The 405's 30 Best Albums of 2015

By year-end year-end
updated over 5 years ago

Published on The 405 website.

  1. Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp A Butterfly
    Delivered in March, To Pimp A Butterfly is reflective of now, an anchor for now and each day, new realities and realizations are pulled from Kendrick's multifaceted lyrics as 2015 draws to a close. But Rapsody also calls the album "powerful and timeless," already looking into the future to declare its cultural legacy. "To me, it will be remembered as one of the greatest albums ever created, across any genre. I look at it musically like Martin's "I have a Dream" speech. Some may think that's a bold metaphor. But, Kendrick is a bold artist. At the time Martin was alive marching and giving speeches all throughout the country, everyone wasn't in support of him ruffling feathers. But, when it was all said and done they praised him in the end as one of our greatest leaders and he was the face of change for the better. In that same way, that's how I see TPAB and Kendrick remembered years from now, musically," she says.

  2. Hieroglyphic Being & J.I.T.U. Ahn-Sahm-Buhl - We Are Not The First

    "There's nothing I can do to aptly describe the power of this album - it's without a doubt one of the finest albums to be released in a hell of a long time. Believe in the power of Hieroglyphic Being & JITU."

  3. Björk - Vulnicura

    "Whilst Vulnicura is a deeply personal record, its honesty, its savage beauty, its pure anguish offers a sense of cathartic relief for anyone who hears it. Great art takes pain and turns it into something that can help us heal. Vulnicura does exactly that."

  4. Oneohtrix Point Never - Garden Of Delete

    "If To Pimp a Butterfly weren't also released in 2015, Garden of Delete would probably be my AOTY. It is a wholly singular and groundbreaking release that, while adhering to many past and present genre trends, seems prepared to go further in collating and collaging influences than most other electronic releases dare to go."

  5. Little Simz - A Curious Tale Of Trials + Persons

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    "Through ten booming orchestral tracks, A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons is a much-needed self-defensive assault on the industry. On labels. On genre and gender norms. On materialism. On blinding ego. On expectation. On the box so many people have attempted to put her in. So don't refer to Little Simz as a female rapper. Just call her king."

  6. Kamasi Washington - The Epic

    "The Epic is a well-rehearsed, beautifully recorded masterpiece that, while feeling at times improvisational, works hard at its balance. It has to - to make an album engage over three hours is no mean feat and it takes incredible skill and subtle nuance to space it out that well. His music is more than a throwback or a niche release, it feels like a defining moment in contemporary music."

  7. Sufjan Stevens - Carrie & Lowell

    "As long as Stevens continues to pursue the unanswerable and chase down myths and ghosts, he'll continue to make incredible music. Carrie & Lowell is just the latest in a long line of unimpeachable achievements."

  8. Jenny Hval - Apocalypse, Girl

    "Apocalypse, girl deals in big ideas about life and society but does so in a way that that feels intimate and personal. Most of this stems from Hval's continued use of the first person, which allows us to feel as though we are gazing into the life of the singer, even in the record's more abstract moments."

  9. Grimes (4) - Art Angels

    "Visions put Grimes on the map as pop's pure misfit but Art Angels secured her tangible place as the genre's most unconventional star. For those that doubted, she's done that thing she does, but better. More defined."

  10. Neon Indian - VEGA INTL. Night School

    "This is, until further notice, his magnum opus. Not one sound is out of place, not one track over or under stays its welcome. Every element that made Neon Indian such a joy through the first two albums has been polished and improved upon to make a record that truly must be heard."

  11. Julia Holter - Have You In My Wilderness

    "Holter has made an album about blissful, hypnotic escape in many forms, and in listening to it and engaging with it, you'll be overwhelmed by these feelings too."

  12. Majical Cloudz - Are You Alone?

    "While many will still dismiss them for being unexciting, there will be many people out there that forge a strong connection with their music; people who need this album to make them feel comfort, to make them feel companionship, to help them accept themselves and, ultimately, to make them feel less alone."

  13. Adele (3) - 25

    "25 is a saviour record for a quarter life crisis, a sing-a-long for one of life's most difficult stages. While one of the world's most talented voices questions her purpose, her past and her future, may we feel a little more comforted while we do the same."

  14. Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment - Surf

    "Through 16 sonic experiences, Donnie Trumpet and The Social Experiment provide the results of their anticipated genre-less collaboration."

  15. Joanna Newsom - Divers

    "This is an album that is constantly unfolding over its themes, so the only option remaining is that of acceptance of her ingenuity. If you want to make it easy, you can acknowledge the density and move on. If you want to understand the core of the record, you'll have plenty of details to work through for what now seems like forever."

  16. Arca (4) - Mutant

    "The amount of detail and the flow of Mutant is truly staggering; there are tracks that seem to take you down through secret passages to the next track, while you can still hear the sounds of the previous track fading away in the room above you."

  17. Le1f - Riot Boi

    "Riot Boi is an immensely listenable, often thrilling record, and on the first few spins you're more likely to be seduced by the beats, before digging into the lyrical content."

  18. Youth Lagoon - Savage Hills Ballroom

    "Savage Hills Ballroom marks the moment that Trevor Powers found his voice, his third album is his most consistent, the songs benefit greatly from the clarity of confidence. It's an incredibly rewarding listen that will stand the test of time."

  19. Dr. Dre - Compton (A Soundtrack By Dr. Dre)

    "Compton exists now as a reminder to the current oversaturated pit of modern rap that legends aren't born overnight and there will never be another Dr. Dre. Hip-hop's first billionaire hasn't forgotten where he comes from so let's not forget what he's done to get here"

  20. Drake - If You're Reading This It's Too Late

    "IYRTITL is the work of a perfectionist curator, a restless star, a man who has reached the top and now looks over the precipice in a double-effort to repel competition and contemplate his hard-earned, often-perilous position."

  21. The Weeknd - Beauty Behind The Madness

    "Beauty Behind The Madness showcases artistic growth and sonic progression through danceable pop deliveries like 'In The Night' and grand acoustics like 'Shameless'."

  22. Empress Of - Me

    "It's a thoroughly considered record, demonstrating that Rodriguez's personal and artistic growth are far from mutually exclusive."

  23. Shamir (2) - Ratchet

    "Ratchet is instantly likeable and oh so infectious. It's the sort of album so packed with variety that, by the time the thumping, LCD Soundsystem style disco beats of 'Head In The Clouds' come to a close, you're more than ready to jump right back in to Shamir's intoxicatingly dazzling world."

  24. Future (4) - DS2

    "DS2 just happens to be the soundtrack for the current manifesto - a modern testament to the scumbags, addicts, street bureaucrats, rap fans and nightlife culture. Because we're all just as flawed."

  25. Gabi (25) - Sympathy

    "The emotional response to the record is physical, visceral, and yet there's something oddly calming about it. Beauty and chaos subside into nothingness, the world of Sympathy cleansed in a fire of sound."