from California, this album is technically sound and the production value is great. The guitar riffs are gorgeous and I love their jazzy-progressinve sound! Favorite Track: “Fall”
7. Citizen, Everybody Is Going To Heaven
Much like other albums produced by Will Yip this year such as Title Fight and Turnover, Citizen expands their sound and complexities. If their previous release Youth was their Deja Entendu, then this album is their The Devil And God Are Raging Inside of Me. The comparison is not just an instrumental turn–Citizen does sound like Brand New here. This album is filled with tension and a haunting feeling at times. I said a year ago, this band was going to be huge (a bold statement) and this release combined with a tour with Circa Survive are testaments. Favorite Track: “Yellow Love”
6. Turnover, Peripheral Vision
Less pop punk is a good thing. Turnover switches things up with this release and I love their new sound. Melodically textured songs with hints of dream pop and shogaze–lots of rich harmonies and chiming riffs swaying all over these tracks! Favorite Track: “Hello Euphoria”
5. Foxing, Dealer
They went from being a band that I just sort of heard to one of my favorite bands with this release. Seeing them live further cemented this. Produced by Matt Bayles who has done wonders working with Minus The Bear, Isis and Mastodon–he has pulled the best out of this emo band from St. Louis. The perfect sequel to their triumphant debut. This release builds upon and adds heavier, more complex compositions. So many feels here. “The Magdalene” is the most dour song about losing one’s virginity since “Sic Transit Gloria..” This album isn’t always an easy listen from subject matter, but the excellent musicianship helps to guide the listener through the emoitonally invested terrain. Favorite Track: “Night Channels”
4. And So I Watch You From Afar, Heirs
Soaring dueling guitars, infusion of synths and pummeling drums mixed with a cloud of chanting vocals. Seeing them live is a life altering experience. This album adds more to their already impressive, intelligent and invigorating sound! Favorite Track: “Animal Ghost”
3. The Front Bottoms, Back On Top
This release should be used in a study on how to make the leap to mainstream without losing authenticity. They must have taken notes from fellow statesmen The Gaslight Anthem. This album is full of enlightenment, it’s fun and rude. The tongue in cheek writing makes for some brilliantly awkward moments. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them live a few times this year and the last time was for this album–it made me enjoy it even more. This band is on a giant rocket ship to the top with no end in sight. Favorite Track: “The Plan (Fuck Jobs)”
2. Dustin Kensrue, Carry The Fire
Dustin Kensrue manages to carry the passion (i.e. fire) found on Thrice’s releases as well as the soul and intimacy found on his earlier solo albums. This is a heartfelt release that sees him returning to making music full time. He has the wonderful ability to craft gorgeous love songs. Let this album grab you and pull on your heart strings. SO stoked for 2016 simply for the new Thrice album. Favorite Track: “Juggernaut”
1. City And Colour, If I Should Go Before You
My favorite album of 2015 comes from one of my favorite people, Dallas Green! Alexis On Fire will always be one of my favorite bands and City And Colour, which originally started as a side project, has more albums than his original band. Easily the best flowing album in the catalogue. He adds multiple layers of sound to his repertoire. The familiar folk and alt-country sound is vibrant, adding dream pop, blues and lots of soul. The album begins with a nine minute jam “Woman” that sounds unlike anything City And Colour has ever done. A few tracks on here hit me on a personal level: “Northern Blues” and “Friends.” “Lover Come Back” is the catchiest song he has ever written. The soulful rhythm and blues from a full band meshes perfectly with Dallas’ sweet tenor vocals. Favorite Track: “Mizzy C”
Here’s my complete “Top 30 Albums of 2015 Playlist”
Tyler’s Top 10 Shows of 2015
10. Doomtree at Highline Ballroom NYC
9. The Menzingers at Baby’s All Right, Brooklyn
8. A Wilhelm Scream at Saint Vitus, Brooklyn
7. Gaslight Anthem at Terminal 5, NYC
6. City and Colour at Terminal 5, NYC
5. Chuck Ragan at Irving Plaza, NYC
4. Foxing at Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn
3. Dustin of Thrice, Andy of Manchester Orchestra, Tanner of O’Brother at Bell House, Brooklyn
2. The Front Bottoms at Irving Plaza, NYC
1. Brand New with The Front Bottoms and Kevin Devine at Ommegang Brewery, NY
Tyler’s Top 5 Moments of 2015
5. Seeing And So I Watch You From Afar play for the first time.
4. Chuck Ragan covering Bouncing Souls “True Believer.”
3. Kevin Devine shaking a tambourine and singing harmony for The Front Bottoms.
2. Thrice reuniting at Skate & Surf
1. Hanging out with Trevor, Rich Airchess, Amanda, Garrett, Safety, Mitch and Rebecca at FEST 14!
Rebecca Weinberg, Staff Photographer & Podcast Producer
Rebecca’s Best Albums of 2015
Sufjan Stevens, Carrie and Lowell
“John My Beloved” was the first track I heard off of this album and I was immediately drawn in. I’ve always loved Sufjan Stevens, especially his album Michigan. Carrie and Lowell was written after his mom died and this prompted me to go into full-blown Sufjan Stevens wikipedia-ing. He has a really interesting past and it resonates in his music.
Doomtree, All Hands
I never really listened to Doomtree before seeing them back in February of 2015. The show blew my mind. The dynamics of this 7 member underground hip hop group is insane plus this most recent album not only is musically intense but lyrically as well.
Seinabo Sey, For Madeleine
For Madeleine is the only soul/electro pop I can listen to ALL the time. I’ve listened to this perfect little album while walking to work in NYC countless times. I probably will in 2016 too.
Dustin Kensrue, Carry The Fire
Thrice is a force and Dustin Kensrue as a solo artist is pretty amazing on his own. He tends to write really beautiful love songs consistently and obviously has a really lucky wife. This solo album is his best yet.
Catfish & The Bottlemen, The Balcony
The first heard of my favorite albums, The Balcony came out literally a year ago in January of 2015. The guitar riffs carry the album, powerful and catchy. I’m still listening.
The Front Bottoms, Back on Top
Weird story, when I first heard TFB, I didn’t really see the obsession. Fast forward to now, I’m obsessed with them. They are the first band to ever gain my love so quickly. From their quirky musicality to their blunt yet poetic lyrics, I fucking love this band. I aspire to be able to write like them.
I don’t really like country music, I do like alternative, folky, raw, soulful music. The Lone Bellow is all of that. When I first heard “Marietta” from this album, I just about died on the floor; it’s so beautiful.
Veruca Salt, Ghost Notes
I have a deep love for female fronted bands, especially of the ’90s. Veruca Salt is the best! The original members split back in 1998 and continued to make music separately, until now. They finally reunited and put out Ghost Notes, 17 years later. Listen to this album, they are better than they ever were. Trust me.
Foxing will tug at the deepest, darkest part of your heart. I think of Dealer as a continuance of their previous album The Albatross. The live performance put on by this band is insane. They are so talented, so completely immersed into their performance. They genuinely feel everything as much as their audience does and I think they are stronger for that. Their music is pure personification. AHHH I love this album.
And So I Watch You From Afar, Heirs
This instrumental rock band from Northern Ireland is HUGELY gifted. Jesus Christ, I’ve never heard nor seen fingers move so quickly up and down the frets of a guitar. Combine that with perfect harmonies, wonderful conceptualism and you have an album of perfection. Yes, I said it, Heirs by And So I Watch You From Afar is an album of perfection.
Rebecca’s Best Tracks 2015 Playlist:
Rebecca’s Top shows of 2015
Rebecca’s Top moments of 2015
Amanda Starling, Staff Writer & Photographer
Amanda’s Best Albums of 2015
There is no greater tug of my heart that the moments of catharsis tucked throughout pop punk anthem collection, Mable. Spraynard collects every moment of joy and pain and puts words to even the most difficult experiences in life, but with blasting strength that is unmatched in any other performer. The album is a whisking moment of clarity in “Buried,” a promise of unfaltering love in “Medicine,” a unrequited sorrow in “Bench,” and a testimony of social resiliency in “Listen to Me.” Mable is the unabashed understanding of the challenges of life and the beauty tucked in each experience, in the struggles and triumphs.
Beach Slang, The Things We Do To Find People Like Us
There is no greater album that speaks to a generation than the debut LP of Beach Slang — just see Mitch’s album review here. Power riffs matched by the raw, unadulterated lyricism give the most rich, ripping experience there is to find in 2015. It’s a series of anthems for the “Throwaways,” the misfits, and the lovers swept into the promise of true passions. It’s without question that the ‘Slangs have trusted that “good love is not safe,” because what they’ve put into their release is nothing short of deep, untouchable love. Whether you “Ride the Wild Haze” or embrace being “Young and Alive,” it’s the most gorgeous, heart-punching experience.
Worriers, Imaginary Life
I’ve got “Plans” to listen to Imaginary Life until my heart explodes. The sophomore album for Lauren Denitizio’s evolving project has stolen the hearts of every fiery anarcho-punk in the scene and beyond. With the talents of Lou Hanman, Mikey Erg, and acting producer Laura Jane Grace, it’s easy to hear the bursting talent locked in each track. The album is drenched with social conscientiousness, from addressing the struggles of gender and sexual identity to the crimes committed by law enforcement. Added layers of relationship nuances and gorgeously intricate instrumentals create one of the most profound sounds of the year.
Allison Weiss, New Love
Though my love for Allison Weiss is hardly new, the intensely gorgeous sound of her latest release feels just as fresh. Each track is a blissful indie-pop clincher that seizes a room. Suddenly we know “Who We Are” as Allison leads us through the trials of heartache and growth as a person. Whether you’re cruising on her “Motorbike” or sing-crying to “Back to Me,” Allison is the patron of consoling broken hearts and holder of all hope.
Oso Oso, Real Stories of True People Who Kind Of Looked Like Monsters
Rollicking indie punk never sent such chills down my spine than the moment Jade Lilitri’s voice belts through “Track 1, Side A.” Oso Oso’s latest hosts a gorgeous opening to the rocking yet lulling blast that is Real Stories. Each song is a separate tale and definition of emotions associated with some of life’s more complicated experiences, from an unusual flirtation to comprehending the end of a relationship. Only Oso Oso could so poetically and bluntly address the shades and hues of feelings that lie in the heart.
Hop Along, Painted Shut
The evolution of Hop Along has produced only the most deep, shattering tracks. The Philly band only continues to skyrocket in critical acclaim, but really, it’s about damn time. This second full-length is the steady culmination of folk punk grit and indie flavor, showcasing the rasping, grasping range of Frances Quinlan’s gorgeous vocals. The steady timbre in “Horseshoe Crabs” is mesmerizing, capturing in contrast to the gripping, reflective “Powerful Man.” Loaded with ballads and brief glimpses into the conscious of Hop Along, it’s nothing short of a brilliant aural experience.
War on Women, War On Women
The brightest, most fiery flames of 2015 blast in debut full-length for War on Women. No album or band has ever lit such embers in my soul quite like the raging “Servilia.” But each track is progressively more intense, vocal, and fantastically feminist. It’s battle for equality and women’s rights, and Shawna Potter is the merciless warrior tearing at the throats of misogynists. Shredding the “Meathead” and decimating “Swagger,” every song grows more confident and unabashed.
Dog Party, Vol. 4
Every Dog Party release is a gorgeous evolution of the already perfected punk pop dream. The Northern California sisters have been playing since childhood, and their dedication to the craft has shown in every track. With a slight flavor of Riot-Grrl and contagious combat-boots kick, it’s songs like “Dead Guy” and “Peanut Butter Dream” that stick to your ribs with a party punch.
mewithoutYou, Pale Horses
Shaking my core in 2015 was the bursting, concrete release of Pale Horses by mewithoutYou. There’s a mystical magic that centers the veteran performers that balances the indie punk rockers. I was swept into an enchanting performance both in July and at Fest, and it’s their latest songs that really pack a new level of instrumental punch. I’ll always enjoy their early music, but nothing enraptures my heart quite like “Red Cow” or “Mexican War Streets.” It’s blasting yet somehow meditative; for that, I credit the enticing energy that the Weiss brothers & co. use to woo our hearts.
Joanna Gruesome, Peanut Butter
Consider a blend of classic riot attitude and shoegaze-y instrumentals— and maybe a little pun-tactic sarcasm in a band name. The gorgeous concoction is Joanna Gruesome, and Peanut Butter is the most delectable, colorful album. The second LP release is the most memorable of the band’s career, with not only incredible tracks but seamless transitions between them. For the anarchic poets, listen to the mishmash of lines in “Crayon.” But for the full demonstration of the sound of Joanna Gruesome, allow a moment of ecstasy in “Honestly Do Yr Worst,” and feel the Welsh act shred in a classic yet clever, creative blast.
Jeff Rosenstock, We Cool?
Every melody wrapped within the king of punk’s latest album is enrapturing. Whether you’re swept into the universal pull of “Nausea” or feeling the drawn emotions in “You, In Weird Cities,” Jeff Rosenstock puts images and emotions to everything you’ve experienced in your 20s, the musician you feel most connected to:
But when I listen to your records it’s like I’m hanging out with you.”
But when I listen to your records it’s like I’m hanging out with you.”
I really do want to hang out with you, Jeff. He’s the musician who always delivers and connects — just look at his extensive history with influential Bomb the Music Industry!. It’s speedy, catching, heart-racing in “Hey Allison!,” shaping an entire persona of disappointment in a single song. It’s all shaped by the ultimate craftsman as far as sound goes, playing up the synths, rhythm, and wiry guitar lines that just make sense when it’s Jeff who is smashing them.
Bad Cop Bad Cop, Not Sorry
There’s nothing to apologize for in Bad Cop Bad Cop’s latest album. In fact, Not Sorry is among the most flawless releases to come forward in 2015. Harmonic and in-sync, it’s as if each song is carefully spun by the biting black widows that compose the band. The Fat Wreck release is strong, tearing, and most importantly, vocal. Bad Cop Bad Cop is the anthem of tough punk girls who don’t take crap, but can dish out some love for the occasional sweetie. From scratching sweetie “Nightmare” to riling anti-abuse anthem “Sugarcane.” It’s rallying, gritty, “I refuse to take your shit” energy that is contagious both live and spun on vinyl.
Mal Blum, You Look a Lot Like Me
Is there really a more honest performer than Mal Blum? The singer-songwriter of New York is one of the most endearing live acts I’ve seen in 2015 with sweet, raw, awkward, perfect stage presence. Mal truly puts Moldy Peaches to shame when it comes to quirky indie pluck. Rocking “Better Go” is the anthem in this album, but it’s “Robert Frost” that truly showcases Mal’s talent in storytelling and imagery. Raspy, deeper timbre is the vocal flavor, but it’s the richness of Mal’s stories that make such an enticing album.
Wet Nurse, So It Goes
All hail the true rulers of the Orlando garage rock scene, Wet Nurse. The sophomore LP So It Goes is a contagious, bouncing delicacy in the local scene. Translated live, every track is equal party mesmerizing and memorable. Poignant are the femme-minded “Belly Hurts” and “Girl Problem,” playing up the experiences of womanhood with a critical, sharp jab. Balanced with tongue-in-cheek lyricism and bursting sound, it’s the sort of energy that can capture the lawn of St. Matthew’s Tavern and elevate to wider stages as the band’s maturing sound heightens in popularity.
All Dogs, Kicking Every Day
All Dogs is the warming, mesmerizing indie punk that can serenade the most quiet hearts. There’s hints of pop when they blast, but there’s craftsmanship in the “Skin” of their music, a hint of Midwest emo tucked into each moaning chord. It’s overwhelmingly mournful, but it’s a beautiful promise of resiliency and lies tucked into the folds of heartache. It’s disguised as poppy-go-lucky, but there’s an emotional intricacy in this up-and-coming act.
Amanda’s Top 5 Songs of 2015:
- “You, In Weird Cities” by Jeff Rosenstock
- “Servilia” by War on Women
- “Buried” by Spraynard
- “Noisy Heaven” by Beach Slang
- “Plans” by Worriers
Amanda’s Top 5 EPs of 2015:
- Alright, Alright
- You Blew It!, Pioneer of Nothing
- Eli Whitney & the Sound Machine, Tiny Refuge
- Jabber, Well, Just Jabber
- Safety, Congratulate Me, I’ve Lost My Mind
Amanda’s Top 5 Shows of 2015
- Propagandhi with RVIVR and War on Women at State Theatre
- Jeff Rosenstock with Modern Baseball, Antartigo Vespucci, and Tiny Moving Parts at the Orpheum
- Against Me! with Creepoid and Worriers at the Ritz Ybor
- Meridian with Snacking, Worst Party Ever, and Big Brother at Mojo’s Books and Records
- Spraynard at The Fest Lot 10
Amanda’s Top 5 Moments of 2015
- Look Mexico’s Bottled Water Communion with Tyler and Rebecca at Fest 14
- Receiving a guitar pick from bassist Sue Werner of War on Women at Fest 14
- Convincing Allison Weiss to take a special engagement photo with my cousin.
- Watching Conor of Foxing join in on Prawn’s Fest 14 set on the trumpet.
- Bands like Spraynard, Signals Midwest, Alright, and Eli Whitney and the Sound Machine knowing who I am when I introduced myself at Fest. (So much love and thanks to you all!!!)
I live in Tampa, FL. If you want to contact me, email [email protected].Read Amanda’s Posts Here!
Sarah Schumaker, “Sweaty Septum”
Sweaty Septum’s Best Album of 2015:
Troye Sivan — Blue Neighborhood
This was not an easy decision to come to, however, it became decidedly easier when I realized the album only dropped on December 4, 2015, and I’ve been inhaling it ever since. I feel like I’ve been listening to this album all year, and I feel as if I’ve thought these sentiments most of my life. This record finds Sivan navigating his sexuality and what that means for him in terms of relationships, whether that be friendships or romantic entanglements. He digs deep and hits hard on the track “HEAVEN” ft. Betty Who, and produced by Jack Antonoff, who’s ever-present thumbprint is undeniable and beautiful. He stuns with these lyrics that confirm age and wisdom don’t always go hand in hand, and that maybe, heaven is just a thin blue line.
“Without losing a piece of me
How do I get to heaven?
Without changing a part of me
How do I get to heaven …
So If I’m losing a piece of me
Maybe I don’t want heaven?”
Blue Neighborhood is an honest outpouring of the discovery of ourselves as we discover others along the way. Sivan does this with a mature touch and encapsulates the innocence that can come with the sensuality of these situations. On “Talk Me Down” he croons, “I wanna sleep next to you but that’s all I wanna do right now. I wanna come home to you but home is just a room full of my safest sounds.” This is his first full length LP, and what an absolutely shattering first go-around for the Australian singer/songwriter. To say 2016 will be huge, would be trite in the slightest. Is it March 12th yet? (He’s coming to the HOB in Orlando; get your shit together and get tickets…while you still can.:))
MORE THAN Honorable Mentions:
BORNS — Dopamine
The Front Bottoms — Back On Top
Against ME! — 23 Live Sex Acts
Years and Years — Communion
Twenty One Pilots — Blurryface
Boston Manor — Saudade
Sweaty Septum’s Best Song of 2015:
“True” by Jacob Harshman
The first time I heard this song, I cried. Sure, you could say I’m a drama queen. I’ll say it for you; I’m a drama queen, but IDGAF. I’ve never felt punched so hard in the gut by a song. This singer/songwriter from Georgia dropped his first EP, Whitespace, at the end of November and it’s been my late night solace since. There is an openness to the lyrics that will make you re-live your first love, current love, or burnt flame with the fondness of how it really felt to experience those moments in real time. “We’re falling apart and I can’t wait for that not to be true. ‘Cause I miss the way I felt when I first met you.” It’s rare to find a record that captures each phase of love gained and love lost with such a raw touch it will open your fleshed over wounds right back up. If you haven’t heard of Harshman yet, you’re in for a treat. Did I get to sit down with him and discuss his inspiration for this song and the album? Hell yes, I did. That’s coming soon … as are so many other big things for this artist in 2016.
Sweaty Septum’s Best Show of 2015:
Bleachers at Jannus Live in St. Petersburg, FL
Okay, so it was actually the end of December 2014 but it was the lead in to a great year. I ended up seeing Bleachers two more times in 2015 but this show at Jannus Live was an incredible performance all around. The venue; sick, my favorite in all of Florida. It was outdoors and I was right up at the front. Jack Antonoff gives so much to the crowd and everyone was giving it right back. There was not a sleepy eye, motionless hand, or silent mouth in the place. St. Pete was yelling, scream-singing, dancing with the heart that echoes of each word Antonoff writes. To top off an already spectacular evening, the band storms back onstage for an encore of the soul-smashing, “I Wanna Get Better.” Jack steps out into the stretching crowd with his yellow-laced, black combat boots and my tiny, ineffective hands are there to hold his rubber souls shouting from underneath, “I didn’t know I was broken ‘til I wanted to change. I WANNA GET BETTER, BETTER, BETTER, BETTER!” Alive; as in I have never felt more so. My heart was brimming that evening. And I haven’t washed my hands since. Just kidding?
Anticipated albums of 2016: Real Friends, Vinyl Theatre, Bleachers, Panic! at the Disco, The 1975, and more!
If you wish to contact me, email [email protected].
Jason Earle, Staff Writer:
Jason’s Best Albums of 2015
Alabama Shakes — Sound and Color
This thing is a game changer. Alabama Shakes had a lot to follow after Boys and Girls turned so many heads. Sound and Color takes a sonic forty-five-degree detour, gliding into a warm jacuzzi and putting its head under for strange sense of comfort.
Jason Isbell — Something More Than Free
Southeastern, Isbell’s breakout masterpiece, is one of the greatest albums of all time. For the two years it was out preceding this year’s much anticipated Something More Than Free, I could be found arguing that Southeastern was among the greatest albums ever. Pet Sounds, Exile on Main Street, Revolver, Kind of Blue, all of ‘em. Of course, greatest albums ever is an impossible conversation because each has to be taken in the context of its time. I needed Southeastern at the time, and Isbell gave it to me in better shape than expected.
Something More Than Free builds on the creative and commercial successes of Southeastern. His incredible, personal songwriting comes through again, but this time the songs are less raw emotion and more craft. That’s not to say he made a record polished for the masses. The characters are still people who make “palmetto roses” and “sneak a bottle up the bleachers to forget their names” at a high school football game.
My Morning Jacket — The Waterfall
The soundtrack to a beautiful roadtrip through South Carolina, into the Blueridge Mountains and Asheville, North Carolina, and back down through Georgia.
Steve Earle — Terraplane Blues
My father and I saw Steve Earle together for the third time in the last ten years. The show would be just outside my top five, only because of the company it is kept. The album squeaks into my top five. It’s a blues record, Steve Earle-style.
Ryan Adams — Live at Carnegie Hall
Quite possibly the most beautiful live record these ears have heard. Adams is funny, irreverent, appreciative, and so damn gorgeous with his singing and playing.
Lucero — All a Man Should Do
JJ Grey and Mofro — Ol’ Glory
James McMurtry — Complicated Game
Ryan Bingham — Fear and Saturday Night
Leon Bridges — Coming Home
Bright Light Social Hour — Space is Still the Place
Jason’s Best Shows of 2015:
Neutral Milk Hotel (May)
Neutral Milk Hotel at Ponte Vedra Concert Hall is the kind of show my kids will hear about some day. In a year that saw me attend a show pretty much weekly, this one was the first to come to mind when putting together a “Best of” piece, and it maintained top status when juxtaposed with the likes of Jason Isbell, My Morning Jacket, and Ryan Adams. An enigma wrapped in a conundrum cased in a glass cage of emotions, Neutral Milk Hotel played for what seemed like the last fifteen years of lost time between when I first heard In the Aeroplane Over the Sea and a sweltering Florida summer night.
Jason Isbell with Craig Finn at the Florida Theatre and The Plaza Live (May)
Jason Isbell is the greatest songwriter on the planet, and Craig Finn could keep me enraptured with a story about feeding ducks at Orlando’s Lake Eola. The crowd at The Plaza did not give Finn a chance. Fortunately, the Florida Theatre crowd in Jax was much more loving earlier in the week. Both crowds hung on every Isbell solo, managing to sing along passionately without drowning out precious vocals.
My Morning Jacket at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre (July)
My Morning Jacket at my favorite venue in Florida was destined for success. The last time I saw My Morning Jacket was at Madison Square Garden on New Year’s Eve where they set a high bar. No matter. My Morning Jacket absolutely slayed the night. It was the kind of set that leads to an impromptu post party on the beach where you feel like there are no other people in the world except the ones you are with right then.
American Aquarium at Will’s (April)
These guys blaze through a venue. And, damnit I love Will’s. Lead singer BJ Barham was grabbing a club soda or something at the bar before the show. Later on, everyone screamed his lyrics back at him, to the point Barham told one guy, “your passion is greater than this machine,” because the monitors could not compete with dude’s fire. Just an intimate, rowdy night, with a band who keeps getting better at everything they do.
Lake Street Dive at Magnolia Festival (October)
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park cannot be of this world. Some benevolent celestial being planted it here to keep us from freaking out about our existence, and then planned incredible music festivals a dozen times a year. Magnolia Fest was characteristically amazing, and Lake Street Dive was the highest of highlights.
Roadkill Ghost Choir at Gasparilla Music Festival (March)
At the time, I wrote this set reminded me of seeing Radiohead a decade ago. There’s a line you might look back on and cringe. In this case, the words hold true. Gasparilla Music Festival hosted some incredible acts, but Roadkill Ghost Choir’s guitars are reverberating into December.
Ryan Adams, The Pixies, and the Strokes at Big Guava (May)
Ryan Adams is one of the five greatest songwriters of all time. The Pixies are as good live as one would expect. The love of my life got to see one of her favorite bands, The Strokes, for the first time.
Sean Dorsett, Staff Writer
Sean’s Best Albums of 2015:
- Tame Impala — Currents
- Alabama Shakes — Sound and Color
- Papadosio — Extras in a Movie
- Rising Appalachia — Wider Circles
- Hiatus Kaiyote — Choose Your Weapon
Honorable mention: Trevor Hall — KALA
Sean’s Best Songs of 2015
- “Gimme All Your Love” – Alabama Shakes
- “Breathing Underwater” – Hiatus Kaiyote
- “Medicine” – Rising Appalachia
- “The Less I Know the Better” – Tame Impala
- “Anima Mundi” – Papadosio
Honorable mention: “Back to You” – Trevor Hall
Sean’s Best Shows of 2015
- Nahko and Medicine for the People at Culture Room, Ft. Lauderdale, Feb. 7, 2015
This was one of the few venue shows Nahko has ever played in Florida and it was absolutely astounding. Everyone around me was singing along at the top of their lungs and dancing with huge smiles plastered on their faces. Best of all, Nahko played an unannounced jam session in the parking lot after the show to a small crowd. We were invited to participate in a meditation session with him, which included the soothing sounds of singing bowls and Om chanting while we all laid on the ground. Afterward, we had an active jam circle. Nahko even stopped me before I left and insisted on shaking my hand, which made my life complete, haha. I smile every time I reflect on that night. 🙂
- Rising Appalachia at Safety Harbor Art and Music Center, Dec. 12, 2015
Rising Appalachia also rarely performs venue shows in Florida. This show sold out very quickly so I was grateful I thought to buy a ticket early. I met Leah before the show, just from crossing paths by chance; she was incredibly humble and charming. The show itself topped every performance I’ve ever seen of theirs to date (and that’s quite a few from festivals). It was on an outside stage in a small, comfortable backyard-type setting with large, overhanging oak trees decorated in soft glowing Christmas lights and beautiful tapestries waving in the most pleasant breeze imaginable. They actually played every single song I wanted to hear; I even cried during a couple of them. It was such a graceful, inspiring, love-filled evening. True perfection.
- Trevor Hall at the Social, Orlando, Oct. 12, 2015
I don’t think I’ve ever been to a show that felt more like a meditation than a musical performance. This show served up the most healing vibrations I’ve ever experienced from live music to date. Most of the setlist was composed of songs from Hall’s latest album, KALA, which is now my favorite. My soul felt completely rejuvenated when I left this show.
- Umphrey’s McGee at House of Blues, Orlando, Aug. 21, 2015
This show was legendary in the grandest sense of the word. I had seen Umphrey’s McGee a few times before, but they threw down some extra Umph on this one. Eargasm with a side of supreme epic sauce. This is how you melt faces off. This show easily moved them up the ranks to sit among my top rock bands of all time.
- Dave Matthews Band at Midflorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, Tampa, July 29, 2015
I never fully understood why DMB had such a huge and devout following until I saw them live. This show was a huge deal. If you ask me, DMB has some of the most soulful and talented musicians Earth has to offer.
Sean’s Best Moments of 2015
- Hanging out with and meeting Nahko at my favorite show of the year.
- Meeting Jake (lead guitarist) of Umphrey’s McGee out in the parking lot after their show in St. Pete.
- Hanging out with Zach Deputy at his festival (Zach Deputy’s Disc Jam) and seeing the premier of his movie (Bros) with a small group of people in his cabin at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park.
- Crying during some of Rising Appalachia’s set at their show (my second favorite show of the year). Their vocal harmonies are so beautiful and sweet it overwhelms me with the most happy, loving emotions imaginable.
- The chills I got from experiencing the Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses concert (honorable mention for my top shows).
If you wish to contact me, email [email protected].Read Sean’s Posts Here!
S.T. Register, Staff Writer
Sam’s Best Show of 2015
Ryan Adams at Big Guava Fest
Seeing a band live that you have never seen before is always exciting. I’ve always found a greater satisfaction in seeing a live performance from an artist with whom you have zero expectations from. No, they better play this song or my night will be ruined moments. More importantly, no one telling you that seeing them live will completely change your life. It’s just you, the music and the moment. I had this experience with Ryan Adams at the Big Guava Fest in Tampa. Everything about his set was perfect. The soundboard mix was good, the setlist was on point, and Ryan’s song writing skills shined brighter than the carnival lights that night. Everything about it made me an instant fan for life. Besides, any artist who puts a working arcade machine on the stage is okay by me.
Sam’s Best Best Album of 2015
“Positive Songs for Negative People” by Frank Turner
I honestly believe that everyone needs a little Frank Turner in their life. This album has everything that makes a great album to me: great instrumentation, lyrics that cover a mixture of emotions, provocation that begs you to sing along to every single word. Songs such as, “Get Better” and “Glorious You” are just asking to be replayed over and over again after just listening to it, but then again the same could be said about the rest of the album. In my opinion, Mr. Turner has shown the world yet again that he is not losing, but gaining momentum in his extensive songwriting career. It is clear that he will not only continue to grace us with his talents, but he will evolve in ways that many artists try and fail.
Sam’s Best Song of 2015
“A Night on the Town” by The Dear Hunter
Whenever The Deer Hunter announces any new music I get excited. The release of the song “A Night on the Town,” as part of their marketing efforts for the highly anticipate ACT IV, was everything their fans hoped for and expect from the band. The full nine-minute, symphonic masterpiece from one of the most talented songwriters and group of musicians in the last 20 years, gave me my first chills of the year.
Sam’s Best Best Moments of 2015
- The moment we realized new Bon Iver music was performed and an album may be in the near future.
- The inevitable rise of Nathaniel Rateliff.
- Adele reminds the world that she is mother [email protected]#k!ng Adele!
If you wish to contact me, email [email protected].Read Sam’s Posts Here!
Ronald Grant, Staff Writer:
Ron Grants writes a weekly column for ShowsIGoTo.com called “Hip Hop Stop w/ Ron Grant” which comes out every Friday, and he reviewed the whole year in Hip Hop! Here’s the intro from his post, Hip Hop Year in Review — 2015.
And so … here we are. The end of one year, and on the cusp of a new one. 2015 was filled with it’s share of amazing highs and horrendous lows in Hip Hop. From Drake and Future releasing the hugely successful What A Time To Be Alive mix tape, to Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly. From Rumors of a new Kanye album to the deaths of A$AP Yams and Sean Price. From Wu Tang’s $2 million album to Vince Staples calling ’90s Hip Hop overrated. It was a year steeped in drama, controversy, rumors and more. So here’s a quick glance at ten of the biggest stories that got our attention and kept us on the edge of our seats from the past 365.READ RON’S HIP HOP YEAR IN REVIEW HERE!
If you wish to contact me, email [email protected].
Listen to the ShowsIGoTo Best of 2015 Podcast here:
See how much we differed from our Best Of 2015 (So Far) post six months ago 🙂
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