07 January 2016

The 2015 Grampies

So, another year is in the bag and on the books.  As usual, I've enjoyed discovering and exploring some of the new music that's been released in the course of 2015, and I've compiled a list of my favorites.  It certainly is a matter of my personal favorites, as opposed to any vain and futile attempt on my part to identify the "best" albums of the year.  But for what it's worth, I've identified those albums that have caught my ear and held my attention, which have entertained and delighted me, made me think, or otherwise brought joy into my life.

Of course, my favorite new release of 2015 was the youngest baby grand, Gianna Grace Wirgau, who made her beautiful appearance on May the 4th.  And to my great delight, I got to spend a week with Ginny and her family in November, in addition to a week with 2014's #1 release, Donovan Richmond Stuckwisch, and his family.

This past year was a milestone for me in a couple of ways, marking my 30th wedding anniversary with the lovely Lady LaRena, and my 50th birthday.  Hence, there are 30 albums listed here under each of six genres (Country, Pop, Rock, Hard Rock & Heavy Metal, Ambiguous Alternatives, and Guitarists), and my top 50 favorite albums across all six of these genres.  For anyone who may be interested, the headings of each of these lists should hyperlink to extended lists on the Rate Your Music site (in itself a favorite discovery of 2015).

As in the past, kudos to Amazon, Spotify, and the St. Joseph County Library for their invaluable assistance in finding and perusing new music.  And thanks to my friend and colleague, Rev. Erich Fickel, for encouraging me and helping me to be more discerning and demanding in my country music tastes and expectations.  There's still more pop and rock in my country than his, but my palette has both expanded and become more refined under his tutelage.

There was a lot of great country music released in 2015, and a lot of other great albums of various styles.  It is ongoing challenge to know how best to categorize some of it, because the lines between genres have blurred and merged, and many albums span a diversity of styles from start to finish.  So, quibble if you will, but I've done my best to gather things into recognizable families of sound.  And, with that, without any further ado, here's what I came up with:

The 2015 Grampies

1. Will HogeSmall Town Dreams

2. Jimmy BarnesHindsight

3. Mat KearneyJust Kids

4. Kid RockFirst Kiss (clean version)

5. Kristian BushSouthern Gravity

6. Jace PawlakPerspective

7. Joe SatrianiShockwave Supernova

8. All That RemainsThe Order of Things

9. ShinedownThreat to Survival

10. W.A.S.P.Golgotha

11. Like a StormAwaken the Fire

12. Fall Out BoyAmerican Beauty / American Psycho

13. The Darker My HorizonAcquiesce

14. James BayChaos and the Calm

15. Tyler FarrSuffer in Peace

16. A Thousand HorsesSouthernality

17. TremontiCauterize

18. ArandaNot the Same

19. RavenExtermiNation

20. Kyle ParkThe Blue Roof Sessions

21. Tim McGrawDamn Country Music

22. Ella HendersonChapter One

23. Our Last NightYounger Dreams

24. BumblefootLittle Brother Is Watching

25. AmorphisUnder the Red Cloud

26. ThunderWonder Days

27. Zac Brown BandJekyll + Hyde

28. Anthony GomesElectric Field Holler

29. Manic BloomI Know What's Next . . . But You Won't Believe Me

30. EverclearBlack is the New Black

31. Allison MoorerDown to Believing

32. Kacey MusgravesPageant Material

33. Smash Into PiecesThe Apocalypse DJ

34. BlackwelderSurvival of the Fittest

35. SaxonBattering Ram

36. EclipseArmageddonize

37. Kristin DiableCreate Your Own Mythology

38. Laurence JonesWhat's It Gonna Be

39. Imagine DragonsSmoke and Mirrors

40. William Clark GreenRingling Road

41. Ben RectorBrand New

42. TenIsla de muerta

43. The BloodlineWe Are One

44. Sleeping With SirensMadness

45. What's Eating GilbertThat New Sound You're Looking For

46. The PoodlesDevil in the Details

47. WolfpakkRise of the Animal

48. Wearing ScarsA Thousand Words

49. Marcel SingorFutureproof

50. Black Star RidersThe Killer Instinct


1. Will HogeSmall Town Dreams

2. Kristian BushSouthern Gravity

3. Tyler FarrSuffer in Peace

4. A Thousand HorsesSouthernality

5. Kyle ParkThe Blue Roof Sessions

6. Tim McGrawDamn Country Music

7. Zac Brown BandJekyll + Hyde

8. Allison MoorerDown to Believing

9. Kacey MusgravesPageant Material

10. William Clark GreenRingling Road

11. Cory MorrowThe Good Fight

12. Corb LundThings That Can't Be Undone

13. Darius RuckerSouthern Style

14. Jason Michael CarrollWhat Color Is Your Sky

15. Eric ChurchMr. Misunderstood

16. The Damn QuailsOut of the Birdcage

17. The Empty PocketsThe Ten Cent Tour

18. Carrie UnderwoodStoryteller

19. Don HenleyCass County

20. The Black LilliesHard to Please

21. Blitzen TrapperAll Across This Land

22. American AquariumWolves

23. The HoneycuttersMe Oh My

24. Lindi OrtegaFaded Gloryville

25. Montgomery GentryFolks Like Us

26. Maddie & TaeStart Here

27. Black Mountain ShineBlack Mountain Shine

28. Jason IsbellSomething More Than Free

29. CamUntamed

30. Pat GreenHome


1. Mat KearneyJust Kids

2. Jace PawlakPerspective

3. James BayChaos and the Calm

4. Ella HendersonChapter One

5. Kristin DiableCreate Your Own Mythology

6. Ben RectorBrand New

7. What's Eating GilbertThat New Sound You're Looking For

8. Imaginary FutureSunlight

9. Elle KingLove Stuff

10. George EzraWanted on Voyage

11. Rob ThomasThe Great Unknown

12. RingoPostcards From Paradise

13. Beth HartBetter Than Home

14. Kelly ClarksonPiece by Piece

15. PassengerWhispers II

16. The CorrsWhite Light

17. DawesAll Your Favorite Bands

18. Sabrina CarpenterEyes Wide Open

19. Olly MursNever Been Better

20. KodalineComing Up for Air

21. Joshua RadinOnward and Sideways

22. Nate RuessGrand Romantic

23. Family of the YearFamily of the Year

24. Plain White T'sAmerican Nights

25. Owl CityMobile Orchestra

26. Grace PotterMidnight

27. Brandi CarlileThe Firewatcher's Daughter

28. Vanessa CarltonLiberman

29. Shawn MendesHandwritten

30. Chris IsaakFirst Comes the Night


1. Jimmy BarnesHindsight

2. Kid RockFirst Kiss (clean version)

3. ShinedownThreat to Survival

4. Like a StormAwaken the Fire

5. The Darker My HorizonAcquiesce

6. ThunderWonder Days

7. Smash Into PiecesThe Apocalypse DJ

8. EclipseArmageddonize

9. TenIsla de muerta

10. The PoodlesDevil in the Details

11. Black Star RidersThe Killer Instinct

12. Terra NovaReinvent Yourself

13. ScorpionsReturn to Forever

14. GunFrantic

15. Revolution SaintsRevolution Saints

16. Three Days GraceHuman

17. JonoSilence

18. KhymeraThe Grand Design

19. Blackberry SmokeHolding All the Roses

20. Stellar RevivalLove, Lust, and Bad Company

21. Red Sun RisingPolyester Zeal

22. The Winery DogsHot Streak

23. EuropeWar of Kings

24. HalestormInto the Wild Life

25. Alex Beyrodt's Voodoo CircleWhisky Fingers

26. Palace of the KingWhite Bird / Burn the Sky

27. Find MeDark Angel

28. Saint AsoniaSaint Asonia

29. The AnswerRaise a Little Hell

30. Voodoo HillWaterfall

Hard Rock & Heavy Metal

1. All That RemainsThe Order of Things

2. W.A.S.P.Golgotha

3. RavenExtermiNation

4. AmorphisUnder the Red Cloud

5. BlackwelderSurvival of the Fittest

6. SaxonBattering Ram

7. The BloodlineWe Are One

8. WolfpakkRise of the Animal

9. Wearing ScarsA Thousand Words

10. AngraSecret Garden

11. DisturbedImmortalized

12. Battle BeastUnholy Savior

13. Orden OganRavenhead

14. Jorn Lande & Trond HolterDracula: Swing of Death

15. StryperFallen

16. Def LeppardDef Leppard

17. Magic KingdomSavage Requiem

18. Royal HuntDevil's Dozen

19. Within SilenceGallery of Life

20. WorldviewThe Chosen Few

21. Praying MantisLegacy

22. Signum RegisChapter IV: The Reckoning

23. Shattered SkiesThe World We Used to Know

24. Symphony XUnderworld

25. GrumpynatorsWonderland

26. Bullet for My ValentineVenom

27. Iron MaidenThe Book of Souls

28. Luca Turilli's RhapsodyPrometheus, Symphonia Ignis Divinus

29. ScannerThe Judgement

30. TemperanceLimitless

Ambiguous Alternatives

1. Fall Out BoyAmerican Beauty / American Psycho

2. ArandaNot the Same

3. Our Last NightYounger Dreams

4. Manic BloomI Know What's Next . . . But You Won't Believe Me

5. EverclearBlack is the New Black

6. Imagine DragonsSmoke and Mirrors

7. Sleeping With SirensMadness

8. The DecemberistsWhat a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World

9. Trans-Siberian OrchestraLetters From the Labyrinth

10. DomminRise

11. KarnatakaSecrets of Angels

12. A Life | DividedHuman

13. Young GunsOnes and Zeros

14. KingcrowEidos

15. The FratellisEyes Wide, Tongue Tied

16. Breaking BenjaminDark Before Dawn

17. HoundmouthLittle Neon Limelight

18. Lifehouse — Out of the Wasteland

19. Barenaked LadiesSilverball

20. Noel Gallagher's High Flying BirdsChasing Yesterday

21. Of Monsters and MenBeneath the Skin

22. MuseDrones

23. Mumford & SonsWilder Mind

24. The Neal Morse BandThe Grand Experiment

25. All Time LowFuture Hearts

26. Born CagesI'm Glad I'm Not Me

27. Mayday ParadeBlack Lines

28. Hidden HistoryMysterion

29. Kurt Vileb'lieve i'm goin down . . .

30. Florence + The MachineHow Big, How Blue, How Beautiful


1. Joe SatrianiShockwave Supernova

2. TremontiCauterize

3. BumblefootLittle Brother Is Watching

4. Anthony GomesElectric Field Holler

5. Laurence JonesWhat's It Gonna Be

6. Marcel SingorFutureproof

7. Tommy EmmanuelIt's Never Too Late

8. Tony MacAlpineConcrete Gardens

9. Ol DrakeOld Rake

10. Joel Hoekstra's 13Dying to Live

11. Paul WardinghamThe Human Affliction

12. Points NorthPoints North

13. Neal SchonVortex

14. Gus GBrand New Revolution

15. Richie KotzenCannibals

16. Kaki KingThe Neck Is a Bridge to the Body

17. Joe StumpThe Dark Lord Rises

18. Pat TraversRetro Rocket

19. Warren Haynes Featuring Railroad EarthAshes & Dust

20. Jeff FettermanBottle Full of Blues

21. Robben FordInto the Sun

22. Jimmy LaFaveThe Night Tribe

23. Uli Jon RothScorpions Revisited

24. ShardborneLiving Bridges

25. Walter BerterameForza Nova

26. ImpellitteriVenom

27. Michael Schenker's Temple of RockSpirit on a Mission

28. Scott HendersonVibe Station

29. Marco De FrancescoMdf 1 - The Wizard

30. Ana PopovicBlue Room

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