It’s December which means the year-end lists are coming–my favorite!!
I’m still working on my favorite songs of the year list–which is very late for me–but there were so many great songs I’m having a hard time trimming the list down.
But for albums–this list was pretty easy for me.
There seemed to be a few albums that just kept bubbling back to the top all year. And looking at my list, it’s pretty indicative of my overall taste in music, so it’s a good Lyn music primer.
I like to try and get my lists out–or at least done–before all the other ones come out so my opinion doesn’t get influenced. I’ve refrained from reading the few that I’ve seen get posted, but it’s been hard.
So I’m glad to get this one up! Hopefully, there are a few albums that speak to you or that you’ve also enjoyed this year.
Here we go!
1. Lana Del Ray, Lust for Life: I completely freaked on the first listen of this album the day it dropped and haven’t put it down since. A perfect genre blend speaking to the political climate, love, heartbreak and what it means to be a woman trying to find your place in the world. And getting a little help from friends like Stevie Nicks certainly doesn’t help. I don’t consider myself the biggest LDR fan, yet she consistently makes my lists. I think this her strongest album yet showing confidence and bravery with a clear voice and vision.
2. Broken Social Scene, Hug of Thunder: So great to get the band back together! It’s been a seven year break and this album feels like an explosion of pent up sound and emotion. Everyone has a time to shine–including Feist–whose album I loved but didn’t quite make my top list. Great for a drive, great to put on when you’re hanging and great in headphones to really listen to what this community of artists has to say.
3. Harry Styles, Harry Styles: What an accomplishment! I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had this album playing and had friends stop and ask who it was. Again–confident songwriting, chameleon-like genre shifting and a perfect for any mood album. Well done, Harry!
4. Sampha, Process: Completely worth the wait! I’ve loved his work with SBTRK, his features on Solange and Drake’s albums and he’s a stand out track on this year’s Everything is Recorded album. But boy, oh boy! He can break your heart with is voice and have you feeling all the feels. Process is a revelation.
5. Haim, Something to Tell You: No surprise here. I love them and this album didn’t disappoint.
6. Kehlani, SweetSexySavage: I love this album so much–and then seeing what a star she is live made me love it even more. A really nice mix of bangers, ballads and singalongs. Can’t wait to see what this talented lady does next!
7. (Sandy) Alex G, Rocket: I’m not sure how I missed this guy over the years because his whole thing is totally in my wheelhouse. I was in a crabby mood this spring looking for something new and found this on Pitchfork.com. So I gave it a listen and he’s quickly become a favorite. His live show was perfection, too. He is definitely solidly on my radar now.
8. Fever Ray, Plunge: In mid-October, I traveled to see my friend, Erin and we were talking about we were due for new music. Two weeks later, we get this gift. It’s like she knew we needed it. It has been six year and her mix of dystopian sound and raw emotion cuts through like no other. This album was an immediate favorite. (her videos are way too much for me though.)
9. Kendrick Lamar, Damn: It’s getting kinda repetitive, isn’t it? He’s the best and this album doesn’t keep it close.
10. Grizzly Bear, Painted Ruins: Here’s a band I didn’t even know I was missing. But from the first track off this album I realized, it was really good to have them back.
11. Syd, Fin: I have a lot of debut albums on my list–and here’s another one. Known for her work with Odd Future and The Internet, this album shows the depth of talents Syd possess. Top to bottom, this is a fantastic and super sexy listen.
12. Gorillaz, Humanz: There seems to be a theme of debut or comeback on this list. Here’s another comeback. There’s a delicate balance happening on this album–sharing heartbreak whether it’s from the loss of a love or an election with a dancefloor groove. Add in a million features. There’s a lot that could go wrong with this album–but it works for me.
13. Kelela, Frontline: This album is a journey and a perfect listen from top to bottom. I also have it on good authority that this album can win over even non-R&B fans, so give it a shot.
14. Natalia Lafourcade, Muses: I am completely charmed by her and listening to her albums makes me feel like I speak Spanish. Her music is so expressive and I’ve regretted not putting Hasta la Raiz on my favorites of 2015, so I will not make that same mistake this year.
15. Curtis Harding, Face Your Fear: I’m not sure why Curtis Harding isn’t as known as artists like Leon Bridges, Charles Bradley or Michael Kiwanuka–he is a star–and gives a fresh take on an old school soul sound. His sophomore album is confident and builds on his debut with an even broader and more complex sound. A fantastic listen.
16. Future, Future & Hndrxx: Seriously. It’s just so much music, Future. I put them together in a playlist so I pretty much treated it like a double album. It’s a lot, but goodness if I don’t love it all.
17. Rostam, Half-Life: I’m a huge Vampire Weekend. Based on this excellent debut album, his collab last year with Hamilton Leithauser and his hand on the Haim album, it makes me nervous to hear the new Vampire Weekend stuff without him, rumored to be released in 2018.
18. SZA, Ctrl: I’ve been solidly in SZA cheering section since I saw her completely charming and sweet performance at Pitchfork Festival in 2014. To think she almost quit the biz is unimaginable and would’ve been such a loss. She wears her vulnerabilities on her sleeve and her music offers a fresh voice distinctly her own–she has a writing credit on every track. It took a while to get her debut album out, but we are lucky to have it.
19. Bonobo, Migration: This album contains my favorite song of the year, so of course it made the list. And his live show at the Orpheum was one of the best this year.
20. Courtney Barnett, Kurt Vile, Lotta Sea Lice: I love them separately, why wouldn’t I love them together? I just didn’t think I’d love them this much.
Here’s all the videos in a YouTube playlist:
A lot of great music came out this year and I’m sure I missed a lot or didn’t spend time with albums I should have–so let me know what you loved this year–I’ll add it to my “albums I missed” playlist!