Welcome to MP's "Best Of 2015" list. We'll start with our ten favorite albums of the year and finish with 20* songs from 2015 that we kept on heavy rotation. *in no particular order
Top 10 albums:
These have been selected based on their level of creativity and authenticity.
Erykah Badu - But You Caint Use My Phone / Badu's concept mixtape about the good and evil of cellphones, and their impact on human identity and relationships, is full of soulful beats and harmonies that play around (but also extend beyond) 2015's most viral single: Drake's "Hotline Bling". Badu brings in Andre 3000 on the mixtape's closing track, reminding us all that each of them are two of the most creative, thoughtful, and individual artists of our generation.
Homeshake - Midnight Snack / The former guitarist for Mac DeMarco and native Canadian lends us his breakout album, full of sultry highs and lows bleeding from his keyboard and drum machine. This is a late night album for freaks, weirdos, and lovers alike. (Read our "Under The Sheets" interview with Homeshake here.)
Mac Demarco - Another One / Everyone's favorite goofball is also one of the best pop songwriters of our generation, and he's proved it on this EP. These are mellow ballads, but undeniably catchy with a sense of maturity, warmth, and timelessness that any earnest fan of songwriting can appreciate.
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Quarters! / This seven-piece Australian rock outfit is one of the most innovative things happening in rock music right now. They're not inventing a new genre, but the way they've moved from psych rock to the catchy cosmic jazz-pop of Quarters!, and onward, is nothing short of greatness. This EP can soothe you and elevate your mind.
Thundercat - The Beyond / Where the Giants Roam / Thundercat is one of the most innovative bass players of our day, and his latest album featuring "Them Changes" (the most accessible song he's ever released) is the smoothest album of the year. "Them Changes" builds from the drum beat of the Isley Brother's classic "Footsteps In The Dark", adding a layer of keys, sax, and Thundercat's signature electric bass, to make a song about a broken heart that's irresistibly funky and soulful. The rest of the EP is a spiritual journey into jazz and ambient electronics that will leave you breathless.
Neon Indian - VEGA Intl. Night School / I can just picture someone finding this record in 20 years and being dumbfounded at the bizarre blend of groovy synths and samples of each song on the album. Alan Palomo (Neon Indian) stretches his falsetto more than ever this time around and the result, from vocals to synths and guitar, is as laughable as it is cool. Welcome to VEGA Intl. Night School., an album about surviving the night by wearing your dance shoes and pretending to be as cool as you think you are. "Smut" is a good place to start if you want to understand the level of debauchery and downright sleaze that Palomo is trying to grasp and objectify in an effort to pay tribute to the nocturnal behaviors that inspire him. This is an ever intriguing and expertly crafted album.
Archy Marshall - A New Place 2 Drown / Archy Marshall a.k.a. King Krule has a way of creating beats so dense and interesting that you can calmly drown in them. This record trades Marshall's chaotic baritone as Krule for 90s hip-hop influenced instrumentals and subtle verses that only make Marshall's shadowy character even more intriguing than it already is. From "The Sea Liner MK 1", "Yo, I'll be glad to drift some more / These distant lands they need a hand to be explored / She rides with me but does not come abroad / That's why I guess she's not my broad / I love her soul but she'll get bored. " Marshall paints visions of solitude and reluctance in a way that sounds humbly defiant and somewhat innocent. We're privileged to watch this artist grow.
Sean Nicholas Savage - Other Death / SNS is obsessed with love, harmonizing, and grooves at such a great level that his music calls to mind Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing" era. Savage often delves into human nature more than sexual intimacy itself, but it's clear that his intent is to uncover, discover, and heal all the same. He becomes more and more irresistible with each record and Other Death features some of his funkiest and most pristine ballads to date ("Casablanca" and "Romeo").
Mild High Club - Timeline / This record is more than the most bearable psych record of the year (next to Jacco Gardner's Hypnophobia) — it's also the most unique. Where many contemporaries try to add disorienting noise and layers of sound, MHC strips its songs down to organ and guitar compositions that call to mind a lazier version of baroque psych-pop greats, Strawberry Alarm Clock. Timeline is thoroughly enjoyable and, as a bonus, Alexander Brettin's vocals are warped just enough to softly sing you to sleep if needs be.
Autre Ne Veut - Age of Transparency / A lot of albums in 2015 made attempts to convey the insanity of humanity's addiction to cell phones and the Internet, but none of them carried the intensity of that insanity like this one. Autre Ne Veut's voice soars over the free jazz interpretations and harsh noise of this album in a way that has the potential to bring you to your knees. If you feel like singing your heart out, this album is a good place to start. (Read our interview with Autre Ne Veut here.)
Follow our "Best of 2015" playlist on Spotify.
Top 20 Songs:
Silk Rhodes - "Heart of Grass" - Listen (psych RnB)
Harriet Brown - "20/15" - Listen ( 80s RnB)
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - "Sense" from Paper Mâché Dream Balloon - Listen (farm jazz)
Hot Chip - "Easy To Get" from Huarache Lights - Listen (nu disco)
Ben Browning - "Don't Wait Your Turn" from Turns - Listen (Cut Copy-esque disco)
Part Time - "Ganz Wein" from Virgo's Maze - Listen (pain-killer synth pop)
Bobo - "Turn Around" from Smoke In The Elevator - Listen (lo-fi synth pop)
Harry Talin - "Find You" from The Exciter - Listen (goth-wave)
Gauntanamo Baywatch - "Too Late" from Darling... It's Too Late - Listen (50's soul)
Nosaj Thing - "Cold Stares" featuring Chance The Rapper from Fated - Listen (acid soul)
SOPHIE - VYZEE from Product - Listen ( bubblegum techno)
Hinds - "Davy Crockett" - Listen (garage rock)
Holydrug Couple - "Light or Night" from Moonlust - Listen (dreamy psych)
Connan Mockasin and Dev Hynes - "Big Distant Crush" from Myths 001 - Listen (80s freak RnB)
Ariel Pink - "I Need A Minute" - Listen (bummer pop)
Magical Cloudz - "Downtown" from Are You Alone? - Listen (melancholy romanticism / electronic opera)
Chromatics - "Just Like You" from Dear Tommy - Listen (synth pop)
Phantom Posse - "She Gets Lonely" featuring Makonnen from Home - Listen (wavy dream pop / RnB)