This past year in music was largely characterized by innovation. Whether it was an up and coming Atlanta City rapper featured on a heavily 80’s influenced atmospheric art-pop album or a new wave of contemporary jazz— this year saw it all.
Some oldie but goodies fell short of expectation while new artists climbed the ranks with top reviewers like Metacritic, Pitchfork, and Youtube’s Anthony Fantano. Following is a list of my 5 best put-down-what-you’re-doing-and-listen-to-it-right-now albums of 2015.
If there’s one thing everyone in the critic world seems to be agreeing on this year it is Kendrick Lamar’s release of To Pimp A Butterfly. The album absolutely deserves best rap album of the year but speaking generally and objectively it wasn’t as impressive or innovative overall as some of this year’s other releases. To Pimp a Butterfly is a great album and a fantastic follow up to the huge hit good kid, m.A.A.d. city. Top tracks on this album are “u,” “alright” and “The Blacker the Berry.”
Jamie XX, of the xx, released a full length solo debut album this year titled In Colour. This album is sublime from the production to the features to the groovy 80’s influenced track lines. Top tracks on this album are “Sleepy Sound,” “Girl” and “I know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” which features Young Thug.
Leon Bridges released his debut album Coming Home. Bridges is a retro-soul artist whose smooth vibe and sweet melodies harken back to legends like Sam Cooke and Otis Redding. Following the release of his album he was featured on the Macklemore track “Kevin,” which may have been the best collaboration of 2015. Tracks to look out for on this album are “Better Man” and “Smooth Sailin’.”
Indie folk artist The Tallest Man on Earth released what might be his most wholesome feeling album, Dark Bird Is Home this year. Tallest Man on Earth is most noted for his lyrics, which read and sound like poetry and this album is no exception. Accompanied with passionate vocals and intricate acoustic melodies each track on this album takes the listener through a uniquely moving emotional experience. Tracks to meditate to off of this album include but are not limited to “Darkness of the Dream”, “Sagres” and “Seventeen.”
Lianne La Havas, singer songwriter whose influences stem from jazz and pop, released her sophomore album Blood. Lianne is a talented vocalist and guitarist but she is most interesting for combining bubblegum pop aesthetics into her already slow, jazzy, soulful tracks without losing meaning or direction with the album as a whole. Standout tracks on this album are “Never Get Enough” and “Green & Gold.”
Other noteworthy albums to check out are Poison Season by Destroyer, Currents by Tame Impala, The Epic by Kamasi Washington, Carrie & Lowell by Sufjan Stevens, as well as Sometimes I Sit and Think and Other Times I Just Sit by Courtney Barnett.