I used to do a “Best of” music post every year. It’s been a few years, mostly because I have fallen desperately out of the habit of paying attention to when music is released. I take recommendations, go back and listen to old records, and occasionally will see that something new is released and go check it out. But the last 2 years I’ve had quite a few friends ask me for a year-end list, and have sent some private lists around.
So this year I am saying “screw it” to the rules, and simply listing my top 10 favorite albums that I listened to in 2015 – regardless of if they came out this year or not. I know, I know – such chaos! But hopefully this will still give you some new artists to explore. A lot of these came out in 2014 because I’m always just slightly late to the game on these things. Enjoy!
Here are the albums that played on repeat for me in 2015, in no particular order:
The Soil and the Sun – Meridian (2014)
I can’t say enough good things about this album. The songs are incredibly complex and they move and change a lot, but they are still incredibly listenable and fun. After a period of time where it was trendy to have 7 or 8 members (but almost every time I felt like they could do the same stuff with half as many), this is a band that uses every member so well and the resulting sound is full and orchestral in the best way possible. My favorite track is “Lost Lovers.”
Mimicking Birds – Eons (2014)
This Portland-based band never disappoints. An incredible album.
Wolf Alice – My Love is Cool (2015)
I discovered this band for the first time this year, and became immediately obsessed. My soft spot for female-fronted rock bands aside, they are one of the most solid bands I came across. It’s a phenomenal album. “Giant Peach” is a masterpiece.
Joseph – Native Dreamer Kin (2014)
I saw this band at Pickathon before even knowing who they were, even though they are from Estacada, Oregon. I admit, their live show blew me away in a way that the album doesn’t quite accomplish, but it’s still a lovely album. See them live if you can! I walked in the door as they were playing “Not Mine,” which became my favorite track.
Active Child – You Are All I See (2011)
Active Child actually released an album in 2015 — called Mercy. It’s a phenomenal album as well, but when I discovered them this year I was drawn most strongly to this 2011 album. It reminds me of Bjork at times, but mostly the combination of beautiful harp, solid rhythms and the really unique sounds that they use make for an absolutely stunning album that makes me want to be a ballet dancer and use this album as my personal dance music.
Sylvan Esso – Spotify Session (2015)
Of course these folks have albums, but my particular obsession this year was this incredible Spotify session. For the most part you can’t even tell it’s live until people cheer and clap.
Liza Anne – Two (2015)
The few self-pitying lyrics on this album get to me, admittedly, but in a lot of ways it suits the innocent and somewhat naive tone of the album, which is altogether really lovely. “Take it Back” is my favorite track.
Frazey Ford – Indian Ocean (2014)
I’m a long-time fan of Frazey’s work, including her work with the Be Good Tanyas. But when I heard the song “Done” and listened to this album, I knew she had moved to a whole new plane musically. An incredible album.
Laura Marling – Short Movie (2015)
Everything Laura does is gold. That’s all I have to say about that.
Jesca Hoop – The House that Jack Built (2012)
This is the oldest record, I realize. I’ve been a fan of Jesca’s for years, but only this year did I realize that I wasn’t familiar with her whole catalog. This album is now my favorite of her works.
My Brightest Diamond – This is my Hand (2014)
I saw Shara Worden in 2014 when she sang for the Penelope tour, and it was absolutely breathtaking. I think she is one of the brilliant musical minds of our generation, and this album just makes me believe that even harder.
Patrick Watson – Love Songs for Robots (2015)
Another of my favorite musicians ever who consistently releases incredible albums. Unfortunately my band’s record release party was the same night that he played in Portland! I must catch him live in the next few years.
Glass Animals – Zaba (2014)
A bit different than the other entries here, but this band is so much fun. I saw them play in late 2014 and they were so solid, and so gracious.
Some single song obsessions from 2015:
Jenny O – “Automechanic”
San Fermin – “Emily”
Panama – “Destroyer”
Lavender Diamond – “I Don’t Recall”
S – “Vampires”