We’re half way done with 2016, which means 2015 is almost out of reach.
Now that you’ve stopped accidentally writing “2015” on your checks (checks!?) we present an arbitrary but objective list of 30 top albums of 2015. In an effort to maintain your attention I’ve limited each blurb to 140 characters or less. They still Tweet in 2016, right?
Yes, this should have been posted months ago.
Yes, sometimes drafts stay unpublished and no one notices until June.
And yes, these albums still kick ass and should be back on your radar.
30. The Weeknd — Beauty Behind The Madness
Feel your face yet? Cuz there’s a lot more to this LP. Weird seeing Tesfaye topping mainstream charts, but his appeal is undeni-Abel.
29. SOAK — Before We Forgot How to Dream
An 18 year old Irish girl writing huge & intimate echoey indie ballads? Sure. Lyrically & musically unjaded by the world & adulthood. Get some.
28. Beirut — No No No
It’s back to Eastern Euro-folk for Condon. An acoustic smorgasbord, it makes a hybrid of sonic & organic tones. A real … Turkish delight.
27. Ryan Adams — 1989
An odd triumph. Adams takes a great album & makes it another kind of great. It’s a credit to TSwift as an artist & Adams as a mod-rock interpreter.
26. Kacey Musgraves — Pageant Material
I tried not to like this album. It’s too obvious. Too country. Too saccharine. But if this is the new sound & substance of country music, sign me up.
25. Joan Shelley — Over and Even
Paints a picture of the South much more sonic & bucolic than most Kentucky artists. Like plopping Joni Mitchell into the Bluegrass State.
24. Blur — The Magic Whip
Great to get a new Blur album – not a Albarn album (no offense). Born of serendipitous recording sessions in Tokyo, the moody art-pop is back.
23. Björk — Vulnicura
A rarity for Bjork – focusing on a specific emotion like heartache = a long missing intensity & humanity. Peaks at Black Lake’s 10 min release.
22. Sleater-Kinney — No Cities to Love
A syncopation, percussive presence, & brevity that’s all new to SK. Just as political & polemic as The Woods. Not a wasted note after 10 years.
21. Jason Isbell — Something More Than Free
More celebratory & forward facing than Southeastern. Tunes about love, family, work, & life. It’s nice to see Isbell settling into sobriety.
20. Low — Ones and Sixes
Alan & Mimi are back to anxiety ridden, grief stricken rock. Surprisingly electronic, which sometimes dominates, but creates dark, alien soundscapes.
19. Natalie Prass — Natalie Prass
Moves from Greenwich Village to Laurel Canyon, a push West that finds the music modernizing, growing, & deepening. Sultry & delicate.
18. Joanna Newsom — Divers
What century does she exist in?! It’s 18th cent. Europe, 19th cent. Western frontier, 20th cent. ragtime. So dense, rich, & transporting.
17. Eskimeaux — O.K.
“In my dreams you’re a bathtub running / you are warm & tender & bubbling / you are cold & bristling & struggling” Shocked I love this so much.
16. Torres — Sprinter
This year’s PJ Harvey – how’s that for high praise? Vocals that emote & lyrically deliver more than just sing. Such kinetic darkness.
15. Father John Misty — I Love You, Honeybear
Nihilistic meets lovestruck. Poppier & riskier than Fear Fun, often hitting but sometimes missing. Don’t let his persona taint the tunes.
14. My Morning Jacket — The Waterfall
Has arrangements & sonic elements that MMJ weren’t capable of in their early days. A bit unfocused at times, but surprisingly airy and joyful.
13. Wilco — Star Wars
Tweedy throwing tunes at his band & this is what sticks. Great cuz it was unexpected & sounds completely organic. Nels’ fingerprints all over.
12. Belle & Sebastian — Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance
Somehow makes Glaswegian nostalgia relatable & relevant. Their most confident album to date. To quote this track, it’s a “quiet revolution.”
11. Lianne La Havas — Blood
Jamaican & Greek goddess. Most effortless album of ’16. Certainly the sexiest. Sade for the hip hop age; Nina for a contemporary slow groove.
10. Kurt Vile — B’Lieve I’m Goin Down
A more efficient & focused “Pretty Daze.” Subtle guitars, sleepy pianos, & percussive banjos. Best opener of ’16. A floating stoned melancholy.
9. Chvrches — Every Open Eye
Everyone caught up to Chvrches, so 2 years later they went & moved the bar higher, this time adding a surprising dash of neo-disco & new wave.
8. Courtney Barnett — Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit
Fairly pedestrian on paper. Guitar, bass, drums, & pub rock ballads. But she’s more Liz Phair than that, but w/ Aussie accent & wry lyrics.
7. Tame Impala — Currents
Their indie-70s soft rock sound gets an injection of R&B & Hip Hop. I miss the guitars & it sonically meanders too often. But not a let down.
6. Beach House — Depression Cherry
Entrenched & dialed down. Comforting melancholy. A real depression cherry. More insular than previous releases, like a sonic, vast emptiness.
5. Leon Bridges — Coming Home
Delicious ’60s R&B. Song structure? Check. Reverb? Check. Church organs, horns, & doo wop? Check. The look & sound?! Cooke would approve.
4. Grimes — Art Angels
Too poppy? Too accessible? Too radio friendly? Nah bruh, listen closer. 90s pop without the irony, a little twang, a little R&B, a little rock.
3. Kendrick Lamar — To Pimp a Butterfly
Is to Compton what Lou Reed was to NYC. Most important LP of the year. Flying Lotus all over its DNA. Didja see him on the Grammys!? Damn!
2. Jamie XX — In Colour
Its euphoric atmosphere of dance music hearkens to early 2000s where his UK dance remixes helped define the genre. Celebratory and anthemic.
1. Sufjan Stevens — Carrie & Lowell
Memory & mourning, uncertainty & heartache, devotion & resentment. A complicated tribute to a dead mother. Most personal album I’ve ever heard.