Is it really 2016 already? As we transition into a time of new years resolutions (that may or may not be kept), fresh beginnings, and most importantly new music, it is time to reflect on what has turned out to be an incredible year in albums. Between a multitude of promising debuts, surprise discoveries, and bands that have kept me patiently waiting…and waiting… but turned out amazing albums more than worth the delay, there is a lot to be thankful for in 2015. I personally have faced the challenge of shortening a list of over 30 new albums that I have enjoyed to give you what I believe to be the best 10 albums of 2015. Without further ado here they are:
10. Baio – The Names: Chris Baio, known primarily as Vampire Weekend’s Bassist, ventured off to create his own unique solo debut full length album. A mix of strong pop songs and experimental electronic, The Names is danceable and fun but is also complex and interesting enough sonically and lyrically to demand repeat listens. All the songs transition into each other seamlessly but simultaneously each contain their own individuality to create an album that has both unity and variety.
9. Family of the Year – Family of the Year: Best known for their song Hero which graced the soundtrack of the acclaimed film Boyhood, Family of the Year’s indie folk rock has to be one of the greatest delights of the year. With more variety and bigger songs, everything on this self titled record has that undeniable and inexplicable magic that you get when a song makes you feel like everything is alright.
8. Son Lux – Bones: Bones is a record that keeps you on your toes. Experimental, rhythmic, and enchanting, Bones expansive sound makes Son Lux the most unique and captivating band I discovered this year. Everything they do is magical and unexpected, demanding multiple listens to discover the core of everything they give the listener to take in. Though complex, Bones is gratifying and fresh in a way that is nearly impossible to find, making it well worth studying.
7. BØRNS – Dopamine: BØRNS debut full length album is sugar rush of soaring vocals, electric guitar, and synths, combined to create what can be described as electro glam pop that feels like it is from space. Dopamine is undeniably fun in a way that is both nostalgic and new at the same time.
6. Grimes – Art Angels: Any album with an intro song prepares me for an album worth paying attention to. Being no exception, the hauntingly beautiful intro to Art Angels hooked me into the elaborate world that Claire Boucher aka. Grimes has created. With all songs written, produced and engineered by Grimes, and all the visual art also self made, she has been able to masterfully design her own distinctive world of experimental pop.
5. Passion Pit – Kindred: Before Kindred, Passion Pit was relatively unknown to me. It was this new album that sparked an intense passion for everything Passion Pit, and while usually this intensity dies down eventually, Passion Pit’s music has been a steady companion of mine through 2015 and will be for the foreseeable future. Kindred, the instigator of this love, is a perfect evolution of Michael’s honest and maximalist pop. He has succeeded in keeping his huge sound yet stripping the songs down to their essence, making for his most accessible album while retaining the Passion Pit honesty and originality that we have heard on his past records.
4. Robert DeLong – In The Cards: In The Cards takes the best of electronic music’s fun danceable qualities while just as effortlessly bringing the accessible and interesting lyrical quality of indie rock. Whether you need something to dance mindlessly to or an intricate track that you can study over and over, In The Cards has you covered.
3. Imagine Dragons – Smoke and Mirrors: Imagine Dragons second album undeniably shows how talented and versatile they are sonically. With everything from intense songs meant for the stage (Friction, I’m So Sorry) to slower heartbreakingly beautiful tracks (Smoke and Mirrors, Dream), Imagine Dragons explore a sound larger, more extraordinary, and cinematic than we have heard from them before.
2. Twenty One Pilots – Blurryface: This was definitely Twenty One Pilot’s year, seemingly coming out of nowhere and taking over the world with an album that more than deserves the attention it has received. Ranging from rap to reggae to hip hop to alternative to pop, Twenty One Pilots creates music that is unique and strange yet accessible in its melodies and lyrics. It’s this ability to create songs that sound completely different yet cohesive as a group that makes this album a must listen.
1. Awolnation – Run: Run is not only my favorite record of 2015, but quite possibly of all time. As I said in my original review, it continues to get better with every listen. Even with fourteen tracks, Run manages to avoid repetition creating a distinctive set of songs that seamlessly cover a range of emotion and genres. Impressively written, produced, and performed solely by Awolnation’s mastermind Aaron Bruno, Run has a depth and intensity that is difficult to find,, making it my #1 pick of 2015.