N.C. Lawlor – Torn
A man I came across through his name appearing on the line-up for the Doolin craft beer festival last summer, N.C. is a very talented exponent of the blues. He started his career busking in Dublin. His move to recorded music has come slowly with no album released yet but this track is one of the best blues songs I heard in 2015, raw, upfront and abrasive. It’s everything I like my blues rock to be.
The Mountain Man Band – Play that Song
Sticking with the blues theme, as the name of this group might suggest, these lads came out of nowhere in 2015 to become one of my favourite new artists. Not to be confused with the female folk three-piece, these two lads from the rural west do simple blues-rock riffs really well. “Play That Song” is a fine example of their modus operandi. Unsophisticated, addictive rock.
The Mariannes – Lost With All Hands
An award winning song and it’s easy to see why, “Lost With All Hands” is song that seeps into your soul and stays with you. Using the metaphor of shipwreck for the end of a relationship is both clever and novel. The lyrics convey the feeling of pure loss with the melody hauntingly staying with you for a long time after the song has ended.
Stephen Young & The Union – Shiver
The opening track on Stephen Young & the Union’s second album, “Shiver” tells you exactly what Stephen Young and The Union are all about. One the best exponents of alt-country in Ireland at the moment, “Shiver” demonstrates the whole band’s talents. With a powerful arrangement, and Stephen’s Ryan Adams-esque vocal style, this is addictive alt-country.
John Blek & The Rats – Guard My Borders
From one fine exponent of alt-country to another. John Blek and the Rats released their second album also in 2015. However this track from the album “Borders” is quite different from Stephen Young. Saturated in atmosphere, this song is haunting in it’s beauty. Sombre in tone, you are immediately drawn in to John’s tender voice that easily keeps you hooked in the swirly atmosphere of the song.
Joe Fury & The Hayride – Oh Judge
Joe Fury released an album this year that is full of straight-up country and alt-country tunes. I love his old style approach to composition and arrangement. This song is my favourite off the album. A simple old-time tale of a man in more trouble than he can handle, “Oh Judge” is a lovely jiving tune.
Corner Boy – Untie The Noose
A big crossover hit for Corner Boy, it’s hard to listen to “Untie The Noose” now without thinking of the video. Both the song and the video fit perfectly together. It’s a lovely playful tune and one that seeps under your skin and stays in your head forever.
Randolf & The Crokers – Warfare
Probably one of my favourite E.P.’s of 2015, Randolf & The Crokers came from the left-field for me. This song is my favourite from the E.P., a beautiful song full of ambience, it builds and build to wonderful atmospheric chorus.
Gavin Glass – Better Left Alone
The surprise release of Gavin’s forth album this year came about with the announcement via this song. “Better Left Alone” reflects a certain maturity that is reflected in the songs of “Sunday Songs”. It’s made up of a simple little rhythm that gets your feet tappin’ and sucks you in. After a few listens the words start to sink in and you can enjoy the song to its fullest extent.
The Living Sisters – Can You Get to That
Although a few years old, I only came across the Living Sisters in 2015. Of the few releases this female folk vocal group have out, the EP “Run For Cover” was a particular favourite. Apart from a clever title, the E.P. contains some lovely cover songs including this gem. Written by George Clinton, the Living Sisters take the funk out this tune and replace it with a soulful melody that makes the song feel like it’s home really is the Appalachian mountains.
Leon Bridges – Coming Home
Probably my favourite soul song of 2015. I probably haven’t listennd to that much soul in 2015 to compare it too but this song quickly caught my ear as soon as I heard it on the radio in April of 2015. A clear homage to the 1960’s where soul was a major force in pop music, this song has groove and heart at its core, it’s just beautiful.
So that’s my list, if you have any suggestions of americana or alt-country or blues or folk that I have missed out on in 2015, please do let me know in the comments below.