25 of My Favourite Albums of 2015
A selection of some of my favourite albums of 2015.
Introduction to The Albums of 2015
This is not a definitive countdown of the ‘best albums of 2015’. To create such a list would be impossible. How can one person listen to every release in a year, internalizing and contemplating upon each piece before ranking them in an order with any sort of resemblance to meaning? Surely a task such as this is impossible? And then would not this list be completely irrelevant to general masses due to the deeply personal tastes that music creates? Instead, I have created a list of some of the albums I have listened to this past year. The list is ranked, yes, but this doesn’t mean that album 21 is better or worse than album 1. Instead it is a general guide of what I have personally listened to more and come away with a deeper personal connection to. Also, I haven’t listened to everything the year has had to offer, meaning that some fantastic albums could be missing from this list.
Also note that I have not included any EPs in the list, but if you are looking for some to listen to I then I recommend the following:
If you do not wish to read the list you can simply check out my Spotify playlist that has all of the recommended tracks. These recommended tracks are also displayed below, with tracks linking to YouTube, which means that videos may be taken down or unavailable in your country. Please also note that iTunes links use my affiliate code, though this had zero impact on any decisions involved in creating the list, I promise you.
25 of My Favourite Albums of 2015
25) Mark Ronson – Uptown Special
Ronson’s previous album Record Collection I found to be a very amusing up-beat offering, so I was rather interested to see what his next release was going to be like. The now well-known single Uptown Funk is catchy and very much deserving of its success, being a good sign of things to come. Indeed, the full release has some enjoyable tracks, although some do end up feeling perhaps a bit too similar to each other, as-well as rather repetitive.
Recommended Track: Feel Right (ft. Mystikal)
24) BADBADNOTGOD & Ghostface Killer – Sour Soul
On the initial release of Sour Soul I was devastatingly disappointed. I couldn’t believe that the intense styling of such a unique band had been pushed to the background of a rap album simply to act as the beat. As time went on though I eventually came to realise the interesting experimentation that this release really is. The fact that BADBADNOTGOOD have also started releasing new material, hopefully in preparation for a new solo album, has helped me to feel more comfortable with this release.
Recommended Track: Ray Gun (ft. DOOM)
23) Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Multi-Love
Taking cues from the best of the trip scene of the 60s, 70s and 80s, then throwing them together with fantastic modern accessible production and a hint of R&B, Multi-Love is a slight shift in tone from other Unknown Mortal Orchestra albums. And all the better for it. Catchy music hides the real truth about this break-up album.
Recommended Track: Can’t Keep Checking My Phone
22) Clarence Clarity – No Now
By far the least accessible album on this list, No Now can come across as a confusing mess at times, but it is hard to deny that there is an interesting approach to music here. There are a couple of tracks that really stand out as winners, with the rest acting as sort-of transitions between them. The more catchy singles can fool listeners to into think this release is something it is not, but a certain crowd will still be entertained here. I will be very interested to see what Clarence Clarity releases next and which musical direction they decide to focus on.
Recommended Track: Those Who Can’t, Cheat
21) Ghost Culture – Ghost Culture
A beautifully crafted debut album. Simplistic yet nuanced music is the name of the game here, with a new wave of dance music mixed into a tub of gooey ethereal vocals. Some tracks are do feel slightly like redundant filler however, but the originality present here is enough to overcome this problem.
Recommended Track: Lucky
20) De Lux – Generation
LA duo De Lux channel traditional disco, LCD Soundsystem and Talking Heads on Generation. For some reason it seems this genre is very difficult for musicians to really crack, but this record helped to fulfil my want for music like this. Lyrically, Generation is very strong too, with an alluringly bleak outlook on today’s society for the modern depressive.
Recommended Track: Someday Now
19) King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Paper Maché Dream Balloon
Last year King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard released I’m In Your Mind Fuzz, an almost 45 minute long psychedelic rock jam where each track flowed into one another. It was seemingly meant to be played as a full album, although it did feature some standout tracks like Cellophane. This time the ban travelled to the opposite side of the psych spectrum in the form of Paper Maché Dream Baloon, creating an almost folksy inspired relaxing dream-scape that still manages to stay true to the band’s sound and showcases the range the band possess.
Recommended Track: N.G.R.I (Bloodstain)
18) Sleater-Kinney – No Cities to Love
Having not known of Sleater-Kinney, hearing that Carrie Browenstein from Portlandia had recently reformed with a riot grrrl band she used to be in grabbed my interest. No Cities to Love is a rather rigid, post-punk album that is very tightly put-together, with vocal patterns reminding me of St Vincent which, for those who know me, is rather high praise indeed.
Recommended Track: Bury Our Friends
17) Florence + The Machine – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
This was a release I was really looking forward to and is in every way better than Ceremonials. How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful reaches a level of scope on some tracks that are surprising even for such a well-versed artist. That being said, there are some track on here that start to grate on repeat listenings and perhaps don’t capture the magical prowess that Welch possesses.
Recommended Track: Delilah
16) Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly
Of course this had to appear on this list somewhere, with every other website having To Pimp a Butterfly as their number 1. Yes, it is a fantastically fully realised record and will be talked about for years to come, it just isn’t the kind of music that really becomes a close personal favourite of mine. That being said, I still found the majority of the tracks present captivating and believe the album as a whole to be of incredible importance.
Recommended Track: The Blacker The Berry
15) Jamie XX – In Colour
The solo debut from the producer/member of the wonderful The xx, In Colour could have risked sounding too similar to the work Jamie xx achieved with the beforementioned band. Instead it takes dance music in the direction of some of the slickest and richest production ever. A record that can seem at home both in the mainstream club and as enjoyable background listening, which is rarely seen within the genre.
Recommended Track: Loud Places
14) FIDLAR – Too
Their self titled debut was a punk album from a house party band. Too is the comedown the next day. There are still some great energetic tracks in here like West Coast, but the much tighter production and darker lyrics show how have the band have really grown. Fans may complain that they should have stayed to their formula and that the lyrics are too whiney, but honestly if FIDLAR hadn’t tried a new direction they could have easily been forgotten about and left behind. And it works too, Too has seen the band rise to get much more fame and heavy rotation on BBC Radio 1. Probably the best band I saw live this year too.
Recommended Track: West Coast
13) Beach House – Thank Your Lucky Stars
Beach House’s first release of this year, Depression Cherry, ended up on my most disappointing albums of 2015 list. Luckily for me they dropped a second surprise release in the form of Thank Your Lucky Stars, a much more fully realised album that more faithfully represents the band. Although if you still haven’t heard of any their material I would still recommend you start with their fourth record Bloom.
Recommended Track: Majorette
12) Menace Beach – Ratworld
Menace Beach’s music is rather simplistic, yet the band has great range within their fuzzy indie pop that helps set them apart. Ratworld is a relaxed stoner surfer album that isn’t destined for greatness, but is a great mixture of dark yet chill sounds coming together to create a recommendable record for those lazy days.
Recommended Track: Drop Outs
11) Slaves – Are You Satisfied?
Massively popular Slaves went from a small fun support act to household name stardom with Are You Satisfied, a tounge-in-cheeck punk jab at modern society that doesn’t take itself too seriously. You can clearly tell the duo love every second of what they do through each unwaveringly effort-filled energetic track.
Recommended Track: Feed The Mantaray
10) Tame Impala – Currents
Upon first listening to Currents I was probably the most disappointed I have ever been with an album. I had love Tame’s two previous releases and their psychedelic rock, so what on Earth was this seemingly boring attempt to attract mainstream audiences with this electronic dance direction? Why play around with the same synth pop music other artists have been doing for years? To my frustration it was played very heavily, so I eventually borrowed the record to give it another go and, after a while, it grew on me immensely. This R&B infused pop is very different in style, yes, but Tame’s signature is still here, just with a funky new fresh lick of paint.
Recommended Track: The Less I Know The Better
9) Trust Fund – No One’s Coming For Us
Perhaps one of the most interesting and polarising albums on this list, No One’s Coming For Us has an interesting mix of 90s lo-fi indie grunge that is honestly much more refreshing than it sounds. This record might sound unpolished or rough around the edges, but coupled with the feelings of anxiety contained within and it makes perfect sense. A real shame that the band isn’t much more popular than they currently are.
Recommended Track: Jumper
8) Wolf Alice – My Love is Cool
My Love Is Cool clashes together Wolf Alice’s folk origins with an album that is allowed to move from slow and thoughtful, through to light-hearted joy and ending up as high energy raw power. Each track within this range is given the care and attention that a band focused just on that particular style would produce, resulting in an album that many listeners of varying taste with find pleasurable.
Recommended Track: You’re a Germ
7) Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
In 2013 Barnett exploded in popularity with her second EP, which was then combined with her first to massive sales success. On her first full length album she perhaps doesn’t manage to quite reach those same heights, but has definitely honed her craft and created a still very enjoyable album with no filler tracks. Another great live performer, it is incredible to see these folksy melodies transformed into bombastic grunge rock at gigs.
Recommended Track: Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go To The Party
6) Toro y Moi – What For?
I really liked What For? when I first started listening to it, but it is perhaps one of the only albums on this list that could get less interesting on repeat listens. The blissful sleepy melody still strike a chord that perhaps is only in the same territory as the hugely successful Currents by Tame Impala though and it surprises me that there is less hype around this album. More people should definitely be checking this release out.
Recommended Track: Spell It Out
5) Pond – Man It Feels Like Space Again
The less successful, but more light hearted cousin of Tame Impala, Pond have been release some very interesting records for a number of years. On Man It Feels Like Space Again they take the listener on a truly psychedelic journey into outer space. The centerpiece is the eight minute long adventure that shares the same name as the album title. It travels so far. covering an enormous amount of ground, yet every moment is beautifully captured and never once outstays its welcome. It is simply unfair that they will forever only be talked about as a shadow of their cousin-band and not int their own right. Their music is much more deserving of the spotlight.
Recommended Track: Man It Feels Like Space Again
4) Young Fathers – White Men Are Black Men Too
White Men Are Black Men Too is another album that I just couldn’t get into open first listening. I knew that what was presented definitely contained musical talent however, so I made sure to give it more of a chance. A few listens later and it eventually clicked. The mix of dark hiphop with almost pop-like electronic and indie sensibilities result in memorable tracks that don’t end up becoming annoying or dull. The vocals are energetic, anxious and yet so sure of itself. A fantastic contradiction of thuggish chaos.
Recommended Track: Shame
3) The Skints – FM
The concept of FM centers around a day on a radio station, passing through different types of music the band listened to growing up. The feel-good beats and on-point vocals come together in a tight package with a loose vibe. Guest spots are used perfectly too, with the radio intersections coming in to create a well-rounded record. According to Spotify this is my most listened to album of the year too!
Recommended Track: Eyes In The Back of My Head
2) Grimes – Art Angels
As some of you may know, I have a bit of a bias towards Grimes. I don’t mean to be that guy, but I found out about her before she got her success and am very pleased that she did. Visions, an album created in extended isolation, was a bizarre, original and highly creative record that was often described as ‘otherworldly’ by critics. When Art Angels releases this year it got a lot of back-lash from those that were fans of Grimes’ previous release due to its focus on pop production. But she has always talked on her pop influences and loves! So to see the new album achieve such perfect production made me so happy. Of course, the signature Grimes style is present in all its glory.
Recommended Track: Venus Fly (ft. Janelle Monáe)
1) Gengahr – A Dream Outside
My favourite album of the year is Gengahr’s debut A Dream Outside. This pyschpop album features unique and original vocal stylings layered in, as opposed to on-top of, dreamy melody. Soothing sound and unsettling lyrics collide in a perfect blend that feels like it floats around the room. Add to this a the memories made from this record and it stands head and shoulders above all the others on this list.
Recommended Track: Fill My Gums With Blood
Massive thanks to all my friends that gave me music suggestion over the past year, I would never have found out about some great bands without you! And thank-you putting up with my rambling list, hopefully there is some new music in there that you enjoy as much as I have.
What are your favourite albums of the year? Share them in the comments below!