KSPU Top 5 Albums, 2015: Katie Olson

1. Protomartyr – The Agent Intellect (Hardly Art)

In recent months, some people have approached me and said they were “bored” by music (something I think is both insane and lazy) and I continue to point those people to this album. The Agent Intellect is the Detroit group’s second release on Hardly Art, the Seattle-based little sister label of Sub Pop, and third full-length overall. Every time I listen to it I find something that I missed the last time around. I often feel that I can’t adequately describe this album because it’s so incredibly mutidimensional; its depth amazes me. After you’ve listened to it once, listen to it again. Then repeat that three times. (TRACKS: The Devil In His Youth, Boyce or Boice, Clandestine Time)

2. Tobias Jesso Jr. – Goon (True Panther)

Whenever I go back to my hometown, I know that I’ll be able to sleep in my own bed, go to my favorite coffee shop, and eat the mac ‘n cheese that my mom makes. This record is what that feels like, and I don’t have to go home to feel it. Tobias Jesso Jr. is a 6-foot Canadian-born, LA-based crooner who dwarfs his piano when he plays it and cracks jokes during his shows. Goon revives the era of Elton John circa 1970 and echoes Paul McCartney's solo career—love songs that are both catchy and genuine. Needless to say, this record catapulted him to fame. Jesso's talent continues to make waves: even though learned to play the piano only recently, he’s now co-writing tracks with Adele (“When We Were Young” on 25). This record makes me nostalgic for a time period I didn’t even experience, and it's something that both you and your dad will enjoy. (TRACKS: Without You, Just A Dream, Hollywood)

3. Beach House – Thank Your Luck Stars (Sub Pop)

2015 was the year of surprise release hip hop mixtapes. In October, Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally of Beach House pulled a Drake and released Thank Your Lucky Stars less than two months after their fifth full-length, Depression Cherry. There are specific differences between the two records. Where Depression Cherry continues with the cathedral haze that the band has established with the past few records, Thank Your Lucky Stars is more reminiscent of their first releases. The tracks are darker and clearer, giving the album a sort of sonic weight that listeners haven’t felt in recent years. (TRACKS: Common Girl, Elegy to the Void, Rough Song)

4. Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear (Sub Pop)

For a large part of this year, my main source of entertainment was sifting through the Internet and reading the seemingly endless amounts of think pieces that are written on Josh Tillman, otherwise known as Father John Misty. People keep writing them even though Tillman has stated in interviews and on social media that there aren’t any secret meanings behind his actions. I Love You, Honeybear is Tillman’s second release and is solely influenced by his wife, Emma Elizabeth Tillman. The same minute details that appeared in the lyrics on Fear Fun are present the second time around, bathed in Tillman’s signature satire. I highly recommend watching his live performances on YouTube while listening to this record; his hip shaking is not to go unnoticed. (TRACKS: Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins), The Night Josh Tillman Came To Our Apartment, I Went To The Store One Day)

5. Foxing – Dealer (Triple Crown)

The emo revival was something I ignored for a long time. But with new releases this year from bands like Title Fight and The World Is a Beautiful Place…, I am on the path to acceptance. Foxing’s Dealer is the cherry on top. When I listened to the record for the first time, I had to put the first track on repeat before hearing the rest of the album because it was so beautiful. Perhaps it’s because we’re on the brink of winter and there’s more darkness than sun these days, but Dealer feels like a warm sweater. NPR named the album’s single, “Magdalene”, as a “Song We Love” which is truly and fully deserved. As an album that attempts to address the concept of sexuality in the context of religion, Dealer breaks down a tough argument in a sonically beautiful way. I’d say that this is a perfect record to fall asleep or do homework to, but it deserved more of your attention than that. (TRACKS: Weave, Night Channels, Three On A Match)

Written by Katie Olson