Best Albums of 2015

2015 was a big year for music. As the year draws to a close, we decided to make a list of our top 10 releases. It includes everything from twenty one pilots to Tame Impala, and each record includes a summary, a tagline, and genres. We wish you all the best in the coming year, and hope you continue to follow our blog as we undergo some aesthetic and logistical changes!

  1. Carrie & Lowell – Sufjan StevensAn indie-folk immersion in intimate memories.Sufjan_Stevens_-_Carrie_&_Lowell
    1. Genre: Indie-Folk, Indie-Rock
    2. Carrie & Lowell, Stevens’ seventh studio album, has often been said to be his best. It’s clear that Carrie & Lowell is a work of beauty that returns to Stevens’ old indie-folk sound, using sparse instrumentation and relying on his soft vocals. In a gauzy soundscape of childhood memories, Carrie & Lowell is named after his mother and stepfather and discusses the trials and nuances of living with them. “The Only Thing” best captures the relationship between Stevens and his mother, showcasing his connection to her after her death by adopting her self-destructive behavior, and questioning, “did you love me at all?”. 
  2. Blurryface – twenty one pilotsExploring insecurities, depression, and anxiety through a character called Blurryface.
    1. Genre: Pop, Rock, Hip Hop, Reggae, Indie-Pop, Alternative Hip Hop, Electropop, Alternative Dance
    2. In a concept album based on a character, Blurryface represents lead singer Tyler Joseph’s mental illness and insecurities. Although a seemingly difficult task, especially for a band whose genre is infamous for being indescribable, twenty one pilots pulls it off well: featuring tracks from jungle-reggae-dubstep Lane Boy to simple ukulele The Judge. On one hand, there are lighter portions of the album, such as “Tear In My Heart”, an upbeat track about Joseph’s wife that, despite being a love song, stays true to the band’s sound. On the other? “Goner”, the quiet and reverent final track. Joseph finally defeats Blurryface, admitting that although he’s “weak and beaten down”, he escapes into the music, the song ringing true for many fans.
  3. Badlands – HalseyElectric optimism even in the darkest of times.f371291856251ba998e049fa457c5ad7.600x600x1
    1. Genre: Indie-Pop, Synthpop, Electropop
    2. Inspired by singer-songwriter Halsey’s state of mind while writing the album, Badlands creates a fictional city to represent her desolation and loneliness. The Badlands keeps its inhabitants captive, surrounded by a desert wasteland, but even when there is no escape, there is still optimism that there’s somewhere to go. The 40-minute album is packed full of rebellious anthems, risqué lyrics, and dreamy vocals. “Hold Me Down” is a smooth, electrifying track that perfectly encapsulates the optimism that’s necessary to survive in The Badlands, repeating the title lyric to display the importance of doing the opposite: fighting against the people who try to put you down.
  4. Future Hearts – All Time LowUnforgettable, honest, and packed full of songs of every style.atl-future-hearts-c897982c4e98b3c5.jpg

    1. Genre: Pop-Punk, Alternative Rock, Pop-Rock, Power Pop
    2. In a “definite progression” from their previous albums, as frontman Alex Gaskarth puts it, Future Hearts is said to be All Time Low’s best album yet. Using simpler songwriting techniques and occasionally heavy electronics, the album is more raw and honest than the band’s previous works, and the excellent production allows the percussion and vocals to shine. Each song is something different, and everyone can find something to listen to. From the upbeat, guitar-heavy track “Cinderblock Garden” to the powerful, intense “Old Scars/Future Hearts”, it’s easily proven that with this album, All Time Low will certainly not be “forgotten or just cast away”.
  5. Life’s Not Out To Get You: Neck DeepA pop-punk smoothie of every emotion possible.Es7Sj8fj
    1. Genre: Pop-Punk, Alternative Rock
    2. The little things are what bring an album together. Example: Neck Deep’s second studio album, Life’s Not Out To Get You, kicks off with semi-muffled conversation that brings you into the room with the band, laughing while a dog barks before bursting into the heavy first track, “Citizens of Earth”. LNOTGY combines polar opposites: unifying and hopeful tracks such as “Gold Steps”, the bitter acoustic “December”, and catchy regret in “Rock Bottom”. Emotions are merged in bizarre combinations, but it works well, and the album is certainly meant for those who “know what it’s like to be put down”.
  6. Madness: Sleeping With SirensSelf-discovery, chaos, and madness.
    Madness_Album_Cover_by_Sleeping_With_Sirens
    The album cover.
    1. Genre: Emo, Post-Harcore, Alternative Rock, Pop Rock
    2. Madness was an album of many changes for Sleeping With Sirens – a new record label, self-producing the entire thing, and a new guitarist to replace Jesse Lawson – but change can be a good thing. It’s clear that it worked well in an empowering album full of unifying anthems and easy-to-sing-along-to choruses. It’s emotional, powerful, and speaks to anyone who’s ever been told that they aren’t enough through both softer acoustics and heavy guitar and screaming. To sum it up, frontman Kellin Quinn has defined the album as, “figuring out who you are in the midst of all the craziness”.
  7. Currents: Tame ImpalaIntroverted relationships and loneliness make up the group’s third album.052aa27199b851a5044e7b96fcac830e.jpg
    1. Genre: Psychedelic Rock, Psychedelic Pop, Synthpop, Neo-Psychedelia
    2. Although Tame Impala’s previous two albums centered on frontman Kevin Parker’s withdrawal from society, Currents focuses on his return as a lonely individual. Currents also marks the first time that Parker not only wrote, recorded, and performed the entire album by himself, but mixed the music as well. Parker seems to speak from personal experience, as all good artists do. The lyrics are deep and thoughtful, exploring the idea that a relationship will highlight an introvert’s flaws. A psychedelic electro-rock feel gives the record the power it needs to stand out as a unique addition to today’s music industry.
  8. American Beauty/American Psycho: Fall Out BoyAn excellent pop-punk (second) release after a hiatus.1b118fc8b320107aec550c19b1721dd1.960x960x1.jpg
    1. Genre: Pop-Punk, Alternative Rock, Pop Rock
    2. After Fall Out Boy’s infamous hiatus from 2009-2013, their second release after their so-called resurrection was American Beauty/American Psycho, an album that combined their core pop-punk sound with influences of electronica, hip-hop, and R&B. Bassist Pete Wentz described the album’s aim as  “angry” and “primal”. However, Fall Out Boy, by definition, can only sound so angry. On the contrary, the album is packed full of danceable songs that come across as a more upbeat addition to the group’s impressive discography.
  9. Every Open Eye: CHVRCHES: Complex emotion described through a groundbreakingly bright style.screen-shot-2015-07-15-at-8-22-15-pm
    1. Genre: Synthpop, Alternative Dance
    2. With only three people making up the band, CHVRCHES has a shockingly large sound, and Every Open Eye (their sophomore release) demonstrates this clearly. The electro-pop trio uses heavy bass and synth in many tracks, lending a bright feel to what would otherwise be a thought-provoking addition to the group’s discography. While most sophomore albums fail to live up to the success of their predecessor (known as a “sophomore slump”), CHVRCHES retains their golden-pop sound with this album. It’s clear that the band is unique; after all, where else can you hear music with the same overwhelmingly cinematic feel?
  10. Vikings: New PoliticsCatchy, dance-y, Danish Pop-Rock-Alternative anthems.
    DZczoZbz
    The album cover.
    1. Genre: Alternative Rock, Pop Rock, Dance Rock
    2. With a fun, danceable sound unlike many others, New Politics has brought a new name to the music scene. Vikings, their most recent release, is reminiscent of pre-hiatus Fall Out Boy, with rebellious, defiant lyrics and heavy instrumentation. Both slow and upbeat songs are sprinkled throughout the album, but the favorite by far is “West End Kids”. It’s a catchy anthem for kids everywhere who feel unloved and unnoticed. Plus, there’s an incredible music video featuring fellow label-mates, where the band battles their way to save their girlfriends as they sing, “we are the kids that you never loved”.
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