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Sound Waves Top 20 Countdown on New Year’s Eve

 Ryan Adams 1989
Ryan Adams 1989

Join Sound Waves for our annual Top 20 picks of the past year. We’ll hear some of our favorite albums of 2015 and a few new music discoveries. It’s the Sound Waves Top 20 countdown on New Year’s Eve 10am – 2pm on WFIT 89.5 FM.

This was a hard one. There were so many great and interesting albums this year, we could hardly pick just twenty. 2015 was the year of big beats, big sounds and big voices.

 1.    Ryan Adams 1989

We are big fans of Ryan Adams, but this the first time a cover album has appeared on our list. Few artists have the guts to challenge the listener every time around. From his death metal wanderings, to bar room stools (think Whiskeytown). Now a cover album of songs by one of the biggest stars on the planet Taylor Swift. Adams never makes these songs sound cheesy or trite. He adds his weary fragile voice to bring a new dimensions to these songs. One of the most surprising albums of the year.

 

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2.    Alabama Shakes Sound & Color

The second album from Alabama Shakes effortlessly blends gritty garage rock with psychedelic soul music.

 

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3.    Courtney Barnett Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit          

Hard to believe this is her first full length album after a break through EP last year. She spins her stories with a deadpan delivery that brings a touch of Bob Dylan mixed with the crunch of Nirvana.

 

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4.    Florence + The Machine How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

Florence Welch can raise the dead with her emotional howl without the drama of many over-the-top singers. The arrangements are subtle, so as not to clutter her magnificent voice.

 

 

5.    The Arcs Yours, Dreamily

Dan Auerbach (Black Keys) can’t help it. Even with another band, he still can’t shake loose that psychedelic blues sound. If Jimi Hendrix needed a record producer, he would probably hire Dan Auerbach.

 

 

6.    My Morning Jacket The Waterfall

Another stellar album from MMJ. The Waterfall pushed new boundaries for the band and Jim James lyrics continue to evolve. MMJ and sound like a metal band and then sound like pure 70’s soul, sometimes in the same song.

 

 

7.    Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats

Nathaniel Rateliff has been quietly building steam with is fiery mix of Van Morrison grit and Motown flash. Now he has dance moves like James Brown. Songs about sinners and drinkers. What’s not to love?

 

8.    Adele 25

Adele can take over the world if she chooses. No matter what she does, it will be on her own terms. Adele possess a voice for the ages. Timeless.

 

 

9.    Grimes Art Angels

Art Angels is Claire Boucher’s biggest album of her career. A rock out fun album that gives off hooks to the dance floor.

 

 

10.Jason Isbell Something More Than Free

Last year’s Southeastern was one of our favorite albums. This time is musical stories are deeper without sound morose for preachy. It’s the sort of tales we all encounter one time or another in life.

 

 

11.Seinabo Sey Pretend

Swedish singer Seinabo Sey brings her world influenced voice to this smartly produced full length album after a delightful EP earlier this year For Madeline.

 

12.Leon Bridges Coming Home

Is there a soul revival? You better believe it with Leon Bridges debut. Recorded with Forth Worth, Texas hipster White Denim who bring just enough psychedelic fuzz.

 

 

13.Father John Misty I Love You Honeybear

Let Josh Tillman fix your love life. Or at least listen to this epic collection of sharp witted songs that could put a spring in your step.

 

14.Low Ones And Sixes

Low will never be accused of peppy. Somehow they make their blend of slow and moody songs come alive, almost happy for Low.

 

 

15.Sufjan Stevens Carrie & Lowell

Sufjan Stevens most personal album yet. Songs about his troubled Mother and growing up with his step-father. Heart wrenching.

 

16.Don Henley Cass County

Don Henley has been delving into country music since The Eagles. Now he has finally recorded an album of real country songs. While today’s country singers sound like Eagle’s retreads, Henley has put together a heartfelt collection that are true country music songs.

 

 

17.Sleater-Kinney No Cities To Love

After a 10 year hiatus Sleater Kinny returns with their most accessible album yet. Yes it’s loud and in your face, but is also confident and mature. Welcome back!

 

18.Wilco Star Wars

The band never ceases to amaze us. Wilco’s sonic textures experimental keep breaking new ground.

 

 

19.Jamie XX In Colour

Jamie Smith (from XX) adds his modern production skills with some special guests including his XX bandmate Romy Croft. From the dance floor to the chill bar In Colour delivers.

 

20.Beach House Depression Cherry

The Baltimore duo’s fifth album continues to explore Victoria Legrands shimmery voice and Alex Scally’s dense, rich production.

Originally from Boston, Todd Kennedy began volunteering at WFIT 89.5 FM in 1992 as a late night jazz DJ. In 1998 he was hired as Director of Operations and in 2004 he became Program Director.