#80: Jenny Hval – Apocalypse, girl
What is soft dick rock? Using the elements of dick to create a softer, toned-down sound. You’re free now, that battle is over, and feminism is over and socialism’s over. You say you can consume what you want now. Merry Christmas. War is over.
#79: Kurt Vile – B’lieve I’m Goin’ Down
A stronger, more focused collection of songs than his previous efforts, B’lieve I’m Goin’ Down finds the former War On Drugs guitarist coming into his own.
#78: Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment – Surf
This is most emphatically NOT a Chance The Rapper album. At all. This was drilled into everyone when Surf was released. Instead, it’s a breezy, soulful hip hop album that Chance just happens to be the vocalist on. Either way, it’s a hell of a way to spend an afternoon.
#77: Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – The High Country
Hey, remember these guys? They’ve been kicking around the periphery of indie rock since forever. 2015 brings their strongest album in a long series of years, pushing out power pop with a poppy-punk edge like no one’s business.
#76: The Tallest Man On Earth – Dark Bird Is Home
The Dylanesque folkie keeps turning out solid work that bubbles just under the radar. Dark Bird Is Home finds him getting a bit more Paul Simon, and it turns out a bit more romantic than the highs and lows of joy and despair that he’s been known for in the past.
#75: Myrkur – M
Indie popper Amalie Bruun (Ex-Cops) manages to pull off a new persona as the Burzum of the neo-black metal scene. That is to say, she is able to craft an album that is as close to black metal as humanly possible without actually having anything to do with black metal. Sure, there’s the Scandinavian song titles, the occasional chugging riff, and the backbone of screams and blastbeats, but it, like Filosofim, owes much more to dark ambient, goth, and darkwave than anything else.
#74: Prefuse 73 – Rivington Nao Rio
The veteran electronic producer turns in a warm, psychedelic collection of tracks that brings the beat back to his work, something that’s been sorely missing for years. This is an artist who made their bones on fusing hip hop to more stylish electronic elements, and Rivington Nao Rio is a welcome return to that form.
#73: Hop Along – Painted Shut
Painted Shut is strongly dominated by Frances Quinlan’s vocals; once you get over that, though, it’s apparent that the album is at its heart a love letter to the origins of indie rock – your Dinosaur, Jr, your Sonic Youth, your Pixies. Rock n roll is dead? Whoever told you that was sadly mistaken.
#72: Braids – Deep In The Iris
After the emotional apocalypse comes the time of healing; Deep In The Iris is an examination of this state, coming to terms with all sorts of uncomfortable aspects of life and reaffirming that life is there to be lived.
#71: Speedy Ortiz – Foil Deer
An old friend I hadn’t seen in a while asked me if there was any good alternative rock being made these days. Speedy Ortiz is the answer to that question.
#70: Matthew E White – Fresh Blood
In a year where the need to go back to mine fresh sounds flipped the calendar from the chillwave Eighties to the piano-man Seventies, Matthew E White stood as the complicated alternative to the chord-on-chord simplicity of Tobias Jesso, Jr, and the synth-heavy sex jams of modern Tame Impala.
#69: THEESatisfaction – EarthEE
Swampy, psychedelic, and built on a solid foundation of R&B and soul, THEESatisfaction made an album that could easily be the bedroom jam of a whole new generation, if not for the sharply political bent many of the songs take.
#68: Mark Ronson – Uptown Special
The British producer pillaged the back catalogues of The Time, Prince, and James Brown to create one of the funkiest albums in recent memory. Everyone knows “Uptown Funk”, but there’s enough great stuff here to keep the party going all night long.
#67: Bjork – Vulnicura
An exquisite examination of the complicated feelings that churn up in the wake of a messy breakup. At first blush Vulnicura feels subdued; there’s nothing of the far-out musical exploration of her previous albums, and yet under the surface there is a strong reverberation of emotion that haunts the listener well after the record closes.
#66: Jamie xx – In Colour
Jamie xx is 2015’s Ravemaster General, and In Colour is his Mission Statement. Kicking off with the ominous drum n bass percussion of “Gosh”, it whips through a shocking variety of forms before peaking on the summer jam of a lifetime, “I Know There’s Gonna Be Good Times”.
#65: Faith No More – Sol Invictus
The legendary funk-metal band came back strong in 2015, putting together a record that had all of the wild freedom of their best albums with only a slight blunting of their edge. While there were better comebacks in 2015 (more on this later) there were few that were as animalistically satisfying.
#64: The Sword – High Country
While previous efforts from retro-minded stoner metal demons The Sword were largely based around blissed-out riffs on old Black Sabbath tracks, High Country expanded their pallet to include some breezier stuff from the Seventies – Styx and Blue Oyster Cult, mainly. More rambling than their older stuff, and a bit more fun.
#63: The Sonics – This Is The Sonics
As the sheer force of their primitive, pounding rock and roll pummels you into submission, take the time to appreciate that these men are in their seventies.
#62: Built To Spill – Untethered Moon
The first Built To Spill album in a long while to feature more than one stellar track, Untethered Moon constitutes something approximating a return to form. At the very least, Doug Martsch is still wailing on that guitar in a manner that can only be considered his own.
#61: Napalm Death – Apex Predator – Easy Meat
The grindcore legends return with more grindcore. What else were you expecting? They’re the best, and this is why.