Favorites of 2015

By Austintayeshus
updated over 4 years ago

Roughly in order of preference. For a podcast featuring my favorite tracks of the year, go here:

  1. Carla Morrison's second proper full length album has all the makings of a serious, concerted and admirable effort to try and top her previous, career-making record (2012's award winning Dejenme Llorar). To say she succeeds is like saying the day is bright. An absolutely beautiful, heart-wrenching experience evoking the grander moments of Sigur Rós or the Cure's Disintegration, Amor Supremo is not only her best work, it's probably the best album I've heard since King Krule's 6 Feet Beneath the Moon, two years ago. Roundly and completely a masterpiece. I love you Carla.
    Key tracks: the whole thing

  2. Archy's next move after 6 Feet Beneath the Moon is a sidestep that feels a little bit like a letdown, but still oozes over with creativity and new sounds. This is a more electronic side of his musical mind, as he puts down the guitar for the duration here. Still, even with stopgap releases of this calibre, he continues to be the most fascinating music maker on the planet. Here's to hoping a new King Krule album is on deck for 2016.
    Key tracks: 'Swell' and 'Thames Water'

  3. Artsy dream pop from LA, Julia Holter's approach to everything is just different from anybody else. Stuttering time signatures and baroque pop arrangements are the order of the day for songs about characters and strange situations. It's truly refreshing music that isn't quite like anything else currently going.
    Key tracks: 'Vasquez', 'Everytime Boots' and 'Lucette Stranded on the Island'

  4. 2 For Sale from $48.39

    Bob Wratten's full length follow up to the Trembling Blue Stars' demise is a slow, strummy, soft rock rise. Peppered with ambient tracks, it works on a completely different wavelength than TBS' jangle wonderlands. Things here are slower and even more thoughtful than before. If he was trying to isolate his audience even more, he fully succeeded. Not bad, just takes patience. It still has that Bobby Wratten —feeling— to it, so it will probably sound better in two or three years' time than it does currently (and that counts for something).
    Key tracks: 'The Memory Museum' and 'I Dreamt Music'

  5. 5 For Sale from $76.87

    Bob Wratten returns! Side one of this EP is given over to three gorgeous songs that pick up right where Trembling Blue Stars left off. Side two is more of his ambient/musique concrete sounds. Absolutely ace. Can't wait for the full length.
    Key tracks: 'The Death of Silence' and 'Ancient Fiction'

  6. Absolutely smashing second album from this all female Seattle quartet. Amidst lyrical allusions to "being outside of the scene", being "lost in the city" and "cool kids, telling lies", there seems to be a loose concept at work here. The musical backings stay true to the band's surf rock base, but dig a little deeper into the lyrics and there's something altogether darker, more hardened and cynical coming into play. Brilliantly sequenced and unflinchingly catchy, this is one of the year's biggest surprises for me.
    Key tracks: opener 'Sleep Til They Die', 'Don't Wanna Be Anywhere' and the heartbreaking closer 'True Love Knows'

  7. 14 For Sale from $4.00

    Serbian duo's first album is pure modern new wave magic. Shoegaze, noise rock and classic new wave references combine for one of the year's most unique and downright great releases. If you have any interest in modern guitar music, you will be doing yourself a disservice unless you check this album out. Just listen to it.
    Key tracks: 'Wrong Face, Wrong Palm' and 'New Gaze'

  8. A more accessible take on the ambient/electronic soundscapes he first tackled on Old Punch Card. Some downright catchy melodies and shorter song structures make for a pleasant and charming detour within his discography.
    Key tracks: 'Weather Vane'

  9. 2 For Sale from $2.88

    Fast riffing noise rock with dreamy vocals from Oakland. The a-side is a slower, bass driven number, while the flip is a rip roaring fist pumper that's over and done in two minutes flat. A promising single and hopefully a preview for an upcoming full length.
    Key tracks: 'Criminal Code'

  10. Jamie xx's debut full length is so tight and well-constructed, it plays like one highlight after another. Synthesizing the last two decades of British dance music into a more commercial container does wonders for his left field pop tunes. There's a mournfully feel good quality to the best tunes here; the sort of dancing away the lost love that a lot of the best British guitar music from the 80's possesses. A triumphant sadness, if you will. Really rather excellent. Minus the misstepping Young Thug track, which is abysmal.
    Key tracks: 'SeeSaw' and 'Loud Places' both featuring Jamie's XX bandmate Romy

  11. 5 For Sale from $11.99

    Another instrumental effort in the vein of Chance of Rain, In Situ is moody and pensive where Chance of Rain was more challenging and dancey. Laurel Halo continues to push forward and make some of the most engaging electronic music around.
    Key tracks: 'Focus I'

  12. Like Carla Morrison, Claire Boucher's mission with Art Angels is to followup a career-making album (in this case, 2012's highly regarded Visions) and try to top that success. Too early to say if it does top Visions, but Art Angels is damn good any way you cut it.
    Key tracks: 'Flesh without Blood', 'Realiti' and 'Butterfly'

  13. Content and comfortable sounds from David Gilmour, now entering his fifth decade of music making. Neither On an Island nor the Endless River gave an indication of what Rattle that Lock would sound like. Instead of continuing the airy nocturnal feel of On an Island or trying to recapture the classic Pink Floyd instrumental prowess like the Endless River, Rattle that Lock is just a very solid, if somewhat low key, pop/rock record that finds Dave flirting with an occasional cabaret influence. His voice has held up and his soloing is as thoughtful as ever, making his latter day proliferation of records as tasteful as they are satisfying. Wonderful to still have him around.
    Key tracks: the instantly catchy funk rock of the title track and the undeniably Pink Floyd-ish 'In Any Tongue'

  14. As is becoming the custom, Andrew Bird has alternated from a song-based album (last year's Handsome Family covers record 'Things Are Really Great Here, Sort Of...') to a solo instrumental album of violin/loop station/whistling doodlery (like 2013's 'I Want to See Pulaski at Night'). Echolocations: Canyon could almost be described as his ambient album, because it's easily his least rhythm-oriented. Long, brightly bowed harmonies make a bed for Andrew to improvise breezily over. Apart from making some of the most beautiful music around, few people are as strikingly original as he is.
    Key tracks: the closest it gets to a pop song on 'The Return of Yawny'

  15. Star Wars is just Wilco bringing the quality. Reminiscent of Wilco (the album), it definitely has that same fuzzed out, recorded live in one take feeling. It is a bit of a comedown after the wonderful kaleidoscope that The Whole Love displayed, but Wilco has a harder time making bad records than good ones, so this one gets by on pure vibe.
    Key tracks: 'You Satellite' and 'Magnetized'

  16. Kode9's first true solo full length is a perhaps unsurprisingly personal affair, with the stuttering tempos and post-dubstep rhythms opening up airy melodies and forming what can only be described as introspective electronic sounds. Just below the tracklist on the album's cover is a dedication to the recently departed SpaceApe and DJ Rashad, so that's where this is headed sonically. Dark, but hopeful, Nothing was a long time coming. And it's clear it's a work coming straight from the heart, which counts for something.
    Key tracks: 'Mirage' and the starkly gorgeous 'Notel'

  17. 1 For Sale from $6.95

    Portland's PWRHAUS turns out two mini albums this year of slow, lovelorn, lofi soft rock. Anything else from them would be a complete betrayal. It's a shame leader Tonality*Star doesn't want to do things on a larger scale, because he certainly writes songs for a larger audience.
    Key tracks: 'Anything At All' and 'Things Change'

  18. 1 For Sale from $6.95

    Key tracks: 'Sold My Soul' and 'Let it All Go'