Here’s something new and unexpected. From this past Saturday, watch Dawes playing Pink Floyd‘s Shine On You Crazy Diamond. This video was shot by rohbear1 at The Warren Haynes Christmas Jam in Asheville, North Carolina.
Before we leave the Best of 2015 lists, I put together a Spotify playlist with nine of the 10 Best Songs of 2015 (Monday (Every Time I Turn Around) was not available). So if you have Spotify, just click away!
Now, we’ll take a look at the best songs of 2015. As is usual around here, this top ten list will be presented in two parts. So without further ado, here is the Now I’ve Heard Everything Best Song of 2015:
The Damnwells – Lost
The Damnwells returned to their original lineup this year and the first single from their self-titled album was this marvelous piece of power pop. There’s not a hair out of place on this song: the guitars ring, the vocals are perfectly sung, the bass is present and the drums do more than just keep the beat. Never did 3:48 go by so quickly.
And here are the rest of the first part of The Best Songs of 2015 presented in alphabetical order (by artist):
Aaron Lee Tasjan – ENSAAT
A few years back Aaron Lee Tasjan left New York City and moved to East Nashville. Aaron looked around at that local scene, saw that some of his musical neighbors had arrived merely to burnish their Americana credentials. Hence this critique; it’s acronymic title stands for East Nashville Song About A Train. ENSAAT rocks; no banjos here. This song is from Aaron’s fine 2015 album, In The Blazes.
Bottle Rockets – Monday (Everytime I Turn Around)|
The Bottle Rockets contemplate how fast time passes, but not the years so much as the days and weeks. This is a straight forward two guitars bass and drums tune that gives you everything you seek in a rock song and will probably have reaching for the replay button when it’s over.
Dawes – I Can’t Think About It Now
To the extent that this song from All Your Favorite Bands is a throwback to the 70s, it is more noirish New York Steely Dan than it is Laurel Canyon singer-songwriter. It also gives Dawes 6:15 to stretch out and show their musical chops. The female backup singers are a nice touch, too.
Jeff Litman – That’s on You
A bright and bouncy piece of power pop whose main message is “get the hell out of here” (that’s in fact one line from the song). In addition to singing lead, Jeff Litman plays guitar and keys on this, with his band taking on guitar, bass, drums and even some cowbell.
Check back tomorrow for the rest of The Best Songs of 2015.
Today Now I’ve Heard Everything begins presenting its Best Albums of 2015, with the Best Songs of 2015 to follow. Each of those lists will be presented in two parts. Although in past years most of the bands on the Now I’ve Heard Everything year end lists were locally based, that is really not the case this time around. Chalk that up to 2015 being a banner year for the type of music covered here. I’ll also admit to not getting to everything that I could have listened to this year.
We’ll begin with the two Best Albums of 2015, because this year there is a tie for first place. The remaining records presented in alphabetical order today and tomorrow.
Bottle Rockets – South Broadway Athletic Club
The Bottle Rockets have been around for a while and their songs have previously come and gone from my life. But this time around TBRs have planted a rock n roll stake in the ground and will not leave. The subjects on South Broadway Athletic Club range from the passage of time, assembly line jobs, and just lying around and all get a very satisfying two guitars, bass and drums attack. Even the clean and straight forward production by Eric “Roscoe” Ambel deserves special mention. If you like rock, this album will provide you with many, many hours of pure enjoyment.
Secret Someones – Secret Someones
All four members of Secret Someones – Bess Rogers, Lelia Broussard, Hannah Winkler and Zach Jones – have been playing solo and as part of other bands in New York’s Lower East Side music scene for a number of years. Two years ago they got together as Secret Someones and their music took off to the next level. This self-titled, first record has 10 songs bursting with hooks, power chords and harmonies. The band has readily acknowledged a sonic debt to Weezer, but I also hear influences here from The Cars as well. Although this record can accurately be summed up as power pop, it is a type with lots rock substance. Producer Chris Kuffner is credited by the band as almost being their fifth member, and his work getting this record to sound as good as it does needs to be acknowledged.
Dawes – All Your Favorite Bands
Dawes‘ fourth album continues down the road that somehow makes this band a favorite of both millennials and baby boomers. Heirs to both the introspective Jackson Browne and the more excitable Warren Zevon, Dawes offers up lyric driven folk rock that avoids being maudlin or tired. All Your Favorite bands is that musical staple, the break up record. Lyricist and lead singer Taylor Goldsmith spends nine songs intelligently exploring the emotions and ramifications of decoupling. He comes up with a nifty goodbye benediction, “may all your favorite bands stay together,” in the title track. Of course, that might have been too much of a dare to lay out before the universe, as Dawes keyboardist parted ways with the band a few months back.
Jason Isbell – Something More Than Free
You can view Jason Isbell‘s songs as incredibly detailed snapshots or very brief short stories, but each certainly tells a tale. Those stories concern people battered, bruised and sometimes broken by life. Yet you always root for these underdogs. The music here is Americana, sometimes tinged with rock. The production by Dave Cobb is clean and never overwhelms or subdues the music. Although there is no song that jumps off of this record, the whole disk is satisfying.
Jeff Litman – Primetime
One among many former Minnesotans playing music in New York City, Jeff Litman plays guitar and keys (sometimes on stage at the same time). This six song EP is full of power pop, with just one somewhat slower number. Whether Jeff is turning his watchful eye on others, TV or himself, he makes sure that everything rocks. To its credit, this record sounds very much like one Jeff’s live shows. If there is a problem with this record it’s that once hearing you are left wanting to hear more of Jeff.
Best Albums of 2015 will conclude tomorrow.
Here’s the title track to Dawes‘ album All Your Favorite Bands, released a few months back. If you’ve heard the album all the way through, you know that it is a breakup record. This song has to be one of the classiest, well meaning good bye songs out there. This performance was live and professionally shot at the studios of WFUV this past spring.
I started thinking about Right on Time, a song from the latest Dawes album, All Your Favorite Bands, a few days ago. So I found this nice live in the KCRW studios version of it. It’s a pretty good way to spend a few minutes on a Sunday morning (or any other time if you come across this later than when it was first posted).
I liked Dawes from the first time I stumbled on to them back at SXSW in 2010. They appeal to music lovers across the age spectrum, from hipsters to baby boomers. Their songwriting is top notch, and When My Time Comes and A Little Bit of Everything are already classics. Their new album, All Your Favorite Bands is definitely a contender for the Best of 2015 list. They’re on the road a lot, and I can’t think of an LA based band who plays New York as much as they do. Dawes is playing Central Park Summerstage today, with First Aid Kit and Andy Shauf also on the bill.
Dawes, (with First Aid Kit and Andy Shauf), Summerstage (Central Park Rumsey Playfield), nearest entrance 69th Street and 5th Avenue (F Train to Lexington Avenue or 6 Train to 68th Street), doors 5pm / show 6pm, $40