40. KURT VILE- B’LIEVE I’M GOIN’ DOWN
6th Full length album by Philly native (and ex War On Drugs member) Kurt Vile is an all together mellower and more somber affair from a guy who already carries an image of an introverted slacker. Vile is actually an extremely prolific singer-songwriter who has delivered consistently engaging music while developing his own signature sound, a rarity these days in rock. He is calling “B’lieve” his night album. Whereas its predecessor, “Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze”, was an ode to marriage and parenthood and had an optimistic, light vibe, “B’lieve” is gloomier and more pessimistic. Vile, a standout electric guitarist, favors acoustic guitar, banjo and piano on “B’lieve” with the electric guitar adding atmosphere rather than dominating the proceedings. The album begins spectacularly, with four standout tracks back to back including lead single “Pretty Pimpin”, “Dust Bunnies” and the excellent “That’s Life, Tho (Almost Hate To Say)”. The rest of the album seems to run together, creating a soothing, mellow vibe. Time may reveal additional standouts upon further listening.
Buy b’lieve i’m goin down… (Pre-Order Deluxe) Amazon
Buy Pretty Pimpin Amazon
Buy Dust Bunnies Amazon
39. SHAMIR- RATCHET
Shamir is a mad-talented twenty year old singer songwriter from Las Vegas with a high pitched androgynous singing voice which sounds not unlike a seventies era disco queen. He is influenced by R&B, Hip Hop & country but makes music for the club, but with a melodic pop sensibility. He gained blog fame last year with the great indie-club hit “On The Regular” and “Ratchet” helps prove that his success last year was no fluke. Shamir moves from synth-pop to acid house to crooning ballads to rapping with relative ease. Depending on taste, the listener may not love every song but Shamir shows confidence in each of his different styles and can genre hop like a 21st century era Prince. “Make A Scene”, “Call It Off” and “Demon” are other highlights on the album. Shamir’s effete ambiguity may keep him both apart from the mainstream and a hero to outsiders his talent and sense of melody to garner him a hit at any time. He will be an interesting artist to follow.
Buy Ratchet [Explicit] Amazon
Buy On The Regular [Explicit] Amazon
Buy Call It Off Amazon
38. PANDA BEAR- PANDA BEAR MEETS THE GRIM REAPER
Released back in January, Panda Bear’s “Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper” has gotten a bit lost in in the shuffle with so many other epic album releases since then, but it’s a damn fine album. The main concern of the album is death, particularly from the perspective of a first time parent approaching middle age. Panda Bear, is Noah Lennox, one of the co-lead members of the great Animal Collective, but at this point he has made quite a name for himself as a solo artist. “PBMTGR” is his fourth solo album and since I’ve ever heard his first, it’s at least his third straight good one. Despite the bleak subject material the album carries a chill but sonically funky vibe throughout; a mixture of psychedelia, techno and late sixties Beach Boys. There are no duds on the album but lead single “Mr. Noah”, “Boys Latin”, “Tropic Of Cancer” and “Come To Your Senses” stand above the rest.
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Buy Mr Noah Amazon
Buy Boys Latin Amazon
37. EARL SWEATSHIRT- I DON’T LIKE SHIT, I DON’T GO OUTSIDE
With his sophomore album release, the celebrated Oddfuture mc continues to go against the grain, producing a mopey, misanthropic album with no obvious singles and few hooks and an unmarketable title. The beats on the album are fuzzy and hazy and the lyrics dense but intelligent and poetic. “I Don’t Like Shit..” doesn’t hit the listener immediately but sinks in later and is actually quite easy to swallow at ten tracks and 30 minutes with half of the songs coming in at under the three minute mark. Earl’s is a technically masterful and inventive rapper and is always interesting with a unique take on the world. “I Don’t Like Shit..” is an album for the true hip hop heads who like to dissect every lyric and beat. It’s a worthy follow up to his excellent commercial debut “Doris” even if it lacks as many wow moments.
Buy Wool [Explicit] Amazon
Buy Faucet [Explicit] Amazon
36. PURITY RING- ANOTHER ETERNITY
Over the last few years Purity Ring has become one of the most influential, if not popular, groups in music. Their sound of icy, but accessible, synth pop is everywhere now and it’s almost like they are being penalized for having too many imitators. Though a solid effort, “Another Eternity” is slightly less rewarding than the group’s excellent debut “Shrines”. They have taken their sound in a slightly more pop direction, much like their similar sound-alikes Chvrches. The quality of the songs is still extremely high with “Heartsign”, “Bodyache”, “Push Pull” and “Begin Again” being the best of the lot.
Buy another eternity Amazon
Buy begin again Amazon
Buy repetition Amazon
35. BEACH HOUSE- DEPRESSION CHERRY
“Depression Cherry” is another rock solid effort by one of the most consistently good rock bands of this decade. Beach House is almost punished for its own consistent, once again delivering its signature sound of lush, but wistful dream pop perfect for the waning days of autumn. They’ve yet to deliver a bad or even mediocre album and each new release brings a slight twist on their existing sound. This time out they add some shoegaze influenced feedback to some of the songs making them electric without changing the band’s overall mood much at all. “Depression Cherry” is only one of two rock solid album releases by Beach House in 2015, the other being “Thank Your Lucky Stars” released a month and a half after “Cherry”. Neither is the band’s best record, which in my opinion belongs to either “Teen Dream” or “Bloom”, but “Depression Cherry” is another great release from this rock-solid duo and two tracks on the album “Space Song” and “Sparks” are among the group’s very best.
Buy Depression Cherry Amazon
Buy Space Song Amazon
Buy Sparks Amazon
34. LAURA MARLING- SHORT MOVIE
Though released back in March I didn’t pick up “Short Movie” until the end of the year, or else it would have been highlighted as a featured best of the month album well before now. Still in her mid twenties, Marling is now five albums into her career and seems to steadily be getting better with each of her releases. The first half of “Short Movie” is nearly perfect and it would have likely ranked in the top twenty if not for lagging a bit toward the end. Marling has already developed a singular voice and sound- indebted to the British folk movement of the late sixties/early seventies combined with the California based Laurel Canyon movement with Joni Mitchell as Marling’s prime influence. “Short Movie” is also distinguished from Marling’s earlier work by being played mostly on the electric guitar. This is a pessimistic album where falling in love is a threat to female autonomy and each of her male suitors is a disappointment.
Buy Short Movie Amazon
Buy How Can I Amazon
Buy False Hope Amazon
33. BELLE & SEBASTIAN- GIRLS IN PEACETIME WANT TO DANCE
“Girls In Peacetime” is the ninth album by Scottish collective Belle & Sebastian and on it they maintain their signature sound while tweaking it a bit to include more funk and disco. Though Belle & Sebastian goes dance is a bit of an overstatement “Girls In Peacetime” is certainly their most danceable album. But even when they bring out a funky bass, B&S remains a more subdued, twee, bookish “dance act”- more Pet Shop Boys than Chic. Despite the band’s slightly different sound if you’re not already a fan this album is unlikely to convert you, but there should be enough here to satisfy their longtime fans. “Ever Had A Little Faith” is a classic soft spoken ballad in the traditional B&S vein, while “Perfect Couples” and “The Party Line” are the two best examples of the band’s new upbeat disco sound. All three songs should go into the group’s ever expanding canon of classic tunes, and while the album runs a little long there are no real true missteps here. Belle & Sebastian delivers a return to form album here if not a classic and that is just fine.
Buy Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance Amazon
Buy The Party Line Amazon
Buy Ever Had A Little Faith? Amazon
32. A$AP ROCKY- AT.LONG.LAST.A$AP
“At.Long.Last.A$AP” has been a bit unfairly overlooked this past year, probably due to 2015’s slew of amazing albums but inside and outside of Rap. Though lacking a smash single like “F#ckin Problems”, “A.L.L.A” proves a worthy follow up to A$AP’s 2013 commercial debut. A$AP is stylistically all over the map here, bringing it Miguel as guest vocalist and sampling an old Rod Stewart vocal on the radio ready single “Everyday”, celebrating psychedelics on first single “L$D”, grabbing Lil Wayne for “M’S”, Kanye for “Jukebox Joints” and M.I.A. for “Fine Whine”. This album is both star-studded and eclectic. One minute A$AP is attacking organized religion or thoughtfully describing tough economic circumstances of his community and the next he’s full of swagger and even unfortunate misogyny. “A.L.L.A” is not a perfect album by any stretch but it has enough great moments to be considered very, very good.
Buy At.Long.Last.A$Ap [Explicit] Amazon
Buy L$D [Explicit] Amazon
Buy Excuse Me [Explicit] Amazon
31. UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA- MULTI-LOVE
Throughout their past two albums lead singer/guitarist Ruban Nielson and Unknown Mortal Orchestra have quietly carved out a place in indie-rock in between jam-bands and Animal Collective. Nielson is a hot shit phenomenal guitar player, but the group’s recordings are too weird and lo-fi to likely cater much to fans of that circuit. On their third album, “Multi-Love”, the group takes a real left turn toward soul, funk and even disco sounds an away from Grateful Dead inspired psychedelia. As a result you get some of the groups most ‘pop’ sounding music like “Can’t Keep Checking My Phone” and “Necessary Evil”. But it is still plenty weird and to further complicate matters the main subject matter for the album is regarding a polyamarous triad that Nielson recently underwent with his wife and another woman. He is not straight forward in celebrating it or cautioning against it, but approaches the subject with emotional seriousness in describing its trials, tribulations, heartbreak & utter confusion.
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Buy Necessary Evil Amazon
Buy Can’t Keep Checking My Phone Amazon