Best Albums 2015
December 4, 2015 11:52 AM   Subscribe

It's time to engage in the Annual Album Arguments! And so far, Kendrick Lamar is winning the internet with To Pimp a Butterfly. Rolling Stone, Noisey (from Vice), and Spin all give it #1. Stereogum puts it at #2, behind Grimes' Art Angels
posted by FirstMateKate (120 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
 
The only thing I've listened to with any regularity this year is the "Hamilton" cast album, so I'm going with that.
posted by hwestiii at 11:55 AM on December 4, 2015 [9 favorites]


Right now, I have FFS leading, followed by Natalie Prass and Stealing Sheep.
posted by lmfsilva at 12:02 PM on December 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


My top 5
1. Grimes - Art Angels
2. Holly Herndon - Platform
3. FFS - FFS
4. Princess Chelsea - The Great Cybernetic Depression
5. Eskimeaux - OK
posted by SansPoint at 12:04 PM on December 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


Rolling Stone has Hamilton at #8 (none of the other lists mention it at all, but they are all Wrong).

I love Art Angels so, so, much. If you haven't listened to it you should go check it out ASAP.
posted by Itaxpica at 12:04 PM on December 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


I don't think I've ever had a record on my phone for as long as I've had Kamasi Washington's The Epic, which just so happens to share a fair bit of personnel with TPaB. It's such a powerful record.
posted by lownote at 12:06 PM on December 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


TPaB is solid solid gold. Amazing record, well deserved.
posted by wemayfreeze at 12:07 PM on December 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh great, it's that time of year again!

Failure - The Heart is a Monster
Kowloon Walled City - Grievances
Royal Thunder - Crooked Doors
Tribulation - The Children of the Night

Holding out for the new Baroness, which I bet will be excellent.
posted by Existential Dread at 12:07 PM on December 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


in no particular order - kendrick lamar, grimes, hamilton, drake (and drake & future, and future), adele, carly rae jepsen, joanna newsom, d'angelo, bjork, fka twigs, sleater kinney, earl sweatshirt, thunderbitch, alabama shakes, and on and on and on...

it has been a straight up stellar year for music.

...now where is frank ocean?!
posted by nadawi at 12:07 PM on December 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


To Pimp A Butterfly really hasn't held up for me the way I thought it would. It wouldn't be in my top 10, sadly. And I was very enthusiastic about it when it dropped. It has a few really standout tracks where I'm 100% there, and then there is lots of meandering, self-conscious poetry and art overstuffed with shallow references. But that's just me and I expect many people will angrily, passionately argue the opposite.

I am way, way into the Carly Rae Jepsen album EMOTION. Best pure pop record in many years.
posted by naju at 12:08 PM on December 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


glad to see FFS is getting so much love! it was engineered/mixed/produced by john congleton, who is stellar. i'll have to check it out.
posted by nadawi at 12:09 PM on December 4, 2015


And yeah Art Angels is a masterpiece IMO.
posted by naju at 12:09 PM on December 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


So typically I go through the year end lists and try and create a list of "The Top Albums for Staid, Boring Listeners Who Like Sort of Traditional Rock Music For Dads" so I can go download those, but in the meantime does anyone have any recommendations in that vein?

(This stuff all looks cool too, I am just an old sappy person)
posted by selfnoise at 12:10 PM on December 4, 2015


I ... clearly haven't been listening to enough music ... but am very pleased to see how well-liked Courtney Barnett's new album is. I really dig it. The previous double EP is fantastic, too.

And now I need to listen to Carly Rae Jepsen's record.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:10 PM on December 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Really can't forget that Sufjan Stevens record either. All the feelings. (selfnoise, you might be into it)
posted by naju at 12:12 PM on December 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


The perils of the January release and having a bad band name: fka Viet Cong's self-title debut not getting as much love as I expected.
posted by enjoymoreradio at 12:12 PM on December 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, this year we got not one, but two brand new LPs from Beach House. They are both top 25 albums on their own, and there are two of them.
posted by enjoymoreradio at 12:14 PM on December 4, 2015


Hercules Mulligan!
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:17 PM on December 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


There are a handful of new albums I've enjoyed this year, but the two at the top of my list are:

Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress
Sufjan Stevens - Carrie & Lowell

Both happened to be released on the same day, March 31st. It was a glorious Tuesday (remember back when they would do that?).
posted by Jeff Morris at 12:25 PM on December 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


If I had any free time at all, I'd compile the results of these (and a few others) and make a quiz so people could figure out which publication they most align with. But also I have no idea how I'd do this.
Just from reading, Noisey is my kin. They've got 4 albums I enjoyed, and 2 of my top 3. This makes me question my opinions.

My list:

•Laura StevensonCocksure [Lady indie pop rock. lots of emotion, pretty voice, great buildups] (Ticker Tape & Tom Sawyer & Jellyfish
•SaintsenecaSuch Things [Made no lists. Indie rock w/folk influence, produced by Mike Mogis] (Rare Form (especially the end) & Bad Ideas & House Divided)
•Hop AlongPainted Shut [Lady punk. Raw emotion, punch you in the throat vocals, an earnest kind of pleading] (The Waitress & Texas Funeral & Buddy in the Parade)
posted by FirstMateKate at 12:29 PM on December 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


Some (mostly rock-ish) albums I enjoyed this year:

Hop Along - Painted Shut

Roman a Clef - Abandonware

Screaming Females - Rose Mountain

Daniel Bachman - River

I need to check out that Grimes album, I really like "Flesh Without Blood."
posted by zchyrs at 12:29 PM on December 4, 2015


I really enjoyed Art Angels as well. But without a doubt, the demo version of REALiTi is better than anything off the actual album.
posted by FirstMateKate at 12:31 PM on December 4, 2015


They still make music?
posted by jonmc at 12:32 PM on December 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


My picks from recent memory: Georgia's self-titled album, Jamie xx - In Colour, and Dawn Richard - Blackheart, but I'll stop there while I dig through Ninja Tune (and relatives) for more picks.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:35 PM on December 4, 2015


For me, nothing can touch what the D'Angelo album did this year, nothing else even comes close (not even my dearly beloved Adele and Hamilton, or the genius of that Kendrick Lamar album). Last winter that D'Angelo album felt like both a sword and a shield.

The Courtney Bartnett album is the only one in the Rolling Stone Top 10 I haven't listened to yet - guess I have my marching orders.
posted by sallybrown at 12:36 PM on December 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


You know what's weird is I haven't listened to the new Failure album even once, even though I'm a huge fan of Fantastic Planet and Ken Andrews as a producer. I guess I was kind of afraid I'd be disappointed.

As for Kendrick, GKMC is probably my most listened record of the past five years but TPAB is basically what happens when you try to top your brilliant debut concept album. It's good but... a little much. But then as many people have pointed out it's not necessarily trying to address me as a white dude.
posted by atoxyl at 12:36 PM on December 4, 2015


A few more 2015 favorites: CHVRCHES, Belle & Sebastian, Hot Chip, Erase Errata, New Order, !!!, They Might Be Giants
posted by SansPoint at 12:45 PM on December 4, 2015


Despite all the wonders of Hamilton + Joanna Newsom + Sleater-Kinney + everything else, I've been really surprised and pleased by Justin Bieber's 2015 output. I won't forgive his use of "tramp stamp" ("LOL") but it's clear he's developing some nuance.
posted by witchen at 12:46 PM on December 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Julia Holter's Have You In My Wilderness is brilliantly inventive and full of wonderful stuff.
posted by oulipian at 12:53 PM on December 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


You know what's weird is I haven't listened to the new Failure album even once, even though I'm a huge fan of Fantastic Planet and Ken Andrews as a producer.

I only discovered Failure this past year, so I don't have a childhood memory of them to despoil. To me, the new one is an absolutely excellent successor to Fantastic Planet; in fact I think I like it better. There's a couple throwaway tracks but 80-90% of it is superb.
posted by Existential Dread at 12:57 PM on December 4, 2015


Oh yeah, and #1 doom track from the year is Paradise Lost's Beneath Broken Earth. The rest of that record I can take or leave, but that song is crushing and funereal.
posted by Existential Dread at 1:02 PM on December 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


No love for Titus Andronicus, "The Most Lamentable Tragedy" ?

My power jam of the year has to "Blaze Up The Fire by Major Lazer.
posted by ph00dz at 1:20 PM on December 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


Deiphago's Into the Eye of Satan is one of my top picks for album of the year but then I'm probably not really in Stereogum's demographic.
posted by item at 1:23 PM on December 4, 2015


No love for Titus Andronicus, "The Most Lamentable Tragedy" ?

Maybe if it had more than one good song?
posted by mittens at 1:25 PM on December 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


After I made fun of Courtney Barnett on Twitter for her vocal resemblance to Mark E. Smith of The Fall (no, really, play "Container Drivers" and "Pedestrian At Best" back to back if you don't believe me), Gentleman Caller had me listen to her album on the ride home from my great-aunt's funeral. I love it a lot—she's good at playing 90s-inspired rock and grunge and shooting it through with a dose of playfulness and humor. (In fact, I covered "Depreston" a few months ago, fresh from that loss.)

The new Alessia Cara is really good pop of the post-Lorde rookie set; she takes her job seriously and the soul influence and teen angst works beautifully.

Of course the new Elvis Perkins has accompanied my daily walks into town -- less directly personal and more cinematic than his previous work. I hope his next album doesn't take seven years to make.

Even though I'm not writing about Latin alternative as frequently as I'd like, I adored the Natalia LaFourcade LP (unusual vocals, a crazy quilt of influences, lush melodies, and polished production, all of which would appeal to Joanna Newsom fans); the Carla Morrison album is lovely and heartfelt, with a surprising and welcome R&B influence; and Ibeyi were one of the eeriest, most winsome live shows I saw this year. (They covered "Whip Nae Nae" as an encore!) Oh, and La Dame Blanche was probably the best MC I've heard in a while -- her flow and subject matter put American MCs to shame.
posted by pxe2000 at 1:27 PM on December 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also: FFS was brilliant. Still pissed that I was sick the day they played Boston.
posted by pxe2000 at 1:28 PM on December 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


I was just coming by to say Titus Andronicus' "The Most Lamentable Tragedy" is my highlight for 2015 in Rock (full disclosure: I sent Stickles money to help get it made because I knew he was going to write a bomber rock opera) .

It's a rock opera about bipolar disorder, obsessions, compulsions, alienation, feeling good and feeling bad and feeling OK. If you want a taste, here's the opening to the second act.

Stickles provided a good walkthrough of the structure of the album in this interview.

I love this album.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 1:29 PM on December 4, 2015


My Top 5 Albums of the Year:

1. John Grant - Grey Tickles, Black Pressure
2. Joanna Newsom - Divers
3. Julia Holter - Have You in My Wilderness
4. Florence + The Machine - How Big How Blue How Beautiful
5. Jamie xx - In Colour

Runner Ups:

- Sun Kil Moon - Universal Themes
- Kurt Vile - b'lieve i'm goin down
- Tame Impala - Currents
- Sufjan Stevens - Carrie & Lowell
- Grimes - Art Angels
- Destroyer - Poison Season
- Deafheaven - New Bermuda
- Dearhunter - Fading Frontier
posted by Fizz at 1:37 PM on December 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


I read the Stereogum list last night and wanted to throw my computer across the room seeing Carly Rae Jepson ranked higher than the utterly flawless Harmlessness by The World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am No Longer Afraid To Die. I've been digging the new Chvrches album more than their first one. Also, Idlewild had a really solid new album this year.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 1:37 PM on December 4, 2015


The Adele album is a huge disappointment.
posted by colie at 1:37 PM on December 4, 2015


Nobody has said Miguel yet!!!

I said it months ago, but 2015 has got to have been the greatest calendar year's worth of music in, dare I say, decades. I think I heard something new and utterly mind-blowing every single day..
posted by wats at 1:47 PM on December 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


at some point these lists turned into mostly updates on what I totally missed this year, and I am grateful for them
posted by thelonius at 1:48 PM on December 4, 2015 [9 favorites]


Guardian list which is currently up to 11. (They're adding ten a day and the top ten come out tomorrow.) This list is way more representative of my current listening than the RS list.
posted by immlass at 1:49 PM on December 4, 2015


River--Daniel Bachman
Long Time Underground--Tom Carter
CR Jepsen
posted by OmieWise at 2:01 PM on December 4, 2015


This is why I have Metafilter; to inform me that I completely missed a new Destroyer album.
posted by selfnoise at 2:09 PM on December 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


If your top ten doesn't include Carly Rae Jepsen's album, I just can't trust you.
posted by incessant at 2:13 PM on December 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


Harmlessness was a great album, yeah. I listened to January 10th 2014 for about 3 days straight.
posted by FirstMateKate at 2:18 PM on December 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


When there is so much music being made, every year is a good year for music, and this year was no exception.

Top 10 albums with vocals:

1. Son Lux - Change is Everything
2. Bjork - Vulnicura
3. Chvrches - Every Open Eye
4. Grimes - Art Angels
5. Ibeyi - Ibeyi
6. Torres - Sprinter
7. Holly Herndon - Platform
8. EL VY - Return to the Moon
9. Ryan Adams - 1989 (suck it haters!)
10. Sujfan Stevens - Carrie and Lowell

Top 10 albums instrumental:

1. Bryce Dessner - Music for Wood and Strings
2. Colin Stetson and Sarah Neufeld - Never Were the Way She Was
3. Nils Frahm - Solo
4. Public Service Broadcast - The Race for Space
5. Africa Express Presents Terry Riley's In C
6. Bang on a Can - Field Recordings
7. Sam Prekop - The Republic
8. Inventions - Maze of Woods
9. This Patch of Sky - This Patch of Sky
10. BlanckMass - Dumb Flesh

Honorable Mentions:

FKA Twigs - M133LL155X
Christina and the Queens - Saint Claude
Kishi Bashi - String Quartet Live!
Purity Ring - another eternity
Bleachers - Terrible Thrills Vol. 2
Sleater-Kinney - No Cities to Love
Young Ejecta - the Planet
Dan Deacon - Learning to Relax
The Do - Shake, Shock, Shaken
Oneothrix Point Never - Garden of Delete
Lonelady - Hinterland
Ryley Walker - Primrose Green
Jamie xx - In Colour
Zella Day - Kicker
Purient - Frozen Niagra Falls
Eskimeaux - O.K.
Courtney Barnett- Sometimes I sit and think, and sometimes I just sit
Chris Lightcap's Bigmouth - Epicenter
Rabbit Rabbit - Rabbit Rabbit Radio Vol 3
Lianne La Havas - Blood
Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Multi-Love
Carly Rae Jepsen - Emotion
Troye Sivan - Wild (EP)
Years & Years - Communion
Disclosure - Caracal
Mimicking Birds - Dead Weight
Corrina Repp - The Pattern of Electricity
Olafur Arnalds - the Chopin Project
Punch Brothers - the Phosphorescent Blues
Decemberists - What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World
CocoRosie - Heartache City
Kelela - Hallucinogen
Aphex Twin - Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments pt2 (EP)
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:23 PM on December 4, 2015 [16 favorites]


2015. Um.

I use Google Play Music and there appears to be no way to sort by album, and several albums have no year in their metadata anyway. So I have no idea. I've made a lot of music discoveries in 2015 but they've been from the past couple of decades or more.
posted by Foosnark at 2:30 PM on December 4, 2015


Current EP pick: Mura Masa - Someday Somewhere. If it doesn't get you right away, jump ahead to "Lovesick F**k." It has a stunning Nujabes vibe without straight ripping off his style. It's my jam of the year.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:34 PM on December 4, 2015


I have arbitrary rockist reasons for disliking Carly Rae Jepsen, sorry
posted by pxe2000 at 2:36 PM on December 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


There's a site called Album Of The Year that's compiling all the best-of lists.
posted by dw at 2:39 PM on December 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


If Hamilton isn't on your list somewhere, I just assume you haven't heard it yet. Only makes sense.
posted by tzikeh at 2:49 PM on December 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


Coming in just before deadline, since it was released TODAY, is...

Troye Sivan - Blue Neighbourhood
posted by LastOfHisKind at 2:52 PM on December 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm torn on Hamilton. I like the idea of it. I haven't seen the show. The parts that approach interesting, sort of gritty and exciting hip-hop I really like. But then it slips back into the broadway sound I'm sort of tired of.
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:53 PM on December 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


Lots of stuff to listen to; thanks to all for posting! A few that haven't been mentioned yet:

Floating Points - Elaenia
Ought - Sun Coming Down
Natalie Prass - Natalie Prass
Ibeyi - Ibeyi
Judith Hill - Back in Time
posted by Lyme Drop at 3:09 PM on December 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Heems album Eat Pray Thug is excellent but got buried. (Must listen: "Flag Shopping.")
posted by Mothlight at 3:17 PM on December 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


Here are a few I particularly enjoyed this year:

David Bazan - Bazan Monthly, Vol. 2
Mutemath - Vitals
Mountain Goats - Beat the Champ
posted by whitecedar at 3:27 PM on December 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


I can't resist putting in a plug for AmERICa by Wreckless Eric. Not sure how high I'd rank on my personal list of best of the year, but I sure am enjoying it right now.
posted by maurice at 3:31 PM on December 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Algiers.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:32 PM on December 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


I was all ready to assume that this would be the year I lost touch with music nearly completely. For various reasons (not the least of which was a trip to Japan) most of the music I heard and enjoyed this year was Japanese. But going through the various best-of lists, it's starting to occur to me that I just missed new releases by bands I was into. Like, Erase Errata has a new album? Sleaford Mods are back? The new Waxahatchee is apparently pretty good? This is all in addition to stuff I knew about but never bothered to listen to like Tame Impala and the new Grimes (which I am rectifying right now). And apparently I might have to think about the Carly Rae Jepsen album as extremely late penance for not buying the Kylie and Annie albums back in the mid-2000s?

Here are a bunch of things that haven't been mentioned yet (and like I said before, many are Japanese):

Tricot - A N D
Negoto - VISION
DAOKO - DAOKO
Trails and Ways - Pathology
Wata Megumi - Sainandawa
Ava Luna - Infinite House
MACROSS82-99 - Cham!

Also, +1 for the new Julia Holter and Chvrches.
posted by chrominance at 3:36 PM on December 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


That Floating Points album is fantastic.
posted by naju at 3:38 PM on December 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


I expect Julia Holter's Have You In My Wilderness leading a lot of top-lists this year. Maybe not as many as Mr. Lamar, but maybe still enough for a "second place".

Great records (imo) that haven't been mentioned so far:

+ Clarence Clarity - No Now

Imagine vaporware meets R'n'B, odd and maybe demanding to some, but, man, he definitely knows how to write good pop songs [YT].

+ Red Velvet - The Red / Lim Kim - Simple Mind / Wonder Girls - Reboot

For those who like K-Pop. Lim Kim's Awoo [YT] and Wonder Girls' One Black Night [YT] are two of my favorite songs of the year.


+ Young Fathers - White Men are Black Men too

+ Death Grips - Powers that B (the "Jenny Death" side)

Some abrasive stuff here.

+ Your Old Droog - Kinison EP

For those who like New York rappers who sounds a lot like Nas.

I could recommend more but I can't wait to click through your records first!
posted by bigendian at 3:44 PM on December 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Great suggestions! THANK YOU.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 3:45 PM on December 4, 2015


I find the Broadway bits of Hamilton to be equally compelling. The King George songs are an indictment of Broadway camp being so white and male, and I love them for that.
posted by politikitty at 3:45 PM on December 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


i totally disagree about adele's album being a big disappointment - i think it's straight up fantastic. the bonus target tracks aren't as good as the rest, but that's why they aren't on the main album, i suppose.
posted by nadawi at 3:46 PM on December 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


Another good under-the-radar album worth mentioning: Mark McGuire, Beyond Belief
posted by naju at 3:52 PM on December 4, 2015


FFS is phenomenal. About six of its songs are all equally viable for the catchiest song ever written.

Police Encounters is maybe my immediate go-to.
The Power Couple is Sparks' 45-year-long journey condensed into three minutes.
So Desu Ne is the sleeper hit; about 20 listens in, it is suddenly the best song in existence.
Johnny Delusional (WARNING: fantastic music video) is, from a pop-composition perspective, utterly and brilliantly insidious; I put it on one morning on repeat and it took my mind about two hours to comprehend the possibility of another song's intruding on its interlocking pattern.
The Man Without A Tan and Dictator's Son could only be considered also-rans on an album that's untouchably perfect. They are each fantastic too.

======

That was, I'd say, my third-favorite album of the year. Fourth-favorite (and the last to actually (distantly) qualify on my "worth a mention" list for the year) was Punch Brothers' The Phosphorescent Blues, mostly on the strength of Julep and Magnet, two of the most sensual songs I've ever read, but on two very different ends of a spectrum.

======

Best album of the year, hands-down for me, was Revere Reach by William Drake. I'm disappointed and unsurprised that nobody else brought it up; "middle-aged man condenses Ralph Vaughan Williams into pop-worthy folk composition" isn't exactly trendy these days. But this album was one of the best songwriters alive surpassing his last effort by a couple of orders of magnitude.

A Husk has got one of the most intricate and heartbreaking melodies I've heard in a new song for quite some time. Holy Jeezy.
The Blind Boy is arguably the best rendition of a little-known 19th-century poem to come out of the pop-ish sphere in recent memory. I know, right? Stiff competition here, folks. For extra fun, read the poem first, decide if you find it thoughtless or trite, then listen to the song and re-evaluate.
Castaway is just one of those sort of songs that arguably should exist on every album, i.e. a smoky '20s jazz melody to haunt us up a bit when we need a little extra haunting.
Heart of Oak revises the official march of the Royal Navy into something worth going on a boat for, then takes you into the same enchanted Regions Unknown as the rest of the album.
— The titular track is where I stop myself from linking to every. single. song. on. this. album, because it starts off in a mysterious, unknowable place that good musicians only occasionally successfully touch, then takes you deeper and deeper until you are there forever and you never leave.

So yeah. That album is pretty okay.

======

My second pick for the year feels unfairly-placed, because it's a minor work from a major band that's an offshoot of pretty definitely the greatest collective of songwriters I've discovered in... EVER? Sadly, my usual strategy of "force MetaFilter to like [band] via overlong FPP" has entirely failed, because this group's music is all-but-impossible to find online, let alone offline, which led a friend and I, in May, to start aggressively pursuing their hundred-plus albums and never stop, and now about 99% of what I've listened to this year has been this group and only this group, because dear lord are these people nigh-untouchable.

But I digress.

This EP, like all the other albums, was a pain to acquire, but it's worth having, so I've put it on Dropbox until there's some better way to acquire their music (please, guys?). The band is called Controversial Spark, the EP is Angels of a Feather, and this is a follow-up to the band's debut, Section I, which would give FFS a run for its money on sheer meticulousness alone, but has the advantage of being an extraordinarily diverse album for a group whose composition is essentially Most Generic Rock Band Possible.

Angels of a Feather is a slow build: each of its five songs picks up a bit from the last, so you go from chill bossa nova-inspired jam to snarling guitar-fight, with phenomenal melodies boosted by possibly the best interplay between individual musicians in literal ever. It's, like, these guys or one of Zappa's live bands, only these guys write music that regular people enjoy.

A few fun facts about this group, since I can't hotlink to individual songs:

— Their most famous member, Keiichi Suzuki, composed the soundtracks to Earthbound and its prequel, Mother, as well as the score to Tokyo Godfathers.

— The band consists of five members, each of whom is in a different decade of their life. Members range from their 20s to their 60s.

— The group splits songwriting duties virtually equally. Each member is credited with writing an even chunk of the songs, which is fairly remarkable.

— This split-songwriting trend carries over from Suzuki's other band, Moonriders, which started out as a combo act with the legendary Yellow Magic Orchestra and then became a collective of six people who each wrote, composed, arranged, and produced music within the group, and evolved from "one of the most gorgeous bands of the 70s" to "one of the most daring bands of the 80s" to "easily the most virtuosic composers of the 90s" to "literally untouchable balls of light" in the 21st century.

— Members of Moonriders have been involved in basically everything ever, ranging from creating the opening/ending stings in every PlayStation commercial to inspiring/producing the music of The Pillows, AKA the FLCL dudes.

— Though I am (painfully) restricting my selection here to only one of the group's (four) 2015 releases, if this was a "new music discovered this year" thread, Revere Reach, one of the greatest albums I've ever heard, would probably only place seventh or so in the rankings.

— If you think of yourself as a person who loves music, you seriously owe it to yourself to explore what these people have done.

======

I'm increasingly finding that, of all the types of media that I consume, music is by far the easiest one to get lost in. I make every effort I can to ignore the things that other people are talking about or feel like recommending me, unless they come my way along my own perambulating path. From the couple things that've come my way anyway (Grimes; Kendrick), it sounds like the pop sphere is continuing to claw its way towards being genuinely compelling and interesting on its own merits? Certainly Grimes is a pretty awesome person. But I hope that more and more people continue to push away from notions of scenes or genres or movements or what-have-you and hunt for that weird in-between place where anything is possible, plausible, or acceptable.

The cultural aspect of music, for me, pales before the aesthetic aspect; I think that music, more than any other medium, makes it possible for literally anybody to grapple with what art is in a way that leads them to astonishing discoveries across all sorts of fields of knowledge. In that sense, it's an extension of the Internet itself, which perpetually provides you with a "final frontier" if you're willing to reject every attempt to civilize it. That's of vital and crucial importance—in a sense I feel that art's ultimate purpose is to civilize the uncivilizable, to provide order of a sort that reveals more strangeness, rather than taming what strangeness exists. Just a thought. Anyway, pretty okay year for music overall.
posted by rorgy at 3:56 PM on December 4, 2015 [10 favorites]


What I find most impressive about "Hamilton" is a how perfectly it fuses hip-hop and Broadway to the advantage of both.
posted by hwestiii at 4:13 PM on December 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


Best album of the year, hands-down for me, was Revere Reach by William Drake. I'm disappointed and unsurprised that nobody else brought it up; "middle-aged man condenses Ralph Vaughan Williams into pop-worthy folk composition" isn't exactly trendy these days. But this album was one of the best songwriters alive surpassing his last effort by a couple of orders of magnitude.

I haven't spent nearly enough time with it, but yes, this is an incredible record. It's so dreamlike and unlike anything else that I forget it was recorded this year, much less in the last century. It sounds like it could have come from some other era. Or universe. And that's meant to be a high compliment.
posted by vverse23 at 4:17 PM on December 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


What I find most impressive about "Hamilton" is a how perfectly it fuses hip-hop and Broadway to the advantage of both

I sort of find it pandering and gimmicky, but I always want my musicals to be weirder than they are.
posted by Lutoslawski at 4:21 PM on December 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


That is not to say I don't think Hamilton is smart. I think it's totally smart. I think it just doesn't jive with my taste.
posted by Lutoslawski at 4:23 PM on December 4, 2015


I don't know about hip-hop, but Broadway is all about pandering and gimicky, so my point is proven.
posted by hwestiii at 4:34 PM on December 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


i think it's totally fair to say that miranda is pandering, but i think the reverse side of that coin - and the way that he and many of his fans (myself included) see it - is that hamilton is a love letter - to hip hop, to broadway, to the book (and, i think, to his wife and the other strong women in his life). it's obvious through interviews, twitter, ham4ham, and the show itself that miranda greatly loves and respects broadway specifically and live theater in general and for someone kind of sick of how the broadway sausage gets made, i can see it coming off as pandering and not enjoyable.
posted by nadawi at 6:26 PM on December 4, 2015


It's sad that Belle & Sebastian's new album Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance isn't getting noticed much on these lists, because while the last song should have been dropped, it's a great album and their best since If You're Feeling Sinister. I had pretty much ever give up on getting a good album out of them again after the EZ listening of Write About Love and then they throw this down.
posted by Automocar at 6:38 PM on December 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


My list is going up on my blog the 31st, as always, though Holly Herndon's looking like a strong favourite.

Also in with a chance: Tame Impala, New Order, Braids, Belle & Sebastian and the new Jean Michel Jarré.
posted by acb at 6:41 PM on December 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Expanding to the top 10, I have Belle and Sebastian, Archive, Sleater-Kinney, Dean & Britta (Mistress America soundtrack), A Sunny Day in Glasgow, Father John Misty and Jarre.

I'm almost sure my top 3 will not change.
posted by lmfsilva at 6:52 PM on December 4, 2015


On the topic of disappointments, Tame Impala's Currents is one of those things where going through the release-hype and listen stages had me casting about for reviews that corroborated my sense that it was a pretty lame album overall, with an extremely limited sonic palette, exhausting production (literally every frequency band seems to be occupied for the entire fucking duration of every song), and perfunctory breakup lyrics. It goes down easy and has a few good hooks, but it didn't really even stand up to a second listen, much less several. I didn't find anyone that agreed, which is a little crazy-making.
posted by invitapriore at 7:03 PM on December 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


Sadly, I think it may be nigh impossible to top some of the genius of Good Kid, M.A.A.D City. TPAB didn't do it for me and I was bummed.

And then he goes big and shows up on the T. Swift track. So confuse, Kendrick.

Sufjan! Joanna! Holly Hearndon and those videos.

Yeah I ultimately liked Lonerism better.

Thanks for all the lists everyone.
posted by sibboleth at 7:27 PM on December 4, 2015


Wow what a great year it was for music. It's impossible to narrow it down to just 10 but here goes:

10.Pumelo - Lavarynth
9. Gap Junction - We Came to Boogie
8. Expression Throne - Chalice of Substance
7. YY - 2much
6. Incompetant Cervix - The Joy of Living
5. The Maggoteers - Kodak Heartbreak
4. Pennbrooke Experiment - Manic^2
3. Mathilda - Shadows of a Lonely Soul
2. Sumac Johnson - Mind Virus
1. Crustacean - Crustacean
posted by euphorb at 8:16 PM on December 4, 2015 [7 favorites]


are those real bands, euphorb?
posted by bigendian at 8:34 PM on December 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


Frankly, Sumac Johnson's first album was way better.
posted by zchyrs at 8:52 PM on December 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Incompetent Cervix - The Joy of Living

I like how this was just straight-up, unapologetic prog rock. Huge fan.
posted by naju at 9:02 PM on December 4, 2015


Frankly, Sumac Johnson's first album was way better.

Oh yeah, Epigrams blew me away but I really think the superstar production work of A.S.S.M.U.N.C.H. made Mind Virus an instant classic.
posted by euphorb at 9:41 PM on December 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


My list is very short this year:

1. Grey Hairs - Colossal Downer
2. Er...
3. That's it

Basically, I'd be delighted if every 'year in music' was just 1993 over and over again.
posted by ZipRibbons at 10:26 PM on December 4, 2015


I'm glad for threads like this and cool people like you because I have NO IDEA what good music is these days. Seriously, how do you do it?
posted by zardoz at 2:10 AM on December 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm glad for threads like this and cool people like you because I have NO IDEA what good music is these days. Seriously, how do you do it?

Not to call out a fellow member, but it blows my mind to hear naju upping Carly Rae Jepsen and Kendrick Lamar, because once he invited me to a music-sharing chatroom with him and a few of his friends, and it might as well have an app where people made up band names and some super-crafty algorithm wrote the song that they imagined that band would play. "Oh man that UniGVJUFcorn single is great, but have you heard Silent James Anthill's new single 43886? It makes 23124 sound like Dilly Dip attempted prog rock a second time! AHAHAHAHAHAHA"

None of which is to say that the music they were playing was bad, because it wasn't. It just felt like that part in 2666 where all the literary critics are discussing the themes across twelve books by the same nonexistent author, and the more names get brought up the funnier and scarier the whole thing becomes.

This year, as aforementioned, virtually all of my listening has involved the same six-person collective, and when my fellow raving enthusiast friend and I talk their music, we do it with the keen awareness that we're discussing 100+ albums by a band whose music might as well have been made up. "Are you feeling Le Cafe de la Plage today more or Bizarre Music For You?" "Actually, I was feeling something lighter. Could we do Post-War Babies Paperback or one of the albums in their Captain Hate trilogy?" It doesn't help that they sprinkle insanely ridiculous cover songs across their repotoire, like their 11-minute chamber quartet rendition of 21st Century Schizoid Man or their turning Lennon's "Yer Blues" into something in between an unbeat polka and a schmoopy love song.

(Or the time they collaborated with Michael freakin' Nyman with the score to a video game? As I write this, I'm impulsively accusing myself of making all this up, even though I know it's all basically real.)

Anyway, this year was a serious education in "things are stranger than a single personcould possibly unravel", and it makes me about 5000 times more okay with just liking the things that I like and keeping my spidey senses alert for the next thing that might speak to me in some way. Also with casting things I'm just "okay" with aside, knowing that something far stranger will come my way. Another working theory I've got is that art only really gets good when it becomes, for all intents and purposes, limitless.
posted by rorgy at 3:44 AM on December 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


Ctrl-F Gloryhammer. Hmm. Sorry, cannot trust any list that doesn't have Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards on it.
posted by effbot at 6:59 AM on December 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Another working theory I've got is that art only really gets good when it becomes, for all intents and purposes, limitless.

You're not talking about Buckethead, are you?
posted by effbot at 7:02 AM on December 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Would probably go for something like this:

Sexwitch - Sexwitch (Kassidat El Hakka)
US Girls - Half Free (Window Shades)
Jenny Hval - Apocalypse, Girl (Sabbath)
Carter Tutti Void - f(x) (f = 2.2)
Floating Points - Elaenia (Peroration Six)
posted by sapagan at 7:35 AM on December 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


I looked at the Vice list.

There is not a single artist I have heard of on it. Well, okay, Bjork, but she kinda doesn't count because I heard of her back in the nineties.

I think I am getting old.
posted by egypturnash at 8:57 AM on December 5, 2015


You're not talking about Buckethead, are you?

Welp. I guess I have 110 new albums to assess for AOTY?

This is exactly what I'm talking about oh my goddddd
posted by rorgy at 9:14 AM on December 5, 2015



Not to call out a fellow member, but it blows my mind to hear naju upping Carly Rae Jepsen and Kendrick Lamar, because once he invited me to a music-sharing chatroom with him and a few of his friends, and it might as well have an app where people made up band names and some super-crafty algorithm wrote the song that they imagined that band would play.


Ha! But I don't see the point of this non-callout? I take pleasure in popular, well-known music. I also take pleasure in music of lesser popularity. Sometimes I take pleasure in the music from friends, that zero other people have heard. That particular characteristic - the knownness - has no effect on my enjoyment. It's easy to look at someone digging deep in that limitless well and thinking they're just trying really hard to out-savvy you or something, so then when I dig deep, but also listened to the Carly album more than anything else this year (listened to it twice yesterday, in fact!) it seems like some apparent contradiction. But really if you're a music fan then you're receptive to everything, from anywhere, and thank god I'm always surprised and pleased as hell just to be listening and loving in 2015 :)
posted by naju at 9:15 AM on December 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


Also I'm getting older. Kids in their twenties are into shit I've never heard of and have no way of knowing about. Savvyness is relative, thus has it ever been.
posted by naju at 9:18 AM on December 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Other albums released this year which are (1) great and (2) I can't imagine turning up on any of these lists:

Hills, Frid
Tess Parks, I Declare Nothing
Cheatahs, Mythologies
Teeth of the Sea, Highly Deadly Black Tarantula
Kagoule, Urth
Warm Brains, Big Wow
Phoenix Foundation, Give Up Your Dreams
posted by Sonny Jim at 9:21 AM on December 5, 2015


I really liked Viet Cong-March of Progresss
Were there any Boards of Canada-ish albums that were good this year?
posted by PHINC at 10:07 AM on December 5, 2015


Max Richter - Sleep
Christina Vantzou - No. 3
Ibeyi - s/t
Kamasi Washington - The Epic
Knxwledge - Anthology

Off the top of my head, probably forgetting something, caveat caveat, etc.
posted by box at 10:17 AM on December 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh, C'mon! Annual Album Arguments? Really?!? Everyone knows that the only real argument, this year or any year, is if it's "Revolver" or "Pet Sounds".
posted by TDavis at 10:18 AM on December 5, 2015


Also: Broken Water, Wrought. Shoegaze with a social conscience. Genuinely great band; great album.
posted by Sonny Jim at 12:06 PM on December 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


and it might as well have an app where people made up band names and some super-crafty algorithm wrote the song that they imagined that band would play.

my husband and i joke that's what happens on our spotify discover weekly playlist - like there some computer creating music that combines random parts from everything we're listening to.
posted by nadawi at 12:33 PM on December 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


OK, so seeing no-one else is going to do it [sideways glance at Sonny Jim], I guess it falls to me to mention that this year The Chills put out their first album in 19 years, and it's actually pretty good (certainly better than the last one, and up there with Brave Words or Submarine Bells). Keep meaning to do an FPP, but in the meantime here's When the Poor Can Reach the Moon and Molten Gold, but I think the album works best as a whole.

Overall for me there's been a lot of good albums this year, with the first six below being the ones I'm most likely to play in the future:

Kendrick Lamar, D'Angelo, Kurt Vile, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Father John Misty, John Grant, Wilco, The Mountain Goats, Sleater-Kinney, Public Service Broadcasting, Sufjan Stevens, Young Fathers, Calexico, Sleaford Mods, A$AP Rocky, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Sun Kil Moon, Carly Rae Jepsen, Drake, Phoenix Foundation, Bill Fay, New Order, Haiku Salut, Shellac and Jeffrey Lewis did it for me.
posted by Pink Frost at 1:40 PM on December 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oh, what the heck. In no particular order:

Ibeyi - Ibeyi
Grimes - Art Angels
Faith No More - Sol Invictus
Puscifer - Money Shot
All Them Witches - Dying Surfer Meets His Maker
Florence + The Machine - How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
posted by komara at 1:59 PM on December 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Dang, forgot In C Mali. Joey Bada$$, THEE Satisfaction (did I punctuate that one right? Shit's gettin' weird), Heems, Sean Price, Large Pro, DJ Efn, Apollo Brown, The Purist, and Statik Selektah had some good joints, hip-hop-wise, even if it's hard to put a DJ/producer album filled with features on a best-of list. The record hasn't arrived, but that Cut Chemist French mix might be pretty aight. Ditto the Eleh collabo. That William Parker box is great. And now, Miguel.
posted by box at 2:21 PM on December 5, 2015


In the order I think of them:

Dinosaur Pile-Up - Eleven Eleven
Sleater-Kinney - No Cities to Love
Colleen Green - I Want to Grow Up
Desaparecidos - Payola
The Juliana Hatfield Three - Whatever, My Love
Jeff Rosenstock - We Cool?
Nai Harvest - Hairball
Not Scientists - Destroy to Rebuild
Veruca Salt - Ghost Notes
Potty Mouth - Potty Mouth

The new Maritime record might belong on this list, too, but I don't think I've spent enough time with it to say for sure.
posted by aaronetc at 2:59 PM on December 5, 2015


For those who like K-Pop. Lim Kim's Awoo [YT]

I don't generally, but that really hits the spot.
posted by postcommunism at 3:54 PM on December 5, 2015


Also, nth-ing the new Grimes. I love Easily, California, and Belly of the Beat, but more than the rest combined I've been listening to to the single, ever since this thread.
posted by postcommunism at 5:18 PM on December 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh, C'mon! Annual Album Arguments? Really?!? Everyone knows that the only real argument, this year or any year, is if it's "Rocket to Russia" or "Never Mind the Bollocks".
TDavis ftfy
And rorgy Thanks, I'll be listening to that when I get to work.
There is So much here that I haven't heard, I'll be listening for a long while. This year nearly everything new I've listened to turned out to be new to me, like
Hot Since 82. I guess some years are like that.
posted by evilDoug at 6:36 AM on December 6, 2015


Vince Staples.
posted by box at 4:20 AM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


What a great year for music this has been. But right now my top 3 are:
Son Lux - Bones (& Lanterns Wicks EP)
Joanna Newsom - Divers
Sufjan Stevens - Carrie & Lowell

but also
Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress
Holly Herndon - Platform
FKA Twigs - M3LL155X EP
Mountain Goats, The - Beat the Champ
Sleater-Kinney - No Cities To Love

and so many others ...
Will have to mine this thread, but dang do I feel like I barely have enough time to even skim so many wonderful albums.
posted by Theta States at 9:19 AM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


To Pimp A Butterfly really hasn't held up for me the way I thought it would. It wouldn't be in my top 10, sadly. And I was very enthusiastic about it when it dropped. It has a few really standout tracks where I'm 100% there, and then there is lots of meandering, self-conscious poetry and art overstuffed with shallow references. But that's just me and I expect many people will angrily, passionately argue the opposite.

My reaction 100%. I think of putting that album on now and I just feel pre-emptively exhausted.
posted by Theta States at 9:21 AM on December 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Added to my earlier picks: Herbert - Get Strong. Making house/dance music political.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:30 PM on December 7, 2015


NPR Music's 50 Favorite Albums Of 2015.
posted by immlass at 7:10 PM on December 7, 2015


Sigh, even NPR seems to be hipper than I am about music now.
posted by octothorpe at 7:45 AM on December 8, 2015


Anyone checking out albums based on recommendations here and in the links?
So far I've discovered the joy that is Kamasi Washington's The Epic, and have been enjoying Eskimeaux and Natalie Prass.
Checked out FFS and Princess Chelsea but wasn't for me.

And I still really love the 2 mixes I put out this year, because duh I put my favourite things in to them.
No More Human Friends
On Clairvoyance
Would be odd to put them on my list, but I did listen to them a lot this year, so...
posted by Theta States at 7:56 AM on December 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Downloaded those mixes, Theta States. Thanks for sharing em.
posted by naju at 9:13 AM on December 8, 2015


NY Times critics' picks.
posted by immlass at 10:41 AM on December 10, 2015


Lutoslawski--

About 1/4 of your list is stuff I know and love. The rest is stuff I've never listened to! I'm really excited to dig into the other 3/4. Just downloaded the Chopin project.
posted by great_radio at 10:59 PM on December 10, 2015


That Floating Points album is fantastic.
posted by naju at 5:38 PM on December 4 [2 favorites −] Favorite added! [!]


This album is now added to my favorites of the year. Awesome. Thanks!
posted by Lutoslawski at 8:11 PM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


The best albums of the year wreathe 5 or 6 albums Young Thug put out.
posted by cell divide at 8:16 PM on December 14, 2015


I posted up my final list of Best of 2015, along with a ZIP file of mp3s from each
posted by Theta States at 6:42 AM on December 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


ok just came across this LP today, but Looming by Nailbiter is just so fucking good. Fans of Hop Along, especially, check it out. Onward is a fantastic song.
posted by FirstMateKate at 9:51 AM on January 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


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