Top 10 Albums of 2015

Penultimate list of the year! Movies will be coming soon…

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10. Carly Rae Jepsen Emotion

A lot of people were really surprised by this record, but I never really was. I championed (and still do) “Call Me Maybe” as a perfect pop song and placed it as my number one song of 2012. Emotion is a strong pop album that never made much leeway on the radio despite its catchy 80s influenced style. Jepsen is our best pop star, you all just don’t know it.

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9. Titus Andronicus The Most Lamentable Tragedy

A 90-minute plus punk rock opera that filters the band’s punk influences through Bruce Springsteen’s everyman representation with an added experimental edge. It certainly doesn’t have the highs of The Monitor, but it is pretty consistent from beginning to end. Patrick Stickles brain will always come up with raging rock songs, intricate and complex enough to inspire a plethora of think pieces and this is everything I love rolled into one giant album.

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8. Julien Baker Sprained Ankle

Quite the opposite of The Most Lamentable Tragedy, Baker’s debut album is quiet and sparse. There are only nine songs here, most of which only feature Baker singing and playing guitar , but boy are these tracks affecting. She has claimed these songs represent her coming out of a place of depression and abuse and one can certainly see the inner-monologue taking place. It’s an internal struggle, with Baker battling over her own soul and just when you think the darkness will overcome, grace shines through.

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7. Future Beast Mode

A lot has been written about Future being the saddest rapper to brag about drugs, partying, and sexual affairs and this has certainly been the case across his two mixtapes (Beast Mode, 56 Nights), his full length (DS2), and collaboration with Drake (What a Time to Be Alive). There’s a weariness to the way he raps, an autotuned slur, that makes you wonder if he’s really enjoying any of it. DS2 was the most critically acclaimed of the bunch, What a Time had the most hype surrounding it, but my favorite was Beast Mode which I think shows Future at his most sincere.

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6. Grimes Art Angels

On Art Angels, Grimes takes pop music and puts it through the most eccentric filter it could probably go through while continuing to be pop. It’s pure bubblegum pop, but is also very weird. Grimes takes a page out of K-Pop–electronic pop songs that are given the spirit and enthusiasm of a high school cheer team. It works surprisingly wonderful and is so much fun to listen to.

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5. Vince Staples Summertime ’06

Staples’ studio full length debut is a biographical double album about one of the most important summers he ever had. It tells the tale of Staples growing up, learning who he was, and the outside factors imposing in on his life. There are stories of adolescent love, of depression, and of extreme violence. It’s one of the most complex coming-of-age stories I’ve ever experienced. Staples is one of the best young voices making music out there and he may have just come up with a masterpiece here.

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4. Courtney Barnett Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit

It’s hard to say what the best thing is that Barnett does, is it her ability to come up with rollicking rock songs? Her clever wordplay? The fact that she came up with the introvert anthem (sorry Alessia Cara)? All of these things point to why Sometimes I Sit is an amazing album. It’s funny, it’s thoughtful, it can be blasted on any road trip. Women are crushing it in indie rock and Barnett is there at the top.

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3. Tame Impala Currents

Currents shows Tame Impala at their most accessible, like Grimes their sound perfectly mixes their more experimental tendencies with mainstream pop’s aesthetic. Currents is a blend of EDM with a singer-songwriter’s vision. Kevin Parker has created dance music for indie rock kids, blending in disco and R&B influences to make an album that grew with every listen.

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2. Kendrick Lamar To Pimp a Butterfly

This was probably the album of the year, with Kendrick building on all the goodwill of good kid, mad city to make one of the most ambitious, sprawling, and important albums maybe ever? It’s funky, jazzy, and altogether not what you’d expect from the most hyped person in rap music. But that makes it even better, showing Kendrick as a true artist, one that pushes the genre forward. To Pimp a Butterfly was a necessary album in a year filled with racial strife and police brutality at the forefront of our national conversations. It’s celebratory of black culture, comforts all the pain, and is also deeply critical of inner-city violence. Kendrick is never what anybody wants him to be and I think that’s what makes him all the more important.

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1.Sufjan Stevens Carrie  & Lowell

While Kendrick spent time analyzing the affairs of a nation, Sufjan spends his time processing his inner-self, responding to the loss of his mother. It’s painstakingly personal, littered with references to the loss and the deep depression he went through as a result. Most of Sufjan’s work features beautiful, stripped down folk songs but these are usually places between quirky chamber pop tracks. Here we essentially get sad, contemplative Sufjan for 43 straight minutes, and as much as I love the baroque Sufjan, slowed down it is so beautiful.

Honorable mentions: Young Fathers White Men Are Black Men Too; Hop Along Painted Shut; Sports All of Something; Panda Bear Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper; Drake & Future What a Time to Be Alive

Top 100 Songs of 2015 (Part I: 100-79)

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Part 1 of 4

100. Jill Scott “Closure”

For Jill Scott, closure means one last fling, but don’t let that fool you, she’ll go no further than that. With a humorous outro, Scott lists all the food her ex-lover will no longer be able to consume because she doesn’t care enough about him to give him breakfast.

99. Drake “10 Bands”

98. Pusha T “Untouchable”

Pusha kills it here, rapping  about “Netflix Narcos” over a sick beat and Biggie sample.

97. Major Lazer, MO, DJ Snake “Lean On”

96. Speedy Ortiz “My Dead Girl”

95. Future “No Basic”

94. Lady Lamb “Milk Duds”

93. Beach House “Sparks”

92. Sia “Alive”

In the ranking of wannabe Adele songs, this one places 2nd (ahead of Adele’s “Hello” and behind a song to come). It’s an emotional ballad that was actually written for Adele, but Sia, being the queen of taking songs meant for other folks and making them her own came through with quite the emotionally packed song here.

91. Lady Lamb “Violet Clementine”

I didn’t think Lady Lamb’s (formerly Lady Lamb the Beekeeper)  latest lived up to her debut album, but here we hear everything that makes her great: the passionate vocal delivery, the oddly poetic lyrics, and the long musical interludes.

90. Titus Andronicus “Dimed Out”

This is Titus Andronicus at their most punk, a 3-minute rager that both stands alone and fits into their 90-minute rock opera.

89. Vince Staples “Norf Norf”

88. Julien Baker “Good News”

87. Sufjan Stevens “Fourth of July”

86. Titus Andronicus “No Future Part IV: No Future Triumphant”

85. Kanye West w/Theophilus London “All Day”

84. Miguel “coffee”

Miguel fits perfectly into sensual R&B, which at times can near disgusting in his overtly explicit expressions. However with “coffee”, he becomes almost sweet in his declaration that he will make “coffee in the morning” for his amour. It’s the opposite of the aforementioned “Closure”.

83. Natalie Prass “It is You”

Prass straddles several unique lines with her music: modern folk artist, 50s darling, and Disney princess. It’s a strange combo, but is so unexpected that it totally works. As a fan of all three of those lines, Prass totally works for me. Here she sounds like something out of a musical and boy is it great.

82. Disclosure “Jaded”

81. Drake “Star67”

80. Florence + the Machine “Ship to Wreck”

79. Colleen Green “Deeper Than Love”

Green is interesting because she at times gives out a Best Coast minimalist folk/punk vibe, but then something like “Deeper Than Love” will come out which is a 6-minute lonesome and slightly creepy almost new wave-ish track showing just how talented and unique she can be. It’s a subtly gripping track that will eat at you for days.

 

Check out the rest of the best of the year stuff here