I really feel like 2015 was a great year for music. Virtually every genre made huge advancements, and it was actually hard to narrow my list down to a manageable number. I was able to get to twelve and even found some time to write something about them. I hope you enjoy!
1. Miguel – Wildheart
It seems like after debuting to pretty sizable critical acclaim, most outlets kind of swept Miguel’s newest record under the rug by year’s end. Wildheart may not have been my most-listened-to release of the year, but it’s the one that left me the most excited and bewildered. It is SUCH a complex album, especially for the genre. I imagine it will get its due someday.
2. Deafheaven – New Bermuda
I had sort of drifted away from metal over the past few years, and it took this new Deafheaven record to pull me right back in. It boasts some incredible production and an overall progression of the band’s sound into darker, scarier territory. SO MANY people hate them, but seriously, fuck off. Find something better to complain about.
3. Drake – If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late
Drake’s best album yet shines in its minimalism. There are no backing vocals, hardly any guests, and really straightforward production. It just sounds like he holed up in a studio by himself with a handful of beats and ripped out some of his rawest verses ever. I think this album won over a ton of skeptics, and for good reason. He’s one of the best.
4. Kill County – Broken Glass in the Sun
You may remember this bourbon-soaked country band from my list in 2013. Their new record is quieter, prettier, and more mature. I can’t recommend it enough. If you listen to one record on this whole list, let it be this one. Those guys deserve it.
5. Ty Dolla $ign – Free TC
First, thanks to Sonny from WBYK (see his list below) for turning me onto this one. I went in pretty unfamiliar with Ty and came out the other end a heart-eyed convert. He has unmatchable range and the sound is huge. Would be near the top if not for the unbearable sequence of Credit/Miracle/Guard Down that brings the middle of the album to a screeching halt.
6. Jeremih – Late Nights: The Album
Late Nights: The Album came out of nowhere and blew me away instantly. If kids still drink cough syrup to get fucked up, I imagine this slow, woozy piece of sex is their chosen soundtrack. Or it should be. Also, weirdest J. Cole verse ever.
7. Pusha T – King Push – Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude
This was another record that did not provide a lot of advance notice and dropped like a bomb. It’s a heavy piece of slime with mesmerizing production by Timbaland, Kanye West, Q-Tip, Metro Boomin, and more. Yech.
8. Ghost Bath – Moonlover
Let’s get this out of the way right now…yes, this album is SUCH a Deafheaven ripoff. Even so, it’s the second-best metal album of 2015. The layers are lush and the aesthetic is dialed in for this controversial band from Minot, ND. The vinyl sounds soooo good too. Black metal at its easiest entry point.
9. Panopticon – Autumn Eternal
I was very, very late to the Panopticon bandwagon, which bewilders and energizes me. I love that there are bands this great out there that I haven’t discovered yet. And he lives in Minnesota, so even more love. If you are even remotely interested in black metal, give this a spin, it’ll raise an eyebrow.
10. Blanck Mass – Dumb Flesh
Solo outing from one-half of noise act Fuck Buttons, and it’s a massive one. As dirty and original as electronic music gets. Many haters of the genre love this record. It’s really good.
11. Disclosure – Caracal
I might be the only person that likes Disclosure’s newest this much, but I give no excuses nor apologies, it’s the rest of you that aren’t on your game. Caracal is a very, very commercial, radio-friendly outing, but Nocturnal (ft The Weekend), Good Intentions (ft Miguel), and Magnets (ft Lorde) stand up to any pop music released in the past year. Can’t wait to see where they go next.
12. Chris Stapleton – Traveller
Country records take infinitely longer to settle in my system than those of any other genre, so I’ve only just recently joined the Chris Stapleton fan club. The songwriting is what sets Traveller apart from any other country release of recent memory. It’s also awesome to occasionally see the right people get huge in a mainstream way. An easy to find recommendation.