Note, only music available prior to the 30th of June were included.
10. Natalie Prass
With her self-titled debut album, American singer-songwriter Natalie Prass was one of the genuine surprises of 2015. A gorgeous blend of lofty vocals and captivating instrumentation, with attention to detail being a major factor in the record’s quality. Natalie Prass is highlighted by the quirky, diverse, “Bird of Prey”; an R&B tinged track with one of the most compulsively listenable outros of the year.
Natalie Prass – “Bird of Prey”
If You're Reading This, It's Too Late
Recent controversy aside, Drake is undoubtedly one of the music industry’s leading figureheads. Nothing Was the Same set records; If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late broke those same records. With over 17 million streams on Spotify in its first three days, the Canadian hip hop artist had the world on standby. It’s not hard to see why – this record could well be the most focused of his career thus far. Drake knows he’s the best in the game, he always has; with every release, it’s getting harder to deny him.
Miguel has unfortunately fallen slightly under the shadow of his R&B contemporary, Frank Ocean, and it’s a real shame – the 29 year-old American has been behind some of the decade’s best music. “Adorn” is one of the best songs of the decade, and though Wildheart may be more pop-oriented than its predecessor, its themes and ideals remain the same. Sexuality in music has been ever-present, but rarely does it sound so anthemic.
Miguel – “Coffee”
Bjork’s latest comes in the form of a breakup album. A cathartic manoeuvring through the trials and tribulations of heartbreak, Vulnicura is the Icelandic singer at her most raw and vulnerable yet. Accented by the production work of Arca and The Haxan Cloak, the record is as adventurous sonically as it is emotionally purging.
Bjork – “Stonemilker”
6. Jamie xx
The year’s best electronic album comes courtesy of the English music producer, Jamie Smith, commonly known as Jamie xx, and as a member of the indie pop group, The xx. It’s also the most structured record of the year, with tracks cleverly sequenced so as to blend into one another, and for reprieves to accentuate succeeding tracks. With stunning songs such as, “Obvs”, and “Loud Places”, surprises sound even the more impressive; “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” is one of the biggest songs of the year.
5. Titus Andronicus
The Most Lamentable Tragedy
A sprawling rock opera, The Most Lamentable Tragedy is Titus Andronicus’s most ambitious work to date. Following the tortured soul of frontman Patrick Stickles, the record is a three part journey into the highs and lows of primal human emotion. Brash and brutal with the profound eloquence and humanity that only a madman could convey, TMLT is a harrowing 93 minute epic that will leave the listener staggered with equal parts shock and awe.
Titus Andronicus – “Dimed Out”
4. Father John Misty
I Love You, Honeybear
As a solo artist, and as a former member of indie folk purveyors, Fleet Foxes, Joshua Tillman has been an active member of the music community for over a decade. His sophomore album under the moniker of Father John Misty is a self-described concept album - an ode to love. Though the individual songs may vary in sound and structure, the record as a whole gels together wonderfully. I Love You, Honeybear may be the most consistently strong LP of the year, with not one wasted moment.
Father John Misty – “Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)”
3. Kamasi Washington
Jazz seems to be undergoing some form of resurgence. With the success of last year’s incredible indie film, ‘Whiplash’, and the reception towards the ambitious Flying Lotus LP, You’re Dead, 2015 was poised to possibly become a banner year for modern jazz. Cue in Kamasi Washington, a member of the team that brought the jazz influence to To Pimp a Butterfly, and the composer of the 180 minute epic, The Epic. With surprisingly minimal filler, The Epic is a luxurious escapade into the wonders of modern jazz.
Kamasi Washington – “Re Run Home”
2. Kendrick Lamar
To Pimp a Butterfly
In Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, Kendrick Lamar had one of the greatest hip hop albums of the early century; with To Pimp a Butterfly, Lamar *could* have one of the most important American albums of all time. A staggering, polarizing, work, blending together elements of soul, jazz, and funk, the LP may have underwhelmed some prior fans, but it garnered a great deal more. With tracks like the incredible “For Free?”, and the bold “King Kunta”, expect it only to increase in stature and reputation as time goes on.
Kendrick Lamar – “King Kunta”
1. Sufjan Stevens
Carrie & Lowell
No album this year is as openly honest, or as breathtakingly gorgeous, as Sufjan Steven’s stunning Carrie & Lowell. Bringing to mind the work of the late Elliott Smith, the LP is minimal in nature, but executed with perfection. The opening duo of “Death with Dignity”, and “Should Have Known Better”, set such a high standard for the remainder of the record; a standard Carrie & Lowell easily sustains, making it the most consistently awe-inspiring, and most impressive, album of the year, thus far.
Sufjan Stevens – “Should Have Known Better”
Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
“I’m not suicidal, just idling insignificantly”, the Australian singer says, in the terrific “Elevator Operator”. A collection of everyday stories, written ever-so-eloquently with a master touch of wit, the slack rocker has crafted the one of the most memorable debut records in recent times. ”Pedestrian at Best” is likely the rock song of the year.
Courtney Barnett – “Pedestrian at Best”
The Powers That B
Jenny Death when? It’s been over a year since the band’s cryptic napkin note of a breakup, but Death Grips are now touring under their Facebook announcement that they’re still a thing. If Jenny Death really is the group’s swan song, then like the track “On GP”, it’s a high note to go out by.
Death Grips – “On GP”
Sun Kil Moon
One could easily describe Mark Kozelek, known as Sun Kil Moon, as a troublemaker, consistently making headlines for misdemeanour and feuds, in particular. Within the record, he constantly refers to ‘Youth’, a film by Paolo Sorrentino, in which he features as himself. If you’ve had the pleasure of viewing a Sorrentino film, you would see the similarities between their work; ambitious, sprawling, and always challenging. However, like the Italian’s work, Universal Themes is littered with beauty.
Sun Kil Moon – “Birds of Flims”
A solid follow up to last year’s Cassette, Viet Cong sees Viet Cong hone their droning post-punk sound to a T. Closing the record with the enormously epic “Death”, we see a band delve into an almost perfect sonic abyss. Coupled with more compelling songwriting, the self-titled full length debut is a fitting culmination of everything since the demise of Women.
Viet Cong – “Death”
Barter 6 is far from a cohesive, consistent record, but it shows glimpses of quality that suggest Young Thug could become one of hip hop’s biggest stars. Released in the midst of controversy, the mixtape very much needed to follow-up on the success of 2014’s “Stoner”. Though divisive, with stellar tracks such as “Check”, expect Young Thug to gain many a fan, and many a hater, in the coming years.
Young Thug – “Check”