Dec 30, 2015

Farce the Music's Top 13 Albums of 2015

For the first time, our best albums list is a composite voted on by Trailer and FTM's 4 most frequent contributors (Kelcy Salisbury, Kevin Broughton, Jeremy Harris, and Matthew Martin) along with a tiebreaker vote from Trailer's concert buddy/friend with good taste in music, Chad. We hope this will add validity and weight to the results. It was another great year for music, as you'll see clearly below. 

11. (Tie) Jason Boland and the Stragglers - Squelch
Boland & a slightly reworked Stragglers lineup provide proof that country music can evolve without sacrificing its identity. Not many artists are turning out this kind of work nearly two decades into their career, but the proof is in the pudding as The Stragglers have put out a rollicking rock-tinged album with a subversive, punk rock type aesthetic throughout. If you like smart, socially conscious lyrics with a bite, this is the country album for you. -Kelcy

11. (Tie) William Clark Green - Ringling Road
It may head towards the pop country direction a few times. I don’t care. It may contain a few songs that are catchy but don’t contain much substance. I don’t care. It may be from someone that a lot of you had never heard of. I don’t care. I chose this as my top album because it’s my top album. How can you argue with that logic? I don’t know or care. All I know is this is by far my favorite album of this year and it wasn’t even something that required much thought. -Jeremy

11. (Tie) Father John Misty - I Love You, Honeybear
Indie-pop is a sub-genre I usually avoid due to the twee nature of its typical fare. Father John Misty doesn't do twee. He infuses his catchy pop tunes and lounge rollers with a strong dose of balls. His lyrics are clever, biting, and frequently downright asshole-ish. These songs comfort, provoke, enlighten, and annoy, often at the same time. Our narrator is a jerk, but a jerk that you have to stick around to see what he'll do or say next. This is a record that will gnaw at you and stick with you, each song taking its turn being an earworm or soundtrack to some odd moment. -Trailer

10. Jonathan Tyler - Holy Smokes
It’s astounding when you realize all the things this guy has accomplished by his 30th year. Out of a contract with the suits at Atlantic Records, Tyler combines songwriting chops and a top-flight vocal range to express his newfound independence in impressive fashion. Expect more great things from this prodigy. -Kevin

9. John Moreland - High on Tulsa Heat
It's not an album you may want to listen to over and over because it's so heavy. But, whether you want to or not, you'll be compelled to continue to listen. It's catchy. It's a bummer. But John Moreland sings with the conviction of a man who has no choice but tell you about the pains of life. Moreland's voice is so powerful and strong. If you don't own this album, stop everything you're doing and get this album. Listen to it. Then, listen to it again regardless of your gut feeling. This album will hit you, and hit you hard. By the time you get to "Cherokee" on the last half of the album, you'll realize how special Moreland, and this album, is. -Matthew

8. Ray Wylie Hubbard - The Ruffian's Misfortune
The Wylie Lama has released his best album in years, and we are lucky enough to witness it. "Stone Blind Horses" is as good a lyric as anything released all year, "Bad On Fords" is about as much fun as anything Hubbard has ever put out, the whole vibe is great & the results are fantastic. -Kelcy

This seasoned, wry songwriter really can’t make a bad record. “Chick singer, Badass Rocking” has the kind of driving, tribal feel as a RWH standard, “Snake Farm.” And the record closes with “Stone Blind Horses,” which would make my top 5 list of singles from 2015. -Kevin

7. The Yawpers - American Man
If this were a list of the top rock albums, Nate Cook and his band would be at the summit. The songs confront a range of social/societal issues head on, but what blows you away is how much sound the Yawpers get from two acoustics and a drum kit. Buckle up; this one gets you by the throat. -Kevin

Rock & Roll isn't dead, you just can't see it from the highway or hear it on corporate radio, but there are still some bands keeping it alive. This album is at once sprawling, messy, smart, cynical, homesick & rebellious. It's a good thing. -Kelcy

6. American Aquarium - Wolves
To say the musical arrangements are daring & a departure from past albums is true. Yes, the same basic structure is there, the skeleton is intact enough to keep the loyal fans sated. But BJ Barham & the boys take risks here. The lush "Man I'm Supposed To Be" could be something Chet Atkins produced, but the darkness that lurks in this most honest of love songs somehow makes the song even more powerful. -Kelcy

5. Whitey Morgan - Sonic Ranch
How does an album with a bunch of covers make a year end list? By making you forget they’re cover songs. Whitey hits a home-run with this one and his vocals should’ve made this album more talked about than it already was in 2015. -Jeremy

As strong a "real country album" as you'll hear in 2015. It's refreshing to hear such unfiltered honky-tonk music in this day and age of contrived edge and softened edges. Morgan and the 78s' version of modern outlaw country is a comparable sound to what Sturgill Simpson is doing, but with a blue collar approach and a more pronounced low-end. This album may not drive Morgan to acceptance/hype in the same circles as Jason Isbell and Sturgill, but it's a big statement album that will bring in new fans and make old ones very happy. -Trailer

4. Chris Stapleton - Traveller
Chris Stapleton has been around the scene for a long time and I think many folks have had 
a feeling that one day he'd get the recognition due him. I'm glad that day has come, and this 
album is completely worthy of all the praise it has garnered. Stapleton's voice is as strong as 
ever and the songs are perfect showcases for his style. The slower, sadder tunes on the 
album are the real highlights though and the song "Fire Away" is far and away my favorite 
track on the album. -Matthew

3. Jason Isbell - Something More Than Free
The only thing keeping this one out of my top spot is the fact that it was just a year since his last tour-de-force, Southeastern.  As I wrote here, this record lets your emotions off the mat a little bit, and allows you to breathe. I think it’s his best to date, but the dude keeps raising the bar. -Kevin

2. James McMurtry - Complicated Game
The first studio album in six years from the dean of Texas songwriting. McMurtry turns a phrase better than most, and injects an extraordinary pathos into his everyman characters. He didn’t miss a beat during the half-dozen year delay, and this one is well worth the wait. -Kevin

I'm not sure there is anyone out there today who can write songs about everyday scenarios as perfectly as James McMurtry. On his latest effort, McMurtry strips down his songs to their basics and lets the focus be on the stories within each song. The incredibly heartbreaking song "You Got To Me" will leave you missing something- whether that be home, a past relationship, or just earlier years will be up to you. The song and the album stuck with me for weeks after listening to it. -Matthew

1. Turnpike Troubadours - Turnpike Troubadours
On this record, the Troubadours let a little color and light in, and it's just enough to fully realize the absurd potential of this group. There's space, separation, and vividness in the sound. The slower songs soar, the rockers punch, and there's fiddle and steel galore. On a good set of speakers, this thing is stunning. Their writing was already excellent, but they've even upped their game in that department. "The Bird Hunters" tells the tale of a man coming to terms with an ended relationship over the course of a quail hunt. This could come across as hokey or forced in the hands of a lesser act. The Troubadours make it a song-of-the-year candidate, epic, cinematic, and immersive. -Trailer


Other popular selections:
The Pollies - Not Here
Lindi Ortega - Faded Gloryville
Baroness - Purple
Kacey Musgraves - Pageant Material
Randy Rogers & Wade Bowen - Hold My Beer
Allison Moorer - Down to Believing
Lucero - All a Man Should Do
Courtney Patton - So This is Life
Benton Leachman - Bury the Hatchet
Ashley Monroe - The Blade
The Honeycutters - Me Oh My
The Deslondes - s/t
Eric Church - Mr. Misunderstood
Will Hoge - Small Town Dreams


  1. Replies
    1. I just added it to the bottom section. It was my #2, but nobody else voted for it. :(

  2. Right on the money with Fire Away!

  3. Sturgill didn't have anything new out this year, did he?

  4. You all nailed it with Turnpike Troubadours - so much refined talent there. Keep your eye on Banditos Band out of Birmingham, AL.

  5. Great job, nice list. Other considerations: Cody Jinks, Adobe Sessions; The Mavericks, Mono & Ryan Bingham, Fear and Saturday Night. Cheers!!

  6. Thanks...just found your site. I've heard of a few, but I got a lot of new bands to discover now for the next couple weeks!!

  7. Wheres Old Dominions album? They defintly put out one of the best country album's in 2015. Any list without them is false.



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