I have a confession: I missed a lot of new albums this year because my nose was buried in books (more on that later). There were a lot of bands who released highly anticipated albums as well as a few indie artists who splashed onto the scene. Here are ten of my favorites, which surprisingly doesn’t include Of Monsters and Men after their sophomore effort failed to resonate with me.
Here we go:
Note: you can listen to my favorite songs from these albums on this Spotify playlist. Play on shuffle.
Why you should listen to it: there are a lot of themes dealing with identity. It starts off incredibly strong and might have served better as an EP, but the downs on the album still hold up.
Best tracks: “Caroline,” “In My Mind (Summertime)”
9. California Nights by Best Coast
Why you should listen to it: it’s lo-fi pop-punk that is radio friendly. There is a lot of ‘90s post-grunge sounds that makes it a weirdly really relaxing album in a way.
Best tracks: “Feeling OK,” “Fading Fast”
Why you should listen to it: lovey dovey tracks to listen to when you’re head is in the clouds or mopey downers for when you’re stuck in misery.
Best tracks: “Golden Coast,” “Who We Are”
Why you should listen to it: think psychedelic synths from a 1990s warehouse. That’s the easiest, but it’s not nearly enough. The album really transcends basic genre distinction.
Best tracks: “Let it Happen,” “The Less I Know The Better”
6. To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar
Why you should listen to it: a lot of my students say it’s not his best album, but that “white hipster fools like me” love it for some reason. Basically.
Best tracks: “King Kunta,” “Alright”
5. I Love You, Honeybear by Father John Misty
Why you should listen to it: sublime songwriting performed in earnest. These folk ballads are the pinnacle of a movement that has hit some staleness is the past few years.
Best tracks: “Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins),” “True Affection”
4. Coming Home by Leon Bridges
Why you should listen to it: good ol’ fashioned soul. There’s no gimmicks here. His voice is straight out of your parent’s childhood.
Best tracks: “Lisa Sawyer,” “Smooth Sailin’”
3. Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit by Courtney Barnett
Why you should listen to it: she’s one of those emotionally singer-songwriters, but it’s not acoustic. It’s heart stomping rock-n-roll.
Best tracks: “Pedestrian at Best,” “Depreston”
2. Sound & Color by Alabama Shakes
Why you should listen to it: a soul band with no limits, this album could be classified as space jazz. Vocals are killer, arrangements are amazingly quirky and out there.
Best tracks: “Future People,” “Gimme All Your Love”
1. The Bride on the Boxcar: A Decade of Margot Rarities 2004-2014 by Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s
Why you should listen to it: this is a cheat. My favorite band released a decade’s worth of rarities. It dives deep into a master’s mind and reveals just how beautiful one man can be.
Best tracks: “I Wont Eat My Vegetables (demo)” (from Now, Let’s Risk Our Feathers (Buzzard Rarities), “Cheap Motel Room” (from Hybristophilia (The Dust of Retreat Rarities)
Up next: favorite books.
Don’t forget to check out my favorite returning TV shows and favorite new TV shows of the year.
To Pimp A Butterfly was great, I think some students didn’t really listen to it for the message, they were expecting something like from his previous album.