In much the same way that The Holy Bee weighed in on some of The Institute’s Favorite 40 selections, IP has put together a brief list of choice musical releases from 2015. This could easily be subtitled, “Eff You Guys: If I Was Invited to the Party.” – MMDG
Waxahatchee – Ivy Tripp
The emo days of Waxahatchee are fading away as she experiments with riskier production, straying from guitars in favor of synthesizers on several tracks. Her songwriting works surprisingly well with an expanded sound pallette. It also doesn’t hurt that Ivy Tripp has some of her best songs yet. As always, any artist who wanders too near to emo territory will tend to get left behind come award season. Nonetheless Waxahatchee exceeds any genre comparisons and is an artist any discerning music fan should give a try.
Kamasi Washington – The Epic
The Epic represents a renewed interest in Jazz from the critical community. Flying Lotus, Madlib, and others made strides throughout the aughts to bring Jazz elements to electronic music. Eventually artists like Kendrick Lamar got involved and brought Jazz to Hip Hop. Well you can say that Kamasi Washington is bringing Jazz to Jazz with this one. The Epic is a shot-calling three hour black hole of raw experimentation. The album’s opener, the event horizon of sorts, is the enthralling “Change of the Guard.” Part Space Epic, part Western Jazz Explosion, entirely excellent. If you have the fortitude to withstand a Jazz assault unlike any ever seen on this planet, that is.
Joanna Newsom – Divers
The world’s foremost harp wielding siren-bard returns five years after the expansive Have One On Me to add electronic elements to her already impressive repertoire of sound. Divers once again proves Newsom’s mastery of evocative lyrics while gaining a little more mainstream sensibility in the process. Her voice is her x-factor and likely the reason for anyone to love her or hate her. Divisive artists are often excluded from the critical scene’s higher tiers, but for the unbiased listener, Divers delivers.
Jeff Bridges – Sleeping Tapes
It’s Jeff Bridges talking over some surprisingly interesting music. If that interests you then Sleeping Tapes will deliver. If that doesn’t interest you then why am I talking to you?
Sophie – Product
Half of QT and all of the crazy, Sophie finally delivers an EP, and it’s as banging as early singles “Lemonade” and “Hard” suggested it would be. PC Music is misunderstood by more tepid listeners, so its exclusion from most end-year lists is understandable. However, one day QT will drop their debut album and the world will see the light. Which side of history will you be on?
Miguel – Wildheart
I discussed Wildheart already, and my position hasn’t changed. Question: Do You Sexy? Answer: Miguel.
Vince Staples – Summertime ’06
Staples would be the rapper everyone was talking about in any normal year of Hip-Hop, but 2015 was an extraordinary year so here I am talking Vince Staples on the bottom of a list of honorable mentions. That’s some injustice right there. Summertime ’06 is a true album, conceived and impeccably executed as an hour-long tour through life in Long Beach projects, devoid of pop-pretense, and lacking even a single song that overstays its welcome. Lastly, the production from Kanye West mentor No I.D. is nothing short of transcendent, literally sounding like no other Hip-Hop album ever produced.