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)


On her myspace page Leila lists her influences as “life…noise…stuff.” I’d just add “beats” to that list for a quick summation of her sound. These tracks her label has generously offered for your downloading pleasure demonstrate Leila’s controlled cacophony as she gathers audio odds and ends, samples of this horn and that vocal clip, and masterfully stitches the sounds together into something you can dance to and something you can chill to, respectively. It’s pastiche-core in the vein of Solex. Leila brings in a hodge-podge of guest musicians to add their own noises and stuff like Martina Topley Bird, Terry Hall, Andy Cox (The English Beat/Fine Young Cannibals), and her own sister Roya Arab. Blood, Looms, and Blooms is just the latest in her decade long recording career. Leila has worked with Björk and Aphex Twin and recorded as Grammatix and Little Miss Specta. Admittedly, I’ve got some homework to do as I’ve missed out thus far on her earlier efforts. Shame on me.

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Maximo Park

I’ve always been a sucker for things British (colonial exploits excluded). Recently I had a mad craving for a British-made Lion Bar, which has the perfect combination of caramel, chocolate, wafers and what I swear tastes like nougat (although I am told I am wrong on this). It’s the perfect candy bar and I just can’t seem to find anything else as good stateside. While I was visiting the British establishment in New York that actually sells this confectionary achievement, I couldn’t help but enjoy the salesman’s accent. Which brings me to my point, Maximo Park. While Maximo Park is perhaps more straight up radio poppy than the music that I general enjoy (but always want so much to like), it’s British radio poppy! So I love it! And while I commend all of the accentless Swedish acts that astound me so, there is just something about someone singing in a Newcastle accent over a ragey guitar. Go figure. So as the sun gets hotter and the days get lazier, I recommend giving in to your sillier side, snapping up a Lion Bar (if you can find one) and slapping some “Our Earthly Pleasures” on the Pod. Earthly pleasures, indeed.

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