Each year, Mother Jones‘ house critic browses through hundreds of new albums and pulls out maybe a couple hundred to review for the magazine and website. But only a few can make the final cut. Below, in no particular order save alphabetical, are Jon Young’s abbreviated write-ups of his 10 favorite albums in 2015. Feel free to heartily disagree and share your own faves in the comments.
1. Mose Allison, American Legend Live in California (Ibis): Sly, wry piano blues and jazz from a now-retired giant.
2. Courtney Barnett, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit (Mom+Pop): Ramshackle, catchy Australian guitar pop capturing the absorbing minutiae of everyday life. (Extended review)
3. The Bottle Rockets, South Broadway Athletic Club (Bloodshot): Brian Henneman’s loose-jointed, empathetic roots-rock ages well. (Extended review)
4. D’Angelo, Black Messiah (RCA): Hazy, mind-bending funk of a long-lost maverick. (This one actually dropped in mid-December 2014, too late to make last year’s list, so we’re giving it rollover privileges.)
5. Bob Dylan, The Cutting Edge 1965-1966 (Columbia Legacy): The fascinating rough drafts of a genius at work. (Extended review)
6. Julia Holter, Have You in My Wilderness (Domino): Soothing and gently unsettling chamber pop, like a puzzling dream. (Extended review)
7. Noveller, Fantastic Planet (Fire): Pulsing, multicolored ambient soundscapes built from guitars and synths. (Extended review)
8. Speedy Ortiz, Foil Deer (Carpark): No sophomore slump for Sadie Dupuis’ loquacious, brainy guitar rock. (Extended review)
9. The Staple Singers, Faith & Grace: A Family Journey 1953-1976 (Stax): The monumental gospel legacy of Roebuck “Pops” Staples, daughter Mavis, and family.
10. Barrence Whitfield & the Savages, Under the Savage Sky (Bloodshot): Floor-shaking, lease-breaking R&B. Modern yet retro.