One More “Best of 2015” List

I love lists (top 10s, 20s, 100s whatnot) and “best-of” compilations. I think no source has given us a better view of the progressive gems of 2015 than Progarchy. My own opinions are just that—mine. While my “best of” judgment calls are ultimately just my favorite albums from the past year, I think I’ll stick with “best of” rather than “Watson’s Faves.”   The music that you might think should be listed, but doesn’t appear here, more than likely means I just didn’t get a chance to listen to it. Dave Kerzner’s brilliant album is not listed because I view it (and first listened to it) as a 2014 release. I’ll skip posting album jacket photos and links. While the list is for “PROG” I also include a few other categories. It was a great year and this is how I saw it: [counting down in reverse order for greater surprise effect]

TOP 20 OF 2015 ALBUMS

  1. Beardfish/ +4626 COMFORTZONE

This band rarely disappoints. The music is riveting only trumped by some profound lyrics.

  1. Neal Morse/ GRAND EXPERIMENT

Morse has the ‘gold-standard’ for constantly producing beautiful and poignant music that emotionally engages the listener. In a less stellar year would be rated higher.

  1. Glass Hammer/ A BREAKING OF THE WORLD

Ditto my comments on Morse. Every GH album should be purchased as they’re incapable of making anything less than a jewel.

  1. The Gentle Storm/ DIARY

This is a great concept-story which was executed brilliantly in two versions (hard and soft). I’m a sucker for melody and when Anneke sings I hear hints of one of my favorite song-birds, Annie Haslam. A gorgeous and moving listen.

  1. Native Construct/ QUIET WORLD

A blend of heavier progressive rock and progressive metal with enough hooks and stunning harmonizations to make one say “who are these guys?” One my “finds” of the year.

  1. Steven Wilson/ HAND. CANNOT. ERASE

This was in my top three most of the year. What else can I add to what the known universe has been saying about Wilson’s magnum opus? Serious, sublime, reflective, and permanent in its impact. 10/10.

  1. The Dear Hunter/ ACT IV: REBIRTH IN REPRISE

The best reason not to come out with a “best of” list until the last day of the year is so that albums like this don’t slip by in the rush. I only just heard this concept disc (a couple days ago) and it has been listened to almost a dozen times now. This is a fulsome blend of Muse and maybe Coheed & Cambria. I must explore their back discography as their fusion of orchestra rock and classic prog, with a hint of art-rock/jazz, hit me so hard that they vaulted over even Steven Wilson. Along with Native Construct, this is a discovery that makes 2015 so epic.

  1. The Tangent/ A SPARK IN THE AETHER.

Andy and company turn out their best album yet (such an artist that every new release is their best one yet). Andy’s love of music and the progressive genre radiates out in warm love and celebratory life. This is a feel-good album that is returned to time and time again. Was in contention for #1.

  1. Lonely Robot/ PLEASE COME HOME

John Mitchell’s album is near perfect. The infectious melodies, lyrical themes, and exquisite musicianship had this loosely-based concept album of alienation and humanity neck and neck with the following winner.

THE BEST ALBUM OF 2015 – –

OnesANDzeros

  1. 3RDegree/ ONES AND ZEROS: Vol. 1

If you are a fan of progressive masterpieces (Yes, King Crimson, Genesis, and Rush) you will quickly realize that 3RDegree’s ONES AND ZEROS will be talked about with the same enduring awe as the aforementioned masters of this art. The album is deep and disturbing with a libretto worthy of the best dystopian science-fiction legendary authors. The musicianship is tight and the album’s production and mixing is crisp. If I could have listened to only one album this past year (and a gander at my list makes clear what a bumper year it has been) it would have this one. I’m listening to it right now as I type. Go buy it. Buy copies for your friends…Christmas 2016 is only 12 months away…you’ll probably not find an album this good in those coming 12 months.

And now, to round out my TOP 20:

  1. Gazpacho/ Molok
  2. Spock’s Beard/THE OBLIVION PARTICLE
  3. Tiger Moth Tales/ STORY TELLERS PART ONE
  4. Argos/ A SEASONAL AFFAIR
  5. Barock Project/SKYLINE
  6. Arena/ THE UNQUIET SKY
  7. Red Jasper/ THE GREAT AND SECRET SHOW
  8. Grand Tour/ HEAVY ON THE BEACH
  9. Steve Hackett/ WOLFLIGHT
  10. Subterranean Masquerade/ THE GREAT BAZAAR

HONORABLE MENTION

Riverside/ LOVE, FEAR, AND THE TIME MACHINE

Sylvan/ HOME

Sanguine Hum/ NOW WE HAVE A LIGHT

David Gilmour/ RATTLE THAT LOCK

Toto/ XIV

BEST NON-PROG:

POP/ROCK/INDIE, ETC.

Joe Jackson/Fast Forward

FFS/ FFS

The Decemberists/ WHAT A TERRIBLE WORLD WHAT A BEAUTIFUL WORLD

Jeff Lynn’s ELO/ ALONE IN THE UNIVERSE

HEAVY METAL/SLUDGE/STONER/PSYCH ETC.

Iron Maiden/ BOOK OF SOULS

Baroness/ PURPLE

Amorphis/ UNDER THE RED CLOUD

Arcturus/ ARCTURIAN

Motorhead/ BAD MAGIC (Lemmy R.I.P)

The Sword/ HIGH COUNTRY

COUNTRY

Dwight Yoakum/ SECOND HAND HEART

Whitey Morgan and the 78’s/ SONIC RANCH

Chris Isaak/ FIRST COMES THE NIGHT

BEST SONGS

Choir of Ancestors/ Gazpacho

First Comes The Night/Chris Isaak

Hand Cannot Erase/ Steven Wilson

A Night on the Town/ The Dear Hunter

Waves/ The Dear Hunter

Till the End/ Motorhead

Collaborations Don’t Work/ FFS

Fast Forward/ Joe Jackson

The Celluloid Road/ The Tangent

The Boy in the Radio/ Lonely Robot

Bennett Built A Time Machine/ Spock’s Beard

Sacrifice/ Amorphis

 

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “One More “Best of 2015” List

    1. Robert, I “calls ’em likes I sees ’em” 😀 And yes, I can’t wait for your next album. While you’ve set the bar “pretty darn high” you’ve got the personnel, talent and the chops to build on success. I wish I lived in New Jersey.

      Like

Thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s