Blog

Top 10 Albums of 2015

Check out our music department's personally chosen top 10 albums of the year (feat. their mugshots)

ASHLEY HAWKINS, MUSIC DIRECTOR

1. Drake - All works 
Drake is MY MAN, so of course he is my number 1 for everything he has done this year – If You Are Reading This It’s Too Late; the Future mixtape, What A Time To Be Alive; and, of course, “Hotline Bling.”

2. SOPHIE – Product
This album is the sonic equivalent of happiness, and it is probably the biggest reason I have grown to appreciate and enjoy electronic music. 

3. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
I think this is on almost everyone’s list – like everyone on the planet’s list – because of the variety of musical styles, the lyrical sophistication, the timely “pro-black” message, etc. All good reasons. It made my list for one reason: “this dick ain’t free.”   

4. Death Grips – The Powers That B
Death Grips are one of my all-time favorite bands (I have a huge poster of the Money Store album cover above my headboard), and this double album showed enough interesting experimentation – playing with a more electronic sound on one disk and a more alternative style on the other – to keep me entertained and satisfied. 

5. Vince Staples – Summertime ‘06
LONG BEACH RISES AGAIN MOTHAFUCKA… In other words, another talented rapper cementing the renaissance of SoCal hip-hop (that has, in my opinion, already upstaged the ‘90s “golden age”).

6. FKA Twigs – M3LL155X
Honestly was not a big fan of her older stuff, but everything about this release is stunning, from her vocals to the haunting electronic production to the short film that accompanies the EP. Wow. 

7. Ho99o9 – All works
Again, this band had multiple releases that were fantastic – Horrors of 1999 earlier this summer (I think) and Dead Bodies In The Lake in November. Their style isn’t too different from that of Death Grips or Odd Future, but Ho99o9 is somehow angrier AND more punk, which is just fine by me. 

8. METZ – II
Every half year or so, I start to lose hope in the future of punk music, and this album (though arguably more noise rock and grunge than punk) brought me out of that slump earlier this year.

9. Peaches – Rub
Peaches is a cultural feminist icon, and anyone that listened to my show at all this semester knows that I am a big fan (considering I played her like every other week). This album is admittedly worse than her older albums, but I still love it.

10. Young Fathers – White Men Are Black Men Too
I listen to this album at least once a week when I shower, and I probably will continue to do that for many, many years. 


SAM "SHILL" HILL, MUSIC DIRECTOR

1. Panda Bear – Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper
My personal favorite album of the year. Best thing to come from any of the Animal Collective crew since MPP. Songs to dance to, chill to, daydream to.

2. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
Best hip hop album of the year and that might not even do it justice. A concept album like the progification of rap. If you’ve somehow been sleeping on this, it’s time to take a seat and listen to it through.

3. Earl Sweatshirt – I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside
Dark, conscious rap with beats like cold steel. Grinding gears in an abandoned factory; wandering around like a ghost down pitch black alley ways. Plus a great cameo from Vince Staples.

4. Young Fathers – White Men Are Black Men Too
Catchy hooks and insistent melodies. Crazy how soft and pop-y these tracks sound through speakers because their live set is aggressive. One of the best live shows on this list.

5. Vince Staples – Summertime ‘06
Staples has proven himself to be one of the brightest stars in the current generation of west coast rap. Summertime ’06 shows the depth of his talent and versatility, from summertime bangers to intelligent lyrical realism.

6. FKA Twigs – M3LL155X
Only five tracks, but each one gives me chills. It’s dark and somewhat frightening, but incredibly alluring. Industrial R&B.

7. Floating Points – Elaenia
Lush yet beautifully simple. Oral landscapes that build and swoon in post-apocalyptic ecstasy. Elaenia falls somewhere between classical minimalist composition and dance music. The fact that FP can create this in the studio and then lay down the perfect set for a night of dancing and debauchery solidifies his position as one of the most versatile and talented DJs out there.

8. Seven Davis Jr. – Universes
Debut full-length effort from LA-based space case SDJr. It’s a funky good time with basic beats and catchy lyrics. “Mr. DJ, don’t play this in the club cause people don’t dance no more”. You can help but dance to these tracks. Classic house evolves into future soul.

9. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Multi-Love
Multi-Love was a drastic step for UMO towards a more disco-tinged dance-y feel, indicative of an overall trend in alternative instrumental music. Psych rock turning pop-y.

10. De Lux – Generation
Throwback to post-disco new wave, but fitting right into that pop psych trend along with new Tame, Toro, etc. These are just fun tracks that remind you of all your favorite bands.


CAROLINE WILLIS, AKA DJ NIPPLE MAMA

1. Future – All works
In my eyes, 2015 belonged to Future. To be fair, as a huge fan of the rapper, I'm very biased, but this also truly was an extremely fruitful year for him. He churned out mixtape after mixtape of fire, partook in the collab of all collabs - What A Time To Be Alive, and delivered unto us the long-awaited, base-serving, thirst-quenching Dirty Sprite 2. This man is more than a rapper or a trend or a meme, but the future itself.
 
2. JLin – Dark Energy
Delightfully frightening footwork, Dark Energy was one of the albums that exciting me most this year. Ominous and frantic, the songs are simultaneously disturbing and satisfying and made for one of my favorite listens of 2015.

3. Drake – If You're Reading This It's Too Late
According to Spotify, this is the album I listened to most this year. It's a catchy yet un-radio-friendly album that I really feel established @champagnepapi as more than just the One Direction of Hip-Hop but proved his and his team's genuine artistic chops.

4. Viet Cong – Viet Cong
This album sounds like descending into an emotional whirlpool. Continental Shelf might be my favorite song of the entire year.

5. Romare – Projections
This album is full of funky, sample-based tracks that I grooved to over and over this year. Taking his name from African-American collage artist Romare Bearden, the London-based producer's work sounds like a patchwork of a culture's musical history. It's an intriguing and highly danceable effort.

6. Beach House – Depression Cherry
A dazzlingly poignant album from everyone's favorite dream pop duo, Depression Cherry makes an ideal soundtrack for crying, making out, longing for a lost or never-had lover, and everything in between. The songs on this album sound like every moment I wish I could freeze and wallow in forever.

7. Death Grips – The Powers That B
The past year or so has been a tumultuous one as a Death Grips fan, but the March release of Jenny Death, the second half of the 2-part The Powers That B, along with a North American tour, was the treasure reaped in the end. The two starkly different halves of this album together satisfied all my cravings and proved the group has greater days ahead of them yet.

8. Jeremih – Late Nights: The Album
This album revirginized me then gently repopped my cherry with a finesse I didn't know was possible. It's some seriously sensual R&B featuring collaborations from some huge names, including Future, J. Cole (my personal favorite),  Migos (a close second), and Ty Dolla $ign among others.

9. Young Thug – Barter 6
This album goes hard and really pushes the boundaries of what one considers "speaking English."

10. Grimes – Art Angels
This is the weird pop album I didn't realize I needed. It reminded me of listening to The Fame Monster back in my hardcore middle school Lady Gaga phase. I think it says a lot about pop music and what we consider mainstream. Plus, it's catchy as hell. 


KEN JARVIS III (BUT #1 IN OUR HEARTS)

1. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
Sonically challenging with an important social message, while having some of the best individual tracks of the year.

2. Miguel – Wildheart
Miguel has mastered his R&B/Rock sex-god sound while remaining accessible.

3. Björk – Vulnicura
A broken heart has never sounded so good.  

4. Shamir – Ratchet
Challenging pop conventions with a lot of cowbell.

5. Kamasi Washington – The Epic
Revitalizing jazz with a three hour-long album in the digital era.

6. Jlin – Dark Energy
Dark, frightening, emotional footwork.

7. Kehlani – You Should Be Here
The rawest R&B album to come out this year with superb lyrics.

8. FKA Twigs – M3LL155X
Even without the videos, this EP takes on a multitude of topics while showcasing the artistic growth of Twigs.

9. Floating Points – Elaenia
Jazz-y and ethereal, this album washes over your ears and satisfies with its intricacy.

10. The Weeknd – Beauty Behind The Madness
Filled with pop earworms, while maintaining The Weeknd’s shadowy persona. 

HARRY ZEC, FRAT STAR

1. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly
Easily the highlight album of the whole year. It’s one of the most perfect hip hop albums I’ve ever heard.

2. Jamie XX – In Colour 
On this Jamie XX took what he did with the XX and some how made it even better. The range in genre is also wide and used really effectively.

3. Miguel – Wildheart 
The sounds created in this album are unreal, and everything about this feels and sounds amazing.

4. Alabama Shakes – Sound and Color 
These guys took a giant step forward on this album, and went in an amazing direction. It’s one of the best garage rock albums I’ve heard in a while. Also their singer is such a badass

5. Tame Impala – Currents 
A trippy adventure that takes you all over the genre spectrum while still being consistent.

6. Kelela – Hallucinogen 
Even though we are still pretty early in Kelela’s career she is already putting out fantastic music and this EP gets me excited for anything she will be doing in the future

7. Bjork – Vulnicura 
Everything on the album is so well thought out and orchestrated, it’s amazing. Bjork’s singing is also just something else.

8. Deerhunter – Fading Frontier 
A really good indie/alternative rock album that keeps a consistent feel good vibe.

9. Beach House – Depression Cherry 
This album is long and ambient and makes me feel like I’m floating, which is a good thing.

10. Hiatus Kaiyote – Choose Your Weapon 
This album gives us more of what brought Hiatus Kaiyote into popularity, however this time it was more experimental and complex. 


THE BONE DADDY, CHRISTIAN KOCH
   
1. A$AP Rocky – At.Long.Last.A$AP
Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye solidifies his place as a legend in hip-hop with his third masterpiece. Featuring the usual elements of drugs, fashion, and trippy bass-heavy beats.

2. A Place to Bury Strangers – Transfixiation
A super cool experimental noise-rock trip in which dreamy, sad melodies float over fuzzy soundscapes. 

3. The Sword – High Country
My favorite stoner rockers put out an album this year. High Country is not their best but still earns a place in the top 10.

4. Tame Impala – Currents
Kevin Parker, the god of 21st century psychedelic rock, continues to drop jaws with his third studio album. I prefer the first two, but Currents has a unique, highly polished sound.

5. Travi$ Scott – Rodeo
The most groundbreaking of 2015’s party banger albums.

6. Vince Staples – Summertime ’06
Really hard hip-hop record from the young Long Beach native. Diverse and easy to bump in many situations!

7. Intronaut – The Direction of Last Things
Very heavy progressive metal album featuring strong psychedelic undertones. Unique guitar and drum work, with fantastic vocals.

8. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit
The softie on this list is a super chillin alternative rock album, made unique by Courtney’s don’t-care attitude. I know this album better than I’d like to admit.

9. Drake – If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late
It might be a bit played out now, but this album inarguably changed the game for the better. “Jungle” will make its way onto any respectable “Sad Drake” playlist.

10. Belzebong – Greenferno
Most of my favorite sludgy stoner metal bands are from the 90s, which is why it’s great to see Belzebong carrying the torch into the 2010s. Not unique, but high quality! 


THE NEWBIE, SEAN MOREGETHALER  

1. Oneohtrix Point Ever – Garden of Delete
Well everyone, Danny's gone and done it again. I'm a huge stan for 0PN, but the way he's retextured grunge & his sound design have propelled him from the sterile R+7 to bio-hulking monster that is G.O.D.

2. Captain, We're Sinking – The Future is Cancelled
This is for sure one of the more heart-wrenching punk albums I've heard this year and the band absolutely slays it. Just kills me, and I haven't been able to stop listening to it. 

3. Soichi Terada – Sounds of the Far East
The guy who composed the Ape Escape series and runs Far East Recording put out a compilation that I've played some of at almost every party I've been to. Video game-inspired funky house jams that put me at inner peace.

4. Weed – Running Back
I really loved what these dudes from Vancouver did with their first record Deserve, and this album was everything I was hoping it would be. Grungey, marinated in fuzz and heavy as can be, this record throws self-loathing punches which will demolish you like it does me.

5. PZG and Dubsknit – We Rob Rave
The absolute best jungle/footwork crossover album I have ever heard comes from 2 Polish dudes. It's almost sinful to call this "rave revivalism", but this record is mental and anyone who has a passing interest in either of those two things should absolutely check this out.

6. Taso – TEKLIFE TILL THA NEXT LIFE VOL. 2
Loved Vol. 1, and the prescription for footwork bangers came through with this. It destroys soundsystems at 160 bpm.

7. Jam City – Dream a Garden
Initially, I really didn't like this record, as it was a big departure from the sound I thought he was great at onClassical Curves, but a few remixes were instrumental in helping me to listen to this again, and I absolutely love it. Jam City ditches the sterility of his last, to invite guitarwork and vocal tracks and combine them into a spectacular work of surprising depth.

8. Nomine – Inside Nomine
Underrated Tempa legend Nomine gives us a debut album full of Eastern mystic themes and sub sounds that will vibrate your brain.

9. огни – факел
Russian screamo with violins that hits you like a semi. 

10. Barlow – Barlow
Lo-fi dream-pop that you can melt away to.