Johnny Cole’s Favorite 300 Albums of 2015

favorite albums

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Johnny Cole: A Year of Travelin’ & 300 Shows
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Johnny Cole’s Favorite 125 Shows of 2015
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Favorite Albums, Shows & Live Music Venues According to Johnny Cole, Stephen Anderson & Robby Amonett

The following list provides an overall look at what Johnny Cole enjoyed in 2015.  The albums were all officially released between January and December of the year. EPs, Greatest Hits, Remastered albums, collections and box sets do not appear on this particular list.
(blue – highlights the albums by musicians seen in 2015):

james-mcmurtry-complicated-game-7227

1.) Complicated Game – James McMurtry
(The long-awaited Feb. 24 released album was an instant favorite. I also had the privilege of seeing McMurtry twice in 2015.)

2.) Traveller – Chris Stapleton
(The award winning #1 album deserves all the attention it has been receiving. In July of 2015, I saw Stapleton in Austin, TX at Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic.)

3.) The Blade – Ashley Monroe
(True Country! I enjoyed seeing her in Washington, DC in late 2015.)

4.) Pageant Material – Kacey Musgraves
(I’ve been a fan of Kacey’s for years – long before her breakthrough album,  
“Same Trailer Different Park”.  I was fortunate to see her twice in 2015 – Austin, TX and New Orleans, LA.)

5.)  Something More Than Free – Jason Isbell
(Following the critical success of 2013’s “Southeastern”, anticipation was high for Isbell’s next album. I enjoyed two of his shows in 2015: 30A Songwriter’s Festival in Northwest Florida and a July show in Austin, TX)

6.) Via Portland – The Mulligan Brothers
(The Mulligan Brothers were named The Southland Music Line’s 2015 Music Artist of the Year. They are one of the most talented bands I’ve had the privilege of following in recent years.)

7.) Dirt Road’s End – Sugarcane Jane
(In the last two or three years, I’ve seen Sugarcane Jane more than any other music artist. The songs from their 2015 album are much loved gems. A must for any music collection!)

8.) Blue Roux – Wes Lee
(Wes Lee has become one of my favorites for several reasons – talent, originality, showmanship and honesty. All this and more coming from one of the real disciples of American roots music and the blues!  If you haven’t heard Wes Lee, “Blue Roux” is the perfect introduction to a musician with several albums to his credit.)

9.) High on Tulsa Heat – John Moreland
(There is something special about Oklahoma when it comes to producing some of today’s best musicians. Moreland’s “High on Tulsa Heat” is one of the year’s most praised albums. I was honored to see him perform twice in 2015.)

10.) Lower Alabama: The Loxley Sessions – Edward David Anderson
(Anderson recorded his 2015 album at Anthony Crawford of Sugarcane Jane’s Admiral Bean Studio in southern Alabama. The album is an easy choice for my list of favorites. I enjoyed two of his shows in late 2015.)

11.) Better Luck – John Calvin Abney
(The Oklahoma musician is one of the nicest and most talented guys around. “Better Luck” features my favorite song of the year – “Museums”.  I saw John a few times in 2015 and at an autumn show in Mobile, AL, he was so kind to give me the original handwritten lyrics to his song.)

12.) Not There -The Pollies
(It’s an easy decision to add this incredible album high on my list.)

13.) Long Time Gone- Kevin Gordon
(Exactly what you expect from the talented Kevin Gordon. After seeing him at SXSW in Austin, TX, I was excited to hear this new album released later in the year.)

14.) Introducing Darlene Love – Darlene Love
(The Rock and Hall of Fame great, Darlene Love, participated on some of the most loved songs from Phil Spector’s phenomenal Wall of Sound in the 1960’s. Now several years later, she releases one of the year’s best. The album was produced by the E Street Band’s Steven Van Zandt and has songs written by such artists as Elvis Costello. There is definitely much to love about this sensational piece of work.)

15.) Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams – Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams
(Campbell has worked and performed with everyone from Bob Dylan to Levon Helm. Campbell produced Helm’s two Grammy-winning albums, Dirt Farmer and Electric Dirt; plus, was awarded an Lifetime Achievement Award by the Americana Music Association in 2008. He and his talented wife, Teresa Williams, released one of the year’s best albums and it was an honor to see them in October at The Saenger Theater in New Orleans.)

16.) Record Machine – Buzz Cason
(The legendary songwriter, musician, author and producer released one my favorite albums of the year. After receiving a copy from him prior to its release, I listened to it continuously for several days.)

17.) Fast Forward – Joe Jackson
(Jackson, an all-time favorite of mine delivered on all accounts with his latest. Also, his New Orleans’ show at the Joy Theatre ranks high on my list of shows in 2015.)

18.) I Love You, Honeybear –  Father John Misty
(I didn’t really notice Josh Tillman’s (Father John Misty) 2015 album until late summer. Since recognizing “I Love You, Honeybear” for all its creative greatness, I’ve been a huge fan and agree with the high praise it has received from others)

19.) Times Ain’t Like they Used To Be -Jericho Road Show
(As much as I love this wonderful album from four multi-talented musicians (Rambling Steve Gardner, Libby Ray Watson, Bill Steber and Wes Lee), I firmly believe seeing their live show will even further your appreciation for their music. I’m a huge fun and I’m sure you will be too.)

20.)  Have You in My Wilderness – Julia Holter
(“Have You in My Wilderness” is an easy choice as one of my favorites from 2015. On the day of it’s release, I was a fan of Julia Holter’s 4th studio album. There is good reason for its worldwide praise.)

 The following albums feature several which could easily be positioned in the Top 20.
(
blue – highlights the albums by musicians seen in 2015):

21. The Deslondes – The Deslondes
22. Sometimes I Just Sit & Think and Sometimes I Just Sit – Courtney Barnett
23. Making Ghosts – Great Peacock
24. 25 – Adele
25. In The Blazes – Aaron Lee Tasjan
26. Nashville Obsolute – Dave Rawlings Machine
27. Sound & Color – Alabama Shakes
28.  Create Your Own Mythology – Kristin Diable
29.  If I’ve Only One Time Askin’ – Daniel Romano
30. Mercy Mercy – Corey Rezner
31. Call Me Insane – Dale Watson
32. Cavity – Kuzin (Jessica Maros of Escondido)
33.  All Your Favorite Bands – Dawes
34. Carrie & Lowell – Sufjan Stevens
35. Loyalty – The Weather Station
36. Tomorrow Is My Turn – Rhiannon Giddens
37. Imaginary Man – Rayland Baxter
38. Currents – Tame Impala
39. No Cities to Love – Sleater-Kenney
40. I Can’t Imagine – Shelby Lynne
41. Royal Blue – Lilly Hiatt
42. Sermon on the Rocks – Josh Ritter
43. Then Came The Morning – The Lone Bellow
44. Cass Country – Don Henley
45. How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful – Florence + The Machine
46. 1 Hopeful Rd. – Vintage Touble
47. Lost Time – Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin 
48. All a Man Should Do – Lucero
49. Hard to Please – The Black Lillies
50. Compromised – Steve Forbert
51. Tenderness – J.D. Souther
52. Star Wars – Wilco
53. Into the Deep – Galactic
54. The Light – Uncle Lucius
55. Banditos – Banditos
56. Blue Healer – Jimbo Mathus
57. Liz Longley – Liz Longley
58. Windfall – Joe Pug
59.  Splinter – Torres
60. Midnight – Grace Potter
61. Dos – Los Colognes
62. Ruffian’s Misfortune – Ray Wylie Hubbard
63. Faded Gloryville – Lindi Ortega
64. Such Jubilee – Mandolin Orange
65. Edge of the Sun – Calexico
66. Eatin’ at Me – Gurf Morlix
67. Natalie Prass – Natalie Prass
68. Something in the Water – Pokey
 Lafarge
69.  Lauren Kay – Lauren Kay
70. Men Amongst Mountains – The Revivalists
71. Not Slowing Down – Eric Erdman
72. Alone In The Universe – Jeff Lynne’s ELO  
73. Strange Trails – Lord Huron
74. Honeymoon – Lana Del Rey
75. Ivy Tripp – Waxahatchee
76. Trying to Get it Right – Laci Wright
77. Before This World – James Taylor
78. Nothing But Sky – Delta Reign
79. What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World – The Decemberists
80. Crosseyed Heart – Keith Richards
81. Goon – Tobias Jesso Jr.
82. Vulnicura – Bjork
83. Absent Fathers – Justin Townes Earle
84. Watkins Family Hour – Watkins Family Hour
85. Small Town Dreams – Will Hoge
86. The Firewatcher’s Daughter – Brandi Carlisle
87. Servant of Love – Patty Griffin
88. Divers – Joanna Newsom
89. The Traveling Kind – Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell
90. Sprained Ankle – Julien Baker
91. Relveries – Humming House
92. The Waterfall – My Morning Jacket
93. Fading Frontier – Deerhunter
94. b’lieve i’m goin down – Kurt Vile
95. No Control – Turbo Fruits
96. Blackbirds – Gretchen Peters
97. Second Hand Heart – Dwight Yoakam
98.  Terraplane – Steve Earle & The Dukes
99. Coming Home – Leon Bridges
100. The Great Tomorrow – Underhill Rose
101. The Other Side of Desire – Rickie Lee Jones
102. Stronger Than You Think – Michelle Malone
103.  Mississippi Moderne – Webb Wilder

104. Happy Prisoner: The Bluegrass Sessions – Robert Earl Keen
105. Mystery Glue – Graham Parker & The Rumour
106. Southernality – A Thousand Horses
107. Wake – Nora Jane Struthers & The Party Line
105. Simple Songs – Jim O’Rourke
106. Down To Believing – Allison Moorer
107. One Thing That’s For Sure – Colin Lake
108. Wolves – American Aquarium
109. My Love is Cool – Wolf Alice
110. Art Angels – Grimes
111. Still – Richard Thompson
112. Carousel One – Ryan Sexsmith
113. Don’t Look Back – Royal Southern Brotherhood
114. Fear and Saturday Night – Ryan Bingham
115. Soul Searching, Vol. 1 (Memphis) & Vol. 2 (Nashville) – Jim Lauderdale
116. Sonic Ranch – Whitey Morgan & The 78’s
117. I Ain’t Lyin’ – Charlie Musslewhite
118. Depression Cherry – Beach House
119. Start Here – Maddie & Tae
120. Let it Lie – The Brothers Landreth
121. Willie and the Giant – Willie and the Giant
122. Keep Coming Back – Mike Zito
123. Devil Music – Randall Bramblett
124. Mono – The Mavericks
125. Strangers to Ourselves – Modest Mouse
126. The Phosphorescent Blues – The Punch Brothers
127. All These Dreams – Andrew Combs
128. Imaginary Horse – The Picturebooks
129. Don’t Prefer No Blues – Leo ‘Bud” Welch
130. The Story of Sonny Boy Slim – Gary Clark, Jr.
131. A Fool to Care – Boz Scaggs
132. Platform – Holly Herndon
133. The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us – Beach Slang
134. California Nights – Best Coast
135. Django and Jimmie – Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard
(I was able to see Willie and Merle perform together at this year’s Willie Nelson 4th of July Picnic in Austin, TX.)

136. What Went Down – Foals
137. The Magic Whip – Blur
138. Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield Sing Elliott Smith – Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield
139. Liberman – Vanessa Carlton
140. Shadows in the Night – Bob Dylan
141. The Weather Below – Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds  
142. On Your Own Love Again – Jessica Pratt
143. Ol’ Glory – JJ Grey & Mofro
144. 1000 Palms – Surfer Blood
145. So Delicious – The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band
146. Aureate Gloom – of Montreal
147. It’s Great To Be Alive! – Drive-By Truckers
148. Beautiful You – The Waifs
149. A Flourish and a Spoil – The Districts
150. Happy New Year – Violent Femmes
151. Lost Themes – John Carpenter
152.  Viet Cong – Viet Cong
153.  Heartbreaker of the Year – Whitney Rose
154. High – Royal Headache
155. Little Neon Limelight – Houndmouth
156. Universal Themes – Sun Kil Moon
157. Glory Bound – The Grahams
158.  Gill Landry – Gill Landry
159. Under Branch & Thorn & Tree – Samantha Crain
160. To Pimp a Butterfly – Kendrick Lamar
161. The Trackless Woods – Iris Dement
162.  Bones – The Delta Saints
163. This is War – Emily Kinney
164. Daybreaker – Moon Taxi
165. Yours, Dreamily – The Arcs
166. Bound by the Blues – Sonny Landreth
167. If I Was – The Staves
168. Promise Green – Ryley Walker
169.  Short Movie – Laura Marling
170. Monterey – The Milk Carton Kids
171. Turnpike Troubadours -Turnpike Troubadours
172. Thank Your Lucky Stars – Beach House
173. Storyteller – Carrie Underwood
174. English Graffiti – The Vaccines
175. Ashes and Dust – Warren Haynes
176. Duets: Re-working the Catalogue – Van Morrison
177. Gogo Juice – Jon Cleary
178. Ghost Notes – Veruca Salts
179. Gregg Allman Live: Back to Macon, GA – Gregg Allman
180. Faith in the Future – Craig Finn
181.The Monsanto Years – Neil Young & Promise of the Real
182. Froot – Marina and the Diamonds
183. Me – Empress Of
184. Music Complete – New Order
185. Paradise – The Wood Brothers
186. Medicine – Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors
187. So Familiar – Steve Martin & Edie Brickell
188. Tell Me I’m Pretty – Cage the Elephant
189.Busted Jukebox: Volume 1 – Shovels & Rope
190.1989 – Ryan Adams
191. Street Dogs – Widespread Panic
192. Rattle That Lock – David Gilmour
193.Tracker – Mark Knopfler
194. Birds Say – Darlingside
195. Hotel Parties – Futurebirds
196. Perfectamundo – Billy Gibbons & The BFG’s
197. Anthems for Doomed Youth – The Libertines
198. Coming Forth By Day – Cassandra Wilson
199. My Stupid Heart – Shawn Mullins
200. Wilder Mind –  Mumford & Sons
201. Wallflower – Diane Krall
202. First Comes The Night – Chris Isaak
203. Della Mae – Della Mae
204. I Want to Grow Up – Colleen Green
205. Born in the Echoes – The Chemical Brothers
206. Feels Like – Bully
207. Gates of Gold – Los Lobos
208. Heart of a Dog – Laurie Anderson
209.  Loved Wild Lost – Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers
210.  Didn’t He Ramble – Glen Hansard
211.10 Songs of Ben Bullington – Darrell Scott
212. Back to Birth – Jackie Greene
213.  Sing Into My Mouth – Iron and Wine & Ben Bridwell
214. The Avett Brothers Live, Vol. 4 – The Avett Brothers
215. Holy Smokes – Jonathan Tyler
216. Rebel Heart – Madonna
217.  Didn’t It Rain – Amy Helm
218. Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper – Panda Bear
219. The Night Tribe – Jimmy Lafave
220. Still The King: Celebrating the Music of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys – Asleep at the Wheel
221. Let The Good Times Roll – JD McPherson  
222. Uncovered – Shawn Colvin
223. Leave No Bridge Unburned   -Whitehorse 
224. Back to Basics – Bill Wyman
225. Seasonal Hire – Steve Gunn & The Black Twig Pickers
226. Okra Candy – Shinyribs
227. A Head Full of Dreams – Coldplay
228. After It All – Delta Rae
229. Outskirts of Love – Shemekia Copeland
230. Hysteria – Katharine McPhee
231. Picking Up The Pieces – Jewel
232. Another One – Mac DeMarco *8 song Mini LP.
233. Rock ‘N’ Roll – Buckcherry
234.  Beautiful Things – Wet Darlings
235. Water for Your Soul – Joss Stone
236.  All For You – Emily West
237. 3 – Honey Honey
238.  Panhandle Rambler – Joe Ely
239. Constant Bop – Bop English
240.  So Invictus – Faith No More
241. Southern Gravity – Kristian Bush
242.  Live in Berlin 1969 – Miles Davis
243.  Chasing Yesterday – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
244. Guitars and Microphones – Kate Pierson
245. Marks to Prove it – The Maccabees
246. Half Free – U.S. Girls
247. The Loneliest Man I Ever Met – Kinky Friedman
248. Live at The Belly Up – The Jayhawks *digital-only release live album.
249. Two Universes – Feufollet
250.  No Pier Pressure – Brian Wilson
251. White Light – The Corrs
252. Warzone Earth – Peter Buck
253.  Holding Hands with Jamie – Girl Band
254. Songs In The Dark – The Wainwright Sisters
255.  Argo – Lilies on Mars
256. The Most Lamentable Tragedy – Titus Andronicus
257. For All My Sisters – The Cribs
258.Love and the Death of Damnation – The White Buffalo
259. Hwy 62 – Peter Case
260. South Broadway Athletic Club – Bottle Rockets 
261. Me Oh My – The Honeycutters
262. The Muscle Shoals Recording – Steel Drivers
263. Bittersweet – Kacey Chambers
264. Ringling Road – William Clark Green
265. Get Up – Bryan Adams
266. Soundcheck – Leslie West
267. Holding All the Roses – Blackberry Smoke
268.  Teens of Style – Car Seat Headrest
269. The Spirit Moves – Langhorne Slim & The Law   
270. Next Year People – Colin Hay
271. The Great Unknown – Rob Thomas
272. Jukehouse Revival – Statesboro Revue 
273. West Kirby County Primary -Bill Ryder-Jones
274. Beat the Champ – The Mountain Goats
275. Higher Truth – Chris Cornell
276.  Radio – Steep Canyon Rangers
277. Postcards from Paradise – Ringo Starr
278. Mister Asylum – Highly Suspect
279.  Common-Law Wife – Angela Easterling
280. Goin’ Your Way – Neil Finn & Paul Kelly
281. Dylan, Cash & The Nashville Cats: A New Music City – Various Artists
282. Wax & Gold – Tracy Bonham
283. House – Young Buffalo
284. Modern Blues – The Waterboys
285. Your Good Fortune – Mavis Staples
286. Heartbreak Pass – Giant Sand
287. Unusual Thing – Greezy Wheels
288. Sylvia – Snarky Puppy & Metropole Orkest
289. Reckless Skyline – Caitlin Canty
290. Wild Heart – Samantha Fish
291. Ain’t in No Hurry – Jorma Kaukonen
292. Fresh Blood – Matthew E. White
293. American Beauty / American Psycho – Fall Out Boy
294. Waiting on You – Sam Lewis
295. Whatever, My Love – The Juliana Hatfield Three
296. Swan City Vampires – Will Johnson
297. A Forest of Arms – Great Lake Swimmers
298. Nothing Important – Richard Dawson
299.Don’t Weigh Down the Light – Meg Baird
300. ????? As with any size list, positioning can easily be changed depending on the mood, familiarity and likability of an album. The above and alternates were listened in their entirety from Jan. 1, 2015 – Dec. 31, 2015.

Additional albums worth checking out. Many of them could have easily made the above list. Plus, I need more familiarized with them.

* Love Saves the Day – G. Love & Special Sauce
* Unbreakable – Janet Jackson
* Beauty Behind the Madness – The Weekend
* The Pale Emperor- Marilyn Manson
* Mr. Misunderstood – Eric Church
* The Brotherhood – The Gibson Brothers

* Paper Gods – Duran Duran
* Burning Bridges – Bon Jovi
* Painted Shut – Hop Along
* HITNRUN Phase One – Prince
* HITNRUN Phase Two – Prince
*  White Reaper Does It Again – White Reaper
* Undertow – Drenge
* Bright As You Can – The Mike and Ruthy Band
* Meet Me in Blues Land – The Kentucky Headhunters & Johnnie Johnson
* American Nights – Plain White T’s
* The Howl & The Growl – The Surreal McCoys

* Black Sheep – Yonder Mountain String Band
* First Kiss – Kid Rock
* Heavy Howl – Moonsville
* Policy – Will Butler
* Angeleno – Sam Outlaw
* Untethered Moon – Built to Spill
* Eleven -Tina Arena
* Everything Ever Written – Idlewild
* Emerald – Dar Williams
* Work It Out – Lucy Rose
* Badlands – Halsey
* Untamed – Cam
* Back to Steel – Martin Barre
* Collecting Dust – The Spills
*Sundown Over Ghost Town – Eilen Jewell
* Hand In Hand – Richie Furay
* Stumpjumper – Charlie Parr
* The Lied To’s – The Lied To’s
* Big Sky Thinkin’ – Anne McCue
* Reckless Skyline – Caitlin Canty
* Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats –
Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats
* Go Tell Your Friends – Emily Duff
* West Side Stories – The Westies
* Southland Mission – Phil Cook

complete list of shows.
See Articles:
The Southland Music Line 2015 – Robby Amonett: A Year in Music-Inspired Art
The Southland Music Line 2015 – Stephen Anderson: A Year in Photos
The Southland Music Line 2015 – A Year in Review
The Southland Music Line 2015 – Johnny Cole: A Year in Travelin’ and 300+ Shows

The Mulligan Brothers: Music Artist of the Year 2015
The Southland Music Line 2015 – Reader’s Choice Awards

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