Discussion: Favorite Music of 2015 (So Far)


Usually by the end of the year, the Internet floods with the best of everything lists. When the time comes to make said lists, I imagine I’m not the only one who feels like it’s a huge project to just remember everything I’ve heard in twelve months. So, since we are just over the halfway point in an exceptionally good year for music, I thought it would be fun to talk about our favorite albums so far.

It’s only scratching the surface of this year’s goodness, but I’ll get things started with five I’ve enjoyed, in no particular order. What would you add? What do you have on repeat until The Burning Edge of Dawn comes out?

Disclaimer: In the interest of fun / pointless self-imposed rules / sharing new things with friends, I decided to only include artists that haven’t been covered at The Rabbit Room yet. So yes, do go read Matt Conner’s post about Josh Garrels’ fantastic new record and buy everything Andrew Osenga releases, especially when it involves glorious ’90s rock riffs.

The Lone Bellow – Then Came the Morning

While the tight harmony and alt-country vibe of their first album might have had The Lone Bellow poised to be the new Civil Wars, Then Came the Morning, the second album from the Brooklyn-based Americana trio, favors a more raw and spacious sound that embraces many shades of American music — Elvis, rootsy country, gospel, and a touch of indie are all in the mix somewhere.

Dave Barnes – Hymns for Her

Dave Barnes has been making great pop albums for a long time, but this moodier, stripped down EP has become my favorite thing he’s ever done. With spare production and gorgeous string arrangements by Ben Shive, this brief collection of love songs shines in its simplicity.

Mat Kearney – Just Kids

I have a deep, abiding, and (mostly) unashamed love for pop music, and Mat Kearney makes some of the best. If each album has a unique theme and flavor, Just Kids is a nostalgic trip, exploring themes of home and identity through a creative mix of ’90s inspired sounds and memories of Kearney’s Oregon childhood.

The Brilliance – Brother

A stunning album that rethinks the modern worship record into a haunting musical liturgy. Brother is understated indie pop that moves along at a slow, meditative pace, pairing thoughtful lyrics with ethereal sounds. This isn’t a typical worship album, but a collection of songs that weave a lovely soundtrack for personal contemplation.

Jon Foreman – Sunlight EP

If you haven’t heard his first set of EPs yet, go forth and discover the awesome. Then join me in eagerly awaiting the rest of The Wonderlands, another set of four EPs, this time exploring the hours of every day. Jon Foreman is especially compelling when he writes about the brevity and beauty of life, making art with a philosophical edge.

Jen Rose Yokel is a poet, freelance writer, and spiritual director. Her words have appeared at She Reads Truth, CCM Magazine, and other publications, and she released her first poetry collection Ruins & Kingdoms in 2015. Originally from Central Florida, she now makes her home in Fall River, Massachusetts with her husband Chris, where you can find her enjoying used bookstores and good coffee.


  1. Matthew Benefiel

    I’m still trying to like Then Came the Morning, I love the Fire Red Horse and a few others from The Lone Bellows first album that I just don’t hear the like of in the new album. Absolutely love Jon Foreman, though I got to hear all the Sunlight EP at a show in Cincy that just had Jon on his guitar and some friends playing percussion (drums and other stuff) and a cello, and I almost wish he had kept the cello on the recording. Speaking Jon his new EP is now out, including a song that Sleeping at Last helped out with.

    So far I’ve been playing my ears off with Bleachers Strange Desire. The guitar player from Fun has made an 80’s sounding album that gives both of Fun’s albums a run for their money. Nate Ruess’ Grand Romantic has some good songs, but it just can’t touch Bleachers.

    I’ve been a Guster fan for a while now (thanks to an old friend from Minneapolis) and I’ve felt their albums have never gotten worse, and Evermotion is no exception. Has some really good songs.

    I had mentioned Sleeping at Last earlier, being a subscriber to his new Atlas 2 the first two songs are great, and the free soundtrack to “Many Beautiful Things” that he gave to subscribers is amazing. Great music for those authors that need inspiring instrumentals.

    Listened to Wilco’s Star Wars yesterday, and while it’s not bad, I’m not sure it really wows me either, kinda like their last two albums before. I love Sky Blue Sky and still fall back on it for driving music.

  2. Pete Tegeler

    Lists like these are great. Several of these are favorites for me too. I’ve also really loved “Psalms” by Sandra McCracken, “Sirens” by The Weepies, and, this year, I don’t think any album has been played more at my house than “Medicine” by Drew Holcomb.

  3. Sillyoldbear

    I also liked “Carry the fire” by Dustin Kenrues – especially “Of crows and crowns”.

  4. Pete Peterson


    Matthew: Yes, Then Came the Morning really is totally different… but in a direction I like. I’m kind of a nerd about production, so I really like the spacious feel of this album. I’ve never heard of Bleachers, but I’ll have to check it out! Love me some Fun now and then. 🙂 Downloaded Star Wars, but haven’t heard it yet. Wilco’s one of those bands I feel like I should enjoy more than I do…

    Pete: Medicine is so so good! I just left it off because of my silly self-imposed rule. 😀

    Sillyoldbear: Yeah, that’s a good one too! I kind of rediscovered it after I already made this list…

    Sheesh, so much new music this year….

  5. Matthew Benefiel

    Okay I broke down after reading and commenting and bought Jon Foreman’s Shadows and it’s pretty fantastic. Ghost Machine is worth the price alone, but My Coffin that Sleeping at Last produced it also really good.

    As far as Bleachers, if anyone has Amazon Prime it is currently on there. If you like a more pop version of “Forever Young” 80’s style then you must listen.

    It looks like I just added Medicine to my Amazon Cloud a few days ago, but hadn’t listened to it fully yet.

  6. gllen

    for those who like a little heat in their music –
    Steven Wilson – “Hand. Cannot. Erase.”
    – newest album from this musical genius (he wrote the parts for all the instruments)based on the life of the late Jane Carol Vincent – commenting on the issue of
    loneliness/isolation in our technological age/culture.
    – heavy topic, somewhat heavy music, but worth the listen – in content/ideas/issues
    and for musical wizardry.
    – saw/heard him live in town a month ago – Wow! – the only rock act (other than Sigur Ros) that I try to never miss…

  7. Benjamin Christensen

    1. Lord Huron – Strange Trails
    2. Jon Foreman – The Wonderlands (Sunlight & Shadows)
    3. Andrew Osenga – Heart, Soul, & Flesh
    4. The Lone Bellow – Then Came The Morning
    5. Josè Gonzalez – Vestiges & Claws
    6. Bill Fay – Who Is The Sender
    7. Mark Knopfler – Tracker
    8. Matthew Perryman Jones – Cold Answer
    9. Houndmouth – Little Neon Light
    10. Josh Garrels – Home

    Honorable Mention:
    1. James Taylor – Before This World
    2. My Morning Jacket – The Waterfall
    3. Mumford & Sons – Wilder Mind
    4. Death Cab For Cutie – Kintsugi
    5. The Decemberists – What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World

  8. Stephen Clark

    Jason Isbell, Jason Isbell, Jason Isbell, and lest I forget, Jason Isbell’s Something More Than Free.

  9. Pete Peterson


    Matthew, right? We had Shadows on repeat in the car last night for a good hour or so. “Good for Me” is a really interesting one too. Glad you’re enjoying it. 🙂

    Sofia, I forgot about Joel McKarrow! I remember listening to it when it first came out. I should revisit it.

  10. Jarrod Scheunemann

    Thanks to Jen for sharing her new favs (not previously promoted) and for asking what’s racking up plays on our playlists.

    Stephen…. Jason Isbell is amazing. Benjamin… Jon Foreman’s solo stuff is innovative and speaks to the soul and few pen better lyrics than Andrew Osenga.

    Twenty one pilots (Blurryface) are keeping me young these days. Insightful lyrics with s style that bends all genres.

    Its hard to reprise the revered Elliott Smith, but Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield (Sing Elliott Smith) composed a somber tale that does his work justice. Not to mention, the Avett Brothers have been singing a spine tingling version of “In the Garden” in recent days.

    The Archive Series, Vol No. 1 by Iron and Wine, essentially a collection of B sides, brings me back to to a forgone era of Sam Beam and his trusty guitar.

    I really enjoy John Moreland. He created “High on Tulsa Heat” in 2015, but his real gem was “In the Throes” from 2013.

  11. Derek

    Love these kind of posts as I can never get enough good music.

    First, shout out to Benjamin for mentioning Lord Huron. Strange Trails is such an amazing album and has been on repeat for some time.

    Also, to Jarrod: Just discovered John Moreland a couple months ago. So good.

    For me, the clear #1 thus far is Sufjan Stevens’ LP, Carrie & Lowell. A deeply personal album that deals with his childhood and ultimately the death of his mother. It is a tough listen and will surely choke you up. But wow, is it a phenomenal record!

    So here are my tops (so far) of 2015:

    1. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell
    2. Lord Huron – Strange Trails
    3. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit
    4. Great Lakes Swimmers – A Forest of Arms
    5. Josh Garrels – Home
    6. James McMurtry – Complicated Game
    7. Jason Isbell – Something More Than Free
    8. Ryley Walker – Primrose Green
    9. Ryan Bingham – Fear and Saturday Night
    10. Matthew Perryman Jones – Cold Answer

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