10. Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear
Joshua Tillman’s second album as his alter ego Father John Misty is an exercise in what greatness can come out of mixing catchy tunes with blunt, biting lyrics. Here the songs are mostly about meeting his wife and consequent events that have happened afterwards. I Love You, Honeybear is an honest collection of songs which will occasionally cause fits of disbelief and laughter.
Favorite songs: “I Love You, Honeybear,” “Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Crow,” “Holy Shit”
9. Jeff Lynne’s ELO – Alone in the Universe
Love this man and it seems he’s finally receiving his dues. His newest since 2001’s Zoom makes for a great compromise. Equal parts 70’s orchestral lush and 90’s rock blues, Alone in the Universe tries to appease everyone and does so for the most part. There are no big, catchy hits here, but the quality of his work — both songwriting and production — are on par with earlier output.
Favorite songs: “Dirty to the Bone,” “When the Night Comes,” “One Step at a Time”
8. Enya – Dark Sky Island
Here is Enya’s return to the height of her first two break-through albums. If you enjoyed Watermark and Shepherd Moons, pick this one up. The first half of the album is phenomenal. It’s overflowing with catchy melodies and the most interesting lyrics her poet partner, Nicky Ryan, has put to paper in a while. The second half, while not as strong, is still a wonderful listen.
Favorite songs: “The Humming…,” “Even in the Shadows,” “Echoes in Rain”
7. Florence + the Machine – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
Florence’s sophomore effort Ceremonials never hooked me. There were good songs on it but never found myself going back. Not here. So Big… is full of Florence’s gigantic vocals and her trademark over-the-top subject matter, but this time there are songs made to be heard multiple times. She plays with arrangements, too. Horns and heavier guitar work put many of these songs in the rock realm and gives her angst a stronger punch.
Favorite songs: “Ship to Wreck,” “Queen of Peace,” “Third Eye”
6. The Bird and the Bee – Recreational Love
If you’re a big fan of Adele’s “Hello” then here’s her co-writer and producer of that song. Greg Kurstin knows pop music well and this is his outlet with Inara George to geek out with different flavors including jazz, electronica, and hip-hop beats. The songs are fun, danceable, and — especially “Will You Dance?” — deserve bigger recognition and a larger audience. (Trivia: this one is a Grammy-nominee for best engineering. It even surprised the band.)
Favorite songs: “Will You Dance?”, “Runaway,” “Los Angeles”
Includes my favorite lyric of the year: “I don’t care/I don’t care if people stare/People stare at all the wrong things”
Listen to the music
Favorites of 2015
The 2015 Partyline: A Collection of 2015 Party Songs