The Needle Drop

Jeremy's Faves of 2015

TND3 Comments

Hey guys, Jeremy here, the man behind the curtain (or one of the men... behind one of the curtains... Why are there so many curtains here at TND? I like to think of mine as being a nice forest green.) I don’t know if any of you care what the co-video-editor’s Top 10 of 2015 are, but here they are, nonetheless! Ha ha haaa!


1. Sufjan Stevens - Carrie & Lowell [Asthmatic Kitty]

1. Sufjan Stevens - Carrie & Lowell [Asthmatic Kitty]

I knew this record was a Great Record the first time I heard it, but I don’t think it clicked into #1 status for me until after I saw Stevens perform live on his Carrie & Lowell tour. It forced me to look the man singing these desperate, sorrowful songs right in the face, which gave me an even sharper perspective on the album proper. It may be quiet and slow, but this is a profound, wise, nearly perfect piece of work. Nothing moved me more this year.


2. Julia Holter - Have You in My Wilderness [Domino]

2. Julia Holter - Have You in My Wilderness [Domino]

There’s a moment in the middle of “Sea Calls Me Home” where Julia Holter stops short of giving us the expected chorus – it builds right up to the precipice, but doesn’t jump. Instead, we get a lovely whistling coda. All right, nice enough, but the chorus is about to come – three, two, one – ah! Nope! We’re foiled again, this time by a luscious sax. This is indicative of why this is Holter’s best work yet, and there are a myriad of other examples scattered throughout. Impeccable production and songwriting, and just so goddamn pretty.


3. Joanna Newsom - Divers [Drag City]

3. Joanna Newsom - Divers [Drag City]

Anyone who knows me probably thought I would put this at #1 almost by default, but #3 is nothing to gawk at either. Newsom remains my favorite songwriter, and while Divers might not be her best work, it still packs a dazzling punch. Jumping every which way through time and space, Newsom weaves intricate, fiercely intelligent stories with layers of harp, keys, strings, and even a Marxophone. We waited five years for this, but it was well worth it.


4. Björk - Vulnicura [One Little Indian]

4. Björk - Vulnicura [One Little Indian]

Another heartbreaker, here. Breakup albums can so easily go maudlin, or at the very least run-of-the-mill. Leave it to Björk to basically reinvent the wheel. This is by some sort of margin her most challenging work yet, both in the intense, seasick strings and beats that never go where you expect them to, and her personal, heartsick lyrics. It acts as a dark cousin to Vespertine, and it’s interesting to see her go from the global (Volta and Biophilia) back to the personal with such velocity, but I welcome it.


5. Grimes - Art Angels [4AD]

5. Grimes - Art Angels [4AD]

I feel crazy for putting a Grimes record here, but I have to. I’ve never been a Grimes non-fan, but I never got as wowed by her as everyone seemed to. This time around, I was hesitant, but I quickly grew to love the brash, fun, poppy, bubblegum-and-cyanide update on her sound. Stripping much of the reverb, we’re left with a very catchy, very well-made record. This is Grimes’ real breakthrough, “Oblivion” be damned.

 
6. Róisín Murphy - Hairless Toys [PIAS]

6. Róisín Murphy - Hairless Toys [PIAS]

This is the most criminally overlooked record of the year. Minimalist disco with indelible grooves and Murphy’s beautiful, sultry voice. It took a long time for her to return, and while this is certainly not as catchy or colorful as her past work, it is definitely a welcome addition to her strong catalog.


 
7. Destroyer - Poison Season [Merge]

7. Destroyer - Poison Season [Merge]

I never want to like a Destroyer record as much as I do. I’m not even sure what rationale I have for that, but it’s true. At first listen, I’m like, “Ok that was fine.” But even as soon as the second listen, it’s hook-line-and-sinker. This might be my favorite Destroyer record since Your Blues, with its slow sensuousness and thoughtful song craft. Destroyer is so consistent it’s hard to pin what exactly makes this record better than others, but it just is, ok?


 
8. Torres - Sprinter [Partisan]

8. Torres - Sprinter [Partisan]

Torres’ debut was a record I quite enjoyed, but it isn’t really that much of a statement. Sprinter is a statement. This is a fierce, gnarly record with catchy songs and impassioned singing. Songs like “Strange Hellos” and the title track explode, while the more pensive cuts like “New Skin” and (especially) “A Proper Polish Welcome” provide a beautiful counterpoint. I’d bet Torres has even more in her yet.


 
9. Sleater-Kinney - No Cities to Love [Sub Pop]

9. Sleater-Kinney - No Cities to Love [Sub Pop]

It’s just so damn good to have these ladies back in our lives. There isn’t much I can even say here. This is a kickass rock record, tight and taut, with the same great melodies and virtuosic guitars we’ve come to expect. Just all around solid as fuck. Rock on, SK.


 
10. Lianne La Havas - Blood [Warner Bros.]

10. Lianne La Havas - Blood [Warner Bros.]

La Havas improved on her already very good debut album with Blood, a set of soulful, jazz-influenced rock pop, replete with a few folky detours. La Havas has one of the best voices in modern pop music by far, and hearing her belt out funky tunes like “Midnight,” slinky numbers like “Green & Gold,” or out-and-out bangers like “Grow,” is just such a treat. I am thankful for this record.


All in all, 2015 wasn’t the best year in music, to be honest. These were ten albums I loved, and there were many others that were very good – Braids, José González, Laura Marling, and even that Metric record grew on me quite a bit (shut up, Anthony!) – but it just didn’t feel as much like a consistently strong year as some recent years.

But oh well! It’s basically over, and next year is looking like a promising program of potential releases. Bring it on, 2016!