So sometime in January I promised my Twitter followers that my top 10 albums of 2015 list would be published before month’s end. But if you’re reading this, then you know that wasn’t true. Making a list was more difficult than ever this year because of being a full-time parent; not only did I not have a lot of time to listen to music, but actually sitting down and ranking (and writing about) albums wasn’t really happening for me. So now it’s almost the end of February and I’m finally getting around to it. Better late than never, right?
Interestingly enough, this list is made up mostly of female or female-fronted artists, not unlike my reading list for 2015. This observation isn’t particularly profound, but I wanted to mention it because I think it’s cool, especially since many of the women in these bands are feminists and are vocal about equal rights and advocating for the non-sexist treatment of women in music. So without further ado…
#10 Built to Spill – Untethered Moon (04.18.15)
While reunions were a big thing in 2015, so too were albums from bands that hadn’t put out anything in a long, long time (which, by my standards, is more than two or three years). One such band was Modest Mouse, finally following up 2007’s “We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank” (one of my favorites) with “Strangers to Ourselves” (which kind of bored me, to be honest). Luckily, Built to Spill’s first album in six years didn’t disappoint. Granted, it took a few listens to really make an impression, but now it’s a solid album that slips in perfectly alongside the rest of the BTS catalog.
#9 BRAIDS – Deep in the Iris (04.27.15)
The last time BRAIDS appeared on a top 10 list of mine was in 2011, the year their debut came out. (Their second album is missing from a top 10 list, probably because I never got around to making an official list back in 2013.) But in 2015 they came out with yet another album, and it’s just as beautiful as any fan might expect. Singer Raphaelle Standell-Preston’s voice is just as impressive as ever (think indie music’s answer to Björk), and the music demonstrates a calculated evolution beyond the first two albums and into new territory while still sounding very much like BRAIDS.
#8 Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell (03.31.15)
Finally, another Sufjan Stevens full-length, and a long-awaited return to his roots. With stripped down, folk-y songs that put his voice, his storytelling, and his fingerpicking at the center of it all, this album is everything I wanted it to be, and more.
#7 Sports – All of Something (10.30.15)
This is the twee-punk album I’ve been waiting for all my life (or at least since Go Sailor ended). So in love with it, and the songs get stuck in your head for days.
#6 Worriers – Imaginary Life (08.07.15)
The friend who first suggested I listen to Worriers described them as The Weakerthans with a female front. I thought he was maybe exaggerating, but no, that’s exactly what Worriers sounds like, and that’s for sure a good thing.
#5 CHVRCHΞS – Every Open Eye (09.25.15)
I may be the only person who likes the first CHVRCHΞS album more than the second, but when it comes down to it, it’s really just splitting hairs. Both are infectious and danceable, and feature solid songwriting and execution.
#4 Purity Ring – Another Eternity (02.27.15)
If I would have made a top 10 list in 2012, Purity Ring’s debut, “Shrines,” might very well have topped it—and it’s still an album I listen to regularly, so I’m glad they didn’t make fans wait too long for a follow-up. This time around, the beats are just as tight, the vocals are just as gorgeous, and the lyrics are just as playful and thought-provoking.
#3 Beach House – Depression Cherry (08.28.15)
This is the first of two albums Beach House put out in 2015, and it’s definitely my favorite, with lush melodies that put the “dream” in dream pop.
#2 Death Cab For Cutie – Kintsugi (03.31.15)
After a couple of boring albums, DCFC finally seems to have snapped out of it and returned to writing really good and super infectious indie pop songs again. Is it bad to wish Ben Gibbard would always be brokenhearted? If that means we get albums like this, then no, no it isn’t.
#1 Spraynard – Mable (07.10.15)
This album is full of unapologetically loud and straight up catchy choruses you can’t help but sing (and shout) along to, and the lyrics are angsty and introspective. In other words, I would have loved this album when I was 16, but guess what? I’m twice that age and I love it anyway.
So there you have it. Those of you who know me well might notice that two long-awaited albums from two of my favorite bands are missing. Indeed, both Sleater-Kinney and The Velvet Teen put out new music in 2015 after years of nothing. Sadly, in spite of some great songs on both albums, I didn’t really love either one as much as I’d hoped. (Seeing Sleater-Kinney live last year, on the other hand, was like a dream come true.)