2015 has been a tremendous year for music. After what I felt was a relatively weak year for album releases in 2014, there was so much great music in both the indie and major-label streams that was delivered in every genre. Even with some of my most anticipated albums being delayed until next year (Plants and Animals, Radiohead, James Blake, Mark Farina etc.), it felt as though I could not keep up with all the music that was given to us. In this list the only factor being considered is how much enjoyment I got out of listening to these records, and their popularity or influence in the music world has no influence on where an album ends up. With that said, here are the five albums that really moved me in 2015, click on the album names to see full articles about each record:
Veldbrand is as indie as indie gets, but you wouldn’t know that just by listening. Bosveld’s homemade debut album is delicate, precise, and powerful. These songs are different but accessible, each musician brings his/her own character to the music, and its packaged together in a unified album with a strong identity. Veldbrand is a testament to why bands who create music without the backing of a major label must not be dismissed.
A very large part of my fascination with this addition to the Mountain Goats’ catalogue is how John Darnielle is able to take wrestling, a subject with which I have zero connection, and morph into something profound and applicable to everyone. It’s an album that has a bit of everything, and is not comparable to any other album that I am familiar with. This makes the record stand out in a year of great albums, and earns it a spot on this list.
Wilco has once again done what they always do. They released an album which reinvents their sound but is unmistakably Wilco. Star Wars is an album that will not be fully appreciated unless a listener takes the time to explore it, but it is exceptionally rewarding to the deep listener. The only downside is that the record feels like it ends a little too soon, but the material that is present is a beautiful example of controlled chaos.
I have probably listened to Carrie & Lowell less than any other album on this list, but that is because it is so evocative that I can only listen to it if a particular mood strikes me. Sufjan Stevens has once again demonstrated why he is one of the true artistic geniuses of our time. An almost overwhelming feeling of catharsis comes over me every time I reach the end of the album.
My favourite album of 2015 was one that I could not stop listening to for weeks on end. Experiencing it three times in a day was not uncommon, and each time I return to it I am taken on the whirlwind journey that is Love Songs for Robots. It moves flawlessly through the peaks and valleys of a unified collection of songs that each have their own distinct feeling and purpose. Every Patrick Watson album is a wonderful voyage, and I cannot wait to see what else is to come from the best group of Canadian musicians out there.
There are a few albums from 2015 that I haven’t gotten around to writing about yet, and a few of those I will be talking about in the new year. I could not help but notice that my favourite albums of 2015 all come from the same genres of folk and rock, but there are some from other musical arenas that came quite close. BADBADNOTGOOD & Ghostface Killah’s Sour Soul was a hip-hop album that really spoke to me. Titus Andronicus’ The Most Lamentable Tragedy was a great punk record. There were a number of phenomenal major-label releases as well from bands like My Morning Jacket, Tame Impala, and Snarky Puppy. Any way you slice it, 2015 was a great year to be a music freak. Thanks for reading, make sure to stick around in the new year for more great music at The Indie Blender!