Favourite Record Albums 2015

Some years, the stylistic direction that music travels diverges from my general taste. That can be a great opportunity to grow and acquire new perspectives towards music style. 2015 was definitely a more challenging year in music for me. The acclaimed records were a little more idiosyncratic than I was used to, so the appeal wasn’t as readily apparent. But ultimately, 2015 was rewarding once I opened my ears to the current sounds.  There were new works from several old favourites, but many new names appeared on the world stage.

 

 1. Mew, +- (art rock)mew plus minus album cover

You can’t talk about Mew’s music without mentioning singer Jonas Bjerre’s vocals.  There is an airy, falsetto quality to his singing that is even more delicate than fellow Scandinavian, Jónsi, of Sigur Rós.  That voice gives each song a fairytale quality, and Mew’s grand, sweepingly cinematic prog-rock music is a beautiful contrast to the frailty of Bjerre’s vocals. With +-, Mew balance their math-rock moments with sweet pop melodies that flow along beautifully, but there’s always the threat of an electrifying guitar solo at any moment.  This is a dynamic record.

2. Tame Impala – Currents (psychedelic pop)

Currents_artwork_(Tame_Impala_album)

With Currents there’s a soft rock of the 70’s sound that’s tempered the fuzzed-out neo-psychedelia that prevailed on previous Tame Impala albums (Innerspeaker and Lonerism). While the rock-god swagger of those great records doesn’t play here, a more personal and intimate type of music runs through Currents. It’s a break-up album that is sad and sweet in its vocals and lyrics, but balanced with slight R&B groves or the skip of a disco beat. This record is about moving on from relationships when you know you need a change in your life to progress, and everything in this production expresses that beautifully.

3. Beach House – Depression Cherry (dream pop)

Beach House Depression Cherry Album Art

Ethereal music that floats along like a breeze through chiming keys, with waves of synth, gentle buzzing guitars and an occasional thumping beat. Singer Victoria Legrand’s vocals are often a feathery whisper, but can soar with the sudden symphonic swell of the keyboards or gravelly growl of guitar grows out of atmospheric music.  This is music for watching sunrises and sunsets.

4. Jamie xx – In Colour (electronic, dance)

Jamie xx In Colour Album Art

Jamie xx is a great music producer, and his album In Colour is a beautiful blend of styles that run from starkly atmospheric to dynamic tracks that alternate between drum & bass, R&B, hip-hop, indie-rock and trippy dance in one of the most kinetic album of the year.

5. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly (hip hop)

To Pimp a Butterfly Album Art

Prince used to make albums like this (Sign o’ The Times, Lovesexy). Soulful R&B and hip hop, that’s personal, political, pertinent and really dramatic. It’s the artistic statement of the year because it is fearless in its raw expression of defiance, debauchery and personal confession with music that can be dark or aggressive at moments, but often beautiful in its reference to free form jazz, or wonky psychedelic funk. Kendrick Lamar demands your attention to absorb his complex layers of music and lyrics.  He’s an incredibly engaging storyteller and eclectic songwriter.

6. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell (indie folk)

Sufjan_Stevens_-_Carrie_&_Lowell Album Art

The songs on this album were inspired by the death of Sufjan Stevens’ mother, Carrie, and the family trips that they took to Oregon in Stevens’ childhood. His mother suffered from depression, schizophrenia and drug abuse. This record expresses the pain, suffering and intense love in their life and her death. It’s a coming to terms with loss, and a closure. Beautiful, sad music.

7. Grimes – Art Angels (synthpop)

Grimes Art Angels Album Cover

8. Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear (indie folk)

Father John Misty I love you honeybear art

9. Julia Holter – Have You in My Wilderness (art pop)

Julia_Holter In my wilderness cover art

10. Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color (blues rock)

alabama-shakes-sound-and-color Cover Art

 

11. D’Angelo and The Vanguard – Black Messiah (funk, soul, R&B)

D'Angelo and The Vanguard - Black Messiah cover art

 

12. Blur – The Magic Whip (indie rock, Britpop)

Magic Whip Album Art

13. C Duncan – Architect (indie pop, indie folk)

C_Duncan_Architect Albume Art

14.  Dawn Richard – Blackheart (electronica, dance pop, R&B)

dawn richard blackheart cover art

15. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit (indie rock)

Courtney Barnett Sometimes I Sit Album cover art

16. New Order – Music Complete (electropop)

new-order_music-complete album art

17. Mac Demarco – Another One (jangle pop, indie rock)

mac demarco another one cover art

18. Emily King – The Switch (R&B)

Emily King Switch Cover Art

19. Julio Bashmore – Knockin’ Boots (house)

julio_bashmore_knockin_boots Cover Art

20. The Weeknd – Beauty Behind the Madness (alt. R&B)

beautybehindthemadness cover art

21. Jazmine Sullivan – Reality Show (contemporary R&B)

jazmine-sullivan-reality-show cover art

22. Leon Bridges – Coming Home (soul, R&B)

leon-bridges-stream-coming-home-album art

23. Sheer Mag – II 7″ (indie rock)

sheer mag II 7%22

24. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Multi-Love (psych. rock, indie pop)

Multi-love cover art

25. Duran Duran – Paper Gods (synthpop, dance-rock)

duran paper gods cover art

26. Swervedriver – I Wasn’t Born to Lose You (indie rock, shoegaze)

swervedriver i wasn't born to lose you

27. Beach House – Thank Your Lucky Stars (dream pop)

beachhouse_thankyourluckystars_cover art

28. Dråpe – Relax/Relapse (indie pop)

drape relax relapse cover art

29. Tobias Jesso Jr. – Goon (folk, baroque pop)

tobias jesso jr goon cover art

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