The first half of 2015 I was struggling to get into albums, there were plenty of singles I was enjoying but when listening to the rest of the artists work I was starting to think it might be a bad year for albums – is there such a thing? No! It turns out, I just needed to listen to less radio and invest some time searching out new music, rather than just going to my current collection. Having said that, I still barely scratched surface of what has been released, and I’m sure in the coming years I will find many gems that were released this year that don’t feature here.
Let us know what you’ve enjoyed in the comments below, here’s our picks for 2015:
10. The Phoenix Foundation – Give up your dreams
Wellington based The Phoenix Foundation have featured in our top lists before, Give up your dreams sees more experimentation and variety, a slight deviation from the proven track perhaps which is essential for any band to stay relevant. I found this record took quite a few listens to get into and the new sounds sometimes work great; as on Celestial bodies, and other times have me finding the skip track button as on Playing Dead.
9. Leon Bridges – Coming Home
Coming Home is a bit different from my usual tastes, it’s a soul album with a retro feel, Bridges reminds me of the brilliant Amy Winehouse at times with his ability to bring something new at the same time as sounding like it could have come out in the heyday of the likes of Aretha Franklin or Sam Cooke.
8. Mark Ronson – Uptown Special (Daffodils)
You must have been living under a rock if you haven’t heard the single Uptown Funk or the incredibly catchy Feels right for that matter. But there’s more to this album that these two pop masterpieces. Daffodils featuring Kevin Parker of Tama Impala fame is my favourite track on the album, and Leaving Loz Feliz also featuring Parker is another stand out. This is a fun summer album.
7. Calexico – Edge of the Sun
There’s so many musical styles on Edge of the Sun its hard to pin down what category you would class this, sure there’s goign to be something on here you don’t like, but as an album something so diverse shouldn’t work but for me it does. Have a listen to my favourite tracks below, and if you don’t like them, the other half of the album is completely different so give that a listen.
6. Tame Impala – Currents
Arguably THE act of 2015, Tama Impala has delivered a solid album that kicks off with one of the tracks of the year Let it happen. The second half of Let it happen I just love, and this is an album that will reveal more to you on each listen.
5. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell
I didn’t know what to expect prior to listening to this, as is the case with any Sufjan Stevens album, he’s one crazy creative cat! With delicate guitars, airy vocals, beautiful but sombre tones, Carrie & Lowell proves once again that you don’t need an album to be happy, upbeat or written in major tones in order to be uplifting. Have a read of the Pitchfork review for some insight into the intimate and family background of his best work yet.
4. Beach House – Depression Cherry
Not to be content with release one album in a year, Beach House released Depression Cherry and then 2 months later dropped the follow up Thank Your Lucky Stars. For me, Depression Cherry was the stand out work and took the band in a slightly different direction while remaining firmly within the dream pop genre and producing and album that could only be Beach House.
3. SJD – Saint John Divine
I had heard critics raving about SJD’s Saint John Divine, and the radio friendly I wanna be foolish had certainly got me interested, but I was not expecting to be so blown away with the album. I love NZ music, but only if it’s good, not because its from NZ. This is a special album and if you can get the opportunity to see SJD live, jump at it, his catalog of work is impressive and has so much to draw on and Saint John Divine adds even more strength to this.
2. Father John Misty – I Love you, Honeybear
It’s always risking quoting YouTube comments, but I have to agree here; “this is music at some of its finest. I wish I could bottle it n take it like a drug wen needed” (sic). This album has featured on many top lists for 2015, and I have to agree, its gotta be one of the most played in my house (after Toddler radio on Pandora) with plenty of variation across the album, check out my favorites below and see if you agree?
1. Jamie XX – In Colour
Sitting on top of many album of the year lists for 2015 is Kendrick Lamar, but not for me. In Colour took me back to my love of big beats and big bass while on many evening commutes, it’s been somewhat of a headphone album for me, but one that never fails to be played right through and keep me interested from start to finish, with no skipping of tracks.
What’s in store for 2016? Well we know that Beck will release his teased album and on the back of Dreams and one of the best tracks of the year The Chemical Brothers – Wide Open (links to Spotify) where he performed vocal duties, and with Radiohead, Wild Nothing, Choir of Young Believers, Sun Kil Moon, Gorillaz, Deftones, James Blake, LCD Soundsystem, The Horrors and many more all expecting to release albums, I think its going to be a great one.