Features

Our 10 Favourite Albums Of 2015

One album/mixtape/EP per artist. Listed in alphabetical order. Tell us your favourites in the comments.

Rae Sremmurd

Autre Ne Veut – Age of Transparency
This record made us think so hard, we needed to have a dialogue about it—Read our review here. I particularly enjoyed the shift to more unpredictable songwriting after the more pop-like (but still fantastic) Anxiety. (JR)

Beach House – Depression Cherry
The dons of dream-pop blessed us with two albums this year, and while this album is, in truth, fairly unadventurous, it is the purely cozy and comforting Beach House album I can’t help but love. We reviewed it here. (JR)

Björk – Vulnicura
It is near impossible to resist emotionally engaging with Björk’s breakup album, making for an exhausting if not rewarding listen (all but two songs crack the six-minute mark). The dominant strings elevate the sense of despair but the fingerprints of experimental collaborators  Arca and The Haxan Cloak are refreshing, especially in the album’s second half. (JR)

Dick Diver – Melbourne, Florida
Sounding uncharacteristically (but justifiably) self-assured on this follow-up to 2013’s already canonical Calendar DaysMelbourne, Florida’s thicker musical textures and more diverse instrumentation serves to highlight just how far the so-called ‘Dolewave’ bands that Dick Diver inspired have to go. It’s also always fantastic to hear an Australian band that sound like it, rather than being talented copyists of overseas sounds. (JW)

Earl Sweatshirt – I Don’t Like Shit I Don’t Go Outside
My favourite album from my favourite genre (rap, obvs) is an intimate, vulnerable, self-produced affair. It also, surprisingly, made for a great live show—Earl simply planted himself squarely in the middle of the stage and belted out each tune, no embellishments needed. We reviewed it here. (JR)

Eddington Again – Masturgrape
Strong flows over diverse and fantastic beats in what is a remarkably coherent debut album, Eddington Again is MC the futurebeats scene has been waiting for. (JW)

FKA twigs – M3LL155X
A bold EP from the best video artist in the game which, as with lead single ‘Glass & Patron’, is best consumed with the accompanying full-length video. (JR)

Jeremih – Late Nights
It’s barely a fortnight old, but these sordid, hook-packed jams are already in such high rotation that I’m happy to impulsively include Late Nights here. I’d love it a whole lot more without J Cole’s horrific feature on the opening track, but a lot less without ‘Paradise’, which has to be my favourite finale of the year. (JR)

Kelela – Hallucinogen
Believe the hype. This is future RnB straight from the mothership. Beam me up Kelela. (JW)

Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
While the large part of Kendrick’s body of work is a harrowing listen (at least lyrically), it has also been subject to misinterpretations that are sad if not hilarious (think ‘Swimming Pools’). Kendrick doesn’t let this happen on TPAB, which prompted this year’s ‘I am so white’ rumination. It’s also a great album. (JW)

Lil B and Chance the Rapper – Based Freestyle Mixtape
Beyond the horrific bars that the usually much better NoName Gypsy contributes on ‘Last Dance,’ the mixtape no one thought would actually come out provides some long-awaited new raps from the BasedGod and a compelling look at the normally intricate and precise Chano riding a beat fairly precariously. When it works, it works so well that when they rap themselves into a corner it is more endearing than anything else. (JW)

MAKING – HIGHLIFE
A blast from the past like a nuclear bomb. Massive, mathematical album from one of 18-year-old me’s (and now 22-year-old-me’s) favorite bands. (JW)

Ohenotrix Point Never – Garden of Delete
For an album that is quite abrasive and musically all over the place, it is a testament to OPN’s genius that Garden of Delete is so listenable in the enjoyable sense and not the academic/masochistic ‘I-am-listening-to-this-because-it’s-very-intelligent-even-though-it’s-making-my-ears-bleed’ sense. (JW)

Panda Bear – Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper
By my judgement this album is as good as anything put out by the Animal Collective camp. At times it is stuffed with obnoxious layers of melody, and at others it is comfortably sparse, but it always works. (JR)

Rae Sremmurd – Sremmlife
Rarely does a pop-rap album provide front-to-back hits, but this just about does that (‘Up Like Trump’ is the outlier). Still sounds good after twelve months on repeat. (JR)

Ryan Hemsworth and Lucas – Taking Flight
Hemmy and Lucas bring out each others’ best aspects in this staggeringly beautiful and oceanic-in-scale EP that is also my favourite album of 2015. (JW)

Shlohmo – Dark Red
In an unprecedented (but welcome) step away from the delicate Bad Vibes; Dark Red is exhaustingly dark, but wholly cathartic when it’s done (see ‘Beams’). (JW)

The Underachievers – Evermore: The Art of Duality
UA have finally worked out how to balance the New York/Pro Era sound of their early work with the contemporary palate they botched on Cellar Door: Terminus Ut Exordium. As such, it’s a fantastic (and relieving) return to form after an underwhelming 2014. (JW)

Tinashe – Amethyst
The heir to Beyonce’s throne in experimental mode. No hits but the thirty minutes of bedroom vibes make for, as far as I’m concerned, her best and most consistent release yet. (JW)

U.S. Girls – Half Free
Meghan Remy has one of my favourite voices in music, and as this album oscillates between upbeat pop (‘Damn That Valley’), rock (‘Sed Knife’) and psychedelia (‘Woman’s Work’), it takes on many qualities and always entertains. (JR)

Young Thug – Slime Season
Rap’s most prolific working innovator teams up with some of raps best working producers in a project laden with hits (‘Power’, ‘Mine’, and ‘Again’ are personal favs). Thug could rap nonsense and sound great, and fortunately most of this isn’t nonsense. (JR)

Honourable mentions go to Dean Blunt’s Babyfather, Future’s Monster, and DJ Koze’s DJ Kicks.

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