If you’re reading this, it’s not already too late to enjoy the top albums of 2015. At least for now, not 1989 or the summertime of ’06, it is the perfect time to have epic musical adventures in your own backyard. So enjoy the beauty behind the madness…
My Top 25 Albums Of 2015
1a. Grimes, ‘Art Angels’
Wow. Sounding like an joyously pensive fairy lost in life’s forest, Grimes wrote, recorded and delivered a hauntingly thrilling, wholly insightful powerhouse of an album. ‘Art Angels’ is pure, raw beauty.
Favorite tracks: Flesh without Blood, Venus Fly, Kill V. Maim
Favorite lyric: “I got friend in high places, I get out for free.”
1b. Father John Misty, ‘I Love You, Honeybear’
There simply isn’t a better musical storyteller out there. Father John Misty’s surprising path to love is filled with must hear tracks, epic stories and impossible wit. Embrace the journey.
Favorite tracks: Chateua Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins), Holy Shit
Favorite lyric: “(She) gets down more often than a blowup doll.”
2. Benjamin Clementine, ‘At Least For Now’
I’ve never heard anyone like Benjamin Clementine. The piano playing, ballad-singing poet pours his soul into every track and it is impossible not to feel it, to be consumed by it. Treat yourself.
Favorite tracks: Condolence, Cornerstone, Nemesis, London
Favorite lyric: “I’ll always remember I came from nowhere.”
3. Courtney Barnett, ‘Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit’
Much like Kurt Vile, Barnett’s songs are chock-full of hilarious yet completely coherent rambling that is as clever as it is accessible.
Favorite tracks: Pedestrian at Best, Debbie Downer, Elevator Operator
Favorite lyric: “I think you’re a joke, but I don’t find you very funny.”
4. Vince Staples, ‘Summertime ’06’
What. A. Debut! In just his first album, Staples simply unloads with 20 momentum-building tracks that refuse to stop. The former gang-banger from Long Beach has an impossibly bright future.
Favorite tracks: Norf Norf, Lift Me Up, Lemme Know, Señorita
Favorite lyric: “I ain’t never ran from nothin’ but the police.”
5. Torres, ‘Sprinter’
Great from start to finish, Torres sings like a tornado trapped in a blizzard, seemingly quiet but oh so powerful. Every word, every line is teeming with an urgency that few singers can match.
Favorite tracks: Sprinter, Cowboy Guilt, A Proper Polish Welcome
Favorite lyric: “We spend our only season, on a mattress sleeping.”
6. Kurt Vile, ‘i b’lieve i’m going down’
I must admit I have a love-hate relationship with Vile, but I have nothing but love for this entire album. So, there is nothing to do but sit down with a PBR and enjoy the jokes the Vile let listeners in on.
Favorite tracks: Pretty Pimpin, Life Like This, All in a Daze Work
Favorite lyric: “Baby try playing, that’s all I really ever wanna do.”
7. Marina and the Diamonds, ‘Froot’
Quite easily the album I’ve listened to the most this year, ‘Froot’ is simply goooood music that is just damn catchy. Marina’s playful yet melancholy fueled album is an under-appreciated gem.
Favorite tracks: I’m A Ruin, Happy, Savages, Blue, Immortal
Favorite lyric: “We’re just animals learning how to crawl.”
8. Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, ‘Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats’
My man Benny introduced me to this album and for that I owe him. The album plays like a gently rolling train that is never gonna stop.
Favorite tracks: I Need Never Get Old, S.O.B., Shake
Favorite lyric: “Son of a bitch! Get me a drink!”
9. Kendrick Lamar, ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’
How could President Obama’s favorite album this year not make the top 10? But seriously, Kendrick is the voice of hip hop that continues to inspire as he spits lyrics on empowerment and the ills of society. Preach!
Favorite tracks: King Kunta, Institutionalized, i, The Blacker the Berry
Favorite lyric: “Now I run the game, got the whole world talkin’.”
10. Leon Bridges, ‘Coming Home’
With a sound that feels straight of the 1960s, Bridges delivered the soul album I never knew I wanted. Now all I want is more, even if that means I have to swim the Mississippi River.
Favorite tracks: Better Man, River, Coming Home, Twistin’ & Groovin’
Favorite lyric: “You sail the ship down, let me be the cargo.”
11. Sufjan Stevens, ‘Carrie & Lowell’
Easily the most painful, yet wonderfully hopeful album of the year. Sufjan’s ability to turn deep heartache into satisfying beauty is truly everyone’s gain, and for that we need to be grateful.
Favorite tracks: Should Have Known Better, The Only Thing, Eugene
Favorite lyric: “I want to save you from your sorrow.”
12. Blur, ‘The Magic Whip’
For the band that (thankfully) won’t die, Blur again reunited to deliver their best album since 1997. Led by the genius that is Damon Albarn, this throwback album is deeply satisfying.
Favorite tracks: My Terracotta Heart, Go Out, Lonesome Street
Favorite lyric: “I’m running out of open road to you.”
13. Muse, ‘Drones’
Muse is back, baby! Complete with a not so subtle anti-war message, and a heavy, gritty sound akin to previous albums like ‘Showbiz’ and ‘Origin of Symmetry,’ ‘Drones’ is a welcome return to rock.
Favorite tracks: Mercy, The Handler, Aftermath, Revolt
Favorite lyric: “Help me, I’ve fallen on the inside.”
14. Patrick Watson, ‘Love Songs for Robots’
Though I can’t fully explain why, listening to Patrick Watson makes me feel like the kid in ‘Where the Wild Things Are.’ All I imagine is running off wildly and dangerously free. Won’t you join me?
Favorite tracks: Place You Will Go, Hearts, Love Songs for Robots
Favorite lyric: “Those crazy loves, they’ll never run.”
15. Adele, ’25’
One singer to rule them all. Adele is a true icon with a voice for days and her third album is just the powerhouse I, you, we, everyone hoped it would be. As J-Lo says, her voice gives me “goosies” all over. Chilling.
Favorite tracks: River Lea, Hello, Love In The Dark
Favorite lyric: “Hello, it’s me.”
16. Ryan Adams, ‘1989’
Maybe I’d feel differently about this record if I hadn’t enjoyed the Taylor Swift original, though I loved this version more. It takes a true master to completely own such widely known material and Ryan Adams has.
Favorite tracks: Blank Space, All You Had To Do Was Stay, Bad Blood
Favorite lyric: “You know I love the players, you love the game.”
17. EL VY, ‘Return to the Moon’
As a major fan of The National’s Matt Berninger, I couldn’t help but be enamored by his more playful side as part of EL VY. That incredible voice is beautifully on display on this instantly memorable album.
Favorite tracks: Need a Friend, Silent Ivy Hotel, Return to the Moon (…)
Favorite lyric: “I don’t need your love, I just need a friend.”
18. Low, ‘Ones and Sixes’
Slowcore at its absolute best. Like a slow rolling fog, this surprisingly intimate album slowly envelopes listeners and darn if it isn’t beautiful. In ‘Ones and Sixes,’ Low has delivered an absolute high.
Favorite tracks: No Comprende, Gentle, Congregation
Favorite lyric: “You keep me talking in a circle.”
19. Chvrches, ‘Every Open Eye’
Music that is fun, happy and interesting will never go out of style, hence my love of Chvrches. The soulful electronic sound always brightens up my day and causes me to dance, even if someone is watching.
Favorite tracks: Leave A Trace, Clearest Blue, Bury It, Afterglow
Favorite lyric: “Light is all over us, like it always was.”
20. The Weeknd, ‘Beauty Behind the Madness’
My love affair with our generation’s Michael Jackson began with the ‘Trilogy’ album. That voice, those crescendo-ing beats, that hair, it’s everything I want from an artist. Now I just want more, always more.
Favorite tracks: The Hills, Earned It, Losers, Can’t Feel My Face
Favorite lyric: “When I’m fucked up, that’s the real me, babe.”
21. Beach House, ‘Depression Cherry’
So ‘Bloom’ this album is not, but that shouldn’t take away from yet another highly enjoyable, beautifully delicate album from the always impressive, dreamy and hypnotic Beach House.
Favorite tracks: Space Song, Bluebird, 10:37, Wildflower
Favorite lyric: “Tender is the night, for a broken heart.”
22. Alabama Shakes, ‘Sound & Color’
I have to be honest, ‘Sound & Color’ confounds me. In my mid-year best albums list, this was top 5 without a doubt. Though I appreciate the subtle aggression and innovative sound, the album just hasn’t aged well.
Favorite tracks: Don’t Wanna Fight, Dunes, Future People
Favorite lyric: “I don’t know whose fuck to give.”
23. Dan Deacon, ‘Glass Riffer’
Like an acid trip that you that you never want to end, ‘Glass Riffer’ is the kaleidoscope journey you don’t want to escape. Deacon is not an artist I encountered until this year, but I know he’s one I won’t soon forget.
Favorite tracks: Feel the Lightning, Meme Generator, Sheathed Wings
Favorite lyric: “When I was done dying my conscience regained.”
24. The Neighborhood, ‘Wiped Out’
The fact that I can’t quite pin what musical genre The Neighborhood fits into is probably why I like their music so much. Their sophomore album delivers on the promise of their debut, and for that we all win.
Favorite tracks: The Beach, R.I.P. 2 My Youth, Cry Baby, Prey
Favorite lyric: “R.I.P. to my youth, and you can call this the funeral.”
25. Twenty One Pilots, ‘Blurryface’
My favorite album to listen to while riding the T in Boston. The energetic duo behind Twenty One Pilots might not create the most important music, but it sure is musically interesting and oh so catchy. High five!
Favorite tracks: Stressed Out, Ride, Fairly Local, Heavydirtysoul
Favorite lyric: “Wish we could turn back time to the good old days.”
Other tremendous albums that just missed the cut:
Drake, ‘If You’re Reading This Its Too Late’
Wolf Alice, ‘My Love is Cool’
Fetty Wap, ‘Fetty Wap’
San Fermin, ‘Jackrabbit’
Youth Lagoon, ‘Savage Hills Ballroom’