The top 10 for 2015 was much harder to narrow down than 2013 or 2014 was. Truth is, both 2013 and 2014 have albums still at the top of my rotation and I can’t foresee many of these 2015 albums to dominate my 2016 playlists, sans #1 and #2. Like always, I am sure I will realize a few misses after the fact. Oh well, here goes nothing…
1. Tame Impala – Currents
Currents was an album I had no expectations for until I heard the first single, “Let It Happen,” prior to the summer. I thought then, and I think now, that it’s the best song in 2015. A few tracks from the album leaked and my anticipation for the band’s third album grew more by the day.
Finally, in mid-July we got Currents and immediately the album became the top album of the year for me. We have seen glimpses of Tame Impala’s (mainly Kevin Parker’s) brilliance throughout the years, but I feel this is the most complete work they’ve done.
“Let It Happen” leads off the album and the energy never fades throughout. The entire album is complex and screams of a supremely-talented artist that worked painstakingly days to perfect his craft. Parker did it with Currents. To me, this album reminds me of Kid A or Born To Run, an album way ahead of its time.
But like OK Computer, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and Random Access Memories before it, part of me thinks this is the peak for Tame Impala. That’s not a bad thing, though, because it is a masterpiece and every great band has one. And like the aforementioned albums and their bands, I still see great things in store for Tame Impala for many years to come, just maybe not as good as this.
2. Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear
Father John Misty’s second studio album, I Love You, Honeybear, had the designation of #1 album for most of the year. That is until Tame Impala released Currents. Still, for an album to come out in February and still be so high on my go-to playlist in December is saying something.
This album is more complete than 2012’s Fear Fun, but I don’t think there is a song better than that album’s “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” but this album has the capability to give you about four or five different favorite songs, which speaks of the greatness it has.
I criticize the lyrics of sometimes trying too hard, but it’s clear what Josh Tillman’s feelings are and he never waivers on them.
3. Kurt Vile – b’lieve i’m goin down…
I don’t know how anyone can’t enjoy Kurt Vile’s music, it’s so, for lack of a better term, real. Maybe nothing spectacular, maybe nothing overpowering, but there is no denying he has the American singer/songwriter thing down like so many have done perfectly before him.
When I hear Kurt Vile, I hear Tom Petty with more soulful lyrics and guitar riffs. On b’lieve i’m goin down…, Vile talks about himself more than most albums. The word “I” appears in almost every song, making you never question the sincerity of where it came from.
The album starts off with the catchiest song of 2015, “Pretty Pimpin”, and goes on an emotional roller coaster the rest of the way, something all great albums do, all the way until the perfect ending and heartfelt “Wild Imagination.” I just wish “Bad Omens” had lyrics to go with some of my favorite music from 2015. I hear banjos and pianos throughout, instruments that make all albums sound better.
4. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
Courtney Barnett exploded onto the indie music scene with her song “History Eraser” but it was this release that showed her true talent. A perfect album to play in the background of everyday life, this one was in rotation all year long.
Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit has to be considered right up there with the best debut albums of the last decade. The thing I enjoy about is how much it seems Barnett isn’t trying to make it anything other than it is, a brilliant rock album.
5. Baio – The Names
Another debut album for an artist that cracked my top 5, Chris Baio of Vampire Weekend fame, went solo for The Names.
From the first single, the catchy “Sister of Pearl,” Baio proved he could create songs outside the realm of Vampire Weekend. This album, though maybe forced a little too much with filler music, has no low point on it from start to finish.