Top Picks for the Best Albums of 2015

Are your favorite artists of the year on the list?

By Hady MawajdehDecember 28, 2015 9:51 am,

Whatever your musical tastes, 2015 had something for everyone.

The Standard asked two Texas public radio program directors, Amy Miller from KXT 91.7 in North Texas and Matt Reilly from KUTX 98.9 in Austin, for their picks on the best music of 2015:

Courtney Barnett’s “Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit”
“I don’t even know how many times I’ve listened to this album, but such a unique artist, Courtney Barnett,” Miller says. “She [Barnett] has that talk-sing style going on, very quirky lyrics, very original, and it’s just so refreshing when you hear and artist like that come up and come out with a wonderful album of songwriting.”

Father John Misty’s “I Love You, Honeybear”
One of Reilly’s picks features former Fleet Foxes drummer Joshua Tillman, now known as Father John Misty. And “I Love You, Honeybear” is the exact opposite of a religious album, Reilly says.

“Well, it depends on what your religion is, I guess,” he says. “If it’s sort of Southern California nihilism, I guess that would work, but what’s hilarious about this guy is he’s a complete wiseacre.”

Reilly likens the artist to Harry Nillson’s “smart aleck son,” with songwriting that makes for good storytelling.

“There are just these very off-the-wall, off-kilter stories and there’s this earworm quality about it that when you hear them, you just can’t get them out of your head,” he says.

However, Miller observes that “I Love You, Honeybear” isn’t for everyone.

“I found this year that was probably the most polarizing album,” she says. “I feel like people either absolutely love him, love the album or hate it.”

Leon Bridges’ “Coming Home”
Fort Worth artist Leon Bridges rose quickly to fame in 2015, even performing on “Saturday Night Live” in early December.

“A year ago, he wasn’t doing any of this and we’ve just seen his career skyrocket in this past year,” Miller says.

She says Bridges recorded the Grammy-nominated R&B album in Texas.

“Another thing that I love about this album – not only the songwriting and that throwback R&B sound to the 1960s – but he has all Fort Worth musicians playing on it,” she says. “He recorded it here and he’s just really retained that down-to-Earth quality about him too, this last year.”

Sweet Spirit’s “Cokomo”
The nine-piece band fronted by Sabrina Ellis gets praise from Reilly for their dynamic performances.

“They write these super catchy, fun songs and seeing them live is a lot of fun because of her [Ellis] sort of manic energy,” he says.

It’s also a favorite in the Reilly house.

“Not only do my wife and I really like this record, but my 4-year-old daughter loves it too,” he says. “It’s one of those things that the whole family can agree on and that’s something that you really want to cherish at this point in familyhood.”

Alabama Shakes’ “Sound and Color”
Reilly and Miller both agree on Alabama Shakes’ “challenging” second album as a top pick.

“As radio people, you’re always looking for that radio single and there are radio singles on this album, but the fact that the songwriting is a little more intricate – that’s definitely made up for by the authenticity of Brittany Howard’s voice and her performance,” Miller says about the band’s vocalist.

Reilly says Howard’s talent is “a force” and describes the album with “a throwback vibe.”

Listen to the full interview in the player above.

Amy Miller’s Top Five Picks

  1. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit
  2. Leon Bridges – Coming Home
  3. Soak – Before We Forgot How To Dream
  4. Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color
  5. Rayland Baxter – Imaginary Man

Matt Reilly’s Top Five Picks

  1. Alabama Shakes – Sound and Color
  2. Sweet Spirit – Cokomo
  3. Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear
  4. The Sword – High Country
  5. The Bright Light Social Hour – Space Is Still The Place

View Texas Standard’s Youtube playlist below to see singles, album streams and live performances from the artists: