Seriously, how great was 2015 in music? It’s just stunning how many phenomenal records were released this year with so many different and diverse voices putting them forth.
Seriously, how great was 2015 in music? It’s just stunning how many phenomenal records were released this year with so many different and diverse voices putting them forth. There were those making audacious artistic statements while others were more content with hauntingly somber reflections.
We saw our fair share of valiant returns as well as an unbelievable amount of ear-turning bold debuts. There were some who sought out to define a genre’s sound and then of course there were the artists with a concrete mission to blow up any idea of musical classification. You name it – music in 2015 had it, making it one of the best sonic years in recent memory.
This whole week, we will be counting down the top 25 records of the year as well as offering up ten of our favorite Richmond records from this year. Rap, pop, rock, synth, folk, metal, and more all pop up on the list. For those who like to keep a pulse on the music world, you’ll recognize a lot of them, though there are plenty of surprises in our Top 25.
For those who’ve avoided all other End Of Year lists, trust us when we say that there’s enough great music in here to keep you occupied for the rest of this decade.
As always, a big thank you to all the contributors who helped us out this year. It’s a stressful time of the year with holiday planning and 2016 just around the corner so we definitely appreciate everyone’s time in helping put together this list. Here’s a list of all the fantastic people who offered up their votes for this year’s list:
Amy David, Andrew Cothern, Anna Creech, Brad Kutner, Cody Endres, Daniel White, Dash Brown, David Munro, Davy Jones, Doug Nunnally, Drew Necci, John Reinhold, Josh Buck, Kyle Shearin, Mark Osbourne, Matthew Klimas, Melissa Koch, PJ Sykes, R. Anthony Harris, Shannon Cleary, Stephen Lecky, and Tyler Spindle.
Tomorrow kicks off of the official countdown, but before then, let’s take some time and give out honorable mentions to five records. These records just barely missed the cut of our Top 25, but there all still extraordinary records that you should all go out of your way to check out.
Beach House – Depression Cherry
It was hard to pick between Beach House records this year, especially considering how bold and unexpected Thank Your Lucky Stars was, but it’s hard to ignore the daring intimacy of this record. The duo’s confidence is concrete by this stage of their career and it’s allowed them to methodically attack their musical canvass in a way that’s shockingly vulnerable at times. Though it has it’s rough edges, Depression Cherry is a delicate statement defined by the sparse and drawn out musical concepts that allows the listener to truly emphasize with each amazing composition.
Colleen Green – I Want To Grow Up
The California lo fi punker is still waving her Descendents flag as proudly as ever, but she’s also making a huge statement that took many by surprise this year. Her third record is a huge improvement over her previous two and it’s not just the fact that she actually recorded it in a studio with a producer this time around. It’s Green’s ability to make mostly basic revelations and observations seem profoundly deep and groundbreaking that really makes this record soar. The ten songs whip through with themes and emotions that certainly define her generation of emotional nomads, yet it’s still relatable to older music lovers thanks to its 120 Minutes vibe that’s as timeless as ever. She may be aimless and scattered in her personal life, but Green proves on this record that she’s completely focused and ruthlessly assertive when it comes to her records. (Video: “TV“)
Jason Isbell – Something More Than Free
Isbell’s fifth solo record is a collection of songs that harkens back to the golden age of country music when the themes and general moods of the songs were valued above anything else. It wasn’t about ten gallon hats or name dropping your favorite beer; no, it was about keen observations on everyday life that should be relatable to anyone regardless of background. That’s just what Isbell created here with a record of hard truths about society today. At times, it feels like a companion piece to Bernie Sanders’ campaign as it touches on similar themes of correcting issues that grew from grey areas while simultaneously voicing the frustration of blue-collar workers and the dwindling middle class. Many were quick to laude Isbell as the premier songwriter of our time after the album’s release and after hearing how songs like “Speed Trap Town” and “If It Takes A Lifetime” play out, it’s pretty hard to disagree.
Speedy Ortiz – Foil Deer
This is not a record you put on in the background. Trust me, you will not get anything done if you attempt to multi-task with these ambitious and commanding guitar hooks ringing through your ears. It’s arguable how these songs stack up against their breakout breakout 2013 record Major Arcana, but there’s no doubt that Speedy Ortiz is a musical titan as they make guitar rock feel as vital and vibrant as it has in any romanticized period throughout history. Sadie Dupuis is as forceful as ever at the forefront of each song as her lyrics almost dare the band to match it with the same indignation.
The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die – Harmlessness
It’s hard to discuss TWIABP without bringing up their emo roots. This is a band that critics almost unanimously decided were the gold standard for what emo should be, even if TWIABP could care less. On Harmlessness though, these reluctant rulers have clearly abdicated their throne in order to conquer another musical territory, even if it’s unsure where they’re going next. Harmlessness showcases a more refined TWIABP with a more focused approach to their tense and mordant music. It’s a record that truly challenges the listener with transcendental ideas and unparalleled songwriting that’s as haunting and compelling as its simple and clever album cover.
Make sure to stay tuned this whole week as we countdown the best albums of 2015 as well as our contributor’s top five and some amazing Richmond releases. Part 2 will be up tomorrow with #25 – #16 of the best albums of 2015!