17 Best Albums Of 2015

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2015  was an incredible year for music, full of surprises and second comings, weird new genres and unbelievable evolutions of existing sounds. Of course, every year is great for music as long as you’re open to new sounds. That’s how this whole thing works.

Every year, I enjoy writing down my favorites as I go along, adding them to a simple text file on my laptop. Sometimes I add stars to the albums when I realize I’m completely mad for them. For some albums, this means I find myself listening day after day, racking up dozens of plays. For others, this means that I’m struck so deeply on an emotional, intellectual, or even physical level that I can’t bring myself to listen again for a few days. Both experiences bring lasting rewards, especially when considered in the long view. This is why I love looking back and appreciating the permanent impact from these powerful pieces of music.

As it turned out, this year’s list included over twenty starred albums. I left a handful for my Best of 2015 Honorable Mention list, but the rest were simply indispensable. My list would not be complete without all of these albums.

So please, read on and enjoy. These are the 17 best albums of 2015.

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The Best Music of 2014

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This is a list of seriously amazing music. The best albums released in 2014, no shit. You probably haven’t heard of some of these artists. That’s okay. That’s awesome, in fact. Most of it’s off the beaten path, and it’d be a shame if that’s the only reason you never heard it. My biggest pleasure with this blog is hearing from friends who discovered something that’s become absolutely essential in their lives. I treasure that feeling and only hope to spread it. Enrich your life. Be adventurous, try out some of the music streaming on this page! It’s free right now and you’re definitely not doing anything better!

Okay.

I know this is late in the sense that most people publish their lists before the year is done, but I couldn’t care less about being first in judging an entire year’s worth of beautiful music. I’d always rather be finished than first.

Every piece of music on this list deserves attention. You’ll probably love some and hate others, because that’s how taste works.

See the Best of 2014 Honorable Mention list for the greatest albums that didn’t quite make the final cut!

[Note: excepting the ABSOLUTE FAVORITES section, these albums are listed in the order I heard them.]

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Ghost – Hypnotic Underworld

Ghost are the premier Japanese psych-folk-prog rock group, led by singer Masaki Batoh and brought to ecstatic, piercing life with guitarist Michio Kurihara’s electric wizardry.  In 2004 they reached a career apex with the release of Hypnotic Underworld to near-universal acclaim.

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Starting with the four part title suite, the album kicks off in true old school progressive style.  Building through a darkly ambient jazzy labrynth before upping the ante in part two with flitting woodwinds and jangling percussion, the track explodes with buzzing, agressive guitar work and pounding rhythm until – just when it seems to be running out of steam – Ghost hit the afterburners and take off with the appropriately titled, 22 second, coda: Leave the World! Regrouping with the hypnotically beautiful Hazy Paradise, the album shifts into a more standard structure with tracks exemplefying their uniquely accessible blend of psychedelic otherworldliness.  Ganagmanag, an exotically percussive jam at the album’s center is a clear peak after the opening behemoth; expansive and inviting, it’s the sort of song which, when the excitement and focus ramps up well over halfway through, it’s surprising to realize almost 10 minutes have passed – and disappointing that there aren’t 10 more.  Ending with an unrecognizable cover of Syd Barrett‘s Dominoes, the band drifts out on a quintessentially classic psychedelic note.

[grab this album at the fantastic boomkat store, on cduniverse or find a copy via amazon]