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.
30. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Multi-Love
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
Like whatever, I’m gay and it’s called FROOT!
Favorite track: “I’m a Ruin”
28. Natalie Prass – Natalie Prass
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?
YES! LEAVE ME ALONE! Lots of feels, like, of course.
Favorite track: “Downtown”
26. Mikal Cronin – MCIII
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
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
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
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?
Hot Chip once again doing Hot Chip and that’s alright by me.
Favorite track: “Need You Now”
21. Beirut – No No No
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
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
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
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
An album that I keep returning to, and one that I think has been overlooked this year.
Favorite track: “Sagres”
16. Deerhunter – Fading Frontier
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
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
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
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
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
Call me basic but I can’t get enough.
Favorite track: “St Jude”
10. Beach House – Depression Cherry
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Another one of those that’s like “well no shit.”
Favorite track: “How Much A Dollar Cost”
2. Joanna Newsom – Divers
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
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.