Best Albums of 2015: 99 to 67 here.

Best Albums of 2015: 33 to 1 here. 


 

  1. Dr. Dre – Compton

Compton was a group picture of rap’s Bill Walsh and his coaching tree. Like any big reunion-type gathering, there were folks missing, it was messy and imperfect, but damned if it wasn’t special. It was better than any of us care to admit, which owes to Dre not awkwardly fumbling with new technology and the tastes of a new generations as legends of the 60s managed to do in less than half of his running service time. Anderson .Paak had a lot to do with it, too. We had no clue Hellfyre was coming to dinner. – Mickey White

Mickey’s full review is here.

 

 

  1. Blur – The Magic Whip

First Blur comes back, now there’s a new Gorillaz LP in the works. You know, you can just release music under your own name, Damon. – M. Milner

Aaron’s full review is here.

 

 

  1. August Burns – Red Found in Far Away Places

Ask Jeremy for justification here.  – Jon

 

 

  1. Leviathan – Scar Sighted

In the sentiment of honesty, this album kind of scared me the first time I listened to it. I was in the midst of trying to fall asleep one night with my headphones on, which happens from time to time, and the desperate screams in the song “Dawn Vibration”  jarringly woke me up. I was immediately hooked. “Within Thrall” also has one of the greatest opening riffs I have heard in awhile. Leviathan a.k.a. Jef Whitehead made a bleakly triumphant return in 2015 after shaking off some personal/legal troubles. Scar Sighted is one of the best one-man black metal albums this year. – Cody Davis

Phil’s full review of Scar Sighted here.

 

  1. Sister Crayon – Devoted

As cold and mechanical as it is full of warmth and life, Devoted walks the line between confessional and confrontational songwriting juxtaposed with a heavy electronic sound. A stark and honest look at the difference between love and lust, and all of the complexities of a modern romance that fall between the cracks, the post-trip-hop duo Sister Crayon fulfill the promise that they showed on both their 2011 debut Bellow and the 2013 follow up EP, Cynic. A less organic sound in comparison to their previous releases, and backed by lush and thoughtful production, Devoted showcases the natural songwriting talent of Sister Crayon frontwoman Terra Lopez, who bottles up her nervous angst until it explodes in an otherworldy howl. – Kevin Krein

 

 

  1. Bully – Feels Like

Listening to Bully’s singer and principle songwriter Alicia Bognanno nearly shriek the grungy chorus of the tune “Trying” always makes me feel as if I’m hearing an old classic favorite by someone like Joan Jett or Kim Deal. In spite of the infectious pop of the aforementioned album’s lead single, Feels Like never compromises Bognanno’s artistic vision for fluff. With some great riffs peppered throughout the album (check out “Brainfreeze” and “Reason”) and an infectious backing rhythm, this collection of tight tunes consistently references the best of 90s pop punk. Feels Like is an impressive debut for Bognanno and company and ranks with Viet Cong’s 2015 release as my favorite freshman albums of the year. – Nate Jones

Daniel Jackson’s full review is here.

 

  1. Hey Colossus – In Black & Gold

Big, bold, and brash, ‘In Black and Gold’, the first of two albums released by Hey Colossus in 2015 eschews challenging for encompassing and delivers the first masterpiece of their career. This is the sound of a band fully engaged in the process of soundcraft without ever being at the detriment of their desire to be one of the heaviest fucking rock bands you’ll ever have the pleasure to listen to. Absolutely colossal (pardon the pun).  – Steve Wheeler

 

  1. Oneohtrix Point Never – Garden Of Delete

0PN’s latest stunner Garden of Delete, was announced with cryptic interviews and passages featuring an alien named Ezra. Thus began a fascinating, feverish promo campaign leading up to its November release. While such a buildup could feel gimmicky, fortunately the finished product is a wide-screen, messy masterpiece that is never less than engaging. 0PN never stays on one mood or idea for too long, and the album is all the better for it. – Robert Masiello

 

 

  1. My Morning Jacket – The Waterfall

My Morning Jacket released the band’s best record since 2005’s Z this year, and nobody seemed to notice. Why? Because a great record from these guys no longer qualifies as a big deal. They’re one of the biggest contemporary draws on rock’s theater circuit and a consistent, always-welcome festival headliner, but The Waterfall still comes correct with interesting and soulful thematic elements powered by a rhythm that translates well to their body-rocking live shows. These guys are going to be here for a long, long time, and we should never take that for granted. – JP Gorman

Amanda’s full review of Waterfall  can be found here.

 

 

  1. Kurt Vile – B’leive I’m Goin’ Down

The best record about eatin’ puss you’ll listn to this year – Lemmy Kilmister

A dream of a record, Kurt Vile is capable of that rare thing: simultaneously making something seem weightless and free, whilst giving it real substance. There seems to have been a general consensus that B’lieve I’m Goin’ Down is inferior to his previous effort, Walkin’ On A Pretty Daze, a position which, although certainly not doing the present album an injustice, I find hard to sell myself to. There has been little released this year which has proven more enjoyable than losing oneself to the opening guitar line of ‘’Wheelhouse’,’ or indeed the whole of the gorgeous ‘’All In A Daze Work’.’ And if these aren’t things to celebrate as we find ourselves on the brink of 2015, then I don’t know what is. – Ben Lynch

 

 

  1. Erykah Badu – You Caint Use My Phone

Come for the reinterpretation of Drake’s “Hotline Bling.” Stay for “Hello,” featuring one hell of a feature from Badu’s baby daddy Andre 3000 — one of the most essential verses of 2015. – Kevin Krein

 

 

  1. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Multi-Love

Multi-Love lies along the juncture where funk meets indie rock coalescing into an infectious summer-vibe of an album that represents Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s best recording to date. The only problem I find with Multi-Love is undertaking the work of sorting through all the textures and layers that band leader Ruban Nielson jams into the compositions of the album. Several critics this year have accused the tunes from Multi-Love to suffer from an overuse of production bells and whistles, yet the tonal variety of the album showcases aural surprises around just about every corner. Lyrically, the thematic of Multi-Love centers on dealing with ambiguities and complexities of romantic love (e.g. how to maintain or get over relationships with multiple partners). Although the album stands as a fantastic recording, the musicianship and variety on the disc suggests that this is a set of tunes best experienced live. – Nate Jones

 

 

  1. SUMAC – The Deal

The original conception for Sumac came from Aaron Turner (known for his time in ISIS and Old Man Gloom) who set out to create the heaviest music he had ever done—or so the story goes. In any case, he more than succeeded. The Deal isn’t as cerebral as it is cold and rational: The Body As A Vessel For Punishment. Every calculated riff and passage serves the purpose of stifling our last breath, but it’s all done in torturous—and awe-inspiring—moderation. And furthermore, Nick Yacyshyn’s (Baptists) drumming is incredible: it’s fluid and more than adept, but never calls more attention to itself than desired. All that being said, The Deal may not even be the heaviest record released in 2015—The Body & Thou, anyone?—but it’s sure as hell one of the more painful. – Ben Braunstein

 

  1. Empress Of – Me

Her mastery is first and foremost in rhythm, then in vocal quality, and the list goes on. Live she is spontaneous, alight, and earnest. What she makes is truly her own, and in exploring her own relationships and experiences musically, the album is fittingly titled Me. The gorgeous work she makes is only enhanced by her incorporation of Spanish lyrics at times, as the words float out of her sweet like candy. In summation: she does what few others can. Empress Of is one of those artists you drop everything for, and dance to on a weeknight. – Kelsey Simpkins

 

 

  1. Miguel – Wildheart

Sex, sex, and more sex. Completely consensual, but really freaky-deaky. And it’s glorious. – Adam P. Newton

 

 

  1. Panda Bear – Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper

One of my favorite poems is “The Laughing Heart” by Charles Bukowski, it reads “you can’t beat death, but you can beat death in life sometimes, and the more often you learn to do it, the more light there will be.” In Panda Bear’s 2015 release, he marches right up to death, looks it in the eye and laughs. A deeply moving and sentimental record, quirky enough to get your attention, but also meaningful enough to keep it. Read my entire review here. – Mel Vega

 

 

  1. Carly Rae Jepsen – EMOTION

I was once described by a friend of having a ‘pop heart’ and while I didn’t know what that meant at the time, by the time I’d finished listening to this album on repeat for about 4 hours it started to make sense. EMOTION is an incredible album and a complete surprise package and I’m a little disappointed it isn’t higher on our list. “LA Hallucinations” is probably the coolest song I’ve heard all year, while “Gimme Love” and “Lets Get Lost” have been listened to so much that they’ve been burned directly into my soul. Kudos to you miss Jepsen. – David Dring

 

 

  1. Mutoid Man – Bleeder

It’s a supergroup cobbled from two of the most vaunted hardcore bands of the millennium unironically tackling cock rock. It’s as tight and ferocious as you think. – Mickey White

 

  1. Jefre Cantu-Ledesma – A Year with 13 Moons

When thinking of a typical “breakup album,” one’s first inclination is to imagine confessional singer-songwriter fare along the lines of For Emma. One of 2015’s most devastating breakup albums, however, eschews that classic formula for a shoegazey, wordless approach that is no less affecting. A Year with 13 Moons captures all the peaks and valleys of a doomed relationship before wilting in sad resignation. – Robert Masiello

 

 

  1. Between The Buried And Me – Coma Ecliptic

Coma Ecliptic is my personal album of the year. Just when I thought these guys couldn’t get any better after their brilliant Parallax series, they went and made a rock opera that is their greatest work to date. Tommy Rogers’ vocal range is one of the best things in all of metal; Paul, Dan and Dustie’s guitar work is masterful, and Blake’s status as one of the best drummers in metal remains unquestioned. The story of the album follows a man who built a machine that allows him to explore other possible realities and choose which one he wanted to live. He ultimately learns that the life he had been living was in fact the best option. This album is flawless. – Cody Davis

Full review here.

 

 

  1. Spectres – Dying

So yeah, about last year (2014), I was all about that shoegaze revival and couldn’t get enough of it. Fast forward to 2015, and you find yourself in a locust swarm of delay pedals, blurry album covers and drug rugs; suddenly, it just isn’t cute anymore.  Right now modern shoegaze has become the equivalent of adult baby talk (obviously there are some exceptions).  So if you are going to try to take shoegaze out of hospice, you better plan on breathing some new life into it, and Dying may just be the CPR it needs.  This album is a sludgy, squealing, creepy, distorted, washed out, haunted house that is always on the verge of popping out of a closet and scaring the shit out of you, and it often pops out of a closet and scares the shit out of you.  It has the freewheeling, ear-piercing, aural assault of The Jesus and Mary Chain’s Psychocandy mixed with the dreary and ominous atmosphere evoked by Evol, Bad Moon Rising era Sonic Youth.  This is a promising new band to keep an eye on. – Brandon Perras

 

  1. Mutemath – Vitals

It seems that every other album released these days is a break up album. Lamenting the same themes over and over, that things aren’t the same without that other person there. Yet somehow, Mutemath, in their great mystery of musical genius, has composed one of the best in modern times. Saying things better than you could think them, yet in the simplest language (such as “I never meant to start all over without you” in “Stratosphere”), they have married mindful lyrics with rich composition and danceable beats for the album that you’ll listen to from the moment of the break up til far past you’re over it. – Kelsey Simpkins

 

 

  1. Deerhunter – Fading Frontier

Fading Frontier is the next step in the ever changing musical journey that is Atlanta’s Deerhunter.  On first listen it seemed a more direct and tame route was taken by the notoriously unpredictable band.  However, give it a few spins and it will surely sink its psychedelic teeth into you.  At times it seems they channel Animal Collective, Roxy Music, and Paul Simon at the same time…if that makes any sense.  What am I saying?  Anything goes with Deerhunter.  – Matt Jamison

Bradford Cox’s voice was made for pop music. His vocals are soothing, at moments perfectly bratty with just the right amount of sweetness to round it out. Although Fading Frontier is not my favorite Deerhunter album, it’s got great moments and overall is way more fun than their previous releases. The album begins with a catchy and comforting “All the Same,” a track which steady beat could get even the most stubborn of feet tapping along. Following is the second best track on the record “Living My Life.” The tempo is patient, lively drums and well-timed hand claps make the song stand out from the rest. “Snakeskin” is another great listen where Cox gets sassy and a little Kevin Barnesque. If you’re a fan of psychedelic pop, get into this. – Mel Vega

 

 

  1. Waxahatchee – Ivy Trip

The opening bars of Ivy Tripp provided a singular first listening experience: fans coming in expecting the status-quo had that assumption blasted out past Pluto by sonorous, Earth-shattering keyboards. That initial zig when a zag was expected signaled a new and different Waxahatchee, and this record was so much the better for it. That’s not to say what came before is bad, nor that Ivy Tripp is a complete 180, but rather that Katie Crutchfield is a big deal, and Waxahatchee worth the effort. – JP Gorman

JP’s full review of Ivy Trip is here.

 

 

  1. Holly Herndon – Platform

To quote from my own review of this record, “Holly Herndon has crafted a superior album that presents the ins and outs of experimental electronic music in inventive ways that will appeal to people, no matter how familiar they might be with the genre.” – Adam P. Newton

 

 

  1. Leon Bridges – Coming Home

So smooove… so throwback… – Jon

Full review here!

 

 

  1. Vince Staples – Summertime 06

Vince Staples deals in a casual form of nihilism; maybe nothing truly matters, but his blunt delivery will make you at least give a shit about the material at hand. Summertime ‘06 ran counter against To Pimp A Butterfly this year, with Kendrick voicing the sentiments of those who yearn to escape their plight while Staples speaks loudly for those who feel decidedly left behind. Few records felt quite this dystopian yet accessible in 2015. – Sam Clark

 

 

  1. Earl Sweatshirt – I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside

A title so good it took me a month to actually get around to the music. The music’s good too, but damn, this title! – M. Milner

 

 

  1. Gaytheist + Rabbits – Gay*Bits

Matt Jamison loves this album and I have to agree with him here. It’s fun, fast, and heavy, jus like ya’ momma. – Jon

Matt’s feature on Gay*Bits is here.

 

  1. Björk – Vulnicura

Björk is magical and I love her. – Jon

Robert’s full review of Vulnicura is here and it is great!

 

 

  1. Jamie XX – In Colour

God bless Jamie XX. He merges pop, indie, and electronic music with such deft acumen. You can dance to it in a loud club, bob your head to it with good headphones, hide in a darkened bedroom to it with a decent home system, or enjoy breaking down each sample he uses with such alacrity. And best yet, he manages to make these sounds work in a live environment. So good. – Adam P. Newton

 

 

  1. Tamaryn – Cranekiss

From start to finish, this album is an enchanting and ethereal full brain massage that makes you want to drop a bathbomb of Molly into your tub and not leave it for the next 8 years. Total Cocteau Twins worship done tastefully while maintaining the cardinal sounds and craft of Tamaryn. The vocal melodies alone are beyond intoxicating and will forever dwell in your subconscious; the title track “Cranekiss” and “Hands All Over Me” play themselves in my brain about 4 times a day without fail. – Brandon Perras

 

 

  1. Battles – La Di Da

Battles tickles my brain, caresses it and teases it in all the right places. Trio Ian Williams, John Stanier, and Dave Konopka know how to build suspense, tension, intrigue and with La Di Da they continue to create satisfying soundscapes that will make your ears feel as though they’re on vacation inside of a video game. Can you hear that pixel? This incredibly intelligent and talented threesome have spent a lot of time learning what sounds good, and even better, they are experienced enough to know how to bring it life. Focus on the clean and technical precision, then feel your heart jump at the crash of a cymbal that will knock you on your robot ass. – Mel Vega

This record is goddamned amazing. It should be much higher on this list. Forget everything you THINK you know about instrumental rock music. This album combines indie rock, post rock, jazz, and prog into an organic whole. There’s something for nearly everyone, especially if you like playing syncopated beats as an accomplished air drummer. – Adam P. Newton

Full review of La Di Da is here, read it!

 

 

Best Albums of 2015 Part 3 here | Part 1 here