Music Review: 2015 Favorite Albums

This is my first post about my favorite albums of the year. I often make a similar list in iTunes, but felt it would be fun to share it and see if anyone agrees or disagrees. If you notice I’ve missed anything great this year let me know, I’m always happy to check out something new. They are roughly in the order that I feel they belong, but with so many albums, it is likely to fluctuate along with my mood. No More being dissatisfied with other online lists. Let me know what you think.

5 Star albums:

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Fading Frontier by Deerhunter – Many would disagree with me, but I find Fading Frontier to be one of the best things Deerhunter has ever released. It is short and addictive. It features some classic sounding songs as well as some new more diverse material. It might not have the depth of some earlier albums but is easily the most accessible album they’ve released. (Genre: Indie Rock; Highlights: “Breaker”, “Snakeskin”, “All The Same”)

B’lieve I’m Goin Down… by Kurt Vile – I discovered Kurt Vile when I was first getting into his old band The War On Drugs, and though I liked him I didn’t love any of his albums. With his 6th album he has finally broke through and made an album that I love. It was really hard to not give it the number 1 position, as it is just incredible from start to finish. (Genre: Folk Rock, Indie Rock; Highlights: “Pretty Pimpin”, “Dust Bunnies”, “Life Like This”)

Depression Cherry by Beach House – This is some of the best shoegaze I’ve ever heard. Beach House has proven they can release some amazing tracks, but I find Depression Cherry to be their most consistent and most memorable work to date. (Genre: Shoegaze, Dream Pop; Highlights: “Levitation”, “Sparks”, “PPP”)

Algiers by Algiers – A phenomenal debut. Algiers self titled album is so dark and so addictive throughout. Possibly the most promising post-punk album in years. Much released in the post-punk genre is dark and moody, but the Algiers debut brings so much energy along with it. (Genre: Post-Punk; Highlights: “Remains”, “And When You Fall”, “Black Eunuch”)

Untethered Moon by Built To Spill – While it isn’t the best thing the Built To Spill has released, Untethered Moon is a great piece of indie rock. It is easy to see why they were so influential to bands like Modest Mouse, Death Cab For Cutie and The Strokes (particularly Albert Hammond, Jr.). Untethered Moon doesn’t reinvent the wheel for them, but shows they can still produce a great album. (Genre: Indie Rock; Highlights: “Never Be The Same”, “All Our Songs”, “C.R.E.B”)

No Life For Me by Wavves X Cloud Nothings – What year would be complete without another great release by Cloud Nothings. My favorite from last year was their album Here And Nowhere Else. This year they have teamed up with the band Wavves, and though I’m not a big fan of Wavves there is enough Cloud Nothings in here to get me to listening again and again. (Genre: Indie Rock, Garage Punk; Highlights: “Hard To Find”, “No Life For Me”, “Come Down”)

Return To The Moon by El Vy – I’m a huge fan of The National and fairly big fan of Menomena, so I didn’t need much convincing for this album. It features vocals just as good as anything The National have produced, but it is so much more cheerful and dancable. (Genre: Post-Punk, Indie Rock; Highlights: “Return To The Moon”, “Paul Is Alive”, “No Time To Crank The Sun”)

Every Open Eye by Chvrches – With the release of The Bones Of What You Believe I’ve been a big supporter of Chvrches. I’ve been looking forward to this second release for sometime. Any worries I had about a possible ‘Sophmore Slump’ were quickly diffused on the first listen. Every Open Eye is a better album and gives me high hopes for their future. (Genre: Electropop; Highlights: “Clearest Blue”, “High Enough To Carry You Over”, “Bury It”)

Individ by The Dodos – This was my first love of 2015. The Dodos continue to surprise me with new great releases, that I feel are far underrated. Many people are looking for another Visiter, but I find their direction just fine. This album likely won’t be on many year end lists, but I feel it should be. (Genre: Indie Rock; Highlights: “The Tide”, “Goodbyes And Endings”, “Competition”)

Mutilator Defeated At Last by Thee Oh Sees – If you would have told me that this year, one of my favorite albums would be by Thee Oh Sees I would have called bullshit. They have released a lot of material, though a lot of it I find a bit forgettable. Each album probably has a song or two I like. With this release I feel they have finally released an album I can fully support. It is some of the best Garage/Psychedelic Rock I’ve heard in a long time. (Genre: Garage Rock, Psychedelic Rock; Highlights: “Web”, “Rogue Planet”, “Withered Hand”)

Multi-Love by Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Every release by Unknown Mortal Orchestra has been better than the last. With this, their newest release, they have gone for something less lo-fi but far more danceable. They prove here they can create some great Psychedelic Pop. This is easily their most accessible album and a good starting point to get into their earlier works. I never thought they could improve over II but it seems they have. (Genre: Psychedelic Pop; Highlights: “Multi-Love”, “Can’t Keep Checking My Phone”, “Necessary Evil”)

Carrie & Lowell by Sufjan Stevens – Indie powerhouse Sufjan Stevens released one of the best albums of his career. His discography already contains a few classic albums, and this one fits right in with them. It might lack some of the diversity of previous releases, but I would argue that it is better from start to finish than almost anything he has released. It is a little somber, but this is Sufjan Stevens we’re talking about, so no surprise there. (Genre: Indie Folk; Highlights: “Drawn To The Blood”, “Should Have Known Better”, “Fourth Of July”)

How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful by Florence + The MachineFlorence is dependable for a few good songs per album, at least in my opinion. This album is a big improvement over previous releases. Every song on it is incredibly strong, and I find a new favorite with almost every listen. Maybe I should good back and give her weaker earlier releases another listen. (Genre: Art Pop, Chamber Pop; Highlights: “Third Eye”, “Ship To Wreck”, “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful”)

Magnifique by Ratatat – It has been too long since the last Ratatat release, I was hopeful they would produce something quickly after the slightly disappointing LP4. With Magnifique they have stepped up once again and produced some amazing instrumental rock. The album is solid from start to finish and features some of the best tracks Ratatat has released. (Genre: Indie Rock, Electronica; Highlights: “Cream On Chrome”, “Abrasive”, “Rome”)

Lost Themes by John Carpenter – While he might be best known of 80’s pulp films, he has also achieved some fame for his phenomenal soundtracks. They are always very fun and atmospheric, creating a nostalgia for classic 80’s films like Escape From New York or Big Trouble In Little China or The Thing. I was ecstatic to hear he was releasing a stand alone album. I was interested to see if it had a drastically different sound, or if it would be something similar  to his soundtracks. While it stands up well on its own, it also sounds like it could belong to a long lost John Carpenter film. It doesn’t disappoint. (Genre: Electronic; Highlights: “Obsidian”, “Vortex”, “Wraith”)

Get To Heaven by Everything Everything – On first listen I found Get To Heaven interesting but inconsistent. With each subsequent listen it has grown on me little by little and now it is easily one of my favorite releases this year. It reminds me a bit of Wild Beasts or Future Islands, I’m just disappointed it took me so long to discover them. Even though the album starts with its best tracks, the rest of it deserves a listen as well. (Genre: Art Pop, Indie Rock; Highlights: “Distant Past”, “To The Blade”, “Get To Heaven”)

4 Star Albums:

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The Waterfall by My Morning Jacket (Genre: Indie Rock; Highlights: “Compound Fracture”, “Like A River”)

Currents by Tame Impala (Genre: Psychedelic Rock; Highlights: “The Less I Know The Better”, “Let It Happen”)

Art Angels by Grimes (Genre: Electropop; Highlights: “Flesh Without Blood”, “Kill V. Maim”)

Momentary Masters by Albert Hammond, Jr. (Genre: Indie Rock; Highlights: “Born Slippy”, “Caught By My Shadow”)

VEGA INTL. Night School by Neon Indian (Genre: Synthpop; Highlights: “Slumlord”, “Annie”)

Strange Trails by Lord Huron (Genre: Indie Folk; Highlights: “Love Like Ghosts”, “Meet Me In The Woods”)

Strangers To Ourselves by Modest Mouse (Genre: Indie Rock; Highlights: ” The Ground Walks, With Time In A Box”, “Ansel”)

The Desired Effect by Brandon Flowers (Genre: Synthpop; Highlights: “I Can Change”, “Can’t Deny My Love”)

Music Complete by New Order (Genre: Synthpop; Highlights: “Restless”, “Academic”)

Have You In My Wilderness by Julia Holter (Genre: Chamber Pop; Highlights: “Feel You”, “Everytime Boots”)

What Went Down by Foals (Genre: Art Rock; Highlights: “Birch Tree”,  “Give It All”)

RUFF by Born Ruffians (Genre: Indie Rock; Highlights: “Stupid Dream”, “We Made It”)

Divers by Joanna Newsome (Genre: Chamber Folk; Highlights: “Leaving The City”, “Sapokanikan”)

Culture Of Volume by East India Youth (Genre: Synthpop; Highlights: “Turn Away”, “Beaming White”)

Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit by Courtney Barnett (Genre: Indie Folk; Highlights: “Depreston”, “Elevator Operator”)

Anthems For Doomed Youth by The Libertines (Genre: Garage Rock; Highlights: “Gunga Din”, “Heart Of The Matter”)

Another Eternity by Purity Ring (Genre: Synthpop; Highlights: “Push Pull”, “Bodyache”)

Music For Dogs by Gardens & Villa (Genre: Indie Rock; Highlights: “Everybody”, “Fixations”)

Policy by Will Butler (Genre: Indie Rock; Highlights: “Take My Side”, “What I Want”)

St. Catherine by Ducktails (Genre: Indie Pop; Highlights: “Church”, “Heaven’s Room”)

Before The World Was Big by Girlpool (Genre: Lo-fi, Indie; Highlights: “Ideal World”, “Chinatown”)

Stuff Like That There by Yo La Tengo (Genre: Indie Pop; Highlights: “My Heart’s Not In It”, “All Your Secrets”)

English Graffiti by The Vaccines (Genre: Garage Rock; Highlights: “Minimal Affection”, “Handsome”)

Golem by Wand (Genre: Psychedelic Rock; Highlights: “Melted Rope”, “Self Hypnosis In 3 Days”)

White Men Are Black Men Too by Young Fathers (Genre: Indietronica, Experimental Hip Hop; Highlights: “Still Running”, “Shame”)

Who Me? by Juan Wauters (Genre: Indie Folk; Highlights: “There’s Something Still There”, “Grey Matter”)

Poison Season by Destroyer (Genre: Chamber Pop; Highlights: “Time Square”, “Midnight Meets The Rain”)

Urth by Kagoule (Genre: Indie Rock; Highlights: “Gush”, “Adjust The Way”)

Courting The Squall by Guy Garvey (Genre: Art Rock; Highlights: “Yesterday”, “Angela’s Eyes”)

Sprinter by Torres (Genre: Indie Rock; Highlights: “A Proper Polish Welcome”, “New Skin”)

Dodge And Burn by The Dead Weather (Genre: Blues Rock; Highlghts: “I Feel Love (Every Million Miles)” “Let Me Through”)

In Colour by Jamie xx (Genre: Future Garage; Highlights: “Sleep Sound”, “Stranger In A Room”)

Escape From Evil by Lower Dens (Genre: Dream Pop, Post Punk; Highlights: “To Die In L.A.”, “Ondine”)

Thank Your Lucky Stars by Beach House (Genre: Shoegaze, Dream Pop; Highlights: “One Thing”, “Rough Song”)

Born Under Saturn by Django Django (Genre: Indietronica; Highlights: “First Light”, “High Moon”)

Dark Bird Is Home by The Tallest Man On Earth (Genre: Indie Folk; Highlights: “Little Nowhere Towns”, “Timothy”)

The Magic Whip by Blur (Genre: Britpop; Highlights: “Ice Cream Man”, “Lonesome Street”)

Viet Cong by Viet Cong (Genre: Post Punk; Highlights: “Bunker Buster”, “Continental Shelf”)

FFS by FFS (Genre: Glam Rock; Highlights: “Piss Off”, “So Desu Ne”)

Quarters! by King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard (Genre: Psychedelic Rock; Highlights: “The River”, “God Is In The Rhythm”)

Another One by Mac DeMarco  (Genre: Psychedelic Pop; Highlights: “The Way You Love Her”, “I’ve Been Waiting For Her”)

Gliss Riffer by Dan Deacon (Genre: Indietronica; Highlights: “Sheathed Wings”, “Meme Generator”)

Moth Boys by Spector (Genre: Synthpop; Highlights: “All The Sad Young Men”, “Believe”)

1000 Days by Wands (Genre: Psychedelic Rock; Highlights: “Broken Sun”, “Sleepy Dog”)

Sun Coming Down by Ought (Genre: Post Punk; Highlights: “Beautiful Blue Sky”, “Men For Miles”)

V by Wavves (Genre: Garage Rock; Highlights: “Pony”, “Way Too Much”)

Ghost Modern by Geographer (Genre: Indie Pop; Highlights: “You Say You Love Me”, “I’m Ready”)

We Are Undone by Two Gallants (Genre: Indie Folk; Highlights: “We Are Undone”, “Invitation To A Funeral”)

Kintsugi by Death Cab For Cutie (Genre: Indie Pop; Highlights: “Little Wanderer”, “No Room In Frame”)

Abyss by Chelsea Wolfe (Genre: Darkwave?; Highlights: “Simple Death”, “Carrion Flowers”)

3 Star Albums: (Honorable Mentions)

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