I always have so much fun compiling my favorite albums of the year. For the past several weeks Jordan and I have poured over our initial contenders while also making sure we haven’t forgotten anyone! Which we probably have…;-)
As with last year’s selection, these albums are listed alphabetically not by preference. My favorite new discovery this year was the band, Wolf Alice which I had the opportunity to see live in December. You can listen to all of my favorite songs (and some from albums that didn’t make the cut) on my handy Spotify playlist.
Onto the best albums of 2015!
An * denotes bands we saw live last year.
Carly Rae Jepson | E•MO•TION
I know what you are thinking. CRJ, really? Yes, really. I’m not precious about what I like. Good pop music is good music too! I really enjoyed Carly’s performance on SNL earlier this fall and was excited to hear the full length album. Jepsen spent the two years post “Call Me Maybe” trying to convince her label to let her write her own songs, even performing as Cinderella on Broadway. If this is the real Carly than I am all for it!
Favorite Song: “Gimme Love”
*Death Cab for Cutie | Kintsugi
In highschool I was given a burned copy of The Postal Service (composed of Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard and producer Jimmy Tamborello). I’m not even sure the album was officially released at the time but nevertheless I instantly fell in love and needed to hear more. Later in the year, Death Cab For Cutie released Transatlanticism and I became a lifelong fan. I spent a lot of hours listening to DCFC albums in high school and college and Ben Gibbard’s lyrics are still some of the most beautiful and haunting I’ve ever heard. Jordan and I saw DCFC live in September and it was an incredible performance. Go see them!
Favorite Song: “El Dorado”
Justin Bieber | Purpose
I’ve never been anti The Beibs but I’ve felt his music in the past was a little too juvenile for me. Once different singles began popping up from this album, I knew I would like it and Jordan and I have put it on heavy rotation for months! We extensively looked for this album on vinyl but it is nowhere to be found. When you tell people you like this album, you either get an enthusiastic, “Me too!” or just puzzled looks. It’s funny how many people have become Beliebers after this album.
Favorite Song: “Sorry”
Leon Bridges | Coming Home
On first listen you might think Leon Bridges album was a vintage find from the ’60s. Coming Home is easy listening. A love letter written for a different time and place. It’s become quite normal for Jordan and I listen to Coming Home on repeat. Leon’s voice is smooth and buttery and I’m excited to see where his career takes him.
Favorite Song: “Flowers”
*Mac Demarco | Another One
Demarco was a discovery while attending Pitchfork Music Festival last summer. Another One is the album I’d press play on while driving a convertible on the Pacific Coast Highway. It is perfectly relaxed. Jeremy Gordon of Pitchfork said it best, “They’re for the unguarded moments you might share with another person where the both of you are comfortable without reservation. Music made for the end of a rooftop barbecue, when the sun dips, the beer is nearly gone, and everyone who doesn’t want to be there has already gone. Here, you can be honest, goofy, even silent; all of it is accepted without a dissenting word.”
Favorite Song: “The Way You’d Love Her”
*Sleater-Kinney | No Cities to Love
It wasn’t until I saw SK live that I fully got them. Sometimes the rickety grunge era recordings from the 90s mask true talent. What started as an addition to the riot-grrl movement in the Pacific Northwest continued until they took an almost decade long hiatus in 2006. In the meantime, Carrie Brownstein, Corin Tucker and Janet Weiss continued to create separately. It’s kind of hard to describe No Cities to Love. I heard the guitar tones described as “icy” and I would agree but the songs as a whole are incredible and I want to keep listening.
Favorite Song: “No Cities to Love”
*Sufjan Stevens | Carrie & Lowell
The first time I put this album on, I ended up listening to the entire album three times in a row. It’s so beautiful. Sufjan’s mother, Carrie, died in 2012 from stomach cancer. She was also bipolar and schizophrenic. She abandoned her sons at an early age but there was a reprieve for a few years when Carrie married Lowell (Lowell actually runs Stevens’ record label). Carrie & Lowell is the beautiful and haunting tale of Sufjan’s estranged relationship with his mother. The way his masterful lyrics describe grief is stunning; I’ve never heard anything like it.
Favorite Song: “Should Have Known Better”
Tame Impala | Currents
Tame Impala is psych-rock with some electro-pop thrown in or what I like to call a beautiful mouthful. On first listen you might become entranced by the beats with its synth dance feel, but start paying attention to the lyrics and you’ll realize, while the music isn’t necessarily melancholy, the stories being told are from a breakup. The chorus of “Eventually” goes like this, “But I know that I’ll be happier/ And I know you will, too/ Eventually.”
Favorite Song: “Let it Happen”
*Wolf Alice | My Love is Cool
I would explain Wolf Alice as British indie grunge. They are a little bit modern while also harkening back to ’90s rock. If this album would have come out 12 years ago they would be playing Lillith Fair. I found myself listening to My Love is Cool on repeat and unexpectedly it became my most listened to album of the year. Lead singer and guitarist Ellie Roswell’s voice pulls you in and makes you want to listen to what she’s saying.
Favorite Song: “Bros”
Ryan Adams | 1989
This album might be remembered as crystallizing how talented Taylor Swift is at writing lyrics. Covers aside, I enjoyed hearing 1989 from a different and slightly moodier perspective. I’m not well versed in Ryan Adams’ catalog but from what I do know he isn’t afraid to try new things and simply put out content. In my opinion, he created a winner!
Favorite Song: “Wildest Dreams”
What were your favorite albums from 2015?