The Best Albums of 2015

It’s that time of year again. Time for me to add my contribution to the seemingly endless supply of end-of-year “Best Of” lists. Now with a fancy graphic. Boom.

2015

For 10 consecutive years, compiling this list has been a labor of love. Here are the previous ones:

2014  |  2013  |  2012  |  2011  |  2010  |  2009  |  2008  |  2007  |  2006

It’s neat to go back and see how many of my previous “favorite” albums are still in my listening rotation. Quite a few, actually. So here’s 2015!

Warning: You won’t find any Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, or One Direction on this list. If that’s your idea of the best that 2015 had to offer, this list is not for you. How the heck did you find this page anyway? What are you, 12 or something??? OK, enough stalling. Here we go. No excuses. No explanations. Just my favorite albums from the past 12 months:

 

10. Benjamin Clementine – At Least For Now

At Least For Now

Clementine will no doubt be polarizing for many listeners. There is no question, however, of his raw talent, poeticism, and knack for beguiling melodies, and in this oversaturated market, the true mavericks will always rise above the din. [AllMusic]


9. Jamie xx – In Colour

In Colour

Its 42 minutes are comparatively modest, sure, but there’s no question that the man behind the boards here has his finger on the pulse of what may be missing most in electronic music right now–a central reference point. In Colour is that star, the record to hold everyone else’s narratives together. [Dusted Magazine]


8. Adele – 25

25

Whether she’s holding notes with the strength of a suspension bridge or enjoying a rare lighthearted “whoo-hoo!” on “Sweetest Devotion,” her incredible phrasing – the way she can infuse any line with nuance and power – is more proof that she’s among the greatest interpreters of romantic lyrics. [Rolling Stone]


7. Kamasi Washington – The Epic

The Epic

Holistic in breadth and deep in vision, it provides a way into this music for many, and challenges the cultural conversation about jazz without compromising or pandering. [AllMusic]


6. Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear

I Love You, Honeybear

Honeybear is rich with sarcasm, flagrant in some places and barely discernable in others. It is impossible to take seriously, but too damn compelling to be dismissed. [The 405]


5. Sleater-Kinney – No Cities To Love

No Cities To Love

Though some of their peers may have waned on their long, drawn out returns, Sleater-Kinney have only grown stronger in their time off. Ten years away has made them more essential than ever. Nostalgia be dammed. [DIY Magazine]


4. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit

Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit

Somehow, the Australian singer-guitarist has made something fresh out of everyday vignettes performed on everyday instruments (guitar-bass-drums). She sounds like she’s day-dreaming out loud instead of singing, but she’s deceptively incisive as a lyricist. Her guitar-playing, while never particularly showy, can be subtle or scalding. [Chicago Tribune]


3. PWR BTTM – Ugly Cherries

Ugly Cherries

It’s fun, it’s queer and your straight friends will like it too because, ultimately, it’s about being less alone. Everyone can relate to that. And the world genuinely feels like a brighter place with PWR BTTM in it. [The 405]


2. Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color

Sound And Color

Each passage on Sound and Color feels organic, like it pushed its way out of southern soil or floated into someone’s mind on a back porch breeze. [PopMatters]


1. Hamilton – Original Broadway Cast Recording

Hamilton

A vital companion to the most creative, most talked-about musical to hit Broadway this millennium… Hamilton’s stage production should be required viewing for every American citizen, but this exhilarating listen is a much more practical, and every bit as enjoyable, stand-in. [Billboard.com]


Honorable mention:
Tame Impala – Currents
Zac Brown Band – Jekyll + Hyde
Mark Ronson – Uptown Special
Grimes – Art Angels
Rhiannon Giddens – Tomorrow Is My Turn
The Weeknd – Beauty Behind The Madness
Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly
Joanna Newsom – Divers
Björk – Vulnicura
Destroyer – Poison Season

Do you have any favorites from this year that I may have missed? Leave me a comment and let me know!

3 thoughts on “The Best Albums of 2015

    1. I’ll check it out! I was never really a New Order (or Joy Division) fan, but I’m open-minded. Pitchfork says, “For longtime fans, Music Complete is something of a return to form for New Order—complete with appropriately chic minimalist artwork courtesy of Peter Saville. The record’s carefully considered aesthetic and meticulous production bear all the hallmarks of the band’s most iconic work. Still, it’s hard to know if anyone other than the band’s legions of devotees will find most of this material truly arresting. Music Complete certainly doesn’t do anything to diminish New Order’s formidable legacy, but it doesn’t necessarily expand upon it either. That being said, it still sounds like classic New Order, and now over three decades deep into their career, it’s kind of amazing that nothing else really does.”

  1. Mr. Zamrycki, im so glad youre doing this! last year i found one or two
    artists on your list i hadnt known before and now love. thanks for that.

    this year, i loved :
    Lionbabes first EP. this one is Treat Me Like Fire.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-VET23C-9A
    the chica is the daughter of Vanessa Williams, a dancer.

    To Pimp a Butterfly, especially King Kunta. i love the energy
    in it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hRK7PVJFbS8
    and this one (that isnt on that album, for some reason),
    I Love Myself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8aShfolR6w8
    i love how he dances, and the outside shots make me long for
    california.

    The Staves, If I Was. i dont know if this clip is from that new album
    or not but just watch any live video of them and you will also be
    in love. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EmOXxYDmotA

    a song on a mixtape put out by LilWayne (No Ceilings 2, which
    you can download for free). on that mix tape, wayne raps over
    beats made famous by other people. this song is hilarious and
    brilliant. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3CYSU-a3RM
    if your mouth isnt hanging open by the end of the first verse,
    i’ll give you a dolla.

    i also liked, fkw twigs new audio/visua/movement project,
    M3LL155X. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYU3j-22360
    earplugs and fullscreen. watch carefully. its stunning.

    a new chica who looks like Chaka and sings sexily with
    a lovely voice over groovy downtempo beats: SZA.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITZXgn81uyk

    but, best for last… Ibeyi. twins.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZkOf52jgtyw
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88U_dMhhfNI
    watch any of their live videos and gawp in awe.

    fun! thanks.
    🙂 emma

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *