Sound of 2015
Four fanatics share their favorite music experiences of the year
There is so much good music being made in the world. And if you care, and you take advantage of the Internet and seek it out, you will very quickly get overwhelmed. I do seek out new music regularly, and one of my primary sources—in addition to the deep music well of the Internet—is the stable of music-loving friends I’ve made over the years. I especially seek their input when compiling year-end best-of lists, taking advantage of the many hands working the mouses.
Over the last couple of years, an interesting trend has emerged within my various musical circles: We aren’t listening to the same stuff as often anymore. Even with those friends with whom my tastes have traditionally aligned, there has been less and less overlap in our music-listening habits. It’s a bittersweet development. I don’t get to enjoy that mutual excitement with my music pals as often, but I do get exposed to even more good music curated by people whose tastes I trust. The proof is in the 2015 Top 10 lists (featuring albums, songs, anything musical that moved us) below—the first by me and the others by three of my go-to music fanatics.
1. The Most Lamentable Tragedy, Titus Andronicus
2. Dancing at the Blue Lagoon, Cayucus
3. To Pimp a Butterfly, Kendrick Lamar
4. “Sunday Candy,” Donny Trumpet & The Social Experiment
5. Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, Courtney Barnett
6. Kanye West’s three-song medley on Saturday Night Live’s 40th anniversary show (“Jesus Walks,” “Only One,” “Wolves”)
7. She Fetus, live at the 1078 Gallery July 23, 2015
8. Before the World Was Big, Girlpool
9. Teens of Style, Car Seat Headrest
10. Mt. Tallac, Harvester
1. Product 3, Beat Connection: Product 3 is an album I’m just always in the mood for. Danceable rhythms, unique samples and textures and hook after hook. It’s hard to believe that this is a four-piece rock band from Seattle. In a year that has given us an embarrassment of musical riches—greater than any I can remember—this is the one I kept coming back to.
2. If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, Drake
3. Currents, Tame Impala
4. Viet Cong, Viet Cong
5. Headcase, Day Wave
6. Multi-Love, Unknown Mortal Orchestra
7. At.Long.Last.A$AP, A$AP Rocky
8. White Reaper Does It Again, White Reaper
9. Me, Empress Of
10. Death Magic, HEALTH
1. Fading Frontier, Deerhunter
2. Sticky Fingers (reissue), The Rolling Stones
3. Heavenly Pop Hits—The Flying Nun Years (2002 TV documentary from New Zealand—find it on YouTube)
4. Depression Cherry, Beach House
5. “Shivers” (Boys Next Door cover), Courtney Barnett
6. Pain, Deaf Wish
7. Girl in a Band: A Memoir, by Kim Gordon
8. The Exploding Hearts, any and all music you can dig up from late great Portland garage band.
9. Heaven Adores You (Blu-ray): Perhaps Elliott Smith’s greatest trick was that despite his remarkable soaring talent as a singer/songwriter he never pretended to be anyone other than one of us: an ecstatic fan of music. Director Nikolas Rossi manages Smith’s adopted hometown of Portland, Ore., as a character itself: encased in gorgeous green trees atop urban hills embraced by rain-stained asphalt streets held tight to the Willamette River’s magnetic sway—with Elliott’s hushed vocals hanging in the air.
10. Range Anxiety, Twerps
1. Aldafðr Ok Munka Dróttinn, Árstíðir Lífsins
2. JP Lohian & Klonen Klana, JP Lohian & Klonen Klana
3. Hole Below, Vastum
4. Odyssey, Horisont
5. The Epic, Kamasi Washington: I abandoned most styles and stuck close to metal this year, which in my mind is some of the most exciting music being made right now. But Washington is also doing some interesting things with an older form of music, and The Epic (a triple LP that’s true to its title) buzzes with the frenetic sound of John Coltrane and Art Blakey records and takes them into the future.
6. The Children of the Night, Tribulation
7. Anareta, Horrendous
8. Deeper Than Sky, VHÖL
9. Atom by Atom, Satan
10. Queen Crescent, Queen Crescent