This is the second year that Bearded Gentlemen Music has a done a site wide “Best Albums of the Year” list and I think I can see a trend starting to form here. It seems to me that this list will become a bigger and bigger train wreck every year. The way that we finally get to our final standings for albums on this list is so complicated that you would have to get Albert Einstein resurrected somehow and then stick him in a room with Stephen Hawking for like a month to understand our formula for what album gets ranked where.

Another trend I can see forming is that our “Best Album of the Year” list seems to be arriving later and later each time, while this a really good thing on our part because we actually wait for ALL the year’s music to be released (unlike pretty much every other site) so you will get a legit ranking of 2015’s music from January all the way to the end of December. However, I’m using this as an excuse mostly because like I just mentioned above our list is a train wreck and it takes a long time to sort through the chaos.

So with those two disclaimers in mind I have to admit that I am very proud (for the most part) of how our list turned out and in usual B.G.M fashion it’s probably the most diverse and eclectic list that  you will find on this year’s music releases. So without further delay, may we present to you the Best Albums of 2015 courtesy of the entire staff at B.G.M.

Below is the first of three installments. The others will follow shortly. Thanks for reading and feel free to let us know of any disagreements via the comments section below or on social media. Enjoy!


Best Albums of 2015: 66 to 34 here.

Best Albums of 2015: 33 to 1 here. 

 

  1. Freddie Gibbs – Shadow Of A Doubt

How fitting that we begin our list with this album. A phenomenal–if a tad underappreciated–rap platter from a year blessed with tons of them. Last year, Gibbs’ collaboration with Madlib topped our year end list and this year another rap album will (maybe).  All of this says much more about how unbelievably dope rap was in 2015 than it does about this album, which for my money is even better than Pinata.  This thing is solid, start to finish, and in almost any other year it would have gone off like a bomb.  So mark my words, when the dust finally settles on Future, Kendrick, Drake, and Young Thug I’m confident folks will re-evaluate Shadow of a Doubt and start to see it for the stone-cold classic it is.  Hopefully it won’t take someone killing the man for us to get there. – Dan Vesper

Following last year’s magnificent Pinata, Shadow Of A Doubt sees Freddie Gibbs return to the dark underbelly of drugs and crime, this time shaking off Madlib’s iconic jazz-infused instrumentals and replacing it with a series of more dangerous beats to match. The wide range of producers involved with Shadow Of A Doubt is further indicative of the difference with his last release, and reflects the versatility of the man. Whether it be the overwhelming realness of ‘’Fuckin’ Up The Count’’ or the skittering ‘’Cold Ass Nigger’’, Shadow Of A Doubt, while not being Freddie at his most consistent, is nonetheless a reminder of his importance in today’s music. – Ben Lynch

 

 

  1. Ibeyi – S/T

The Diaz sisters’ self-titled debut is steeped in references to the Afro-Cuban religion Santería – Ibeyi means “twin” in the religious language Yoruba – but their explorations of loss and love are universal. Ibeyi pulls from their Afro-Cuban heritage and their French citizenry to create a groove-laden collection of R&B that feels as timeless as it does innovative. – Sam Clark

 

 

  1. Alex G – Beach Music

I’ve spent some time with Alex G’s Beach Music this winter and it makes me warm and fuzzy in the most melon collie way. Not sure if that is a good or bad thing, but regardless this album is intriguing from start to finish – Jon

 

 

  1. Cherubs – 2 Ynfynyty

These assholes are like the Expendables movies; sometimes you need the old school generations to come back and show you how to properly snap a neck with your bare hands and blow up a helicopter in flight with a single throwing knife.  2 Ynfynyty is a hulking beast of a record that struck without warning and without any compromise to the band’s trademark style and sound. Cherubs may be one of the most ripped off bands in noise rock history, so I am glad to see them deservingly re-take their throne and remind the world that noise rock wasn’t always a bunch of fruity wet noodle riffs and loony-toon vocals.   Here is my full review of 2 Ynfynyty and an interview with modern day earth angel, Kevin Whitley.  – Brandon Perras

 

  1. Prurient – Frozen Niagara Falls

Dominick Fernow made an experimental noise monster in Frozen Niagara Falls. An amalgamation of his past works and endeavors across many genres of music, Fernow blasts harsh feedback driven sounds, Godflesh-esque drum machines,  synths, and pained vocals over the course of 91 minutes. The sounds of a man lost in a sprawling metropolis, struggling with inner turmoil and the notions of death, sex, and society. It’s an immense album, both in runtime and emotional depth. – Cody Davis

 

 

  1. The Arcs – Yours Dreamily

Not sure why this album made this list… You’ll have to ask Einstein and Hawking. – Jon

  1. Vattnet Viskar – Settler

One of the emerging talents in U.S. Black Metal over the last few years has been New Hampshire’s Vattnet Viskar. Their latest album, Settler, is concise and thunderous. They fit the power and rawness that most black metal bands need over an hour to make into 40 minutes, without sacrificing anything that contributes to the quality of their music. Settler sets Vattnet Viskar up to be the torchbearers for U.S.B.M. for many years ahead. – Cody Davis

 

 

  1. Pinnacles – Convolve & Reflect

Facebook advertising works, in case you were wondering. I came across this California band one day through a sponsored post and the rest was history. Convolve & Reflect offers technical, beautiful, heavy, abstract musical pleasure, best enjoyed through a good pair of headphones. Favorite Track: “Ataxia.” – Quinten O’Neal

 

  1. Intronaut – The Direction Of Last Things

If you thought Between The Buried And Me made the proggiest progrock record this year, guess again. Intronaut have out-intricated themselves this time by spinning their webs of progginess so densely they sometimes don’t seem to be able to get out of it themselves. Hell, their single and video song “Fast Worms” is over seven minutes long! It’s also one of the best if not the best metal song of the year, so I guess sometimes being difficult just for the sake of being difficult pays off. Good for you Intronaut, and thanks for bringing back the screamz I needed them.  – Jasper Hesselink

 

 

  1. No Joy – More Faithful

Just as expected, No Joy is once again on my end of the year, “Best of “ list.  More Faithful effortlessly blends shoegaze and noise rock into a dizzying concoction of highly infectious melodies and harmonies that will haunt your brain for centuries, kind of like how LSD supposedly “crystalizes in your spine”.  Each track on this album could be a stand-alone single, yet they all fit together comfortably.  No Joy is a perfect band, and I cannot wait to hear what they come up with next.  Here is my full review of More Faithful and an interview with their bassist Michael Farsky. – Brandon Perras

 

 

  1. Laura Marling – Short Movie

Short Movie is already 25 year old Laura Marling’s fifth album to date, which is no mean feat. Marling has always been an accomplished songwriter but with each passing album her delivery has improved and she is fast becoming a very talented artist. Each song from Short Movie is sang with earnest and the lyrical content ranges from Marling’s own dealing with negativity and solitude, mostly pulled from her experiences of living in LA. – David Dring

 

 

  1. Titus Andronicus – The Most Lamentable Tragedy

In many ways, this is Titus Andronicus’ most ambitious album yet. How could a 29-song rock opera not be? Lyrically, Patrick Stickles pushes himself to the limit here, tackling his own manic-depressive demons with nearly every song. Earlier this year, he told the now-defunct website Grantland that the challenge of a concept album this big is he would start it in manic state and have to finish it when depression took over. For better or worse, that struggle manifests itself in every song, and while this album may not be as good as previous Titus Andronicus albums, it often feels more personal. That’s a huge win for any rock opera. – Kendon Luscher

Read Bradley’s full review here.

 

 

  1. Julia Holter – Have You In My Wilderness

Again, refer to Einstein and Hawking for justification. – Jon

 

 

  1. ShitWife – Big Lad

The crazed love child of John Carpenter and Slayer abandoned at birth and adopted by Aphex Twin. Big Lad, the debut album from London’s ShitWife, is an unholy cacophony of deranged bleeps and machine gun rapid live beats specifically tailored to drag metallers out of their dank cellars and onto the dance floor. Modesty be damned, this is an unapologetic party starter determined to pin you against a wall and shag you senseless. – Steve Wheeler

Steve’s full review is here.

 

  1. California X – Nights in the Dark

A major appeal of Nights in the Dark stems from California X’s deployment of some crazy flashback hard rock influences. Given the fuzzy grunge of their debut album, when front man Lemmy Gurtowsky and company are often attached to the Dinosaur Jr. sound, but critics also peg them to bands ranging from the Meat Puppets to Weezer. All of these influences, including some nods to 70s era Black Sabbath and Judas Priest, are wound up into a vibe pervading throughout this sophomore album that comes off as a contemporary piece of nostalgia. Nights in the Dark also possesses one of the coolest rock tunes of the year with the song “Blackrazor Part 2.” – Nate Jones

 

  1. Adele – 25

We are just gonna link you to the Noel Gallagher interview where he calls it ‘”music for grannies”. – David Dring

 

 

  1. All Dogs – Kicking Every Day

An album about broken people for broken people. Every song drips with joyfully unrelenting self-destruction, obscured in blissful indie-pop. Ignore the lyrics, and the catchy melodies, bright guitars and hard-popping drums that suck you into a false sense of security. You won’t even notice that you’re singing in the shower about a girl passed out on the floor after a night of hard drinking, hoping someone will check to see if she’s still alive. Or maybe you will notice it, and you’ll love it all the more for it. – Kendon Luscher

 

  1. Liturgy – The Ark Work

Pioneering a new sound and style is the ultimate achievement for any band. So is ushering in the apocalypse, and that is exactly what Liturgy has done here.  Yeah, it’s definitely got all the elements of black metal, but they have been completely gutted, drained of blood, and used in some sort of re-awakening ceremony for old ancient gods.  Liturgy continues to push genre boundaries, and after seeing them play The Ark Work live, I will remain a believer.  Check out my full review and interview with Hunter Hunt-Hendrix. -Brandon Perras

 

 

  1. Refused – Freedom

Refused are back and ready to cash in. I feel like they kinda tried on Freedom, but mostly just parodied The Shape of Punk to Come. That being said, a parody version of Refused courtesy of Refused is still pretty cool though so that’s why it made our list. – Jon

 

 

  1. Sicko Mobb – Super Saiyan, Vol. 2

The critical discussion around this series’ first installment predicated on positivity and joy. It’s fair: the 2013 release of the “Fiesta” video was a shock to the system of a Chicago rap ecosystem that was at the height of drill music. These aspects of Sicko Mobb were still critical to their 2015 output. Their April mixtape, Super Saiyan, Vol. 2, was an ode to comedic excess. A mirror to any newfound come-up: more drugs, more materials, more thots, more feelings, more Link Card jokes. What separates Trav and Ceno from the chaff are sharp pens and rapier wit. – Mickey White

Mickey’s full review is here.

 

  1. Young Galaxy – Falsework

These Canadians cannot fail. At least, they’ve never failed me. With the release of their latest, Falsework,Young Galaxy remain pioneers of indie electronica. The minimalist layers of sharp yet soft sound play with both the mind and the ear; contemplating the highs and lows of relationships through a poppy and meaningful 10 songs. In the end, they want you to know it’s best to live life and love just the way you are, right now. And that’s cause for celebration. – Kelsey Simpkins

 

 

  1. My Disco – Severe

If you don’t know why My Disco’s Severe made our list you better ask somebody. – Jon

 

 

  1. Miss May I – Deathless

This was one of Jeremy Erickson’s picks. You’ll have to ask him.  – Jon

 

 

  1. FKA twigs – M3LL155X

I typically find follow up EPs produced quickly after wildly popular and artistically vital albums (see FKA twigs’ LP1 from 2014) to sound rushed and somewhat bland. With some provocative right-on-the-edge-of-pop tunes, such as “In Time,” “Mothercreep,” and “Figure 8,” twigs nearly surpasses her efforts on the debut by shattering the boundaries separating the likes of R&B and electronic music. Not since Jamie Woon hit a few years back with his Mirrorwriting LP have I so attentively listened to the blips and bleeps backing a super soulful vocalist. The brilliance of this release, however, (the album title is somehow pronounced “Melissa”) is twigs’ vocal that gracefully weaves throughout the dark and ominous electronic oscillations underlying this intriguing collection of songs. – Nate Jones

Vulnerable yet strong, sexy and empowered. FKA twigs follows up her mind-blowing LP1 with a set of tracks that continue to build on her unique sound. The bass has gotten louder, the atmosphere more dramatic and her seductive coos, well they have only become more captivating. Check out her accompanying, self-directed video and learn why FKA twigs is a visual artist who not only sings, but uses her entire body to create a beautiful output of mind-blowing sights and sounds. Watching her move and dance adds a whole other layer to her music and elevates the experience to a new level. Mark my words, FKA twigs is going to take over the world. I’m proud to share my name with such a hot record. – Mel Vega

Check Jack’s full review of M3LL155X here.

 

 

  1. Kelela – Hallucinogen

Had you asked me in January I would have told you that women were going to own Rap and R&B in 2015.  Ummm, I was wrong.  Tink and Tinashe each put out an ok mixtape, Dej Loaf dropped a good but mostly forgettable EP and who knows what Beyonce is up to (though I hope it’s a new album).  Anyway, Kelela was one of the few gals that came through with some fire (Nao being the other, and if you’re unfamiliar, correct that immediately).  Although, Hallucinogen was only an EP, I’ll take it. Shit’s bangin’!  The ladies are going to destroy 2016 though, this time I know it for sure. By the way, my prediction for Queen R&B 2016: Jhené Fucking Aiko. – Dan Vesper

 

 

  1. Protomartyr – The Agent Intellect

Someone on Souncloud called Protomartyr “philoso pop,” quick someone hurry and hashtag that so every music media outlet can start using it as a genre signifier. – Jon

 

  1. Faith No More – Sol Invitcus

So Faith No More got back together and after getting ugly rich while touring they decided to write another album, so I guess it’s time this little critic got his bashing-dukes on and tar-and-feather that shit, right? Wrong. Sol Invictus might not be the end-all be-all  for Patton and his chummies, but it sure as hell is a good time. You can even hear these old timers having a good time making the thing! When a band you once loved gets back together and makes you feel like they did it for the love of music making, not (just) the green, that’s all anybody should really need. – Jasper Hesselink

 

 

  1. Lower Dens – Escape from Evil

Although most of Escape From Evil  focuses on tough topics of heartbreak, betrayal, depression, and death, there is a definite tone of support and humanity in it. Jana Hunter told NPR that “Ondine” was the first song on this album that the band finished, and “it set a tone for the kind of warmth and physicality we decided to bring to the rest of the music.” Listening to Escape From Evil multiple times now, it remains true to its name – providing an escape for the ears as well as the heart from the bad things in life we all must live through. Within its minimalist rock and electronic emphases, Lower Den’s creates a space to acknowledge undesirable emotions, and to learn and move on from them. It’s shimmery, nostalgic, and futuristic all in one. – Kelsey Simpkins

 

 

  1. Purity Ring – Another Eternity

After a debut record that both sounded like nobody else and like a million other acts that followed, Megan James and Colin Roddick went back to basics for a new record, giving their music a new shine and bounce. It isn’t as dark or mysterious as Shrines and occasionally it veers into EDM clichés – is that an airhorn sample on “Heartsigh”? – but it shows them moving forward, pushing at boundaries peers like CHVRCHES only hint at. – M. Milner

Such a dope album. This is brilliant electro-pop that pays homage to UK club culture and German minimalism in one fell swoop. It got better to me with every single listen. – Adam P. Newton

Read Melissa’s review here.

 

 

  1. Other Lives – Rituals

Like dynamic paint strokes, intimate choreography, and electrifying storms, Rituals evokes the aesthetic experience of life itself in its finest moments. The opening track, “Fair Weather,” is the like the gathering of a rainstorm from a long time coming. And Rituals is that rainstorm: spilling its long-accumulated contents on us in a deluge. Other Lives waited a long time to share this content with us and it is a result no less than the last. Yet there is a sound of uprooting, of displacement in Rituals, both physical and mental; an unsettling feeling of change since the release of Tamer Animals, and an attempt to redefine oneself anew. – Kelsey Simpkins

 

 

  1. Bosse De Nage – All Fours

The mysterious Bay Area Bosse-De-Nage imposes a grittier and rawer version of post-black metal than some of their counterparts. All Fours is perverted in nature and unforgiving in execution, effortlessly melding touches of shoegaze, indie rock, and experimental noise into a strong black metal base. All Fours also features some of the most eloquently debauched lyrics I have ever read. Vocalist/lyricist, Bryan Manning, produces full-length poetry for every song and delivers them in an almost painful manner over chaotic blast beats, idiosyncratic tremolo picking, and airy post-rock rhythms. – Cody Davis

I have a confession to make: All Fours is actually the only record I bought on CD. It’s not even my album of the year, it’s just that hearing a band hitting the old school screamo (fuck skramz, this came first!) bull’s eye right makes me happy while driving. I’ll even let it call itself black metal if it wishes too, just don’t lump it onto the blackgaze heap, this band eats Deafheaven for breakfast, and they know it. Or ignore everything I just said and just buy this record for the drumming. – Jasper Hesselink

In response to Jasper’s comments above: Yes. We beg you. Do not refer to BDN as “blackgaze”. In fact, don’t call any band remotely similar to BDN, “blackgaze”. Don’t use the term “blackgaze” ever actually.  – Cody Davis

 

  1. Pusha T – Darkest Before Dawn

Pusha T isn’t the world’s best rapper, but he is among the most consistent with an uncanny ability to use only the freshest beats (you can probably blame Pharrell for spoiling him on that front).  Which is to say, every one of his albums is at least enjoyable.  This one is his best solo effort to date, not because it contains the finest rapping he’s done in while (even though it does) but rather, it succeeds because it has so much heart and soul.  Try not to be moved by the devastating politics of “Sunshine” or “Crutches, Crosses, Caskets.”  Pusha has crossed a line here, from street rapper to visionary.  Watch the fuck out. – Dan Vesper

 

 

  1. MANSION – Early Life

It has been awhile since I’ve heard a band play this style of noise-rock, and on the first listen of Early Life, I was grinning ear to ear.  MANSION taps into those dark, gritty and dissonant demons that early Swans, Sonic Youth, Dust Devils, etc. were known for summoning.  This album drags you kicking and screaming through a minefield of sudden sound explosions and tempo shifts, where the air is riddled with vocal haranguings to rub some additional salt into the wounds.  MANSION is a much-needed antidote from the wacky-zany-shenanigans epidemic that noise rock has slowly gotten sick with over the last few years.   – Brandon Perras

 

 

Best Albums of 2015 Part 1 here | Part 2 is here