This is a list of albums I think you should listen to but hey what do I know?
1. Ava Luna – Infinite House
Gonna start off with some immediate praise: man, do I love this band! This record might not be as immediately strange and janky as Ava Luna’s last record, Electric Balloon, but it pours on what the band does best: blend silky-smooth grooves in with jagged riffs and artful experimentation. If you know me, you know that I love the grooves and riffs. Woah, here we go – an album that I really like.
2. Björk – Vulnicura
Earlier this year when Vulnicura came out and I was on a complete Björk high, I played her 1997 album, Homogenic, in the car with my friend on the way to a party. My friend hadn’t really listened to Björk before and I explained that she just released a new album that I’m obsessed with and this is one of her older ones. He was shocked to find that Homogenic came out in 1997, since it apparently sounded “so futuristic.” I’d like to think that the same scenario might play out in 2033 with people thinking that this album sounds so futuristic, which is does. Through the assisted production of Arca & Haxan Cloak along with her marvelous ear and talent as a backdrop, Björk was able to once again create an album that definitely seems rooted in 2015, but contains sonic traces of things that sound like they were brought back from a time machine. I’m not even going to get into the songwriting since I don’t want to crawl under my bed and writhe for a few hours. It’s too nice out. This was by far my most anticipated record of 2015 before the year began and it is currently my ultimate favorite. It’ll be tough for anything to beat it.
3. Chastity Belt – Time To Go Home
Hey. I graduated college. You know what album was there for me every step of the way? Well, not this one completely, but it was there for the final stretch. This record has a ton of fun, lazy melodies that are easy enough to put on at hangouts, but also to self-reflect to. Lots of these songs have to do with partying hard, but there’s a second side of this fun, throw caution to the wind type song that has to do with how you feel afterwards: should I keep boozing it up on weekends after I graduate? Am I going to continue having this much fun or should I live it up while I still can? Can I control myself? It’s introspective records like these that really got to me in my last year of college and hey here I am now. Unemployed.
4. Colin Stetson & Laura Neufeld – Never Were The Way She Was
I’ve been fond of Stetson’s music before this release but this is definitely the first record I’ve really clicked with on a personal level. This is definitely thanks to the wonderful violin playing of Laura Neufeld, which adds another dimension to the mechanical, vaguely human skronking and chugging of Stetson’s incredible saxophone playing. Even though Stetson is able to add multiple melodies to his own playing alone, the additional counterpoint of Neufeld’s violin provides a varied experience among Stetson’s previous discography. A good example of this would be on the track “The Dark Hug Of Time” where Neufeld’s violin is providing a sonic backdrop to Stetson’s mutated saxophone shrieks, playing out like a strange film scene in my mind. Check this one out for sure.
5. Eskimeaux – O.K.
This is probably the newest album to join the Top 15 at this point in the year but oh boy does it deserve to be there. I associate Eskimeaux with recent, NY-based acts such as Mitski, Porches., and Frankie Cosmos, which is appropriate because they all share members//tour together. I also associate them because it’s powerful, exposed music that a twenty-something like me can really identify with. Musically, it’s lush and varied, yielding bold, instrumentally dense tracks along with bare, solo acoustic songs, similar to last year’s albums from Mitski and Frankie Cosmos, another parallel. This formula is clearly working on me.
6. Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear
I’ve listened to this album the most this year so far, by far. I kind of got sick of it. In fact, listening to it now as I write this little blurb, I’m still a little sick of it. Isn’t that a shame? Well, back in January-March, this album was my obsession. It embodied my sad, vitamin D deprived soul in the harshest winter I’ve ever experienced. This album seriously had it all: it’s got the sappy love songs, it’s got the sappy sad songs, the goofy tracks, the sap tracks, etc. Also, musically, c’mon now. It’s gorgeous. It’s definitely got some rust on it now that I’m checking it out again, but it’s still healthily in the Top 15.
7. Holly Herndon – Platform
Ever wonder what music of the future sounds like? Or rather, music centered on problems that feel like the future but are closer than they appear? Herndon’s second album delves deeper into humanity’s complicated relationship with developing technology, specifically computers and the internet, along with its impact on art as a whole. Music wise, it’s a treacherous journey through vocal manipulations, warped field recordings, anxious electronics and one lone ASMR track. It’s like a glorious chorus of the future straight into your brain from your tablet device.
8. Hop Along – Painted Shut
Before this album came out, I was really worried that it wouldn’t live up to my massive expectations following their 2012 album, Get Disowned. But I should have known, with a voice like Francis Quinlan, there’s no way anyone can have their expectations let down. You can’t doubt the majesty and power of that voice. It’s seriously out of this world and the first thing I tell people about Hop Along, usually paired with “yo you GOTTA listen to this.” It’s got some catchy riffs, too! I love this album so much.
9. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
What can be said about this album that hasn’t been already said? There are classes based on analyzing this album, for goodness sake. I guess in my own words, I can say it’s a magnificent triumph for so many different dimensions of music and life. It’s socially conscious without being lamely preaching, the instrumentals are lush, inventive, and shows a mind that was organically brought up on positive influences and wants to continue being a positive influence for his community & the world. A must-listen for fans of all types of music.
10. Krill – A Distant Fist Unclenching
Really didn’t expect to like this one as much as I do. I surely enjoyed their previous LP but this one really connected with me on a deeper level. I think it was definitely in part to the massive album centerpiece track “Tiger” which I’ve already geeked out about to many friends. Another factor was seeing them live to realize that they easily translate the sound from their record to the live space – it sounded just like the record with all the great nuances with playing in a live space. It was wonderful.
11. Mount Eerie – Sauna
Sometimes when I’m nostalgic for the brutal, seemingly-never ending winter that we were put through this year, I just put this on because 1. I listened to this album a bunch at the beginning of the year when times were frozen and because 2. it literally sounds like the fierce forces of nature coming together to wipe out whatever shred of hope you still had in your body. There are pristine moments, where things are quiet and the snow is falling softly, but there are others where the wind is ripping at your face and you feel like you can’t see a foot in front of you. It’s a massive experience, especially the two drone tracks on here. Truly the full Mount Eerie experience.
12. Panda Bear – Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper
Not really sure what to say about this one, honestly. There’s actually a good deal about this album that I wish were different. I wish there weren’t the 30-second interlude tracks that have great song names. Shadow of the Colossus? That’s my favorite video game. So epic- if could have been a sweeping, epic track. Davy Jones’ Locker? With the deep, murky synths on this record it could have had some aquatic samples in there. Where are tracks like “Untying the Knot” that were on his teaser EP from 2014? But clearly, the things I like about this album do outweigh a lot of my complaints enough to put it in my Top 15. I really like the fat, jiggly synths used on this album, especially on the tracks “Boys Latin” and the ethereal moments like on “Tropic of Cancer” and “Lonely Wanderer.” It’s no Person Pitch or even Tomboy; but I’ll definitely take it.
13. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell
Oh man, oh my. I don’t think I was emotionally ready for this record when I first listened to it. I’m being completely honest when I say that; the first time I listened it washed over me like nothing had happened. However, one night when I decided to listen again, I stopped everything I was doing and just listened. Then I teared up. Then I went to bed. It really tore me apart. I’m not used to Sufjan doing that to me. I’ve gotten used to Sufjan being bombastic and colorful on albums like Age of Adz and All Delighted People. Not even his two state albums encroach this emotional territory. It’s so clearly about his life experiences that you’re sucked in, like looking at a sentimental photo album of his life. Woof, man. Woof. That’s all I gotta say.
14. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Multi-Love
Definitely one of the grooviest albums on this list. I seriously didn’t have many expectations for this album since UMO’s first two albums yielded a few great singles and nothing more. What we got on this one were a few great singles and a bunch of other equally good tracks. This album is a swirling, soggy dream of psychedelia and boy am I into it. When tracks are effortlessly stuck in my head for days, I’d say something has gone right.
15. Viet Cong – Viet Cong
Calgary-based band Viet Cong’s debut EP, simply titled Cassette, was my favorite EP of 2014, so I had high hopes for their debut album, especially since this band is the product of the dissolution of another one of my favorite bands, Women. Well, in June of 2015, I still have not found a flaw in this record. If you’re looking for thunderous yet jangly post punk songs, have this be your first pick.
+ 1: Sunflower Bean – Show Me Your Seven Secrets EP
I don’t normally rank EPs along with albums in my top album lists, but this EP would be up there for sure. Yeah, 2/3 of the songs on this EP have been released before, but damn. They’re some really good songs. And they’re really sweet people.