2015 Albums of the Year

Sometimes things are predictable, the journey leads you to the destination you expected all along.  Other times when you arrive you end up discovering something that you didn’t anticipate.

The path to my fifth annual albums list had elements of both.

On the one hand the eventual top two albums felt like contenders for such heights upon my very first listen to them months ago.  That’s fairly typical for me, I may not be able to describe what my top album will sound like beforehand but I seem to know it right away when I hear it.  This is the third straight year that has been the case.

On the other hand one of the recurring themes throughout 2015 were the strong showings for established groups, particularly in the active rock niche and in terms of radio airplay.  The year felt at times dominated by groups with a long run of past success.  That’s likely why I was more than a little surprised to reach the end of this process with a list that was over two-thirds composed of artists that had never before made one of my year-end album lists.   That’s not entirely uncommon as the lists go, album cycles and even with a five year history of the list, there aren’t always multiple opportunities for someone to have appeared (for example, this was the first Disturbed album released since I started doing this).  It was still surprising to me given the way 2015 had felt as it played out from day to day.

The outcome also likely highlights my growing sense of disconnect between what radio plays and what is actually good, or what I choose to hear … but that really wasn’t much of a revelation, that’s more like a recurring theme.

As always, I point you toward the description of the list as originally described back in 2011.
“It’s a lot like my college football Top 25, there’s no one absolute factor that puts one entry ahead of another.  I’m not putting artistic merit ahead of fun or chart/sales success in front of my own enjoyment.  And, as always, I apologize in advance for any errors of omission.”

This year’s process was even more exhaustive and extensive than last year with just over 250 albums heard & re-heard, scored & re-scored, ranked & re-ranked.   That isn’t simply a number either, it’s an indication of another of my common themes: the sheer volume of material being released today is astounding, something I believe contributes to the challenges faced by artists, especially new artists, in ever achieving anything that resembles critical mass.  There’s only one pizza, whether it’s a 12″ or a 16″ or a 24″ super deluxe thick stuffed crust, sooner or later if you slice that pie enough times the pieces are too small to be filling.

One other change this year deserves explanation.   The list has expanded to 30 for the ultimately simple reason that I could not find any comfort at all in separating #25 from #30.   I’ve dealt with “ties” or “virtually identical overall impression” every year, but never with this big a group for the final spot(s) that I considered so evenly matched.  Try not to think of it as a cop out — again this year I could have easily expanded the list to 50 or more — just think of it as a good-faith effort to give artists recognition that I feel they well and truly earned.

Also, please be sure to check  my comments that follow the official posting of the Top 25 Albums (and the top 15 EP’s),  there are additional albums worthy of recognition that are included in various sub-categories/genres, including some very honorable mentions for various reasons.

And with all of that now said, I proudly give you Jon’s Three Cents Top 30 Albums of 2015

30) Poynte – Discreet Enemy
29) Reverance – Gods Of War
28) Ugly Kid Joe – Uglier Than They Used To Be
27) Adakain – Never Coming Home
26) Red Sun Rising – Polyester Zeal
25) Stellar Revival – Love, Lust,and Bad Company
24) Queensryche – Condition Human
23) Stryper – Fallen
22) Wilson – Right To Rise
21) Disturbed – Immortalized
20) Papa Roach – F.E.A.R.
19) The Wild – GxDxWxB
18) I Prevail – Heart vs Mind
17) Bullet For My Valentine – Venom (Deluxe Edition)
16) Sunflower Dead – It’s Time To Get Weird
15) Hinder – When The Smoke Clears
14) Eclipse – Armageddonize
13) Tremonti – Cauterize
12) Red Sky Mary – River Child
11) Level 10 – Chapter 1
10) The Bloodline – We Are One
9) Sons Of Texas – Baptized In The Rio Grande
8) Fall To June – Fall To June
7) Like A Storm – Awaken The Fire
6) Bridge To Grace – Origins
5) Saint Asonia – Saint Asonia
4) Longreef – Battle Plan
3) First Decree – This Is Our Rise
2) Five Finger Death Punch – Got Your Six (Deluxe Edition)
1) Trivium – Silence In The Snow

Jon’s Three Cents Top 15 EPs of 2015
15) Dharmata – Cycles
14) Bad Seed Rising – A Place Called Home
13) Soulswitch – RegeneratE
12) Mach22 – Like My Chances
11) Any Given Sin – Forbidden
10) Empire Of Fools – Devil Inside
9) Brother Grey – Eternal
8) Outlaws & Moonshine – 1919
7) Revolve – The Road To Here
6) Sonic X – Fall From Grace
5) Voodoo Vegas – Hypnotize
4) Andrew Watt – Ghost In My Head
3) Everlit – Renovate
2) Stone Sour – Meanwhile In Burbank
1) From Ashes To New – Downfall

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3 Comments

Filed under Music, Personal

3 responses to “2015 Albums of the Year

  1. Jon

    Top Heritage Artist Albums
    10) Thunder – Wonder Days
    9) WASP – Babylon
    8) Def Leppard – Def Leppard
    7) Raven – ExtermiNation
    6) Saxon – Battering Ram
    5) Tank – Valley Of Tears
    4) Armored Saint – Win Hands Down
    3) Ugly Kid Joe – Uglier Than They Used To Be
    2) Queensryche – Condition Human
    1) Stryper – Fallen

  2. Jon

    Top Christian Albums/EPs
    7) XXI – Inside Out
    6) We Are Vessel – We Are Vessel
    5) Pillar – One Love Revolution
    4) Seventh Day Slumber – Redline
    3) Silversyde – Casting Shadows
    2) Spoken – Breathe Again
    1) Stryper – Fallen

  3. Jon

    2015 Honorable Mention

    2) Man Made Machine – B-Sides & Rarities … had these 26 tracks been split into traditional albums it’s very likely that at least one, if not two, could have made my final Top 30 list. This release emptied their vaults as the band split up in late 2015, it was an impressive farewell.

    1) Leo Moracchioli – gained both fame & well-deserved acclaim in 2015 for his prolific output of rock/metal takes of pop songs. If the best of that work had been compiled into a traditional album format he would have been in at least my top five if not higher. One of the most entertaining artists I’ve heard in a long time, with indisputable talent.

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