Sunday, January 3, 2016

Best Albums of 2015

I didn't do a great job of listening to new music this year as I normally do. I know there are so many albums that should have made this list (and please let me know which ones!), but here are my picks:
Best Album of the Year: Florence + The Machine 
How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful (Deluxe)
If the album cover is any indication Flo is going to give it to you straight. Her previous covers have her looking off to the side, but now, homegirl has conjured your attention. "Ship to Wreck" propels the album into the dramatic, yet strong-willed "What Kind of Man." Yes, this is her most mature album, as it should be. I feel I have come into my own along with her over the last 6 years. There's less glitter and more grit, more life experiences. This album is also her most rock/retro sounding to date. She's traded in her chiffon dresses and fairy wings for green velour power suits. Don't be fooled, her magic is more real than ever.

"To let me dangle at a cruel angle
Oh my feet don't touch the floor
Sometimes you're half in and then you're half out
But you never close the door
What kind of man loves like this?
What kind of man?"
 - What Kind of Man

Check out: "How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful" will make you want to move like a hippie, "Queen of Peace" sounds like a modern dance, and "Mother" transcends into that cosmic sound of hers we all love. 
2nd: Adele 25
Like this comes an any surprise. Do I even need to write something about this? Watch her NBC Special. Watch her SNL performances. All bow down to ADELE. She is the past, present and future of music. 

"Everybody loves the things you do
From the way you talk
To the way you move
Everybody here is watching you
Cause you feel like home
You're like a dream come true
But if by chance you're here alone
Can I have a moment
Before I go?
Cause I've been by myself all night long
Hoping you're someone I used to know

You look like a movie
You sound like a song
My God, this reminds me
Of when we were young

Let me photograph you in this light
In case it is the last time
That we might be exactly like we were
Before we realized
We were sad of getting old
It made us restless
It was just like a movie
It was just like a song"
 - When We Were Young

Check out: "When We Were Young" makes me cry every time, EVERY TIME, "Send My Love (To Your New Lover) is a radio hit waiting to happen, and "Water Under the Bridge" is that "go back and get her" moment in a movie.
3rd: Susanne Sundfør Ten Love Songs
This album is practically a movie score for a futuristic Christoper Nolan film (starring Jessica Chastain of course). With some help from M83, the Norwegian siren adds some synth and theatrics to her sound. Honestly, I could just hear this album stripped of all instrumentals because her voice is so classically beautiful, but the orchestra and production take it to the next level. It's glittery, it's gothic, it's dangerous, it's operatic. Give this album a listen and be transported into a fantastical fairy tale.

"Blasting, blazing, stars exploding
A cosmic war, raging in the sky
But all I could hear was your last goodbye
Hope you'll come back again
Even now I know, you are heartless
'Cause you took off my dress
And you never put it on again
It's overrated, it doesn't do it for me
I dreamt the gods descended
I dreamt that time had ended
Planets colliding, baby one day we'll be free
But all I ever wanted was for you to want me"
 - Memorial

Check out: "Fade Away" is made for the dance floor, "Delirious" is like "Bad Blood" but 1000X better, and "Darlings" opens the album like a good yoga flow.
4th: Marina and The Diamonds FROOT
Marina is the indie world's Katy Perry. Both are sexy brunettes with penchants for wearing food-shaped head pieces and all things neon. Though, it's fair to say Marina has a little more to say. All of her past albums have been witty and political, and FROOT is no exception. Depression, rape, guns - she sings about it all, but her florescent, electro-pop sound sheds light on even the darkest lyrics.
Boss KWEEN is back. Eat the FROOT.

"Underneath it all, we're just savages
Hidden behind shirts, ties and marriages
How could we expect anything at all
We're just animals, still learning how to crawl"

Check out: "Blue" demands happiness, "Froot" is funky and weird, and "Happy" sings almost like a prayer.
5th: Beach House Depression Cherry
So few bands have mastered Beach House's melancholy but somehow NOT depressing sound. On Depression Cherry their craft is honed and perfected. Victoria Legrand's voice is so mesmerizing, you drift off to another place (probably somewhere in the cherry colored abyss that is the cover art, which is red velvet btw - material that is, not cake). I want to take a dream in this album and lie in the sparseness.

"Beyond love
This thing comes to me
Heartbreak did this
He was made to believe
That he should live without it
Our nerves would've seen
No change in his
Vision sprung into dreams
Of a world left without it"
- Beyond Love

Check out: "Wildflower" a gauzy, summery ditty, "PPP" is hypnotizing, and "Space Song" could belong anywhere on their previous albums.
6th: Brandon Flowers The Desired Effect
Although I am in love with this man and meeting him won me a free trip to Vegas, more than just his looks got my favorite Morman on this list. This album is the best music he's released - solo or with The Killers - in years. Even though the 80's vibe is out and proud, his take still feels modern and fresh. Hearing this album performed live was tops! He's such an engaging and charming performer. Ahh, le sigh.

"She wasn't having anything, no birds or any bees,
Girl don't go shooting all the dogs down
just cause one's got fleas
I'll bite what turns you sour baby
I've got miles per hour baby
Make up your mind
You never know what you might find
When dreams come true
Dreams come true
Yes they do"
- Dreams Come True

Check out: "Still Want You" is a tropical delight, "Can't Deny My Love" could easily be in the movie Drive, and "Lonely Town" is so charmingly 80's.
7th: Penguin Prison Lost in New York
What a fun, upbeat dance album!?! I kinda don't ever want them to get really big, even though they're super radio-ready. It's just my fear of bands I really like going mainstream and selling out. Penguin Prison is a gem only for the musically intelligent (could I sound any more snobby?).  If you're reading this then you're worthy of their infectious pop music (so snobby!!!).

"Turn it back, now spin around
Can we go back a second
To the way it was back then
I don't like where you're going with this
Has anyone ever told you
You can't just make your own rules
And break them when I don't give in, don't give in
And you always, always try to lose
And it's all you, all you wanna do"
 - Try to Lose

Check out: "Calling Out" sounds like a modern Hall & Oates, "Never Gets Old" is optimistic and fun, and "Caught in a Daze" is smooth and 80's.

What were your favorite albums of 2015?

see also:  Best Albums of 2011 |  Best Albums of 2012 |  Best Albums of 2013 | Best Albums of 2014

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