Top Albums of 2015

Last year was an epic year for music–from Hip Hop to pop to goth-influenced dance, the radios were humming with hit after hit. After years of relatively barren, boring musical landscapes, 2015 was an absolute gem and we’re here to count down our favorite albums.  We know, we know–your favorite might not have made this list, but be sure to shout it out in the comments and let us know what tunes got your toes tapping last year. 

Kendrick Lamar- To Pimp a Butterfly 

With all of the atrocities people of color faced in 2015, the political raps and radical melodies of Kendrick Lamar weren’t just topical, they were necessary. Lamar’s album hit every note: humor, rage, sensuality, irony, and a razor sharp critique of society’s expectations of young Black men. He masterfully blends Jazz, Funk, classical, and hardcore beats behind his rhymes, showcasing his effortless musical prowess. To Pimp a Butterfly hits hard, kisses it better, and hits even harder, delivering track after track of sizzling tunes than transcend genre. We are excited to see what Lamar delivers in the upcoming year, as his second album cemented him as the zeitgeist of Hip Hop. 

Sleater-Kinney- No Cities to Love 

The first album after a ten-year hiatus, No Cities to Love slammed us in the hearts with nostalgia and then grooved us back to life with catchy riffs, twanging vocals, and pounding bass lines we couldn’t get out of our heads. Filled with raw, unabashed emotion, this album picked up right where the badass riot grrls left off a decade ago, only better. This record was triumphant and strong, with Carrie Brownstein’s voice ringing true, and more relevant than ever. Not only was it one of the best albums of 2015, it might just be Sleater-Kinney’s best album to date. 

Grimes- Art Angels 

Art Angles marks the fourth studio album from the mega talented Claire Boucher, aka Grimes. Streamlined, poppy, and infinitely danceable, Art Angles was what kept us shaking our asses from Thanksgiving through Christmas. Not only were the songs catchy, but the melodies were smart and intricate, speaking to Boucher’s true musical talents. And although it was an imaginative, near concept album, it was accessible for all audiences and is pulling it’s weight toward redefining what it means to be pop music. If her past work hasn’t thrilled you, give Art Angels a shot–it’s truly irresistible. 

Jamie xx- In Color 

This dazzling debut album from English record producer Jamie Smith turned heads and turned tables with it’s full frontal electronic assault. Unlike other popular dance music, Jamie Smith went for tracks that appealed to our hearts, minds, and bodies, weaving storytelling and emotion into each track. And for an album that took seven years, it’s impossible to see the ebbs and flows in her musical interests, as the final product is a consistent, super fun gem, uniquely tight for a first solo album. The finest creative choice Smith made was allowing minimal, silent waves to overtake the hard-hitting beats, letting us catch our breaths before plunging back into the frenetic waters. 

Run the Jewels- Meow the Jewels 

It would’ve been easy to dismiss the Hip Hop duos’ cat-centric remix as a joke, but it’s too damn good. In 2014, Run the Jewels 2 dropped, and so did our jaws. Killer Mike and El-P weave the magical sounds of meows, purring, and feline sounds into their sparse, political raps creating a melange of the best things 2015 had to offer. Although it’s roughly 42 minutes of the pair rapping over cat sounds, it’s so fun and listenable, making it clear that while Run the Jewels takes music seriously, they don’t take themselves too seriously. Perhaps cats have officially dethroned dogs as the champion animal of Hip Hop. 

Chvrches- Every Open Eye

Oh, all of the feelings! The sweet, uplifting sounds of Lauren Mayberry’s voice, the swelling chorus of synths and moogs, and the heart-wrenching melodies swirling out of Scotland’s best synthpunk darlings locked Every Open Eye as one of our top albums of the year when it debuted. Unlike their previous albums, which are largely carried by Mayberry’s astonishing vocal talents, this offering felt musically cohesive, as if the band was finally performing together instead of just catching up to their front woman. Pulling inspiration from retro songbirds such as Cyndi Lauper and Madonna, 80s fashion goths like Depeche Mode and Bauhaus, Chvurches never feels dated and instead like a hopeful gaze toward the future of music. Mayberry herself has bravely faced misogynist comments and even rape threats this last year, and her voice isn’t just beautiful, it’s a powerful addition to feminists across the world. 

Disasterpiece- It Follows Soundtrack

Sparse, hollow, atmospheric and flawlessly timed, this soundtrack stands alone from it’s film (which is one of our favorites of 2015.) Harkening back to melodramatic horror composers such as John Carpenter, David Vreeland (aka Disasterpiece) wove a modern, spooky score that we dare you to listen to when you’re home alone. 

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