2015 was a year where picking the best album of the year is tough because every album in our top 10 could make a solid argument for first place. The last year we can think of where it seemed like so many records that will surely go down as seminal entries in the 2010s were released was the first year of the decade itself (which gave us Contra
, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
, Teen Dream
, This Is Happening
, and many others). The number of great records that didn't make our list this year is a little heartbreaking (sorry, Courtney Barnett, the Decemberists, Sleater-Kinney, and many, many more). And so, without further ado, here are Baeble Music's top 10 records of 2015.
#10 - Vega Intl. Night School by Neon Indian
2015 was the year that Alan Palomo -- better known by his stage name, Neon Indian -- said goodbye to the moniker of "chillwave" once and for all. And while we all loved "Polish Girl" in 2011, Vega Intl. Night School
turned out to be the best Michael Jackson-esque electro dance-pop record of the year.
#9 - Every Open Eye by Chvrches
After the massive breakthrough success of The Bones Of What You Believe
, Chvrches had nearly impossible standards to live up to, but they delivered on Every Open Eye
, an album with a more diverse range of sounds than the first album without sacrificing that bombastic pop sound that made us fall in love with them in the first place.
#8 - Wildheart by Miguel
is arguably one of the most under-discussed records of the year. Miguel was an artist on the verge of a massive commercial breakthrough after the huge success of "Adorn" off his last record, Kaleidoscope Dream
. But rather than go the route of the Weeknd (and drop a pop spectacle), Miguel tapped into what made his fans love him in the first place: his delirious mix of R&B, psychedelia, and the best f***ing music (and, by that, we mean the verb) this side of Al Green.
#7 - I Love You, Honeybear by Father John Misty
Nobody knew precisely how Father John Misty planned to follow up 2012's Fear Fun
, a record rooted in alt-country and 70s folk that displayed J. Tillman's vices and scars to the whole world. A record more inspired by Jim Croce and Nillson than Crosby, Stills, and Nash wasn't what anyone was expecting, but we'll consider ourselves lucky that FJM indulged his theatrical singer-songwriter side on his newest record which was a love album above all else. We love you too, honeybear.
#6 - Carrie & Lowell by Sufjan Stevens
And the award for the most existentially despairing record of the year (except for, perhaps, our pick for album of the year) goes to Sufjan Stevens. A concept album about the death of his estranged mother, Carrie & Lowell
is the most intimate and stripped back record Sufjan Stevens has made in his entire career.
#5 - Art Angels by Grimes
Every time Grimes released a single in the years between Visions
and Art Angels
and then decided to not include said single in the new record (though we were pleasantly surprised to learn that "Realiti" had survived the cut), we got more and more concerned about what Grimes' latest record would finally look like. Thankfully, Art Angels
arrived in all of its pop bombast glory and she hadn't sacrificed an ounce of her weird energy along the way.
#4 - Positive Songs For Negative People by Frank Turner
Frank Turner has an immensely loyal following, but his name isn't super well-known outside of folks who are well-versed on the British folk/punk scenes. And even though folk-punk has always felt like an oxymoronical genre, Frank Turner joins Andrew Jackson Jihad as one of the best artists proving why we should all be a little more open-minded about which genres can and can't work together. And Positive Songs For Negative People
was the best record yet from the "Essex Boy."
#3 - Currents by Tame Impala
The psychedelic guitar rock gods went dance, and despite the odds telling us that new sound shouldn't have worked, Tame Impala's Currents
is just as good for an acid trip as it is an evening out on the dance floor. Kevin Parker's songwriting has never been this focused, and Tame Impala are on path to be one of the biggest rock bands in the world.
#2 - Emotion by Carly Rae Jepsen
Look...we were surprised as the rest of you when Carly Rae Jepsen followed up "Call Me Maybe" -- the highest selling digital single of all time -- with the best top 40 pop album since Lady Gaga's The Fame Monster
. But here we are. If we were arranging this list by the number of times we've listened to an album this year, Emotion
would win by a landslide. We've been bumping it nonstop since it was released in June. There isn't a bad song on it. It's 80s pop excess married to the best of contemporary indie production. We really, really like you, Carly Rae.
#1 - To Pimp A Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar
In a year where keeping track of all of the great albums was damn near an act of futility, Kendrick Lamar managed to not only stand atop the pack, he practically reinvented the whole game. Alongside My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
and Bon Iver
, To Pimp A Butterfly
is a contender for the best record of the 2010s period...not just of this year. At each turn, the record is revolutionary...whether that's the Flying Lotus sounds of the record or the righteous political fury that permeates every lyric. 2015 had an endless supply of great records, but To Pimp A Butterfly
is the one that we're guaranteed to still be studying twenty or thirty years from now.