This has been the best year for music I have ever experienced, hands down. It may be that I have figured out how to listen to more music in a shorter amount of time and in the end, I’ve been exposed to more great music than ever before. Here is my weekly process. I peruse:
1. Spotify new music releases
2. Spotify “Discover Weekly” (an algorithmically personalized playlist of mostly new artists that I haven’t heard of, that also fits my somewhat narrow likes)
3. Allmusic new music releases
4. iTunes new indie releases
5. Metacritic new music releases
6. America’s Music Charts new entries (those that charted for the first time that week)
As for my rankings each year, I go with my gut. I don’t let year-end lists sway me very much other than to see if there were any records I still need to listen to. In fact, you probably won’t find many of my favorite albums on other’s lists. Most major publications/websites all seem to like the same people anyways – with a few exceptions, of course.
So, without any further ado, these are the top 15 albums that moved me in the year ’15…
15. Susanne Sundfør: Ten Love Songs | Off-kilter electro-pop beamed in from another planet, menancing, eerie and resolutely downbeat but always accessible.
14. Wildcat! Wildcat!: No Moon At All | Indie-pop, dance-rock “anthems made for night driving toward nothingness, the neon nihilism of the most American of all cities not named Chicago or Las Vegas.” Pop Matters
13. Low: Ones & Sixes | Slowcore vets keep the airy, luscious backing vocals and sparse, gritty instrumentation rolling on their newest, but up the ante on an immediacy and liveliness missing from their most recent records.
12. Swiss Lips: Overflowing Futures | I want to dance with somebody! An album of previously unreleased material and remixes that is better than its straight-ahead self-titled release earlier in the year that straddles early 80´s disco and modernity.
11. Lemelo: Red Right Return | Subtlety and minimalism reigns supreme on this organic dream pop, accented by smoky, intimate vocals.
10. Pure Bathing Culture: Pray for Rain | Blurred around the edges but with real substance – glazed, left-field pop at its best.
9. Chad Valley: Entirely New Blue | Soulful, digital dream-pop that is uplifting yet intermingled with a slightly melancholic atmosphere.
8. COIN: self-titled | An amalgamation of post-80’s nostalgia and California pop, as mellow as it is vivacious.
7. Lost Lander: Medallion | Built around synths, communal vocals, and chamber elements, the sophomore effort from these Portlandians has a breathtaking bounciness that makes it soar.
6. WATERS: What’s Real | Equal parts radio rock and heart-on-sleeve-indie vibes, purring with high- strung guitars and convulsive percussion.
4. The Dø: Shake, Shook, Shaken | The ridiculously catchy shift in sound fits. Restless electro-pop replete with sparkles and musical curiosity.
3. JR JR: self-titled | Whimsical and addictive indie pop that is bursting with sleek intensity. Even better than its predecessor. Not a track to be missed here.
2. Everything Everything: Get to Heaven | No sophomore slump here. Complex art-pop, boisterous and unorthodox, that mirrors the broken, discomforting world we live in.
And my top album this year…
1. Oh Wonder: self-titled | The hookiest melodies you ever did hear betwixt haunting and subdued chill synth-pop and delicate vocals from this UK duo. Every track is truly confident and sublime – which is rare for any album. Best of the year.
Here is a look back at my #1 albums from years past: