Top Albums and Songs of 2015 (Sam List)

Inspired by Todd and a really great year for music, I’m coming out of hibernation with my tops of 2015…

Top Albums

Jamie xx In Colour (Young Turks)
I figured this collection of dancefloor etudes wouldn’t hold up to repeat listens but here I am, on the last day of the year, still unable to shake the hooks from my head.

Donnie Trumpet & the Social Experiment Surf (self-released)
A remarkably eclectic and powerful album. The fact you don’t see any of the guest stars credited in song titles tells you everything you need to know about how this “experiment” fared.

Protomartyr The Agent Intellect (Hardly Art)
Riveting post-punk from Detroit; kinda like Interpol without the pretense.

Young Guv Ripe 4 Luv (Slumberland)
Ben Cook set out to satirize bands like Cheap Trick, Big Star, Marshall Crenshaw, etc. only to end up creating a completely epic power pop album of his own.

Jose Gonzalez Vestiges and Claws (Mute)
I respect Jose’s absolute commitment to the whispery folk formula that made him famous, especially when it produces a gorgeous album like this one.

Sufjan Stevens Carrie & Lowell (Asthmatic Kitty)
Like Jose, Sufjan keeps doing his thing and it keeps getting better.

Thundercat The Beyond/Where the Giants Roam (Brainfeeder)
Yearning, confident, proggy, funky – like nothing else out there.

Colleen Captain of None (Thrill Jockey)
An art album that plays like a pop record.

Kamasi Washington The Epic (Brainfeeder)
I may be the only so-called music snob who thought Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly was just okay (or is that just me being extra snobby?) – but if the Kendrick Lamar phenomenon means former studio musicians like Kamasi see more sunshine, I’m all about it.

Beirut No No No (4AD)
Even a B+ record from Beirut will make my top 10.

Top Songs

Young Fathers “Shame” (Big Dada)
Nosaj Thing feat Chance the Rapper “Cold Stares” (Innovative Leisure/Timetable)
Baio “Sister of Pearl” (Glassnote)
The Arcs “Stay In My Corner” (Nonesuch)
Unknown Mortal Orchestra “Can’t Keep Checking My Phone” (Jajaguwar)
Lonelady “Groove It Out” (Warp)
Bicep “Just” (K7)
Swervedriver “Last Rites” (Cobraside)
Spectres “Where Flies Sleep” (Sonic Cathedral)
Beliefs “Tidal Wave” (Hand Drawn Dracula)
Low “What Part of Me” (Sub Pop)
Helen “Motorcycle” (kranky)
Four Tet “Morning Side” (Text)
William Alexander “Strangest Things” (Yellow K)
Open Mike Eagle feat MC Paul Barman & Milo “Trickeration” (Mello Music)

Laurie Anderson

It’s rare for a label to offer up a free track from their catalog, from one of their bread and butter albums, the albums that pay their bills year after year (not that Laurie Anderson is bringing in barrels of cash for WMG…). Even more rare is finding Laurie Anderson, the iconoclastic musician-artist-instrument maker (the tape-bow violin), revisiting her older projects. “Let X=X” can be found on her 1982 album Big Science, an early mainstream electronic album. The lyrics are wonderfully disjointed, seemingly found sentences, notes and conversations woven together with swelling synths, handclaps and doubled vocoder vocals. I believe this re-issue will be the first of several from Anderson’s catalog. Take advantage! If your music collection is void of Laurie Anderson start filling that void today and expand your education in American electronic artists.

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Brian Eno + David Byrne

Today we’re going back twenty-five years to 1981 (would someone check my math on that?). Brian Eno and David Byrne collaborated to produce the album My Life in a Bush of Ghosts. The album highlights the pair’s mutual love for African pop and rhythms. The track offered here, “Regiment,” is obviously influenced by such music. Its rhythms and percussion are also reminiscent of another album released in ’81, Japan’s Tin Drum. Eno + Byrne’s album set the template for later works of world and electronic music. My Life in a Bush of Ghosts was re-mastered and re-issued this year and the complete multi-tracks to two of the songs are available for download on Producers are encouraged to use the tracks in their own work, or remix the songs and upload them back to the site. The site also features archival press coverage, essays, photos from the recording sessions, a video and polaroids by David Byrne himself. A worthwhile way to spend your day procrastinating.

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