We all know To Pimp A Butterfly and Currents, but 2015 was a pretty impressive year for rock music too. However, many musicians have shown concern that rock music is dying out, arguing that rock bands aren’t getting the attention they deserve. Just this year, Billie Joe Armstrong slammed the music industry with two tweets in reaction to the MTV VMAs. Armstrong, like myself, was disappointed that the VMAs didn’t feature even one rock ‘n’ roll band. He went on to argue that there are several young rock bands headlining music festivals, yet none of those bands were featured on one of the most televised nights in the music industry.
Armstrong has a valid point. Most of the music that is highly publicized and known by the mass public is pop and rap; this isn’t to say that pop and rap are inherently worse than rock music, however there is a certain emotion and importance to rock music that other genres can’t possibly emulate. The lack of widespread media attention paid to rock bands is just one example of how they’re not getting the homage they deserve. In the Daily’s Best Albums of 2015, with the exception of Courtney Barnett, not one album could be considered full-on rock. Sure, Tame Impala is “psychedelic rock,” but I personally consider them more indie-alternative than anything else. Aside from maybe Tame Impala, not one rock band made our Top 10 list. Of course each album on the list is great, but why don’t people have as much enthusiasm about the fucking phenomenal rock albums that dropped in 2015? Is it that, because these albums aren’t mainstream, no one picks them as the best music of 2015? Are these bands not talked about enough to be considered the best of the year? Truthfully, I don’t know. But what I do know is that 2015 saw an amazing year for rock music; below I have included my own Best of 2015 list, but this time only rock music is presented to you. I hope you take the time to listen to each album because they’re important and marvelous and will get you hyped for the resurgence of rock ‘n’ roll.
1. Mister Asylum — Highly Suspect
I’m guessing that 90 percent of you don’t know of Highly Suspect — I didn’t, at least, until my best friend incessantly went on about how she interviewed the most bad-ass, talented band the other night. She went on to play their debut album for me, Mister Asylum, on repeat until I, too, became addicted to Highly Suspect. The Cape Cod natives have made quite the first impression with their debut album seeing that they are nominated for Best Rock Album and Best Rock Song at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards. The ten-track album is pure rock genius; it’s angsty, raw, full of emotion and an all-around stand out album. My personal favorites are “Bath Salts” and “Mom.” One piece of information that I gathered from my friend’s interview with the band is that all of their songs are literal. “Bath Salts” is about the time Johnny Stevens, the lead vocalist, tried bath salts and “Mom” is about his mom. You know what you’re listening to is real, and I think in a day and age when so much of what we hear is warped and fake, listening to an honest yet complex album is rare. It also doesn’t hurt that the Stevens wears gold Chanel nail polish; any man who rocks nail polish, let alone Chanel nailpolish, is an ace in my book.
2. Yours, Dreamily — The Arcs
Usually when members of a band take on side projects, fans get worried that this will be the demise of the original band. In the case of Dan Auerbach, his side project, The Arcs, turned out to be a massive success — arguably a project that could be just as big as The Black Keys. The band has been on tour promoting their debut album and they’re lined up for Coachella this April. Of course The Black Keys are alive and well, but having not one but two successful rock bands is an impressive feat for a young guy like Auerbach. Yours, Dreamily clearly outlines how The Arcs differ from The Black Keys — The Arcs contains more soul and blues than Auerbach’s previous work. My favorite song on Yours, Dreamily is easily “Pistol Made of Bones.” It’s a smooth, catchy classic with a rhythm that stands out from the other songs that comprise the album. In truth, I love every song on the compilation. Every song is memorable, and to me, that’s a telling sign of a truly great album.
3. Wasted On A Dream — Jeff the Brotherhood
When I interviewed my fave Cleveland band, The Moxies, they made a huge point to listen to Jeff the Brotherhood, so I did. I found their music to be mesmerizing; it contains elements of psychedelic and garage rock, making for a unique blend of guitar chords and other crazy instrumental components that would be difficult for any other band to replicate. What I love most about this Nashville duo is their ability to blend different instruments into every song. For example, in “Black Cherry Pie,” my favorite song on the album, the flute makes an appearance in the intro and has its own solo moment midway through the song. Modern music almost never utilizes the flute, which makes this band and album so unique. They aren’t afraid to experiment, and the result is an album one could never tire of.
4. Tell Me I’m Pretty — Cage the Elephant
For some reason, I feel like Cage’s latest album hasn’t gotten a lot of attention. I don’t know why, though, because it’s fabulous and Cage is fabulous. Tell Me I’m Pretty is infinitely more sophisticated than Melophobia and the band’s other earlier work; I would go so far as to say this album rocks even harder. “Sweetie Little Jean” is definitely one of the best songs off of the album — it sounds very Arctic Monkeys-esque, which is never a bad thing. Personally, my favorite songs are easily “Too Late To Say Goodbye” and “Cold Cold Cold.” The former is full of sadness and passion while the latter is slightly more upbeat and heavy on the classic rock sound — dare I say reminiscent of The Rolling Stones. Actually, the more I listen to this album, the more I realize that I could pick any one of these songs as my favorite. That’s just how pretty Tell Me I’m Pretty is.
5. That’s The Spirit — Bring Me The Horizon
There were many albums I considered for the last spot on my Top 5 Best Rock Albums of 2015 list. I considered The Cribs, Modest Mouse, or Courtney Barnett, but finally, I decided to take a risk and include Bring Me The Horizon. I’ve seen Bring Me The Horizon perform live on several occasions, and each time I’ve temporarily lost my hearing. They are first and foremost a hard rock band from England. They are often lauded by Alternative Press and are highly regarded as the less-extreme chaps of the post-hardcore/hard rock community, which is why I was surprised when my “Discover Weekly” on Spotify featured one of their songs. I was listening to “Follow You” and jamming out — and then was shocked when I looked at what band I was listening to. Bring Me The Horizon didn’t scream at all during “Follow You.” It sounded nothing like them — it was lovely and strange all at the same time. I chose That’s The Spirit as my last pick for 2015 because I think Bring Me The Horizon has a tremendous amount of potential as a rock band — they’re already an amazing hard rock band, but I think there’s a lot to be said for a vocalist and artist who can easily transition between rock and harder, borderline metal music. Additionally, the lead vocalist, Oli Sykes, has important messages in each song given his battle with addiction. His words, combined with his sound, are unparalleled in any other modern rock music; I get that hard rock isn’t for everyone, but I think it’s an underrated genre that should get more attention than it currently does.