Tag Archives: Grimes

Top 30 Albums of 2015

I’ve been putting this one off. Because like, everyone released an album this year, which is chic, but also not chic. However I’ve come away feeling more #blessed because, even though some highly-anticipated returns from established acts did not surprise and delight, other releases more than lived up to the hype, and I think 2015 will go down as one of the most prolific, strange, fascinating years in music in the new millennium.

Here goes…

30. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Multi-Love

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Not my favorite from UMO, but it’s too funky and groovy to be ignored.

Favorite track: “Necessary Evil”

29. Marina and The Diamonds – FROOT

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Like whatever, I’m gay and it’s called FROOT!

Favorite track: “I’m a Ruin”

28. Natalie Prass – Natalie Prass

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I’m feelin’ a lot of lady singers, and Natalie Prass is another one who made a pretty chic album this year, especially for a debut. Looking forward to many more from her.

Favorite track: “Bird of Prey”

27. Majical Cloudz – Are You Alone?

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YES! LEAVE ME ALONE! Lots of feels, like, of course.

Favorite track: “Downtown”

26. Mikal Cronin – MCIII

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Mikal! You finally made my Top 30 list. Do you love it? How are you feeling right now?

Favorite track: “iii) Control”

25. Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Style

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I got into this one just a few weeks ago and yes I know dude’s been around forever and that these are all old songs.

Favorite track: “Maud Gone”

24. Foals – What Went Down

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I didn’t think I liked this album as much as I did, and then I noticed that like, a majority of the songs are rated 5 stars in my iTunes, so………..And yes, I actually use the star system in iTunes, K.

Favorite track: “A Knife in the Ocean”

23. Lord Huron – Strange Trails

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Like I know, call me basic, but I can’t tell you how many lyrics from this album have provided the perfect Instagram caption for everything here in Colorado.

Favorite track: “The Yawning Grave”

22. Hot Chip – Why Make Sense?

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Hot Chip once again doing Hot Chip and that’s alright by me.

Favorite track: “Need You Now”

21. Beirut – No No No

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This was one of those albums that people had been anticipating and then a bunch of people were super disappointed by it because it was too simple and short or whatever. I like to think of it as almost a “Best Of” album – snackable Beirut content. And I like that.

Favorite track: “So Allowed”

20. Ducktails – St. Catherine

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I think it’s really about that music video for “Surreal Exposure” with Mac DeMarco, but it’s also about how each song on St. Catherine has something in it that grabs me.

Favorite track: “Heaven’s Room”

19. My Morning Jacket – The Waterfall

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I’ve missed MMJ, and The Waterfall is the closest I think I’ll get to the particular MMJ that I’ve been missing.

Favorite track: “Get the Point”

18. Caribou  – Our Love

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Like first of all, talk about chic album artwork! Also, this was one of the best shows I saw at Pitchfork Music Festival this year, which always seals a Top 30 deal.

Favorite track: “Back Home”

17. The Tallest Man on Earth – Dark Bird Is Home

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An album that I keep returning to, and one that I think has been overlooked this year.

Favorite track: “Sagres”

16. Deerhunter – Fading Frontier

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I’ve been a fan of Bradford’s projects for a while now, and Fading Frontier, while not revolutionary by any means, is just plain good, and one of the better Deerhunter albums in his catalog.

Favorite track: “Living My Life”

15. Drake – If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late

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It may not be Views from the 6, but Drake made quite the mark on 2015 anyway; “Hotline Bling,” which was released on his own Beats 1 radio show, inspiring Erykah Badu to release the best mix tape of the year structured around the hit song, and this. I die for the signature sonic atmosphere Drake and producer Noah “40” Shebib have crafted over the years – call me crazy but I haven’t heard rap this moody since Atmosphere at their most emo.

Favorite track: “No Tellin'”

14. Panda Bear – Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper

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I got my hands on a leak of this one back in December of last year, and declared it one of the best albums of 2015, in 2014. And despite everything else that came out this year, it held up. Bravo.

Favorite track: “Crosswords”

13. Wilco – Star Wars

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While seeing Wilco at Red Rocks on a balmy night in July, my buddy commented that, while awesome, the set was basically the same set as every Wilco show we had been to in recent memory, and hoped they had something up their sleeves. The next day, while sitting at Denver International Airport, Wilco dropped Star Wars, and the day after that, I saw them play the entire new album, front to back, for the first time live. Life’s pretty sweet sometimes.

Favorite track: “Taste the Ceiling”

12. Beach House – Thank Your Lucky Stars

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You know it was a crazy year when we didn’t get one, but two completely distinct and separate albums from Beach House. As you know, I love songs/albums that are downers, so Thank Your Lucky Stars was a welcome second helping from the duo. Also includes one of my favorite Beach House songs of all time (see below).

Favorite track: “Rough Song”

11. Florence + The Machine – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

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Call me basic but I can’t get enough.

Favorite track: “St Jude”

10. Beach House – Depression Cherry

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I mean come onnnnnnnnn. When “Sparks” was released as the first single, I died. And then the whole thing was released and then I died again. And then we got ANOTHER Beach House album and I was officially Depression-Cherried.

Favorite track: “PPP”

9. Lana Del Rey – Honeymoon

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When Lana Del Rey announced Honeymoon like, a minute after she had almost finished touring for Ultraviolence, I was pretty skeptical that she could pull together something so quickly. Maybe it will be another Paradise EP thing I thought. But then came the honeymoon and it’s essential Lana at her most Lana, and I loooooooove that. In the words of Madonna, Lana is finally and fully an unapologetic bitch, and it’s such a chic looq for her persona and feels so good on the ears.

Favorite track: “Religion”

8. Tame Impala – Currents

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The album was gorgeous as expected – it has guitars, psychedelic guitars, sweet riffs, singing, other instruments. I mean it was the new Tame Impala album, it wasn’t going to be bad/fail.

Favorite track: “The Moment”

7. Julia Holter – Have You in My Wilderness

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Like, I told you earlier that I was really feeling the lady singers doing lady things (mostly because I was waiting on new Joanna Newsom, more on that in a moment), but holy chic, Julia! Didn’t expect this one to grow on me as much as it has, but like I’ll take it!

Favorite track: “Betsy on the Roof”

6. Jamie xx – In Colour

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I mean hello have you heard it (you have)?? Also, “Loud Places” is my favorite song of 2015, just throwing that out there.

Favorite track: “Loud Places (feat.Romy)”

5. Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear

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I cried the firs time I listened to this all the way through – tears of joy, tears of relief that it was as good as I was hoping it was, tears when listening to “I Went To the Store One Day” because it’s so damn sweet.

Favorite track: “When You’re Smiling and Astride Me”

4. Grimes – Art Angels

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Like hiiiiiiiii we’ve been waiting! Another album completely worth the wait, false starts, re-recording or whatever happened. Genius pop, genius period. Plus, Claire Boucher still has the best backup dancers around.

Favorite track: “Belly of the Beat”

3. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly

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Another one of those that’s like “well no shit.”

Favorite track: “How Much A Dollar Cost”

2. Joanna Newsom – Divers

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I really don’t dare write anything about Divers because I still stand in awe (while holding an iPhone with Wikipedia at the ready) at what Joanna Newsom is able to do with words, stories, music, life in general. Mind blowing.

Favorite track: “The Things I Say”

1. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell

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Everything that’s needed to be said about Carrie & Lowell has already been said, and those of you that know me personally know what Sufjan Stevens means to me. So I’ll tell you a story.

I was lucky enough to see Sufjan twice this year, the first time at the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival in Lyons, Colorado. Set against the red rocks of Steamboat Mountain, with the Saint Vrain Creek running through the festival grounds, the festival had to take a nearly 2 hour break as a crazy thunderstorm ripped through the area. I was alone, huddling under the “Smokin’ Tent,” eating a corn dog I had managed to grab right before the storm happened, thinking my experience might be ruined – stupid families had taken their stupid wagons full of their stupid kids and stupid tarps and laid out all of their shit out in the designated standing-only area in front of the main stage.

Well, lo and behold, the thunderstorm managed to clear out all the stupid people, and even though I was a little wet, the ground was not muddy, I had plenty of beers, and found myself front and center for the Sufjan Experience.

It was also the last day of the Perseid meteor shower, with the added benefit of being in the middle or nowhere Boulder County at 5,300 ft. above sea level.

And so, Sufjan came on, everything was bathed in a neon glow, and I, along with many of the other people around me, was in the middle of such a #moment that I can’t even stand it.

During an extended musical break in “Come On! Feel the Illinoise!, Pt. I: The World’s Columbian Exposition / Pt. II: Carl Sandburg Visits Me In a Dream,” and as Sufjan was describing his experience of driving down into Boulder Valley earlier that day, telling us how lucky we were to be in this beautiful location together, the largest, most brilliant shooting star I have ever seen in my life raced across the audience, from back to front. I swear to you the entire audience collectably gasped, and I knew, right then and there, that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Everything, and I mean everything, was in it’s right place.

 

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Top 30 Albums of 2012

Many things have influenced this list, most notably my move to Chicago in April. Being in a new city and getting to know music through headphones while riding the L instead of long drives around the chain of lakes in Minneapolis has certainly been a different experience, and a welcome change of pace. I’ve been truly falling in love with an album or bands because of my experiences at live shows in totally new venues to me. When it all ads up, I feel like this list would look a little different if I had stayed in Minneapolis.

I’ve also been nostalgic (story of my life), which is why the list is also a little #dark and emo – musicians like Andrew Bird and bands like Ben Folds Five “bring me back” and it feels weird/sad/good all at the same time. I mean does this even make sense?

This was also a weird year in music because nothing like, totally blew my fucking mind. Don’t get me wrong, every album on this list has definitely given me super fragrant moments, but nothing was really a revelation in terms of being something sounding completely different and new. I mean, Animal Collective released a new album and it didn’t even make my list. What? There are also two Minneapolis-based bands on this list. Double what?

At the same time, it almost made it harder to arrange this list, as a lot of albums could have been traded out for others equally as worthy – it’s just one song or a personal experience or another thing that determined which album one which slot.

Anyways, I’m sure I’ll feel differently about this or would have added other albums and will want to eat my own words six months down the road from now, because that always happens and I’m constantly discovering new music no matter what year it was released. So with all of that, here goes:

30. Poliça – Give You the Ghost

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Trust, I have lots of issues with this band, this album (I tweeted something to the effect that it basically sounds like GAYNGS 2.0), but damn if “Wandering Star” doesn’t take me places every time I hear it. Whatever.

29. Sun Kil Moon – Among the Leaves

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A kind album with kind music made for shuffling down Lincoln Avenue in the crisp air, especially while listening to “Sunshine in Chicago.

28. Yeasayer – Fragrant World

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This album kind of kicked off a theme of big names releasing albums that were good, just not great, or as great as their previous efforts. Sorry Yeasayer, I’m talking about you. But this was still decent, and album closer “Glass of the Microscope” does really nice things to me.

27. Perfume Genius – Put Your Back N 2 It

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It’s pretty. It’s depressing. It’s pretty depressing. I like it.

26. Sharon Van Etten – Tramp

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Really solid album, with a live performance at The Cedar to put it over the top for me.

25. Rufus Wainwright – Out of the Game

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Certainly not Rufus’ best work, but still enjoyable. This one may be more of a nostalgic pick for me, but you can’t deny the man’s skillz.

24. Delta Spirit – Delta Spirit

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Sorry I’m not sorry.

23. Woods – Bend Beyond

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A very prolific band who released their best album yet this year.

22. The Shins – Port of Morrow

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Although I’d prefer to be a little bit more emo when spending time with The Shins, this is a solid album for a return.

21. Ben Folds Five – The Sound of the Life of the Mind

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I mean hiiiiiiiii, grade school, high school and college memories smacking me in the face. I really, really enjoyed this album.

20. Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d. city

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Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe.

19. Here We Go Magic – A Different Ship

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A personal favorite of mine. I just love everything about this band. As for the album, it’s all fantastic, but “How Do I Know” is just pure fucking genius.

18. Shearwater – Animal Joy

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Again, I was honestly expecting something just a little more from Shearwater, especially for a debut on Sub Pop. Little gripes aside, I Shearwater are a great band and Animal Joy is still a joy.

17. First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar

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These ladies kinda came out of nowhere for me, but The Lion’s Roar is a sweet album filled with thoughtful songs that tug all the right heartstrings.

16. Passion Pit – Gossamer 

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After reading that Pitchfork feature, I think everyone just wanted to give Michael Angelakos a big hug. So I’m already emotionally vulnerable and then we learn all of that #dark stuff and then we have an album that sounds like a party on the surface but is actually just super sad? Sign me up Oh, also, my twin is in the band.

15. The Walkmen – Heaven

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Aaaand again, not my favorite album by The Walkmen, but Heaven still definitely has its moments.

15, Horse Feathers – Cynic’s New Year

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This isn’t groundbreaking music, but frontman Justin Ringle’s voice is just so nice, and these folk tunes are simple yet gorgeous at the same time, welcoming repeat listens for whenever you want to feel cozy. Yeahhh.

 

13. Grimes – Visions

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My goal in life is to become a Grimes backup dancer. Holy chic.

12. Tame Impala – Lonerism

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I don’t know what more I can add to the discussion of how good this album is, other than to say how good it is. It’s really good. “Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Could Control,” is one of the best songs of the year.

11. Hot Chip – In Our Heads

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I don’t know if people just forgot about how good this album is, but In Our Heads has been snubbed on many other lists. Again, it’s nothing totally radical for Hot Chip, but it is some of their best work yet.

10. Lana Del Rey – Born To Die

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LEAVE LANA ALONE!!! But seriously though, I really love this album, including the new songs added to the Paradise edition. Just give into it already.

9. Andrew Bird – Break It Yourself/Hands of Glory

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The lovely Mr. Bird returns with another lovely album.

8. The xx – Coexist

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I guess I’d call this album dense, in the best way possible. You just kinda get enveloped in the whole thing. The xx just keep getting better.

7. Lost in the Trees – A Church That Fits Our Needs

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This album is about the suicide of lead singer An Picker’s mom. She also had cancer. Just know that going into this. The brilliantly arranged strings that swirl around these folk-tinged songs do Picker’s mom justice. It’s not the happiest album of the year, but there can be beauty in death, and A Church That Fits Our Needs emotes that in the best way. I saw a lot of shows this year and I think Lost in the Trees’ performance at Lincoln Hall was my favorite.

6. Grizzly Bear – Shields 

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I wanted something just a little more from Grizzly Bear, but again they get away with sounding like they’re playing by the numbers, because by the numbers for Grizzly Bear is extraordinary.

5. Frank Ocean – Channel Orange

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Pyramids.

4. Dark Dark Dark – Who Needs Who

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Best breakup album in recent memory.

3. Beach House – Bloom

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Beach House never disappoint. Another situation where a band just keeps getting better. Put on “On the Sea” if you wanna see me cry in public.

2. Father John Misty – Fear Fun

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A nearly perfect album. It’s funny, touching and beautiful at the same time, with harmonies for days. You can listen to it over and over and it never gets old. The songs just drill in your head even deeper. The man can also dance.

1. Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do

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I mean have we met? We’ve been waiting for a while for this one. I’ll admit I was a little nervous when I heard she hadn’t really teamed back up with Jon Brion – the songs are some of the most stripped down and spare in her career – but this just highlights Fiona’s voice and the subject of each masterpiece. Sure there are musical flourished but only where they absolutely need to be, hitting at the perfect place to really pull at your heart, or head. She’s one of the finest songwriters around. The Idler Wheel was worth the wait and more. It was the best album of 2012.

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