The 10 Best Albums of 2015 (So Far)

10. The Mountain Goats – Beat the Champ

Genre: Folk, Indie Rock

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Review: to come…maybe…

More adventurous with their arrangements than ever: the sassy brass of “Foreign Object,” the jazz intro of “Fire Editorial” and the Philip Glassian second half of “Southwestern Territory” makes for their best album since … well … their last one.

9. Earl Sweatshirt – I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside

Genre: Hip-Hop

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Review: click me!

His lyrical skill has stayed the same while his production skills are slowly improving, and that shows a promise that he has nowhere to go but up. His best album so far, and I look forward to the next.

8. Vince Staples – Summertime ‘06

Genre: Hip-Hop

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Review: click me!

I came to Summertime ‘06 with the lowest expectations, having never been impressed by Vince Staples’ rapping or the functional minimalism that he often relies on (some of them blur together as a result). But, his rapping on the twenty-track album maintains a commend-worthy level of consistency and the beats maintains a commend-worthy atmosphere of a troubled California neighborhood at night.

7. Sleater-Kinney – No Cities to Love

Genre: Indie Rock

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Review: click me!

Probably the loudest and most consistently good rock band in the world deliver a comeback album that’s loud and consistently good – who would’ve thought?

6. Jamie xx – In Colour

Genre: Electronic

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Review: click me!

I still think this is a bit of a disappointment given the six years that I’ve been waiting for this, but I cannot deny the high-pitched synth melody in the second half of “Gosh”, the sensual-ness of “Sleep Sound” (even in its castrated version), the layered melodies of “SeeSaw” or the summer jam, “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times).”

5. Miguel – Wildheart

Genre: R&B

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Review: click me!

His best album; the best album that alternative R&B has given us since Channel Orange; Prince’s best album in a long time. “a beautiful exit” is one of the most exhilarating songs I’ve heard all year; “Coffee” is one of the most sensual; “the valley” is one of the most sexual.

4. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

Genre: Indie Rock

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Review: click me!

An indie rock record that would have fit right at home in the 90s among the likes of Modest Mouse, Pavement and Liz Phair … released two decades too late. Or maybe right on time. To put it another way, this is lyrical (that is to say, tuneful), lyrically smart (this should have had you from the title alone); great for the summer, great for window-gazing on streetcars as you’re wondering why you’re wasting that summer.

3. Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment – Surf

Genre: Hip-Hop

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Review: to come…maybe…

“Slip Slide” has one of the friendliest melodies you’ll ever hear; Kyle’s verse on “Wanna Be Cool” is on the shortlist for the best verses of the year; Big Sean and J. Cole bring their a-games; “Sunday Candy” is the greatest song Kanye West never wrote. Yes, there are a lot of short tracks that seemed to bother people – those were individually deliciously, and fit the album’s warmth.

2. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell

Genre: Folk

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Review: click me!

Thirty minutes of ruminations about death, communication and old memories tied to some gorgeous melodies; hearing Sufjan Stevens sing “I just wanted to be near you” will make you want to be near him too.

1. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly

Genre: Hip-Hop

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Review: click me!

This sounds like Kendrick Lamar took the racial undertones of D’Angelo’s Black Messiah and turned them into overtones, took Bilal’s A Love Surreal Brainfeeder-influenced lucid grooves and made them even more lucid, took good kid, m.A.A.d. city’s cohesive vision and brought it to a much larger subject matter that he only hinted he was interested in in Section.80’s half-concept. I find it laughable that people think that an artist needs to be around for a long time (or needs to die early) in order for their status as a legend to be solidified. No, they just need to make legendary work.

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5 responses to “The 10 Best Albums of 2015 (So Far)

  1. Really dig the Courtney Barnett and Sleater-Kinney as well, and the Jamie XX is growing on me. Wasn’t a fan of the XX, but I like the more upbeat vibe of his solo work. And Lamar’s ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ is some pretty intense stuff. One of the densest hip-hop records I’ve heard in a long time. Kamasi Washington, who was part of Lamar’s band in the studio, put out a pretty incredible jazz album this year that I’m still trying to make my way through. Seriously intense stuff.

    • YES. omg one of the best jazz albums out there in a long time. unfortunately, the novelty of the 3-disc thing wore off, and when i get around to reviewing it, i’ll suggest a 1-disc, 6-track version of it.

      • It’s definitely a huge chunk of music to digest in one sitting. I could see a 1-disc, 6-track version being an easier listen for sure.

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