2015 Favorites: 10-1

10. Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment – Surf

MH explained he meant Surf was “musical” like musical theater. This could be an accusation, or worse, a subtle slight against the record, but that “musical quality” is what makes Surf cool. No other hip-hop record I heard this year had such melodic rapping, verses that carry the melody as opposed to rapping over it. At its best it’s a hip-hop heavy collage of popular music, and at its worst it’s a little corny. But not like Big Willie Style. – RF

9. Silicon – Personal Computer

Debut album from indie pop outfit Silicon. With little press or marketing we were lucky to even discover this gem of an album among the flow of releases from established artists. Kody Nielson is the artist behind this project, and as we guessed this couldn’t possibly been his first album ever. He was also a member of Te Mint Chicks, and contributed to releases from Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Watch this video for “God Emoji.” – DH

8. Grimes – Art Angels

I started listening to this album for the first time just days after seeing Grimes perform at the Fillmore. I was driving from San Francisco to a friend’s place in Oakland. Driving across town I was starting to really dig what I was hearing and the incredibly accessible pop songs I was hearing were both extremely enjoyable but also surprising for Grimes. By the time I got on the Bay Bridge, I was violently fist-pumping to “Kill v. Maim” and got a lot of super frightened looks from other drivers. This is one of the most fun albums I’ve listened to all year. A majority of these tracks could be played alongside all the big pop hits getting radio play today and they would be right at home. It’s the fact that Claire Boucher took care of all of the writing, recording, and producing herself without an industry hit-writing machine that is most impressive about Art Angels. Claire Boucher does what she wants and will settle for nothing less. – MH

7. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly

While this year may have been great for music, overall, 2015 was actually pretty damn awful. One of the traits that many great records have is they help us through the dark times, and songs like “Alright” and “i” are ones that not only helped me, but our entire nation deal with the bullshit that has been going on in our country. Not only did this album inspire hope and self-confidence in its audience, the lyricism, production, and musicianship featured here is a melding of multiple voices and talents looking to push the musical landscape further. Producers like Pharrell and Flying Lotus, bassist extraordinaire Thundercat and saxophonist Kamasi Washington bring their incredible talents together for a finished product that will likely go down as one of the all time great hip hop records. – MH

6. Shamir – Ratchet

Ratchet is pure fun, and I can’t wait until Shamir Bailey gets a little more life experience so that we get a little bummer added to his bangers. – WH

5. Deerhunter – Fading Frontier

holy bee tinyHaving just turned 45 (ouch!), I identify with some of the existential concerns here. Thanks to Cox & Co. dressing up the bummer themes in summer dream pop, it all goes down smoothly. – WH

4. Moonbabies – Wizards on the Beach

WH hooked me on The Orange Billboard in ’04, and it became a major factor in the birth of a Swedepop obsession. Wizards casts its dreampop spell at just the right time: a haunting, sparkling reminder not just that this husband-wife duo is still recording great records, but that Sweden still carries a lot of weight in our ongoing Oceania vs. Scandinavia debate. Also, “Pink Heart Mother” made it all the way to the finals of our inaugural Idle Time Tune Tournament. – MMDG

3. Panda Bear – Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper

Nontraditional songwriting and studio experimentation collide, delivering a spread of shiny pop gems to smooth lullabies in Panda Bear’s fifth solo album. Watch the video for “Boys Latin.” – DH

2. Jamie xx – In Colour

“I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” is the real 2015 song of the summer. Fight me. – MH

1. Tame Impala – Currents

MI is wrong about this one. Although not immediately accessible, Currents has legs and has been in constant rotation since its release. Come on, MI, you have to just “Let it happen.” – WH

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