Brian Koscho: My Top Albums of ’15< < Back to
This is the ninth in a series of year-end articles by WOUB contributors. Check out all of this year’s lists at this link.
2015 had a lot of good releases and my full list is below. But my favorite record of the year? Aquabear Legion Volume 5, Aquabear Legion’s first vinyl release, and the first time one of my bands has been featured on a vinyl LP.
The double LP, released in September, features 24 Ohio bands and is great all the way through, if I do say so myself. We still have copies available at aquabearlegion.com, at Haffa’s Records in Athens and awesome independent record stores all around Ohio.
In no particular order:
BADBADNOTGOOD + Ghostface Killah, Sour Soul
I was really excited when I found out that BADBADNOTGOOD was coming to town for the Nelsonville Music Festival. Sour Soul is packed with genre-bending instrumentals of live tracks, backing up some of Ghostface’s most inspired lyrical work and delivery in years. This is a record I would play for someone who didn’t like rap or thought it was a stale scene.
Sleater-Kinney, No Cities to Love
Reunion tours have been all the rage for as long as I can remember: Bands break up, they get back together. This is especially true in modern music, with its hefty paydays for a few more gigs. But just a few notes into No Cities to Love, it’s plain to see that’s not the case; this one holds up right along with the earlier work, including seminal releases like Dig Me Out and their phenomenal previous record, The Woods. And they are still insanely good live.
Daniel Bachman, River
I love Daniel Bachman’s take on American acoustic music. His mix of fingerpicking American Primitive style work, droney ragas and haunting old-time arrangements are always a great listen. River continues a run of solid Daniel Bachman albums. Bachman will also be returning to Athens County for NMF16 in June.
Vince Staples, Summertime ‘06
Twenty-two year old Long Beach MC Vince Staples’ debut album is one of the most brilliant hip hop albums in years, making a leap musically and lyrically from his already killer debut EP and various mixtapes and projects with hip hop group Odd Future. Although I love hip hop, I haven’t kept up with it the past several years. This album single-handedly got me into listening to the genre again. Highly recommended.
Courtney Barnett, Sometimes I Sit and Think, Sometimes I Just Sit
This Australian musician is one of rock and roll’s brightest spots and her debut album does not disappoint. Sometimes I Sit follows last year’s excellent collection, The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas, and is full of ’90s rock and roll, providing a fuzzy canvas for Barnett’s tales of everyday life.
Ty Segall has been one of rock and roll’s most prolific acts in recent years. He’s put out some good solo releases and things with folks like Mikal Cronin, but I think Fuzz is my favorite project of his. Heavy psych-rock, full of stoner-rock riffs. It’s awesome.
Riley Walker, Primrose Green
Walker has put out some great music, but his songwriting takes a huge leap with this year’s fantastic Primrose Green. And as Andrew Lampela alluded to in his list, there are two Ryley Walkers to consider here: the English psych-folky recorded version, and the live shows with a full band of unbelievably skilled musicians taking these songs to outer space and beyond. I was lucky enough to see him twice this year and his live show is a mind-melter.
Joan Shelley, Over and Even
This Kentucky-based singer-songwriter made one of the most beautiful records I’ve heard in a while, driven mostly by her unbelievable voice and earnest songwriting. Acoustic guitar hero Nathan Salsburg plays on this album and fellow Louisville musician Will Oldham makes an appearance as well. It was great to see her play backstage at Stuart’s with Doug Paisley in early November. One of my favorite shows of the year.
Day Creeper, Central States
I love Ohio rock and roll more than just about anything. Day Creeper plays the best kind too, with catchy hooks, heavy riffs and a pounding rhythm section powering Central States along. Songs like “They Way You’re Told” and “Luxury Condominiums” are instant earworms, and this whole album has been getting a lot of repeat listens around here.
Motel Beds, Mind Glitter
After a three-year hiatus, these Dayton rockers put out their best album. Power-pop and rock and roll at its finest, instantly working its way into your brain. Mind Glitter was released by the fine folks at Anyway Records, who, in addition to releasing an incredible amount of awesome records over the years, had a particularly good 2015 with Motel Beds, Kyle Sowashes and St. Lenox.
Various Artists – Old 3C Records, Fifty @ 50
Old 3C Records has put out some incredible Ohio music over the years, releasing some of our state’s best rock and roll from bands like Great Plains, Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments, Log, The Beatdowns and more. For their 50th and final release (Paul Nini and the Old 3C will still be putting out stuff with the Old 3C Label Group), the label put together 50 songs from 50 bands that are 50 seconds each. Bands like Swearing at Motorists and Bill Wagner show up alongside Yo La Tengo. A well-executed and interesting compilation.
Various Artists, We Used to Drink Together Vol. 1
Columbus has been fertile ground for music and this compilation from J.R. Fisher and Sean Woosley presents a perfect slice of it. Some of my favorite acts in Ohio have killer songs on this one (Wussy, The Bygones, WVWhite) and it plays great, start to finish. Twelve tracks on the vinyl and four more on the CD and online stream.
Andrew Bryant, This Is The Life
All Dogs, Kicking Every Day
Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp A Butterfly
Built to Spill, Untethered Moon
Supernobody, Metropolis Now
Kyle Sowashes, Everybody
Beach Slang, The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us
Swervedriver, I Wasn’t Born to Lose You
Primitive Parts, Parts Primitive
Brian Koscho lives in Athens, Ohio, with his wife Sherri, their cat Maggie and dog Bosco. Brian has worked at Stuart’s Opera House and the Nelsonville Music Festival since 2007 and has helped operate the Ohio music collective Aquabear Legion since 2004. Aquabear put out its first vinyl record (and 11th release) in 2015, a double LP of Ohio music featuring 24 bands, and he’s pretty excited about it. He plays bass and makes noise in Athens band Unmonumental and in his spare time enjoys being constantly disappointed in the Cleveland Browns.