|A Very Merry JWT 2015|
JWT's Top 50 Albums of 2015.
Tetsuo & Youth
Releasing his best record since his highly praised debut, Food & Liquor, Lupe Fiasco is finally back making bold music instead of the commercial filth that made up records like Lasers.
Continuing their trend away from the grungy guitar riffs of their earlier career, Silversun Pickups continue to incorporate more sounds and approaches to their songs, and while Better Nature may not be as guttural in its delivery and impact as past records, it shows a band that is still growing and know how to write an intriguing tune.
|48||Florence and the Machine|
How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
Florence Welch is back and with a record loud and grand enough to pack arenas; she has a valid case for being one of the most relevant and influential female vocalists of this generation.
The Magic Whip
Blur return and seem to have not lost a step. Picking up where they left off, The Magic Whip is a fun rock record that both continues in the vain of their past releases but shows the incorporation of influences from Damon Albarn’s numerous side projects (The Good the Bad and the Queen and the Gorillaz).
My Love Is Cool
As a sucker for alternative rock, this debut record from Wolf Alice has peaked my interest. While far from perfect, My Love is Cool is a fun listening experience and shows a band with the pieces in place to grow and have the potential to make a top tier record.
Sound & Color
Funky, head bopping, soul inducing, Sound & Color is a sophomore success from Alabama Shakes. With so much growth since their debut album, Sound & Color may foreshadow something truly special from the band in the future.
|44||Death Cab for Cutie|
Death Cab may be long past their days of creating genre shifting records, but Kintsugi is a solid record from front to back with excellent lyrics from Ben Gibbard as well as numerous catchy tracks. Kintsugi may not be the record that defines a breakup or a life altering experience such as the likes of Transatlanticism, but it is a solid rock record from a band with life still left in them.
Return to the Moon
While El Vy may not live up to the incredible high standards of the National, this collaboration record is a fun album filled with excellent vocals from Matt Berninger as well as loads of catchy hooks from Menomena’s Brent Knopf.
|42||Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds|
Onto album number two as a solo act, Noel Gallagher continues to shine and further support the notion that he was the brains and true grit behind Oasis’s success.
oud, bold, filled with riffs and extended tracks, Lore is one of the most enjoyable rock records of 2015.
I have never been the most avid fan of Bomb the Music Industry, but Jeff Rosenstock’s first full length solo record has caught my ears and demonstrates an artist who knows who they are, what makes them exceptional and is capable of bringing everything together into a tightly knit package of songs.
Smooth, sexy, overall a flirtatious record that succeeds in setting a stage for all involved parties to shine.
In Times is another installment in Enslaves ever growing catalogue of high quality records. With such steadiness over the years, it’s hard to expect anything but a quality record from the band.
|37||Tobias Jesso Jr.|
Reminiscent of the great piano pop artists of the 70’s such as Elton John and Billy Joel, Tobias Jesso Jr’s Goon may be a very simplistic and straightforward album but its chosen delivery packs an even more emotional punch when you hang on his every word and inflection.
Consistency is a theme for many bands in 2015 and dependability is a staple from mewithoutyou and Pale Horses is a worthy addition to their discography.
From the remnants and shards of Gaza comes Cult Leader, and Lightless Walk, the band’s debut is an intense record from front to back that lays an onslaught of riffs and earsplitting vocals, prepared to melt your face away for 36 minutes.
|34||The World Is a Beautiful Place...|
Soothing, evoking feelings reminiscent of staring at old photos of long lost friends from years gone by, Harmlessness is an emotional journey and grabs at your heart strings.
An album that sounds like pure evil and straight out of hell itself, Scar Sighted is an ominous record where Leviathan creates an engaging atmosphere that breeds terror and fear.
|32||Godspeed You! Black Emperor|
'Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress'
While this record didn’t live up to my expectations, in part to Godspeed’s near flawless discography, Asunder still shines more than it lets down and Piss Crowns are Trebled alone is worth the listening investment to this release.
Being able to nail a nostalgic sound for a song is a hard task to successfully pull off for a single song, let alone a record. Gunship channel 80’s synth rock to the max and successfully created a record that encapsulates a sound so well without being cliché.
|30||The Dear Hunter|
Act IV: Rebirth in Reprise
Grand, theatrical and over the top, Rebirth is the most grandiose record I’ve heard this year and puts the listener on grandiose journey over this 15 track epic. While at times the record is a bit lengthy for me, there is so much substance in this record that multiple listens are needed in order to truly appreciate the scale, passion and vision put forth by the band.
One of the most atmospheric records I’ve heard this year, Beach House nails the shoegazey atmosphere of bands like My Bloody Valentine while mainting the ethereal melodies of dream pop.
b'lieve i'm goin' down...
While this record didn’t continue on the brilliant path Wakin’ on a Pretty Daze set up, Kurt Vile and the Violaters return with a record packed with excellent guitar work and musicianship. My only gripe ids that Kurt hasn’t still matured his vocals and lyrics to match his genius with a guitar.
The Plague Within
Doom Metal Pioneers Paradise Lost are still at the top of their game, generating music that still brings haunting chills with brooding tones and menacing vocals.
The Agent Intellect
Along with Viet Cong, Protomartyr have helped revive Post Punk in 2015. Moody riffs, dreary vocals, The Agent Intellect is an excellent Post Punk record that both does the genre justice and shows a band coming out of its shell and finding their own unique sound.
Every Open Eye
Building momentum from their critically acclaimed debut, Chvrches take their poppy edge to new heights and Lauren Mayberry makes a valid case in being one of the leading front women in modern rock music.
The Desired Effect
With The Killers on hiatus after numerous lackluster releases and a subpar debut release, Brandon Flowers surprised me with this outrageously fun and enthusiastic solo release. Brandon Flowers hasn’t exhausted all of his abilities yet in crafting a great pop song and this release has me intrigued in what both The Killers and Brandon Flowers do next in the near future.
Released straight on the internet to the masses, Wilco surprised fans with this release and returned to their more straight forward rock tracks. Not as experimental as their last record, The Whole Love, Star Wars should please fans of the band with some stellar tracks that sound even better live.
|22||Haste the Day|
Returning for one final record through crowd funding, Haste the Day put an end to their tenure with arguably their most well rounded release yet. With participation from 9 of the bands current and former members, the record is packed with Haste the Day’s signature riffs and great performances both from Stephen Keech and Jimmy Ryan on vocals. As someone who helped sponsor their funding campaign, I am beyond satisfied with the final result along with the signed copy of the record they sent me.
Behind the Devil's Back
Fightstar return with a record that is filled with heavy riffs and enough choruses worthy of any arena packed with singing fans. Behind the Devil’s Back is a monster of a record that excels in nearly all aspects.
|20||Down I Go|
You're Lucky God, That I Cannot Reach You
Arguably one of the most experimental records I’ve heard this year, Down I Go’s new record is a concept record with each song narrating a different tale in Icelandic Lore. Filled with screams, melodies, unusual time signature guitar riffs and horns, You’re lucky God is an intriguing record and certainly one of a kind.
Quirky, off the cuff, genuine, Hop Along have released a raw indie rock record that’s filled with adrenaline and angst.
Deerhunter return with one of their more mainstream records to date but continue to cement their place among Indie Rock’s Elite as Bradley Cox tells it as it is.
Ferocious, wild, fast as a bullet, Totem Skin turn the intensity on this record off the charts and created one of the heaviest, hardest hitting, in your face records of the year. A 7 song onslaught, the Swedish cast never let up and pummel the listener with sludgy riffs, shrieking vocals and double bass.
What Went Down
Foals return and continue their streak of being one of the most consistent bands around. With a return to the vibes of Total Life Forever instead of the poppiness on Holy Fire, Foals deliver another album filled with atmosphere, electric riffs and driving grooves.
What I consider one of the most under rated records of the year, Lord Huron’s sophomore record, Strange Trails, is a concept record that beautifully unravels with numerous standout tracks from the indie folk rock quartet. Although a bit bloated and lengthy, the album has enough standout moments for me to constantly come back and listen.
Have You In My Wilderness
Seductive, Have You in My Wilderness playfully teases the ears with Julia Holter’s entrancing lyrics, captivating musical arrangements and overall is a very introspective record.
With belting riffs inspired by Sabbath and other Metal forefathers paired with cordial vocals in the vain of Porcupine Tree, Meliora is a titan of a record that perfectly finds the blend between inspiration and originality, containing some of the most distinguishing Heavy Metal/Hard Rock tracks of the year.
Behold, my Metal album of 2015. Hostile from the very beginning, the amount of solid riffs contained on this one record is unfathomable. Solid vocals and by far the best production of any record I’ve heard in 2015, Horrendous should be very proud of this record.
Simple, yet experimental, Jamie xx of The xx has concocted a solid debut album filled with terrific beats, fantastic guest appearances and succeeds in setting a inimitable atmosphere for a magical musical journey through electronic music.
Charming, witty, Destroyer’s Poison Season is a grandiose record that contains some of his most upbeat work and at times seems to be paying homage to the rich history of the Folk music scene of New York City such as Simon & Garfunkel.
2015 saw a revival in the Post Punk scene; among releases from bands like Ought and Protomartyr, Viet Cong have returned with one of the best crafted Post Punk records in years. Layered with countless riffs, excellent drumming and exceptional songwriting, the Alberta troupe have left a mark on 2015 and ended their career as Viet Cong on a high note.
With the bar set astronomically high after their critically acclaimed release of Sunbather, Deafheaven return with a record that may not reach the heights of their past release but is an excellent addition to their catalogue. Incorporating some more Metal influences into their writing, New Bermuda has a heavier sound than Sunbather, but still includes a heavy helping of Deafheaven’s now signature shoegaze approach along with George Clarke’s distinctive screaming vocals.
The Queen of Modern Pop is back and she’s cranked weird up to a whole new level. Ranging from ethereal singing to screeching screams, Grimes delivers in shaking things up, thinking outside the box and complimenting the weird with alluring melodies.
Vega Intl. Night School
Wear some comfortable shoes and be somewhere with room to move when you put this record on, Neon Indian have crafted one of the most distinctive and funky pop records of the year. Channeling the sounds of the 80’s, Vega Intl. Night School is a delirious trip layered with synths and Alan Palomo’s melodic crooning, creating a sound that is instantaneously catchy but unlike anything you’ve heard before.
To Pimp a Butterfly
An Opus to trump all others before him, Kendrick Lamar pushes the throttle forward and blazes a path that future rappers should appreciate and aspire to follow. Filled with jazzy beats, To Pimp A Butterfly lacks the singles that defined Good Kid, m.A.A.d City but surpasses his previous work in depth and intricacy. With this record, Kendrick has supplanted his role as not just a rapper spitting rhymes, but a voice to be heard.
What makes Currents such an intriguing listen is that it musically is so diverse that sometimes it’s impossible to restrict Tame Impala to a specific genre. With influences ranging from psychedelic rock, electronica to synth pop, Kevin Parker has generated a universal melting pot of ideas that have been crafted into a truly unique listening experience with glistening production, infectious melodies and groovy basslines.
I never heard of Turnover until 3 months ago and now I feel such an affectionate bond with the band, their songs and this album. That's the power of music. I usually find quick satisfaction with a new band with a catchy riff or a unique vocalist, but like a one night stand my musical thirst is left unquenched. Filled with catchy guitar riffs, soothing vocals and extremely relatable lyrics, records like Peripheral Vision have not only let me sink my teeth deeply into them for its musical qualities but have gifted me with a sense of peace and closure with my own personal demons; and at the end of the day, how could a record be any more rewarding than to leave a positive permanent mark on myself?
Carrie and Lowell
You will not find a more polished, succinctly organized, heart wrenchingly beautiful record made completely with love and care in 2015 than Sufjan Stevens’ Carrie & Lowell. Perfectly paced, the 11 tracks on this record guides the listener into the childhood of Sufjan, the bonding between him and his Parents to the death of his Mother. I have never experienced such a personal record before, with Carrie & Lowell serving as a therapeutic outlet for Sufjan’s grieving for the passing of his Mother. Having also had the pleasure of seeing Sufjan live on his Carrie & Lowell tour this year, I can attest that the music and it’s emotion is magnified even more on the stage with home videos streaming on the back drop. Carrie & Lowell is a record that comes around once in a lifetime where an artist can seamlessly translate his emotions to music.
|1||Father John Misty|
I Love You, Honeybear
While a majority of artists play it safe, have their music pumped through focus groups where it is analyzed to the nth degree or actively pander to critics and publications, Father John Misty says to hell with all that bullshit and created the ballsiest record of 2015. Filled with charm, satire, love, vitriol, narcissism and pretentiousness, FJM unabashedly throws himself into the forefront speaking whatever is on his God damn mind. Through his moniker, Father John Misty, Josh Tillman has created an alter ego where he channels his most raw emotions, free to satirize love, society or for that matter any subject FJM feels like addressing. With such a large and ambitious stage set up for this record, FJM pulls out all the bells and whistles. From the mariachi band featured on Chateau Lobby #4, the beautiful string arrangements on The Night Josh Tillman Came to Our Apt, the raucous jamming on The Ideal Husband or the philosophical pondering on Holy Shit, FJM throws all the punches...