Each year, Punchnel’s asks our friends, staff, and contributors to offer up their picks for the year’s best albums, books, and movies. Today’s list: the best albums of 2015.
Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, Courtney Barnett
It’s as if this 28-year-old Australian women spent her childhood listening to Blur and Oasis and the Lemonheads and Nirvana and all your other favorite ‘90s pop bands and they all got mixed up in her brain and what came out was something totally derivative and at the same time totally, unexpectedly new.
Art Angels, Grimes
Some people have more talent than they know what to do with. In addition to writing, singing, producing and performing all the songs on this album, Grimes/Claire Boucher also draws her album covers and directs and color-corrects her videos. Art Angels is poppier than its predecessors, in a good way. Think layered vocals drifting over big mean rave-y synths and super catchy hooks. I’m pretty sure she dyes her own hair and does her own stick-and-poke tattoos, too. One of my favorite thing to do is fall into a Grimes-hole for hours, watching her videos.
Thank Your Lucky Stars, Beach House
What’s the difference between a good Beach House album and a great one? About two months, judging by TYLS, which appeared right after Depression Cherry. If the only good thing about 2015 was that we got two Beach House albums, well, that’s probably enough.
Such Things, Saintseneca
I didn’t listen to a lot of new music this year. Such Things by Saintseneca was probably tops. Roger Lion, The Velvet Underground’s live set The Matrix Tapes, and Star Wars by Wilco were great, too. If I stay under fifty words, can I leave it there? That’s forty-nine.
Are You Alone?, Majical Cloudz
This is the album that really got to me this year. You think it’s forgettable but it isn’t. It sticks little barbs inside of you. The simplest stuff too. Like when the lead singer asks, “Are you alone?” and you think, Am I?
Carrie & Lowell, Sufjan Stevens
Quietly devastating, like so much of Sufjan Stevens’ work, but unlike so many of his other albums this one is intensely personal throughout. Beautiful, but frequently difficult.
All Hands, Doomtree
I am always impressed with everything Doomtree—an indie hip hop collective out of the Twin Cities—does, and All Hands is no exception. There is a playfulness to Doomtree songs, a way of moving around the sounds and words in a sort of carefully constructed camaraderie. Beats that suck you in. Ideas that hold you, that push you forward.
I Want to Grow Up, Colleen Green
This became my soundtrack for the latter half of 2015, and I keep going back to it. The things I love best are usually as funny as they are heartbreaking, and songs like Deeper Than Love, strike that balance perfectly.
If thunder and honey got married and had twins they’d be Hozier’s voice and guitar. If you can, see him live—he’ll roar and croon you over dark, sweet waters to rock, Celtic, flamenco, and newborn shores. Then, when you’re floating, remade of song, he’ll thank you for listening.
Hamilton: The Musical, Soundtrack
I hate musicals and yet I love this! Also, Hamilton is definitely the only 46-song album about a historical figure that I’ve listened to repeatedly. Songs about love, death, sorrow, triumph, and George Washington. Plus, “cabinet rap battles” between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton, who hated each other, I guess?
Deep Blue, Darren Porter
Darren Porter knows how to make an absolutely massive record, and Deep Blue is no exception. It has everything a proper dance track should: a heart-thump blaster of a kick, blissful, ethereal vocals, and a Game of Thrones-style string breakdown that culminates into a reach-for-the-sky climax. Trance music has never been better.