best music of 2015, according to holly

If you are out there lamenting that there is no good music anymore, you aren’t paying attention. 2015 was truly a banner year for great music. Which brings me to my best of the best list.

Butch Walker – Afraid of Ghosts

Butch Walker Afraid of Ghosts

Duh. As if you expected anything else to have the top spot. Butch is the king of “every time I think he can’t top this album, he proves me wrong with the next one.” He handed over the producer reins to Ryan Adams on this one, and it’s pure perfection. I love every song, but “Bed on Fire” is 100% pure [fire emoji]. There’s a reason i traveled to Washington DC, Atlanta, and Nashville to see his live shows this year. #fangirl

Matt Nathanson – Show Me Your Fangs


GIANTS GIANTS GIANTS GIANTS. This song is easily my all-time favorite from Matt. Not to say that the rest of the album isn’t great, because it’s end to end great. It may be my 2015 desk dancing winner. also, my current favorite lyrics snippet is “We had an epic movie trailer love” from Playlists & Apologies. Matt is just so great. His curated Spotify playlist “i like music more than i like people” is a treasure nearly as good as his own music. It’s an eclectic mix – some stuff I wouldn’t ordinarily listen to, and songs that make me say ‘OMG I CAN’T BELIEVE MATT LIKES THIS SONG TOO.’ I’d love to hang out with Matt listening to music and talking books. He is my spirit animal.

Jason Isbell – Something More Than Free

Jason Isbell Something More Than Free

This is one of those albums where every time I listen to it, my favorite song changes. They’re all that good. One bit that always jumps out at me is the guitar in Speed Trap Town. So, so tasty.

Gary Clark Jr. – The Story of Sonny Boy Slim


Speaking of tasty guitar, this is full of it. Gary Clark Jr. is a master of bluesy, soul-tinged rock guitar.  This is one of those albums where i just want to put on some headphones, press play, and close my eyes and bliss out.

Marc Scibilia – Out of Style

Marc Scibilia Out of Style

I discovered Marc (and all his hair) when he opened for Butch a couple tours back (a tour I missed, fyi). Here we are a couple years later and he has a full length album out, produced by Butch in Nashville. This is just a fun rock and roll record, my friends, also in regular desk dancing rotation. If I were forced to pick favorites, Jericho and How Bad We Need Each Other, and When the World Breaks are probably the ones I’d pick. Today, at least. I got to see Marc open for ZZ Ward back in October, and it was a fantastic show (confession: I had only listened to a handful of ZZ Ward songs before this, and really couldn’t get into her for whatever reason, so I left not too far into her set. I saw who I wanted to see, all right?). Also, you need to check out his cover of This Land is Your Land – it was featured in a Jeep commercial that aired during the Super Bowl this year and is AHH-MAY-ZING.

Ryan Adams – 1989

Ryan Adams 1989

What can I say about this album that hasn’t already been said? Not much. It’s a brilliant adaptation. I was excited beyond words from the minute he first mentioned it on twitter and I wasn’t at all disappointed.

Frank Turner – Positive Songs for Negative People

Frank Turner Positive Songs for Negative People

I had literally never heard of Frank Turner before Butch Walker mentioned him (I want to say it was something about being in a cab with him in Chicago? The details are fuzzy.). Not totally my usual style, but this album is truly a winner. NO, IT’S NOT JUST BECAUSE BUTCH WALKER PRODUCED IT THOUGH I AM SURE THAT HELPED. SHUT UP.  Get Better is my clear favorite; I am a sucker for an anthem, what can I say? I also saw Frank live in October. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but he has a dedicated fanbase here, and it was pretty great.

Shovels & Rope – Busted Jukebox Volume 1


This is the sooprize late addition to the list. Dropped out of the blue in November (at least, out of the blue to me), this is a super fun bunch of covers from S&R and some of their friends.  Some are covers of the friends’ songs – i unsurprisingly love what they did with Butch Walker on Bullet Belt. My favorite may be how they turned Last by NiN on its head with Caroline Rose. Super great stuff.  I am always a sucker for covers so this was totally up my alley.

It was at this point that I started having trouble deciding whether to include some others, so this seemed like a natural cut-off point, otherwise this list would have gone on for days. But, because I can some of the honorable mentions would have been (in no particular order):

  • Jonathan Tyler – Holy Smokes
  • J. D. McPherson – Let the Good Times Roll
  • Harry Connick Jr. – That Would Be Me
  • Chris Cornell – Higher Truth

and probably some others if I kept thinking about it. Wow. It was the Year of the Dudes this year, for the most part.  In reality, that’s how my music tastes tend to skew anyway, so that’s not really a surprise.

I might actually have an idea for a random post or two, so who knows, there may actually be another music post from me before next year’s list. no promises. 😉


best music of 2013, according to holly

it’s been a while, but the time has come again! here is the best of the best, according to me.

1. Peachtree Battle – Butch Walker






Did you really think my #1 would be anyone else? If so, you haven’t been paying attention. 😉

5 songs and 18 minutes of pure perfection, full of emotion. Every time I think I have a favorite picked out, one of the others taps me on the shoulder and shakes its head. I always know it’s time to turn it on when I am hearing the complete songs playing in my head over and over. IT’S A SIGN. One of my favorite parts, and it has been since the first time I listened to it, is the drums from BW and drummer extraordinaire Mark Stepro on Let It Go Where It’s Supposed To is the perfect, crisp drum sound I expect from a Butch Walker production, and what it should always sound like. I had the chance to hear these live in September in ATL a week after Butch’s father passed away, and that was clearly the musical highlight of my year, and definitely in the top 5 for all-time. Super emotional show, but so, so amazing. The Marvelous 3 encore was a nice bonus too, though that meant I yet again missed hearing “Hot Girls” live. NEXT TIME, WALKER.

2. Last of the Great Pretenders – Matt Nathanson






2013 was the year I discovered Matt Nathanson. How I had been living under a rock this long, I have no idea. In a way, I am glad though, because to me, this is clearly his best album yet, so I am starting at a good point. It is great pop/rock from start to finish, my favorite tune being Kinks Shirt. I also saw Matt live in Portland a few weeks after seeing Butch, just a short time after discovering this album, and that was a treat. His live show is definitely as good, if not better, than his recorded music, which isn’t always the case. Plus, he is funny as hell and is a total metalhead. How can I not like him?! I look forward to more great music from Matt.

3. The Winery Dogs – The Winery Dogs

winery dogs





I knew as soon as this supergroup was formed that I would be a huge fan. I predicted then that this would be one of my top albums of the year, and The Winery Dogs did not disappoint. Just a straightforward awesome rock album from Richie Kotzen (longtime highly underrated favorite), Billy Sheehan, and Mike Portnoy. All amazing musicians in their own right, but they melded together to make something even better. It may just be my bias showing, but this album felt most similar to a Richie Kotzen album, though you could definitely hear the others in the music. But a lot of the songs just felt like RK songs, which is totally okay by me, because he writes fantastic songs.  I rounded out the amazing month of live music this past October by seeing this band (see Butch, even they can come to Portland. WHY CAN’T YOU? no, I’m not bitter, not at all). It was so, so good, for many reasons: got to see them in a really cool new-to-me venue (The Star Theater), Portnoy was a beast (and kind of a primadonna and THE STAR), plus I finally got to see Richie Kotzen live, which was a total Bucket List event, and they played some of my all-time favorite RK songs. *swoon*

4. Save Rock and Roll – Fall Out Boy






Let me tell you, if you had ever told me a FOB album would show up on a best-of list of mine, I’d have laughedsnorted in your face. But then Butch Walker got ahold of them and spun them into gold. I love everything about this album (well, except for the Courtney Love. meh.). My Songs Know What You Did In the Dark (Light Em Up) is what hooked me, The Phoenix is my favorite pre-run (or pre-anything) motivation song, and Save Rock and Roll. oh, Save Rock and Roll – THIS SONG. If you hear reports of someone losing their voice from singing this song so loud in the car, it’s likely me. Put that one on repeat.

5. Gravel & Wine – Gin Wigmore






yeah, yeah, cementing my #ravingfangirl status by including another album with the Butch Walker touch. WHATEVS. Normally, a voice like Gin’s is a total turn-off for me, so it’s a testament to the BW touch (songs co-written and produced) that I even liked this album at all. The songs make all the difference. Black Sheep is the biggest earworm.


the best music of 2011, according to holly

So I thought I would throw together a little list of my “best of” for music for this year. If you are at all familiar with me and my music tastes, much of this shouldn’t come as a surprise.

1. Butch Walker and the Black Widows – The Spade I mean, come on. Who else would be #1? I didn’t think there was any way for Butch to top 2010’s “I Liked It Better When You Had No Heart”, but he managed to do it. There is flat-out not a bad song on this album. I thought about trying to list my favorites, but they all are, for different reasons. I honestly listen to this nearly every day. And Butch and the Widows live? unreal. They just blew me away.

Ashes & Fire by Ryan Adams2. Ryan Adams – Ashes & Fire I picked up my first Ryan Adams album (Heartbreaker) a couple years back after seeing a librarian friend mention him a bunch. I liked it but never really listened to it a whole lot. I ran across Ashes and Fire and was totally hooked from the first listen. I’ve gone back to listen to more of his past work, and I don’t know how I never picked up on him before now. It’s all a matter of timing, I think. The whole album is great, but “Lucky Now” is the standout track, in my eyes. er, ears.

The King is Dead by the Decemberists3. The Decemberists – The King is Dead  To me, this is just straight-up Decemberists. Another album that doesn’t have a bad song on it. Like The Spade and Ashes & Fire, this is an album I can listen to on repeat with no qualms. I really need to get around to seeing them live at some point (she says, sort of embarrassed, since she lives in PDX where they are also from.).

21 by Adele4. Adele – 21  Some songs on this album got way overplayed this year, but with good reason – they are just some damn good songs. She’s got a great voice and most of the time it shines. Favorites: Rolling in the Deep and Rumour Has It. Skip It: Lovesong (I love covers, but this is meh) and Someone Like You (she hits this sour note near the end of the song that just ruins it for me; she seems to have corrected this during some live versions I’ve heard, but… ugh.)

Sweeter by Gavin DeGraw5. Gavin DeGraw – Sweeter I’d heard Gavin’s name mentioned here and there, but never his music. I’d heard about Sweeter because Butch produced a couple of the songs on it, so I listened to a few samples of some of the songs and was immediately hooked. I do appear to be in an indie singer-songwriter phase and this fits in there perfectly. My favorite (at least today) is probably the title track. Hook-y, soulful good stuff.

Honorable Mentions:

Panic! at the Disco – Vices and Virtues I can listen to “The Ballad of Mona Lisa” endlessly

Fran Capitanelli – Kave Talk  Fran is the guitarist in Butch’s band, and his solo stuff is fantastic too

Ponderosa – Moonlight Revival Just good Southern rock/country-ish stuff

This is was actually easier to come up with than i thought it would be. I spend so much time discovering new music that isn’t actually new that I had a much smaller pool to pick from.

I am an obsessive scrobbler, so feel free to follow me on and see what I listen to next year.


New Butch Walker Album – Now Streaming

Butch Walker’s new album, I Liked It Better When You Had No Heart, is streaming on the web before the official release date. Check it out here: