Best albums of 2015: top 10

AOTY 2015 10-1 college: Ghostpoet, Andreya Triana, Little Boots, Blur (1448x815)Here we are: after 40 albums, we’ve reached 2015’s top 10. Before we get to the albums themselves, allow me to briefly reflect on the year that was and what it meant for music.

In more ways than one, 2015 has been a year of conservatism: UK voters elected the Conservative party for its second consecutive term; acts of terror have caused many to adopt conservative, even prejudicial, attitudes towards those that do not share their skin colour, beliefs or culture; and, in the world of music, known quantities continue to attract the most marketing dollars, media attention and consumer sales. On the surface, it would seem that the nonconformists, the mavericks, the idealists and those that would dare to dream have all been ignored.

Accept they haven’t. From the millions of artists and creators honing their talents and sharing them with the world via the numerous online avenues, to musicians and technologists combining their expertise to change the business of music royalties, and perhaps make it easier for people to make a living off of their creativity in future, 2015 has been a year of perseverance.

Hopefully these final 10 albums will express what I mean by that, each in their own way.

10. Ibeyi – Ibeyi
9. Benjamin Clementine – At Least for Now
8. Little Boots – Working Girl
7. Blur – The Magic Whip
6. BadBadNotGood & Ghostface Killah – Sour Soul
5. The Skints – FM
4. Ghostpoet – Shedding Skin
3. Denai Moore – Elsewhere
2. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly
1. Andreya Triana – Giants
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Best albums of 2015: 20 to 11

AOTY 2015 20-11 college: Raury, Lianne La Havas, Dornik, Eska (1448x815)Contrary to what the collage above may lead you to think, albums 20 to 11 are not an all-black soirée – I just wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to get the gorgeous faces of Raury, Lianne La Havas, Dornik and Eska on a single spread.

We’re steaming towards the top-crop by way of these first 10 phenomenal records, which include avant-garde works, retro-chic disco and stupendous acts of personal atonement.

20. Golden Rules – Golden Ticket
19. Jamie xx – In Colour
18. Dornik – Dornik
17. Paul Weller – Saturns Pattern
16. Eska – Eska
15. Raury – All We Need
14. The Milk – Favourite Worry
13. Björk – Vulnicura
12. Lianne La Havas – Blood
11. Rae Morris – Unguarded
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Best albums of 2015: 30 to 21

AOTY 2015 30-21 college: Courtney Barnett, Wolf Alice, Flavia Coelho, Leon Bridges (1448x815)In part three of this year’s albums round-up, we have old-new soul man Leon Bridges, the ethereal excellent of Wolf Alice, the everyday empress of garage rock Courtney Barnett, a whole lotta funk, and a Brazilian funkstress that is more than a match for Shakira’s hip-shaking.

30. Mark Ronson – Uptown Special
29. Florence and the Machine – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
28. Wolf Alice – My Love is Cool
27. Flavia Coelho – Mundo Meu
26. Earl Sweatshirt – I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside
25. D’Angelo – Black Messiah
24. Leon Bridges – Coming Home
23. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
22. Jazmine Sullivan – Reality Show
21. Nicole Willis & the Soul Investigators – Happiness in Every Style
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Best albums of 2015: 40 to 31

AOTY 2015 40-31 college: Oshun, Years & Years, Sherika Sherard, Kitty, Daisy & Lewis (1448x815)The countdown continues with Disclosure, Songhoy Blues, Kitty, Daisy & Lewis and two rising stars from different sides of the Atlantic.

40. Disclosure – Caracal
39. Marina and the Diamonds – Froot
38. Kitty, Daisy & Lewis – The Third
37. Belle & Sebastian – Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance
36. Songhoy Blues – Music in Exile
35. Years & Years – Communion
34. Oshun – Asase Yaa
33. Sherika Sherard – Just Saying
32. Gengahr – A Dream Outside
31. Everything Everything – Get to Heaven
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Best albums of 2015: 50 to 41

AOTY 2015 50-41 college, Miguel, Jess Glynne, Rudimental, Summer Twins (1448x815)Here we go – somewhat later than planned this year, it must be said. The first set of albums from my picks this year includes some of the year’s catchiest chart music to some seriously overlooked gems for jazz and surf rock fans. Let’s get stuck in.

50. Black Rivers – Black Rivers
49. Peace – Happy People
48. Miguel – Wildheart
47. ASAP Rocky – At Long Last ASAP
46. The Chemical Brothers – Born in the Echoes
45. Summer Twins – Limbo
44. Rudimental – We the Generation
43. The Gene Dudley Group – Zambidoose
42. Ella Eyre – Feline
41. Jess Glynne – I Cry When I Laugh
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Best albums of 2015: honourable mentions

AOTY 2015 - Hon college: Shareefa Energy, Masayoshi Fujita, Wondaland, Tara Busch (1448x815)Where did 2015 go, ay? It seems like only yesterday that I was writing about my lofty ambitions to hear 150-plus albums this year, and pointing out the absurdity of that goal. Well, I managed to listen to a fair number of the albums on my original preview list, and I’ve soaked up an even greater number than last year. But still, with an ever-growing to-listen-to-list, I’ve been in a state of never-ending improbability to hear all of the records that have come into my orbit this year.

Still, here we are once again, after a year of trials and tribulations, hurt and pain, success stories and retirements, sorrows and separations, fading dreams and whispers of hope, quiet triumphs and steady commitments – and that’s just the news.

In the world of music, things have been as turbulent and trying as ever, while still being encouraged and unimaginably fruitful. They’ve been new streaming services, new business models, new artists and, of course, new albums. Once again, I’m here to offer my thoughts on latter, with the hope that you’ll discover a piece of music that makes your life that much brighter.

Saturday begins my annual albums of the year round-up in earnest, where I run down 50 albums I’ve heard this year and deem to be among the year’s best. But, starting this year, I’ve decided to precede my main list with a selection of honourable mentions.

This unranked appetiser, which includes albums, EPs, mixtapes and even a spoken word poetry piece, is a chance to recommend a shade more 2015 releases that are worth listening to. Continue reading