Top 10 albums of 2015

Chris Duncan

In terms of both sales and artistic endeavors, 2015 was a blockbuster year for music. The Daily Texan’s selections for the top 10 albums of 2015 not only entertained, but pushed the boundaries of what it means to compose a record.

10. Summertime ‘06 – Vince Staples

After successful guest verses on several songs, including Earl Sweatshirt’s “epaR,” Vince Staples quit gang life and started rapping. His portrayal of the harsh realities of his childhood is nearly unrivaled in modern rap, helping him garner acclaim for his poetic style and flow.

9. Have You In My Wilderness – Julia Holter

Art pop evolved the most of any genre in 2015, and Julia Holter is in part responsible for that. The Los Angeles composer and musician experienced mild success with her first three albums, but her fourth, Have You In My Wilderness, narrows its focus into a collection of individual pieces, each displaying the beauty and intimacy of the album as a whole.

8. Currents – Tame Impala

Tame Impala took a break from music after 2012’s Lonerism, but Kevin Parker came roaring back with a newfound energy and production style in Currents. Blending huge guitar riffs, vintage synth lines and an intriguing R&B style of piano, Parker intentionally bogs himself down in smooth sounds, making the payoff of each song all the more sweet.

7. In Colour – Jamie xx

Most fans of The xx will know the group because of its entrancing production from Jamie xx, but the English producer proved in his solo debut that he’s much more than a one-dimensional producer. Each song is rich and complex in sound, and its colorful and joyous collection of songs come off as not only exciting but emotional.

6. Sound & Color – Alabama Shakes

Transferring a band’s stage presence onto an album can be a daunting task, but Alabama Shakes pulled it off with ease on their second record. Sound & Color invigorates listeners with its diversity and command of several different musical genres. Brittany Howard’s voice is the best it has ever been, making the group’s interlacing of old and new southern soul music the most enjoyable of its kind.

5. Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit – Courtney 

Barnett doesn’t try to do anything spectacular on her debut LP, sticking to rock traditions and writing ballads of pure noise. Combine this with her carefree songwriting, and Sometimes I Sit lives solely in the moment through the perspective of a clever and compelling woman.

4. I Love You, Honeybear – Father John Misty

Sarcasm in music is difficult to master, but in his second solo album, Josh Tillman hit the nail on the head. His jaded and proper appearance complements the irony of his music, helping create an oddly affectionate self-deprecating attack on modern relationships. At times, Tillman’s serious delivery can throw off listeners, but ILYH’s reward is worth the effort.

3. Art Angels – Grimes

Grimes is known for her all-out style of pop music, and Art Angels takes it one step further. With the album’s production tying everything together, Art Angels is one of the most joyous and easy listens of the year, displaying Grimes’ talents as both a producer and a singer to create a boundary-pushing album.

2. Surf – Donnie Trumpet and The Social Experiment

Although Surf is the result of contributions from dozens of artists, its unity as a project helps create one of the most sonically interesting and rewarding listens of 2015. Highlighted with flaring solos from Donnie Trumpet, Surf distinguishes itself from the pack due to its approach to soul and jazz, creating one fluid listening experience.

1. To Pimp a Butterfly – Kendrick Lamar

To Pimp a Butterfly certainly isn’t the first time rap and soul cross paths, but it might go down in history as a turning point for the genre’s production style as a whole. As dense as it is rewarding, TPAB is just another confirmation of Kendrick Lamar’s musical genius, with his flow complimenting both the album’s cinematic qualities and cohesive themes. Combine this with Lamar’s socially and politically-conscious lyrics, and this album transcends every other 2015 release to become a contender for best rap album of the decade.