I had an incredibly difficult time narrowing this list down to five albums, but here we go! These are five of my favorite releases from 2015 in no particular order (the exception being “In Colour”).
1. Jamie xx / In Colour
I knew this was going to be my favorite album of 2015 before it was even released. As a major supporter and fan of everything Jamie xx has touched, I was ecstatic when I heard that a full-length album was set to be released this summer. All the singles were magic, especially “Good Times”, the track that features the unique and polarizing voice of Young Thugmeister. I loved how Jamie was able to incorporate such a wide variety of sounds on this record, ranging from UK hardcore, to hip-hop, to straight-ahead pop.
2. Hiatus Kaiyote / Choose Your Weapon
Even if you aren’t too keen on the whole jazz-fusion sound, this record has something for everyone. If artists like Erykah Badu, Flying Lotus, Electric Wire Hustle, Snarky Puppy, or Quadron resonate with you, there’s no doubt in my mind that you’ll dig Choose Your Weapon. Every song on this 18-track album is groovy, complex, and just plain awesome. Be sure to watch Hiatus Kaiyote in 2016, because they are going to be BIG.
3. Kendrick Lamar / To Pimp a Butterfly
Of course TPAB had to make it on this list. Kendrick Lamar is a visionary in the hip-hop game, and is one of the few players that’s desperately trying to do something different. I really didn’t think he was going to be able to top the genius that was Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City, but boy was I wrong. The beats on this record are tops, and his lyrics are poetic and emotionally stirring. TPAB is excellent, and if you think otherwise, well then I’d love to sit down with you and hear your argument so I can stomp it into the ground :)
4. GABI / Sympathy
This was without a doubt the most slept-on album of 2015. If you enjoy ambient, chamber pop, in the style of artists like Julianna Barwick and Grouper, you absolutely need to listen to Sympathy. Even though the album is only 9-tracks, GABI makes up for that by packing every song with layers and layers of instruments and voices. It’s really difficult to describe the album, so I encourage you to just find a quiet place and listen to it all the way through; I guarantee you won’t regret it.
5. Leon Bridges / Coming Home
I love me some good Motown soul, and Leon Bridges is one of the few modern artists that’s able to do it right. Coming Home was the anthem to my summer (alongside In Colour), and is packed full of short, sweet, soul goodies. It’s been crazy to see how quickly this guy blew up this year, and I hope to see that hype continue into 2016. (FYI: “Lisa Sawyer” is probably one of my favorite songs of the year)
- Dornik / Dornik
- Unknown Mortal Orchestra / Multi-Love