Best of 15: The Best Albums of 2015

20. 2814
新しい日の誕生 (Dream Catalogue)
I’ve never been to Tokyo, but when I do, I’ll make sure to bring the ambient, post-Vaporware vibes of Dream Catalogue mainman, HKE and producer Telepath with me. The soundtrack to imagined midnight walks through the city, the disc’s cinematic, engulfing eight songs set a palpable mood, sure to keep your eyes closed and your mind wandering.
Hottest Jams: “新しい日の誕生” & “真実の恋”

19. Billboard Brothers
Billboard Brothers (self-released)
Do you love listening to people rap? Then, this is your album. Over 13 joyful tracks, Doughboyz Cashout’s dynamic duo raps their asses off, weaving melodic, adhesive verses over timeless slabs of 90s indebted G-funk. Like Westbrook and Durant, Payroll Giovanni and Big Quis have incredible chemistry, and they work so well together that their verses blend together and stand out at the same time.
Hottest Jams: “Strap on My Lap,” “Do What I Wanna Do,” “White”

18. The Staves
If I Was (Atlantic UK)
Whoever the Staveley parents are, they are fucking lucky. Imagine living in a house with three daughters who sing this beautifully together. On their second LP, they pair their heavenly three-part harmonies with the strongest, most evocative songwriting of their career, picking through the bones of a failed relationship with affecting honesty and relatability. It’s a sad record in places, but the ever-present mellifluousness of their vocals and arrangements guarantee that there’s always plenty of light streaming through the blinds.
Hottest Jams: “Make it Holy,” “Let Me Down,” “Sadness Don’t Own Me”

17. Various Artists
Peace Edits (Gobstopper)

The gentle, reflective flip-side to grime’s ‘war dubs’, Gobstopper’s debut collection of Peace Edits captures four of the finest, most creative reinterpretations of the year. Far from mere remixes, UK heavyweights Mr. Mitch (pictured), Loom, Strict Fade, and Silk Road Assassins twist elements from a variety of artists (from Kate Bush to T-Pain) to form delicious, emotional globs of fresh sound that strike the perfect balance between pop hooks and ambient soundscapes. Nobody else is doing anything that sounds quite like this, and hopefully another helping is in the works for 2016.
Hottest Jams: Silk Road Assassins, “T” & Strict Fade, “Alice”

16. Sicko Mobb
Super Saiyan Vol 2 (self-released)
Somewhat of a departure from their pure bop roots, Super Saiyan Vol. 2 sees the Chicago natives smear their auto-tuned voices over the most accessible, versatile cuts of their career. While the BPMs are generally slower, the hooks are more formidable than on SS1, and Lil Trav and Lil Ceno’s vocals are as ecstatic and syrupy-sweet as ever. More than anything, it shows the group will not be pigeonholed into any specific sound and that fans won’t be able to predict what the youngsters will do next.
Hottest Jams: “Kool Aid,” “On Fire,” “Penny Hardaway”

15. Oneohtrix Point Never
Garden of Delete (Warp)
The first overtly musical sound you hear on Daniel Lopatin’s cavernous seventh LP is an arpeggiated, reverb-soaked guitar riff, reminiscent of a 90s metal band. It’s a strange place for an electronic-leaning producer to start, but Garden of Delete is a strange fucking album. The Northern Mass native draws heavy influence from the distorted guitars of his high school years and expertly pairs them with his trademark synth mastery and warped vocals. The result is a wild, unpredictable trip through the mind of a teenager, and it’s just as unstable and unfettered as you’d imagine.
Hottest Jams: “Sticky Drama,” “Mutant Standard,” “Lift”

14. K-Major
Category V (Contra Paris)

The most slept-on R&B release of the year, the Georgia native’s debut project is alluring, understated, and consistent. What K-Major’s voice lacks in raw power is made up for in its sentimental timbre, giving his music a softness and vulnerability that is hard to find in the genre. For that reason, even the disc’s most salacious moments (and believe me, there are some) can still feel romantic and be shared with someone you have real feelings for.
Hottest Jams: “I’m Single,” “Cheat Code (CarShow),” “Rude”

13. Majical Cloudz
Are You Alone? (Matador)
Most TV and movie love stories end when relationships begin — a declaration of love, a breathtaking first kiss, a car pulling away with “just married” scrawled on the back window. Of course, real relationships are about what happens in between those benchmark moments. Majical Cloudz’ emotive third LP deals with such moments. Vocalist/lyricist Devon Welsh is one of the best lyricists in music, and Are You Alone? is teeming with insightful, honest perspective on the joy, excitement, anxiety, and fear of falling in love and making a real relationship work.
Hottest Jams: “Downtown,” “Silver Car Crash,” “So Blue”

12. Tink
Winter’s Diary 3 (self-released)

Since she signed with Timbaland, so much of the discussion around the 20 year-old Chicago wunderkind has been about everyone but her. Is Timbo going to take her to the next level? Is she the next Aaliyah? Is she the next Missy? The best thing about Winter’s Diary 3 is that it is only about Tink. There’s no guest verses, no big name producers (save one Timbo clunker), and no ridiculous hyperbole. It’s just Tink back in her comfort zone, writing about life, dudes, having fun, and growing up. The disc’s lightness is pure relief from the crippling expectations unfairly placed on her over the last 18 months, and hopefully she can bring it with her as her career matures.
Hottest Jams: “Afterparty,” “H20,” “Jupiter”

11. Elysia Crampton
American Drift (Blueberry)

It’s only got four songs on it, but there are more interesting, original ideas on Elysia Crampton’s first traditional LP than most albums twice as long. In a clutch of interesting interviews, Crampton explained how the untamed, shadowy Shenandoah Valley inspired the album, and she captures a sense of place magically, taking everything from the distant chirp of cicadas to rural hand drums to the voices of video game characters. An artist with a singular vision, she continues to inhabit a musical world that is all her own.
Hottest Jams: “Petrichrist” & “Wing” (f/ Money Allah)

Posted on by TP1.COM in Best of '15, Featured

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