I deleted all 125 of my lists and am now archiving my favorite albums from each year of the previous decade. Just my way of trimming my profile and making it a bit leaner/meaner. List is straightforward; these are my 20 favorite releases from 2015.
Every Open Eye
In a weaker year this might rank higher, but this is my favorite Chvrches album. More consistent than the debut and worlds better than what followed it. Every song is a melodically accessible blend of pop and electronic.
The Things We Do to Find People Who Feel
When I'm feeling this, it's much higher. There's nothing quite like jamming this at max volume in the car during the summer. The only issue is that it has little value outside of that specific setting.
Kind of Blah
This was my big discovery of 2015 and one of the underground artists that have stuck with me through the years. An interesting blend of lo-fi indie-rock and punk, Frog are mostly fun but can also be moody and atmospheric.
|17||Carly Rae Jepsen|
This isn't the world-beater of a pop album that some make it out to be, but it is very good. There's at least 5 bangers I still return to here, especially 'Run Away With Me'.
What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World
This was the start of diminishing returns on The Decemberists' Americana phase. It's a slight step down from The King Is Dead, but it still has enough beautifully lush moments to stand on its own as one of the band's better releases.
I'm not into electronic music normally, but this is phenomenal. A sputnik user project (see Rev's profile) ranking in a year-end Top 15 is unheard of for me, but this is worthy. Lush and atmospheric with some video game soundtrack vibes.
I always talk about how much of a let down this was following Bloom, but I tend to exaggerate its weaknesses. This might not be as consistent, but it still has some jaw-dropping peaks. 'PPP' is a top-3 Beach House song for me and the extended outro of that song might be my favorite moment of theirs period.
|13||Of Monsters and Men|
Beneath the Skin
I know this band draws some ire because of their poppy demeanor and their affinity for shouting "hey!", but this is a more mature and grounded effort than their famous debut, My Head Is An Animal. Some beautiful cuts of folk here. Even if you hated their other albums, I'd still recommend giving this a chance.
This falls into that dreaded category of incredible albums that I respect the hell out of, but for some reason or another don't listen to as often as I should. All I know is that when I immerse myself in this experience, there's nothing quite like it. The atmosphere on this record is downright otherworldly.
Have You In My Wilderness
My favorite Holter release (barely edging Aviary), this album's smooth, tropical sway and mysterious atmosphere is always a treat. I went on a vacation to the Bahamas in 2015 and played this on the plane while staring out the window over the ocean - truly a transcendental experience.
|10||Godspeed You! Black Emperor|
'Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress'
Vastly underrated in my book. Post-rock fans seem to rank this near the bottom of GY!BE's discography, but for me it's as high as their third best. I love the ambient tracks, and the bookends are monstrous and post-apocalyptic.
After Neck of the Woods got me hooked on these guys, this was the first SSPU album I was truly hyped for. I remember being turned off by the shimmering electronic gleam and lack of rock, but over time the stylistic shift won me over. This is simultaneously their catchiest and prettiest album.
The Most Lamentable Tragedy
Talk about huge concept albums: this 29-song double LP is as big as it gets, and it packs all the energy, raucousness, and fun that you'd expect from one of punk's leading acts. This was the last time these guys put out anything I cared for, unfortunately.
This EP floored me in the same way that I imagine a lot of folks who were around in 2000 to hear Kid A upon its release felt. This was my introduction to glitch-pop/R&B/electronics or whatever you want to call it (as you can see I'm still no genre expert), and it just sounded like nothing I'd ever heard before. To this day, it remains my personal measuring stick for experimental pop/R&B.
|6||The World Is a Beautiful Place...|
If someone had concocted the perfect indie record for user SowingSeason in a laboratory, it might sound a lot like this. Sweet, melodic vocals capable of rising to more; pristine acoustics; swelling strings; lush verdant soundscapes - yep, this makes me feel warm and fuzzy every single time.
|5||The Tallest Man on Earth|
Dark Bird Is Home
Unpopular opinion time: this is the best thing Kristian Matsson has ever done. After several excellent but samey acoustic folk records, he finally branched out. This album has more of a folk-rock vibe, and even introduces some electronic elements. This is breathtaking in a way that his previous efforts are not and the follow-up LP retreats from; I feel like he could still expand upon this sound, but for now it's his crowning achievement.
|4||Father John Misty|
I Love You, Honeybear
I've always equated this record to something of a fucked up Valentine's Day special. Tillman sings of the darker and more twisted side of love - from drugs to choking fetishes - but somehow sings it all in such an endearing way that you relate to every word. The biting sarcasm and narcissism may seem off-putting at first, but that's just who Tillman is.
|3||The Dear Hunter|
Act IV: Rebirth in Reprise
Aside from The Color Spectrum, this is the best thing that The Dear Hunter has ever done. This ranks somewhere in my top 10 catchiest albums of all time, and its progressive-rock structures also make it admirable from a technical standpoint. This is a highlight reel of infectious melodies/choruses.
Any time mewithoutYou releases an album, you can bet it will find its way onto my year-end list. I was actually marginally disappointed with this at first - I thought Weiss sounded lacking for energy. In time I'd come to realize that it was Will Yip's porta-potty production quality (he'd redeem himself three years later on [Untitled]), but regardless, this thing grew immensely. The apocalyptic nature of the lyrics intertwine both biblical and secular themes of destruction, and the murky atmosphere somehow makes it sound even more authentic. 'Rainbow Signs' is one of, if not the, best song of my lifetime.
Carrie and Lowell
Not much can be said about this decade-topper that hasn't already been said. The beauty and pain that emanates from Stevens grappling with the death of his estranged mother is heartwrenching. The acoustic atmospheres ring out with a pastoral clarity rarely heard. The melodies are drab and depressed, yet somehow remain lodged in your brain. The lyrics will make you want to have a tissue nearby. This is the greatest folk album of our time.