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Friday, September 29, 2023

Top 25 albums of 2015

1. To Pimp a Butterfly - Kendrick Lamar

It’s rare to see an album as tightly woven together into a perfect story as Kendrick Lamar’s second full-length album, To Pimp a Butterfly. It’s also rare to come across an album that so effortlessly blends several genres and intertwines them tightly with themes of loss, mental health and K. Dot’s personal experience as a black man in America. Lamar spun gold from straw, creating one of the biggest anthems of self-assurance (“Alright”), an angry hymn of black experience (“The Blacker The Berry”) and a finale where he has a realistic question-and-answer session with goddamn Tupac (“Mortal Man”). Lamar has a once-in-a-generation flow and, after the release of Butterfly, it’s clear that Kendrick has left an imprint on rap and music as a medium.

2. In Colour - Jamie xx

In Colour is more than the best electronic album of the year, it’s a precedent. When starry-eyed club producers of the future are trying to breathe life and meaning into their compositions, they’ll look back to this album not to see what electronic music is, but what it can be. Every movement on this album is fine-tuned with emotional and sonic precision that most musicians can only grasp in hypotheticals. Jamie xx was able to combine his knowledge of UK dance music with prodigious songwriting to create an album with historical weight. Listening to In Colour evokes a sense of something greater, something beyond the emotionless commercial EDM that dominated 2015: a sense of wonder and discovery.

3. Vulnicura - Björk

Björk has a history of creating music that evokes emotions from deep within us. On Vulnicura, it was her turn to emote her way through the end of her partnership with Matthew Barney. What followed was an hour-long march that detailed the Icelandic singer’s heart-wrenching breakup. Björk’s impact has permeated throughout the music industry over her nearly 30-year career. Seven of the nine songs on Vulnicura stretch to more than seven minutes, mirroring the drawn-out ending of her partnership with Barney. Vulnicura’s immaculate production, with the assistance of Arca and The Haxan Cloak, pushes this album into one of the best of the year, and one of the best of Björk’s entire career.

4. Currents - Tame Impala

You know what they say, third time’s the charm, and such is the case with Currents, Tame Impala’s third album. “Let It Happen”, an eight-minute rock ballad, sets the tone for the album, flowing through other driving tracks like “The Less I Know The Better” and “Disciples." Experimenting with new style, songs like “Cause I’m A Man” and the strange baritone narrator of “Past Life” add a new dimension to the album. Loaded with emotion, Currents feels like a breakup album and listens like rock ’n’ roll. Losing none of their trademark dreamy sound, more than ever Currents feels like one seamless piece of art.

5. No Cities To Love - Sleater-Kinney

The release of this album reunites Sleater-Kinney’s band members after nearly a decade hiatus, showcasing confident instrumentals and vocals that provide seamless transitions from song to song. The indie-rock tones throughout hinge on the shredding from the electric guitar, most notably in tracks like “Surface Envy” and “Bury Our Friends.” Sleater-Kinney returns with prominence in this electric and exciting album.

I Love You, Honeybear - Father John Misty

It’s clear Father John Misty has lost none of his edge from the twisted nativity scene to the snarky lyrics on I Love You, Honeybear. This album softly croons through light-rock satire of our society. Each song can stand alone, but Father John Misty puts together an album that rises and falls with his songs and voice, giving new meaning to the full album.

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7. Sound & Color - Alabama Shakes

Sound & Color is not just a reiteration of the Alabama Shakes that we love. Although it maintains the pure soul and talent of vocalist Brittany Howard, as well as the band’s usual groove, this album has a darker edge. Some tracks aren’t suited for easy listening, as this album leans a bit more toward rock than blues, but it’s definitely worth a listen for an infusion of soulful emotion.

8. Summertime ’06 - Vince Staples

Summertime ’06 is a two-disc exploration of Vince Staples’ dark realism, starting with an unsettling gunshot at the beginning of both sides of the album, and progressing through a diverse collection of tracks with a continuity of eeriness and his particularly rhythmic rap. Even though the album contains an ambitious 20 songs within 60 minutes, it is a remarkably focused hour free of fluff and full of melodic verses.

9. Fetty Wap - Fetty Wap

In Fetty Wap’s debut, self-titled album he accomplished something truly special—he made his voice one of the most recognizable staples on the radio today. This is an artist that has only been in the public spotlight for a year and is making waves in the hip-hop scene with his unique style and bold ideas. Squaw!

10. American Drift - Elysia Crampton

American Drift is an album in limbo. It lives between the worlds of the artificial and real with unsettling confidence. Chirping birds and ethereal horns find themselves in conversation with gunfire, and Lil Jon samples on Crampton’s debut album. It’s a dizzying journey, but wholly worth the ride.

11. New Bermuda - Deafheaven

12. Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit - Courtney Barnett

13. Carrie & Lowell - Sufjan Stevens

14. The Epic - Kamasi Washington

15. Painted Shut - Hop Along

16. Mutant - Arca

17. How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful - Florence + The Machine

18. Inanimate Objects - Atlas Genius

19. b’lieve i’m goin down... - Kurt Vile

20. So the Flies Don’t Come - Milo

21. Savage Hills Ballroom - Youth Lagoon

22. Divers - Joanna Newsom

23. 25 - Adele

24. I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside: An Album by Earl Sweatshirt - Earl Sweatshirt

25. Yours, Dreamily, - The Arcs

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