Greatest Comebacks of 2015
Vanessa Carlton — Liberman: Gauzy, ghostly and wonderful. A million years from “A Thousand Miles.”
Angel Haze — Back to the Woods: The brutal, resilient swagger we’ve come to expect from Haze, and didn’t see enough of on major-label misfire Dirty Gold.
Veruca Salt — Ghost Notes: Rock ’n’ roll as rough and sweet as it was some 20 years ago, when we last heard from this original lineup.
JoJo — III.: One of the strongest voices in early ’00s pop is free at last from her multi-year label battle.
Missy Elliott — “WTF (Where They From)” featuring Pharrell Williams: Yas queen. Show ’em how it’s done.
— Caralyn Green
Stuff I discovered from interviews in 2015
“Plantasia” by Mort Garson — Chrome Sparks. Digging through old sets and mixes from Chrome Sparks led me to this early synth record from 1976, which was intended to be played for plants to help them grow. What kind of monster can read that description and NOT look it up?
“Midnight Cowboy” by James Leo Herlihy — Jon Bindley. Fitting since my story led off with a tidbit about him giving Norah Jones a book, Jon handed me “Midnight Cowboy” during our interview and told me to read the opening paragraph while he was in the bathroom. I did and was immediately hooked. It’s about a male prostitute with killer boots, man.
The art of Joanna Fields — Dan Deacon. Gliss Riffer, Deacon’s 2015 release, features Fields’ work on its cover, which led me down a rabbit hole of her flamboyant, playful illustrations. The bodies are fleshy, the colors are bright and the tongues are long.
The term “djent metal” — Matt Very. I’d never heard of this genre but when Matt explained it, I was like, “Yeah, that seems right.”
The live video for Sondre Lerche’s “Bad Law” — Steve Soboslai. I don’t know much of Lerche’s music, but this is a great track and the video features some top-of-the-line dance moves. I am staunchly opposed to confetti (it’s just paper chopped up), but this performance is a winner.
— Alex Gordon
Mina’s Favorite Records (and One Disappointment)
Picks from 2015, her first year of life, as told by Dan Morgan (her papa)
No Time — Promo Tape 2015: These Oi!-infused hardcore jams caused Mina to do a crazy proto-pogo across the floor.
New Order — Music Complete: The soundtrack to many a papa/daughter dance session this fall.
Concealed Blade — Demo 2015/Tour Tape 2015: Primal slabs of hardcore-punk power that regularly lulled Mina into sweet dreams at naptime. Maybe name the LP Songs for Sleepy Babies?
Danzig — Skeletons: While a solid release over all, Mina was very disappointed in the lackluster version of “Satan” from Satan’s Sadists, which is one of her favorite songs.
Top Five Releases From Local Artists
Run Forever — Run Forever
In 2015, Run Forever became the band it was always meant to be, and put out one of the best indie records of the year, period.
Dream Phone — Dream Phone
This stellar collection of moody surf-pop makes me feel a lot of things, but mainly it makes me feel optimistic about the state of the Pittsburgh music scene.
The Come Up — Visions From the Pacific
Here, the Braddock-bred rap duo channels the West Coast sound. It was intended as an artistic stop-gap (we may see a proper record in the coming year), but this EP stands on its own.
Concealed Blade — 2015 Demo
This love letter to ’80s hardcore gets my vote for the catchiest, wildest, most whammy-bar-filled seven minutes of the year.
Tom Breiding — River, Rails or Road
The folk singer/songwriter latest release evokes the political work of Springsteen and Dylan, and ranks among his best.
— Margaret Welsh