It's that time of year when all your favorite music sites are releasing their Best Albums lists, but our tradition here at IndieBeat is to have some of our featured artists share their favorites first.
We asked our artists to share their Top Albums of 2015, from well-known to underground acts & pop to alternative tracks. Did your picks make their lists? Read on to find out the indie consensus, in this year's edition of IndieCember Albums According to Artists.
ALBUMS ACCORDING TO STRANGEHEART
Peter: Prince - Hit and Run. His 38th album is still funky and fresh. Also, because I operate an underground Prince themed bar called Club 1999, and probably drank too much at the albums release party at Paisley Park.
Carlito: Refused - Freedom. Why? Because it's Refused. Questions?
ALBUMS ACCORDING TO CONNOR LEIMER
Lianne La Havas - Blood.
Leon Bridges - Coming Home.
ALBUMS ACCORDING TO TELEPATHIC TEDDY BEAR
Ratatat - Magnifique. Ratatat always puts out great stuff. I can’t get enough of the lapsteel and upbeat style. Definitely something to bob your head to.
Bjork - Vulnicura. When I listen to Bjork, I expect exactly what this album offered: daring arrangements and composition, experimental musical voyages and depth of emotion. Not exactly music to relax to but always a heady trip.
ALBUMS ACCORDING TO JOEL EBNER (CONTRETEMPS)
2. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell. Heartbreaking, and subtle, and ultimately redemptive, it's easily been my favorite nighttime driving album of the year (and Stevens' live performance at the Chicago Theatre this past spring is easily the best show I've seen in 5 years.)
3. Masayoshi Fujita – Apologues. Like the Chicago band Tortoise, with everything stripped out but the vibraphone. It's like jazz transformed into ambient. Spectacular.
ALBUMS ACCORDING TO VERST
Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Multi-Love. An excellent left turn.
1. Sleater-Kinney - No Cities to Love. What a welcome surprise to have them back in action. I dug the Wild Flag offshoot, but the real thing is infinitely preferable. Hope this isn't just a one-off. Love the guitars on this record.
2. Tame Impala - Currents. Most of the reviews said this was "dance music," but this album didn't strike me as a huge departure for TI. Still one of the best live bands out there today, and these songs mesh perfectly with the older material.
3. Sufjan Stevens - Carrie and Lowell. He's always interesting, but this album was simply beautiful. Haunting melodies and a fascinating backstory for the lyrics. High art.
ALBUMS ACCORDING TO MISS GEO
Sufjan Stevens - Carrie & Lowell.
Halsey - Badlands.
ALBUMS ACCORDING TO SYMPATHETIC FREQUENCIES
Sufjan Stevens - Carrie and Lowell. This one is so heart-breakingly beautiful. The gorgeous harmonies and tremendous restraint are Sufjan at his best in our eyes. He really can do no wrong and this is one of our favorite records in a while.
Alabama Shakes - Sound & Color. This record came out while we were recording and I really didn't see it coming. We honestly weren't super tuned in to their work before this release but from the first listen we were blown away by how unique it was. It feels so raw and real while at the same time being beautifully produced and polished.
ALBUMS ACCORDING TO SUNGHOSTS
3. Tame Impala - Currents. Australia gave us a magical gift and it's called Tame Impala. Listen to this album in the middle of nowhere at sunset for the full effect.
2. Torche - Restarter. This band with their signature bomb tuning will annihilate your car speakers. Crank this.
1. Revocation - Deathless. David Davison has created a metal masterpiece. Ideal for the padawan learners of metal, and the grand masters.
3. Mac Demarco - Another One. Cause who doesn't love Mac Demarco? I mean seriously the guy should run for office.
2. Cayucas - Dancing at the Blue Lagoon. Although their first album is my personal favorite, this new release still deserves a ton of credit for making wanna move to Cocoa Beach and spend the rest of my life as a beach bum.
1. Sun Club - The Dongo Durango. Kooky, crazy, fun, surfy rock n' roll. What more can I ask for?
ALBUMS ACCORDING TO WESTERN JAGUAR
The Japanese House – Pools To Bathe In EP. I don’t even remember how I stumbled across this band, but I have been absolutely obsessed with this EP this year. Though it only contains 3 tracks, I have probably listened to it about a hundred and fifty times and it single handily got me through some of my paper writing for school. I don’t even know what the genre would be in this. It is poppy in a sense, but it builds on many layers of atmosphere and vocal processing to create a great depth of sound that is really unlike anything I have ever heard. This may be one you missed, so I definitely suggest checking it out.
Foals – What Went Down. If you know me, you know this was coming. What can I say, I love Foals. Foals are by far my favourite band and every album they put they seem to leave an impact on me in a different way. For me, Foals have this knack for expanding their music box, alleviating them from being not “boxed in” to a particular genre. They continually re-shape their sound which adds to the lore of the “Foals” genre they have created. What Went Down brought together traditional Foals elements such as jangly guitars and pulsating, danceable rhythms but did so, once again, in a fresh and inviting way. However, Foals work in subtle, but suitable keyboard arrangements as well as some heavy, hard hitting fuzzed out breakdowns which always leave you wondering where the songs are going to go next. Lastly, some of Foals’ best moments come when they slow it down. Though nothing ever reaches “Spanish Sahara” levels, tracks such as “London Thunder” and “Give it All” separate What Went Down from any other rock release out there. If you still haven’t checked out Foals, please, just do it, you will not regret it.
ALBUMS ACCORDING TO THE GOOD WIVES
Vince Staples - Summertime ’06. This record has so much energy and perspective while being loaded with legit singles.
Jamie XX - In Colour. Really got into the vibe of this record. It was made for walking around with.
Protomartyr - The Agent Intellect. I connect with a lot of this record. Definitely the most rock oriented thing I got into this year.
Dawes - All Your Favorite Bands.
Father John Misty - I Love You, Honeybear.
The Vaccines - English Graffiti.
Bring Me The Horizon - That's the Spirit. Self produced, sounds massive, and honest lyrics.
Mew - +/-. The original band is back together and sounds like they are having fun doing so.
Coal Chamber - Rivals. Raw, hooky, and a great example of believing in who you are and not caving into criticism.
Nic was too cool for new music this year.
ALBUMS ACCORDING TO CHORD
EMPRSS - Blue. Not exactly an album but their debut EP. It’s not very often that we cannot stop listening to a band on repeat for literally hours. It’s lo-fi quality is ideal, it makes you feel energised and relaxed all at the same time. Emprss blend acoustic and electronic sounds accompanied by a tenuous male vocal. We certainly hope that there will be more coming from them in the very near future.
BRIGHTLY - Oh Infinity. Brightly began as a band and as they progressed through their three albums they have been whittled down to their frontman Charlie Gleason who single highhandedly created their latest album, Oh Infinity. Starting out as an experimental electronic band mixing meaningful lyrics with acoustics, synths and a vocaliser they moved to pure acoustics on their second release and then back to a more subtle mix of both with this last effort which we feel is their greatest feat so far.
PORTRAYAL - To the Black Sea. They define their sound as shoegaze but it has a slightly deeper sound in our opinion and very reminiscent of The Smiths if they would have been formed in this era.
ALBUMS ACCORDING TO KALIMUR
2. Civil Twilight - Story of an Immigrant. Such a cool sound from these guys. They've been true artists since their first album, yet they know how to expand their instrumentation in new records. If there is one word to describe this album, it would be "tasteful." They know when to strip the sound back to have intimate moments with the listener, but equally know when to rock out with big choruses and solos alike. They create a sweet blend of staccato electric guitar pickings, low growling synths and big open guitar chords. It's Civil Twilight's best effort yet, in my opinion, for the album keeps their sound, but brings it to arena heights.
3. Silent Film - Self-Titled. This album has a lot more electronic influence in the songs compared to their prior work. It's ambient, catchy, purposeful and genuine. A Silent Film used big production to their advantage, for the album as a whole is very colorful and really paints a picture with the words. It's a journey that takes the listener on an adventurous and beautifully nostalgic trip. By the end of it, you feel more inspired and open towards life. I love albums that change my outlook and A Silent Film did just that for me with their self-titled record.
ALBUMS ACCORDING TO PORTRAYAL
Mew : + -. Epic Prog-Pop perfection that soundtracked the summer for us. Continue to be one of the most underrated bands.
Deerhunter - Fading Frontier. They've somehow managed to take all their strangeness and package it into a great pop record that's concise, accessible and flows fantastically. Every time you listen to it, the tracks reveal something else hidden away.
Beach House - Depression Cherry. Impressed with both albums they released this year but this one has an incredible atmosphere and is so infectious you just want to play it over and over.