Tuesday, January 12, 2016

2015 in Review: My Top 10 Albums of the Year

Now that The Village Voice's annual Pazz & Jop poll is out -- hey, I did pretty well in my predictions -- I guess I might as well reveal my Top 10 albums of 2015. This was my 16th year of voting in the poll, which absolutely blows my mind. 

1. Jamie xx, In Colour 
Not since Moby's Play has an electronic dance album felt so spiritual, alive, cohesive, resonant, human. 

2. James McMurtry, Complicated Game 
Portraits of long marriages and old souls trying to find whatever contentment they can in ho-hum lives. Just think how down in the mouth James McMurtry is going to get if a Republican wins the White House.

3. Tame Impala, Currents 
Kevin Parker decides to put away the guitars (mostly), ends up making his most rocking and lovely album anyway.

4. Kurt Vile, B'lieve I'm Goin Down  
The critical consensus seems to be that Vile's new one is kinda like his last one. I have no problem with this.

5. Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly
The Album of the Year from the Artist of the Moment is also a great fame's-a-bitch record, Lamar's complaints about celebrity folding nicely into his anxious, thoughtful looks on race and poverty. Still, I hope he extricates himself from Dre.

6. Jason Isbell, Something More Than Free 
Like Vile, Isbell is being discounted a bit because his new album isn't the breakthrough of his last one. But the sturdy, melancholy tales of Something More Than Free suggests that, sobriety now well in hand, he still has tunes flowing out of him.

7. Donnie Trumpet & the Social Experiment, Surf 
As a messy, poetic exploration of urban life, Surf beats Chi-Raq. Funnier and more humane, too.

8. Laurie Anderson, Heart of a Dog  
My review after I saw the movie:

The accompanying album only heightens the poignancy, provoking you to make pictures in your mind and imagine Anderson is speaking directly to you.

9. Grimes, Art Angels
Not since -- what, Fiona Apple's Extraordinary Machine? -- has an artist so successfully junked her first stab at a new record and come up with something so challenging and yet so fun, as if this was how it was always supposed to sound.

10. Pusha T, King Push – Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude
Released terribly late in December, King Push hasn't fully revealed itself to me. But I couldn't stop digging Pusha T's reliably steely, brutal songs. Added bonus: No Chris Brown on this album.

To see my full ballot, which includes my list of the year's best singles, go here. (Hint: Drake and the Weeknd dominated the radio, as well as my list.)