Best Albums of 2015: Top Ten Lists

I have always taken issue with year-end lists because of the lack of internal logic. I know what it's like to try to relate several (actually around seven, if I'm being honest) different types of music together and try to come out with a cohesive lifestyle that speaks to all of my interests, so I know that any publication that tries to make a single year-end list has bitten off a big chunk of chocolate. I also know that people love lists, data, arrays, linked-lists, competition, glory, and drama, so I still want to make a bunch of lists. Where most publications fail to be up-front with their various fetishes and concerns that translate to rankings, I'll try to make it clear what each of these lists are about and that no list is better than any other (except that it's all based on numbers and they're listed in order).

Top Ten Outsider House Tapes of 2015:

My favorite musical thing that happened to me in 2015 is easily summed up by three mostly-cassette labels: 100% Silk, 1080p, and Opal Tapes. These three labels are putting out weird, mostly analogue electronic music that has shown me that House music structures can be made into compositions that are equally fun to listen to, sophisticated, and psychedelic. This sounds most like Deep House music that's made for the bedroom. Now that I have my tape deck up and running, it's particularly for my bedroom.

1. Auscultation - L'étreinte Imaginaire

2. Perfume Advert - +200 Gamma

3. Michael DeMaio - Half Cross

4. Journeymann Trax - Smoke Tape

5. Body-San - Corporate Interiors

6. Nackt - Virex

7. Friendly Chemist - Touch of Jupiter

8. Cherushii - Memory of Water

9. Roche - Dawn of the Next Cycle

10. Wywy Brix - Clear Licorice

 

Top Ten Indie Albums of 2015:

These ten albums are closely related to the music that normal people listen to and enjoy on a regular basis. These albums all have words that you can comprehend while listening to them and melodies that may make you feel either familiar or new emotions, sometimes in combination.  These albums often require some sort of active engagement in order to truly understand and appreciate them, which is neither better nor worse than much of the other music that I enjoy, which often exists more simply and immediately.

1. Joanna Newsom - Divers

2. Jessica Pratt - On Your Own Love Again

3. Ryan Adams - 1989

4. Deerhunter - Fading Frontier

5. Wilco - Star Wars

6. Marika Hackman - We Slept at Last

7. Esme Patterson - Woman to Woman

8, Laura Marling - Short Movie

9. Howling - Sacred Ground

10. Courtney Barnett - Sometimes I sit and think

 

Top Ten Rock Albums of 2015

In my world, Rock music comes in a few forms. Garage Rock is in the greatest supply but is perhaps also in the greatest demand. There's a lot of middling Garage, but there's nothing in the world as exciting as a band finding their sound in this music space. Then there's the post-shoegaze type of stuff that's mostly garbage except when it's amazing (like Helen and The Telescopes), and then there's the Post-Punk type of stuff that I'm pretty resistant to in general because it's really hard to be in good taste while you're doing it but has a lot in common with music that normal people like. Anyways, here:

1. Thee Oh Sees - Mutilator Defeated at Last

2. Helen - The Original Faces

3. The Telescopes - Hidden Fields

4. Viet Cong - Viet Con

5. Peacers - Peacers

6. Thee Tsunamis - Saturday Night Sweetheart

7. Walter - Get Wel Soon

8. La Luz - Weirdo Shrine

9. Protomartyr - The Agent Intellect

10. Peach Kelli Pop - III

 

Top 10 Bass Albums of 2015:

All of the music in this list really has two things in common: they all have irregular bass beats and they're all out of control. Most of them come from the UK and have varying degrees of ties to Grime or Techno, but mostly this is a perverted form of club music that has more in common with IDM of old. The unpredictability and intensity of much of this list makes it really special, but also an area to tread with caution.

1. M.E.S.H. - Piteous Gate

2. ALSO - ALSO

3. Rabit - Communion

4. Lakker - Tundra

. Kode9 - Nothing

6. Color Plus - Netcika

7. 214 - North Bend

8. Logos & Mumdance - Proto

9. Laurel Halo - In Situ

10. Pearson Sound - Pearson Sound

 

Top Ten Abstract Albums of 2015:

The type of ambient, drone, and beatless analogue synth music that I like is actually quite pleasant, for the most part. This type of music is good for painting, watching precipitation, creative writing, meandering around a closed space, shopping, or as alternate music for video games. There are immediate emotional implications to much of this music, and depending on how you look at it, there's either the most going on or the least going on of any style of music that I enjoy. Sometimes both!

1. Jon Brooks - Walberswick

2. Abul Mogard - The Sky Had Vanished

3. Jonas Reinhardt - Palace Savant

4. Chra - Empty Airport

5. Moon Zero - Moon Zero

6. Conrad Schnitzler and Pyrolator - Con-Struct

7. EXAEL - Actaeon

8. Alva Noto - Xerrox Vol. 3

9. Lawrence English - Parting Waves

10. Abul Mogard - Circular Forms

 

Top Ten Techno/House Albums of 2015:

I'm pretty constant in my derision of all things fun in the world, including dancing, so I won't bog you down with another tirade here.  I don't think the danceability is a deal-breaker for me, but it does come hand-in-hand with composition that has too much symmetry and constancy. I do listen to some music that has things in common with dance music, some of it is actually danceable, and here is a list of ten such albums.

1. Acronym - June

2. Erik Luebs - Absolute Presence

3. Body Boys - No Face

4. Zenker Brothers - Immersion

5. Aris Kindt - Floods

6. Sasha Conda - Bronco

7. Dwig - From Here to There

8. Xosar - Let Go

9. Abdulla Rashim - A Shell of Speed

10. Willis Anne - Deja Vu

 

Top Ten Industrial and/or Noise Albums

I had a year where I didn't listen to too much music of this type, but what I spent time with is certainly worth talking about a bit. I'm always up for a challenge, and this (fairly broad) type of music always comes with a certain type of challenge. There's often great beauty to be had within the noise, and it often provides me with a lot of inspiration. I can sign off on each of these as being amazing releases in their own little music universe.

1. Shampoo Boy - Crack

2. Daniel Menche and Mammifer - Crater

3. Robin Fox - A Small Prometheus

4. Kerridge - Always Offended, Never Ashamed

5. Low Jack - Sewing Machine

6. Matter - Paroxysmal

7. ENA - Divided

8. Shit and Shine - Everybody's a Fuckin Expert

9. Ricardo Donoso - Sarava Exu

10. Thomas Brinkmann - What you hear is what you hear