2015 rolled by quicker than I care to admit and I was shocked at how much the music scene changed this year. Drake made me like him and brought back a slice of Hip – Hop culture with his beef with Meek Mill; Jazz made a comeback and found itself a big influence on one of the year’s biggest Hip-Hop albums; Dr Dre released his first album in 16 years, and there wasn’t a week that went by where a band weren’t trying to make themselves seminal or an already seminal band was releasing a fantastic comeback record. Here are my favourite moments throughout all of it (with small write-ups of my top 10 albums).
- 50. Majical Cloudz – Are You Alone?
- 49. Prurient – Frozen Niagra Falls
- 48. Bully – Feels Like
- 47. Lianne La Havas – Blood
- 46. Protomartyr – The Agent Intellect
- 45. Deerhunter – Fading Frontier
- 44. Florence & The Machine – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
- 43. Quelle Chris – Innocent Country
- 42. Knxledge – Hud Dreams
- 41. Shlohmo – Dark Red
- 40. King Gizzard & The Wizard Lizard – Paper Mache Dream Balloon
- 39. Godspeed You! Black Emporer – Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress
- 38. A$AP Rocky – A.L.L.A
- 37. Everything Everything – Get To Heaven
- 36. Earl Sweatshirt – I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside
- 35. Jeff Rosenstock – We Cool?
- 34. Lil Simz – A Curious Tale Of Trials and Persons
- 33. Joanna Newsom – Divers
- 32. Panopticon – Autumn Eternal
- 31. Carly Rae Jepsen – E.Mo.Tion
- 30. Clarence Clarity – No Now
- 29. Young Fathers – White Men Are Black Men Too
- 28. Beach House – Thank Your Lucky Stars
- 27. Joey Bada$$ – B4.Da.$$
- 26. Four Tet – Morning/Evening
- 26. Ezra Furman – Perpetual Motion People
- 25. Alabama Shakes – Sound & Colour
- 24. Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear
- 23. Czarface – Every Hero Needs A Villain
- 22. Sleaford Mods – Key Markets
- 21. Lupe Fiasco – Tetsuo & Youth
- 20. Sleater Kinney – No Cities To Love
- 19. Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment – Surf
- 18. Dr Dre – Compton
- 17. Destroyer – Poisen Season
- 16. Bjork – Vulnicura
- 15. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Multi-Love
- 14. Beach House – Depression Cherry
- 13. Vince Staples – Summertime 06
- 12. Oneothrix Point Never – Garden Of Delete
- 11. Hop Along – Painted Shut
- 10. Julia Holter – Have You In My Wilderness
Multi instrumentalist, Julia Holter’s latest voyage into Baroque-Pop was easily her most accessible yet. ‘Have You In My Wilderness’ was beautifully inviting and mastered her knack for creating atmospheric ambiance, yet it wasn’t dumbed down in an attempt to reach a new audience and instead contained some of her most compelling and intimate song-writing to date. These were songs filled with honesty and warmth and a sonic quality that saw Holter reaching the heights that many new she could for so long.
- 9. Grimes – Art Angels
Grimes had a tough few years following the release of 2012’s ‘Visions’ due to the constant pressure she faced from the media. Yet 3 years later she came back with arguably her best work to date. ‘Art Angels’ sees Grimes enhancing her powers and lumbering over absolutely bizarre and – at times – terrifying pop songs that not only show off how much of a fierce act to be reckoned with Grimes really is, but shows how much care and detail Grimes puts into her music now.
- 8. Chelsea Wolfe – Abyss
After years of putting out music that blends genres to her own advantage gaining her respect from so many sides of music communities, Chelsea Wolfe found her best balance yet of heavy – Black Metal influenced – instrumentation and the beauty within the darkness that she’s always utilised in her music. ‘Abyss’ is easily the most aptly titled Record of 2015 as these songs sound like they’re trudging through a dark swamp hoping to find a light that will guide them out.
- 7. Deafheaven – New Bermuda
‘New Burmuda’ saw Deafheaven transforming from what could have been a one hit wonder into a band that can be taken seriously for the long haul. Many believed that the Black Metal band would embrace the more Shoegazey aspects of their music following the success of ‘Sunbather’. Yet this album showed that they’re willing to go much darker and embrace the heavier side of Black Metal while juxtaposing it against seriously beautiful Post-Rock/Indie Rock influenced instrumentation. Deafheaven are a band that are continually trying to bend the rules of Black Metal and are at the forefront of the bands experimenting within the genre.
- 6. Jamie xx – In Colour
Jamie xx showed himself off to be a completely separate entity to his native band The XX this year, dropping an album that embraced UK garage and took it to the highest places it could, borrowing from so many modern trends along the way. Jamie xx uses samples in ways that make his music so much more euphoric than expected and utilises his guests like Young Thug by giving them production that makes them sound even more animated than they already were. ‘In Colour’ is an album that has sent Jamie xx down a very exciting path as the figure-head for UK electronic music.
- 5. Tame Impala – Currents
Tame Impala’s frontman and songwriter Kevin Parker made himself famous off of being distinctively lonely in his music. ‘Currents’ details the ways in which Parker has changed as a person and is going to continue changing. As a result of this change, the band take giant leaps embracing their more synthetic side in place of their sound that was deeply rooted in 60s psych rock. ‘Currents’ is an album filled with some of the best song-writing that Parker has ever conceived with some of them being extremely moving, and he paired them against sonic moments that the band genuinely haven’t explored before.
- 4. Death Grips – Jenny Death (The Powers That B)
Death Grips’ game of cat and mouse with their fan base finally came to an end (of sorts) this year with the band releasing what they tagged at the time as their final album. It seemed more like the ending of a first chapter than an actual ending though with it seeming like they’re taking a new path towards the end of the record. ‘Jenny Death’ is Death Grips harshest release to date with them embracing rampant distorted guitars and pairing then with some of the abrasive electronic production of their previous efforts. It’s noticeably Death Grips’ most self-deprecating album as well with MC Ride making much more reference to how unstable the character he’s playing feels. The end track ‘Death Grips 2.0’ hints at a new chapter and since the release of the album Death Grips have said that they may release an album entitled ‘Bottomless Pit’.
- 3. Kamasi Washington – The Epic
Riding on the back of being one of the musicians on Kendrick Lamar’s ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’, Kamasi Washington made one of the most ambitious Jazz projects of the last few years. ‘The Epic’ is a 3 hour-long journey through many different styles of Jazz, all backed by a massive orchestra, other brilliant musicians such as Thundercat, and Kamasi himself taking the lead of the record on Sax. Each of the three albums within ‘The Epic’ is in its’ own right a master-class in Jazz. Don’t be put off by the run time as the album is designed to be taken in small doses, with every dose being a dip into Jazz’s past and future.
- 2. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell
Sufjan Stevens’ first album since 2011’s ‘Age Of Adz’ took a big step back into acoustic territory with Stevens embracing where he came from sonically. Topically the album took Stevens back to where he came from as well with it being a massive departure from previous material in that it’s about his upbringing with his mother and step father. Stevens has always proven to be a talented storyteller yet nobody expected him to be so poignant when finally telling a fraction of the story from his own life. The album goes into incredible detail over the top of some of Stevens most beautiful and pretty compositions to date.
- 1. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
There’s very little to say about Kendrick Lamar’s masterpiece, ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ – the album that explores Lamar’s actual experiences of a black man becoming successful in America that hasn’t already been said. This is an album that had Kendrick pour out inner demons in heartbreaking fashion over the top of what’s easily his most experimental instrumentation yet, with multiple fantastic Jazz musicians (including Kamasi Washington) and producers (FlyLo, Knxledge) taking the reins of the music. As he’s said himself since, TPAB is an album that blended Trap and Jazz Fusion – but it’s more than that. ‘TPAB’ solidifies Kendrick Lamar as the most important mainstream rapper of a generation.
- Braids – Deep In The Iris
- Travis Scott – Rodeo
- Girlpool – Before The World Was Big
- Steven Wilson – Hand. Cannot. Erase
- Years and Years – Communion
- Le1f – Riot Boi
- Youth Lagoon – Savage Hills Ballroom
- Dr Yen Lo- Days With Dr Yen Lo
- Colin Stetson & Sarah Neufield – Never Were The Way She Was
Promising Albums (most of these have some of my favourite material of the year on them yet as an album doesn’t stick the landing):
- Wolf Alice – My Love Is Cool
- Fetty Wap – Fetty Wap
- Drake – If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late
- Justin Bieber – Purpose
- Slaves – Are You Satisfied?
- FKA Twigs – M3LL155X
- Open Mike Eagle – A special Episode Of
- Thundercat – The Beyond/Where The Giants Roam
- Iglooghost – Chinese Nu Yr
- Nicholas Jaar – Nymphs III