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The best albums of 2015 so far


So we are over 75% of the way through the year. What are your favorite albums? Here are mine.

  1. Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly —number one by a landslide, light years ahead of everyone else for musicianship, innovation, and cultural relevance.

  2. Laura Marling, Short Movie —She broke out of her folkie shell a bit, and it’s, to me, quite riveting. Just an incredible performance, and one great song after another.

  3. Jason Isbell, Something More Than Free —Maybe the best songwriter out there, at least from a country-folk perspective, and this is a stout set.

  4. A$AP Rocky, AT.LONG.LAST.A$AP —I don’t know if it’s as good as his last album or not but it’s been slept on to a great degree because I guess it didn’t meet the expectations of people who didn’t give it a chance.

  5. DJ Koze, DJ Kicks —This is a mix, so it maybe shouldn’t count but it’s an infinitely pleasurable and inventive one. I find brisk and inspiring.

  6. Rich Homie Quan, If You Ever Think I Will Stop Going In, Ask Double RR —Rich Homie Quan kind of keeps making the same thing over and over, but he’s one of my favorites and I love the sheer bouncing joy of sonics here.

  7. Jim O’Rourke, Simple Songs —He’s another of my favorite songwriters, and his first album with vocals in a while is deep, rich, complex, and ultimately very moving.

  8. Hot Chip, Why Make Sense? —For a while I thought this was on a tier below their best stuff, but it’s just catchy as hell and a nice mix of bangers and more experimental, acrobatic stuff.

  9. Lakker, Tundra —Gorgeous instrumental music that shifts between spacey moments and hard, crunching songs. I’ve turned to this one a lot.

  10. The Mountain Goats, Beat the Champ —A full album about wrestling, which turns out to be about a lot more, brilliantly observed and sophisticated.

  11. Ryley Walker, Primrose Green —This guy is basically just doing a Van Morrison riff, but damn if it isn’t a really good one. I’m about to see him perform for the second time this year, love him.

  12. HEALTH, DEATH MAGIC —This band fits my mood more often than most bands, blow-out-your-speakers loud and vaguely nihilistic but on this album, also very catchy.

  13. Sufjan Stevens, Carrie and Lowell —I mostly can’t stand this guy but couldn’t resist this suite of song about the deaths of his parents. It’s heartbreaking yet feels very real and warm at the same time.

  14. Roisin Murphy, Hairless Toys —You’ve got to crank it to hear all of the little textures but this is an assured, curious cycle of electronic songs about fear and identity.

  15. Boozie Badazz, Touch Down 2 Cause Hell —The songs can sound a little samey to me but it’s dark and grimy as hell, and as hip-hop storytelling goes nothing this year tops it.


There was music released this year? Whoaaaaaa…


The only album I bought that was released this year was Diana Krall’s “Wallflower”. She is covering rock songs like Desperado and California Dreaming. I waIted and got the Complete Sessions with 20 songs. I have been enjoying it a lot.


I’ve basically only listened to rap this year. I haven’t really been following music that closely, aside from my favorite artists. I agree with what Robert said about Kendrick Lamar and A$AP Rocky.

  1. Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp A Butterfly (Recommended songs: “The Blacker The Berry,” “u”)
  2. Dr. Dre - Compton (“Animals,” “It’s All On Me”)
  3. Vince Staples - Summertime '06 (“Lift Me Up,” “Norf Norf”)
  4. A$AP Rocky - At.Long.Last.A$AP (“Excuse Me,” “Jukebox Joints”)
  5. The Game - The Documentary 2/2.5 (“Dedicated,” “The Ghetto”)
  6. Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment - Surf (“Windows,” “Slip Slide”)
  7. Heems - Eat Pray Thug (“Flag Shopping,” “Sometimes”)
  8. Earl Sweatshirt - I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside (“Grown Ups,” “Faucet”)
  9. Curren$y - Pilot Talk III (“Cargo Planes,” “Pot Jar”)
  10. Curren$y - Cathedral (“T.Y.,” “Like Five Deuce Four Trey”)
  11. Scarface - Deeply Rooted (“All Bad,” “Keep It Movin’”)
  12. DonMonique - Thirst Trap (“Tha Low,” “Drown”)


I haven’t bought much new music this year but I’ll echo Robert’s comments on Sufjan Stevens’ Carrie and Lowell. It is a really beautiful album.

Other than that I think the only new records I’ve bought have been So There by Ben Folds and Ymusic - which is a fun set of eight new Folds songs with slightly more unusual arrangements than usual, along with his three-movement piano concerto which has really grown on me to the point that it’s the highlight of the album - and Death Cab’s Kintsugi, which was ok but a bit underwhelming, bland and unmemorable.


Haven’t listened to anything other than Radio 2 and podcasts this year but love Ben Folds so will need to stick my head above the parapet and get hold of that .


It’s well worth it if you’re a fan. Some fun new songs on there with a slightly different sound due to the Ymusic aspects. Apparently they got on great together and are planning more.


One of the best concerts I’ve been to was Ben Folds and Neil Hanlon at Glasgow Barrowlands mainly because it just looked like they were having fun !


I’ve got a bootleg of one of the shows they did together - it sounded like great fun and I wish I could have seen them on that tour, but I was living out of the country at that time.

Did you catch Ben Folds Five when they toured The Sound of the Life of the Mind a couple of years ago? They put on a great show.


Not being the country is as good a reason as any lol

I didn’t sadly but heard they were fantastic.


Caracal by Disclosure has been a highlight for me.


Young Fathers are the most exciting band to happen in my lifetime, I’m not exaggerating. New album White Men Are Black Men Too is wonderful, listen to it. See them live if you can.

Really love the new Bjork album, Vulnicura, a standout even by her standards. Achingly personal, innovative as always and especially rewarding to repeat listens. Favourite tracks; Atom Dance, Stonemilker, Lionsong, Black Lake.

Robyn & La Bagatelle Magique’s mini-album Love Is Free is loads of fun, 25 minutes crammed full of massive beats and hooks, I love it. Favourite tracks; Love Is Free, Tell You Today, Got To Work It Out.

Father John Misty’s I Love You Honeybear caught me off guard, I was expecting to get so into this, but the smart-arse lyrics do make me grin a lot, the lavish production keeps every second entertaining (there’s a mariachi band!). And it’s actually genuinely sweet and touching underneath all the the nihilism. Favourite tracks; I Love You, Honeybear, Holy Shit, Cheateau Lobby #4 (In C For Two Virgins), The Ideal Husband

Susanne Sundfor’s new album Ten Love Songs may be her best effort yet, dramatic electronic chamber pop that doesn’t hold back. Favoruite tracks; Kamikaze, Accelerate, Delirious

Viet Cong’s self-titled debut is a nice chunk of gritty Joy Division-esque post punk. Sounds really rough around the edges and has the momentum of a freight train. Delivers some lovely walls of guitar feedback. Favourite tracks; Newspaper Spoons, Death, Pointless Existence

Carly Rae Jepson’s Emotion is gaining a lot of comparisons to Taylor Swift’s 1989, which I don’t really feel is fair, that just puts it into the shade of one of what is probably the crowning glory of mankind’s musical endeavors thus far. Emotion is much more straightforward, just seems to solely concern itself with earworms and choruses, and it does its job well. If you’re in the market for some feelgood 80s electropop pastiches, look no further. Favourite tracks; I Really Really Like You, Run Away With Me, Gimme Love, Boy Problems

It’s impossible to talk about Siskiyou’s album Nervous without referencing Arcade Fire. Not that Siskiyou aren’t their own band, but listening to high quality Canadian orchestral indie rock will inevitably put you in mind of the masters. If you love Funeral, you’ll love this really. Favourite songs; Imbecile Thoughts, Violent Motion Pictures, Wasted Genius

Sleater-Kinney proved that nearly a decade-long hiatus wont break their winning streak of perfect albums. No Cities To Love easily falls in line with its predecessors as a fully-formed chunk of unstoppable punk rock brilliance. Sleater-Kinney always sound so bloody important, every album matters, this one is no exception. Really visceral and passionate, this is how you do a reunion. Favourite tracks; Price Tag, No Cities To Love, Bury Our Friends, Gimme Love

The Phantom Band have gone back to their gloomy roots on Fears Trending. Aside from finding the album title really crap, I’m really enjoying them moving back into the murky and weird territory they lived in for their first two albums. Favourite tracks, Denise Hopper, Kingfisher

Belle & Sebastian sound really rejuvenated on Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance (another crap title). For as long as I’ve been listening to them, I haven’t been interested in the new stuff they’ve been putting out, just their classic work from the 90s. But this one adds some upbeat synths to their sound and really seems to have put new life into them. It’s still recognisably Belle & Sebastian, you’ll still get the usual tweeness, but they seem to have cast off their tropes that were getting worn out and tired (not another bloody song about the only indie girl in school that nobody appreciates, Stuart, please). I hope they keep this phase up, it really does suit them. Favourite songs; Nobody’s Empire, The Everlasting Muse, Play For Today.

Other than those I also recommend Bad Love by Summer Camp, The Race For Space by Public Service Broadcasting, Fast Food by Nadine Shah, Strangers To Ourselves by Modest Mouse, Peanut Butter by Joanna Newsom, Lease Of Life by Errors, and Citizen Zombie by The Pop Group.

Some albums I’ve recently acquired and am currently enjoying wrapping my ears around include some thunderingly good emo in the form of The World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am No Longer Afraid To Die’s new album Harmlessness, East India Youth’s second lovely slice of indie rock mashed up with synthpop blended with ambient electronic Culture Of Volume, and Speedy Ortiz’s Foil Deer delivers another agreeable chunk of buzzing guitars and howled choruses.

Of other albums mentioned in the thread, I really love Sufjan Stevens’ and Kendrick Lamar’s new albums. Kendrick, in particular, has possibly made the great American album. How something that long, intelligent and experimental can also so be some much bloody fun is beyond me but I’m having a great time with it. How has he crammed so much brilliance in there?

New albums by Purity Ring, Marina And The Diamonds, Chvrches, Sleaford Mods, Godspeed You Black Emperor, and Colin Stetson & Sarah Neufeld are out there, I’m a fan of those artists so I’ll need to find time to listen to them all soon. I’ve caught Songhoy Blues, Slug, and Landshapes playing live this year and loved them so I’ll need to listen to their stuff too.

Arca has another album of those amazingly weird sounds on the way soon, don’t know if it’s even music he’s making but it’s great. Lanterns On The Lake have an upcoming album of more electronic-tinged soaring English indie folk loveliness around the corner. I can wait for my pre-order of Joanna Newsom’s Divers to get here at the end of the month and blow everybody else out the water. Kanye, where’s the new album? You can’t just drop a few brilliant tracks and then leave us with blue balls for months, it’s inhumane.

2015 has been an amazing year for music, my wallet has taken a battering, my ears say it’s worth it.


My favorite album so far this year is the anthology Another Day, Another Time: Celebrating the Music of Inside Llewyn Davis.

Come to think of it, most of the other albums I bought in 2015 were released by artists who also perform on Another Day, Another Time (Rhiannon Giddens, Marcus Mumford, Colin Meloy of the Decemberists).


Have to go with that U2 album.
Mainly because I fell asleep with it playing and it pavlov’d me.


Yeah, I get that with U2 too.


It is unseemly how much I laughed at that.

Although, I did like Iris. That was catchy.


I’ve listened to that Vince Staples more than almost any record the last few months, but I think it’s just missing something. I don’t know what.

Father John Misty’s last record was one of my favorites of the past 5 years or so, I was disappointed by his new one.


A quick check and I think I have only bought two albums this year.

Muse - Drones. A real grower this album, listen to it most days, wonderfully excessive in a Queen-lite way. You may recognise this one from the Batman: Arkham Knight advert:

Therapy? - Disquiet. I love Therapy? Consistently putting out great albums for over 20 years.


I kinda feel that, too. I expected to like his album more than Kendrick’s, as I like him a bit more as an emcee, but Summertime '06 is a bit skeletal. Not enough that I don’t think it absolutely knocks–the production is phenomenal, as is just about every verse Vince gives–but I think his aversion to overdoing things held him back a little here. It could’ve done with a little excess, some looking at the pieces of himself he maybe can’t reconcile.


I resisted replying until I’d heard iamthemorning’s Live at the House of Arts, as I thought it might take my #1 spot. Well, it is superb:

But… I think it’s got to be relegated to Emily Portman’s Coracle, which is just magical:

Honourable mentions go to Simpson.Cutting.Kerr, Dan Walsh, and Lonely Robot.

I’ve still got the new Demon’s Eye album to hear, which is a bit of an unknown quantity but should be great if it lives up to the hype (it’s original material from one of the top rated Deep Purple cover bands). And the new Zombies album should be turning up any day now.

Overall it’s been a pretty strong year, despite nothing new from any of my usual top bands.