1. Andy Stott – Faith In Strangers [Modern Love]
On his most recent album, Faith In Strangers, Andy Stott manages to convey a diverse range of feeling and mood without uttering a word. When he does feel the need to express himself verbally he turns the reins over to long-time collaborator, vocalist and pianist, Alison Skidmore. With this record Stott assuredly goes above and beyond to provide a coherent narrative arc–the result is poignant and beautiful.
2. Ty Segall – Manipulator [Drag City]
The meticulously curated tracklist that formulates Ty Segall’s Manipulator, released in August, is studded with familiar musical aspects easily found within his prolific catalogue of earlier recordings, but within this newly issued long-player Segall has moved forward within his craft to convey ideas both new and old.
3. Mac DeMarco – Salad Days [Captured Tracks]
It has always been hard not to love Mac DeMarco, but now with the release of his second full-length album, Salad Days, he has given listeners eleven new reasons to do so. His patented skater/slacker/stoner appeal mixes perfectly with hard-hitting lyricism throughout the entirety of the work, and the effect of his labor grows more salient with each listen.
4. FKA twigs – LP1 [Young Turks]
FKA twigs came into the musical arena this year with guns up. The release of her first full-length album, concisely titled LP1, is her most extensive and comprehensive work to date. With three releases in a mere three years FKA twigs is on the fast track to one extensive discography.
5. together PANGEA – Badillac [Harvest]
Since their Californian inception five years ago, the boys of together PANGEA have been tearing it up. Their third full-length album Badillac was a much-anticipated release for the calendar year and the record delivered on par with expectations, if not wildly above.
6. Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 2 [Mass Appeal/ Sony RED]
American hip-hop duo Killer Mike and El-P released their sophomore album in 2014: Run the Jewels 2. The result is a tight and fast work that addresses the rush of life, the helter skelter nature of our own individuality, the prevalence of idolatry in modern life, and an ultimate tracklist that instills a bitter-sweet taste of hope in the listener’s mouth.
7. Vince Staples – Hell Can Wait EP [Def Jam]
With the release of his first solo EP, Hell Can Wait, (his first output as a Def Jam signee) 21 year-old Vince Staples is already spitting truths beyond his years. Looking forward with wild abandon, the young artist has laced the entirety of the work with lyrical punches and veiled allusions that he delivers with perfect articulation and enunciation. Staples reminds us all that in the end we just need to hear them, all of our family and friends, “cheerin’ when the victory come.”
8. ASTR – Varsity EP [Neon Gold]
This multi-layered extended play by ASTR is bejeweled with messages as the listener enjoys a soundscape that feels at once surreal and grounded. Using the aide of scratchy synths and a thoroughly driving bassline the New York based duo’s first EP, Varsity, is nothing less than exceptional.
9. Jenny Lewis – The Voyager [Warner Bros.]
Jenny Lewis’ third album, The Voyager, tells a different tale on each track. The songs vary in tone, style, and length but serve a greater narrative throughline. The work then culminates with a dreamy lyrical song serving up the reminder that “the voyager is in every boy and girl/ if you wanna get to heaven get outta this world.” A genuine storyteller gifted with the voice of a songbird, Jenny Lewis knocks it out of the park with this unique album that gets better with each solid listen.
10. Travis Scott – Days Before Rodeo [Self-Released]
Cloud rapper Travis Scott brings out his best work yet on Days Before Rodeo. Ominously heavy backbeats mix up with hazy production; various sampled artists come together to create a collection of tracks that exemplify multiple thematic issues. Even with all this depth, the album comes across perfectly, without creating a feeling that’s too “in-your-face” angry or too “on-the-floor” bored.