Over the past six months, there have been various albums released by artists in several genres that have caught our ears. They span countries, continents and experience. For this series of articles, some of the plasticmag staff have compiled their respective lists of ‘Top 5’ albums and listed them with their reasons as to why.
The second half of 2015 is littered with high-profile projected releases from the likes of Jamie xx, Tame Impala and Frank Ocean, so these lists are almost certainly going to change by the end of the year.
Part 3: Matt Hoyle – Features Editor
Matt’s list compiles his favourite albums from various genres in 2015.
05. Torres – Sprinter
There are many artists who go unrecognised for their work in this business. Torres is one of them as her brand of alternative rock doesn’t sell well, but her music is unique in many senses. Taking influence from the ‘90s grunge and alternative rock scene (along with more up-to-date reference points), there are many highlights to this songstress’ second album. “Sprinter” and “Cowboy Guilt” are just two examples from an album that, while acclaimed by critics, has not sold well yet, but if song-writing talent directly correlated with financial success then Mackenzie Scott would be a millionaire multiple times over!
Recommended Tracks: “Sprinter”, “Cowboy Guilt” and “A Proper Polish Welcome”
04. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
Among the many talented singer-songwriters to release albums this year, Courtney Barnett may be one of the very best. Her amalgamation of indie rock/punk guitars and clever depictions of the mundane in her lyrics are something that has caught the ear of many listeners this year and it should indicate good things in her future. On a par with the likes of Morrissey with her lyrical standing, songs such as “Elevator Operator” and “Pedestrian At Best” show exactly why Barnett should be taken notice of in 2015!
Recommended Tracks: “Pedestrian At Best”, “Elevator Operator” and “Depreston”
03. D’Angelo & The Vanguard – Black Messiah
D’Angelo is the godfather of neo-soul and after a 12 year hiatus, he released an album that is as musically relevant as his last: Voodoo. With his near-infinite ability to play multiple instruments and layer fantastic numbers of parts, D’Angelo manages to create a brilliant amalgamation of R&B and neo-soul. Apart from numerous parts, Black Messiah also manages to proffer a relevant message that speaks to many people on many levels as D’Angelo took leave of his sabbatical to release a truly fantastic album.
N.B. While released at the end of December 2014, this counts towards 2015’s releases as it was too late to be included in last year’s lists!
Recommended Tracks: “Ain’t That Easy”, “Sugah Daddy” and “The Charade”
02. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell
For many people, music is an inherently personal experience and while there’s personal, there’s then a level above this: ‘Sufjan’. His latest album could very well be listed under ‘Personal’ in the dictionary as his lyrics on Carrie & Lowell cover such topics as his religion and the death of his mother. Lines such as “When I was three, three maybe four, she left us at that video store” from “Should Have Known Better” manage to transport any listener to Stevens’ childhood with just a few words. The varied indie folk arrangements with added extras (à la Bon Iver) are also one of Stevens’ strengths as he formulates a gripping 2015 record.
Recommended Tracks: “Should Have Known Better”, “Fourth of July” and “All of Me Wants All of You”
01. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly
Black politics has been a recurring theme in the music of 2015, and with the recent occurrence of racially charged events (such as the death of Trayvon Martin), there’s no surprise that this has spurred the release of such music. In modern hip-hop, Kendrick Lamar stands out as a fantastic lyricist and (if there is such a thing) he released a perfect album this year. Managing to include fantastic lyrics and production in To Pimp a Butterfly, there were plenty of surprises (such as “King Kunta”) and where words (for many) would fail, Lamar created something that says more than simple letters on a page.
Recommended Tracks: “King Kunta”, “The Blacker the Berry” and “i (Album Version)”