Top2015BannerThe 2015 year in music has come to a close and we’ve again put together our top 10 favorite albums of the year. From Pacific Northwest hometown faves, to world music from across the pond, our lists saw almost no overlap and expansive set of sounds.

Check out lists from Meghan, Dave, and Sam:

MEGHAN

asap10|A$AP Rocky – AT.LONG.LAST.A$AP

Anyone who knows me, knows that I rarely like hip-hop. I’ve never been able to figure out the random reasons why I every so often fall in love with one in a million hip-hop records. This is one of those enigmas. Maybe it’s the instrumentals on here, lots of bluesy guitar, some pretty keys, bits of ambient electronic, and Rod Stewart. When I listen to the words fly by across this entire record I find my jaw on the floor.

Layout_11_A_FINAL_Corr9|Panda Bear – Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper

Listening to this record is like living Halloween 365 days a year. This is a melt into your couch while your light flickers in the corner kind of record. It’s psychedelic electronic doom. You know what to do with this record, especially if you live in Oregon, Washington, Alaska, or Colorado. But be careful of monsters. Go forth now, spend the night in tonight with PBVSGR.

matt-pond-pa-state-gold8|Matt Pond PA – The State of Gold

Who else sort of forgot about Matt Pond? I’ll admit, I did. Not sure what nudged me to give this record a spin, but seconds into the opening track “More No More” I knew this was going to bring Matt Pond back into my life. State of Gold plays with a lot of new sounds, surpassing the acoustic guitar and vocals you may have come to expect. It’s a new kind of Matt Pond PA and I’m a huge fan of it.

1035x1035-MI00038166937|Mikky Ekko – Time

This was the first album I really got into this year. I drove back and forth between Olympia and Portland 100 thousand times to it. It’s beautiful, pop music fronted by beautiful and charismatic vocals. Check it out if you like to be swooned.

Death_Cab_For_Cutie_-_Kintsugi6|Death Cab for Cutie – Kintsugi

Kintsugi is my favorite dcfc album since Plans. The whole record is beautiful from beginning to end and is full of some of the most heartbreaking yet cathartic lyrics they’ve got. Oh failed loves, how would we survive you without Death Cab. If you gave up on dcfc the past few years, come back to this side!

SayHi-BleedersDigest5|Say Hi – Bleeders Digest

Easily the best Say Hi record in years. The sequel to 2006’s Impeccable Blahs, it’s all about vampires and blood and staying up all night with nothing to do. Oh, and being in love and such. I found at least 3 new favorite Say Hi songs on Bleeders,  from the impressive 9-record discography.

11959987_885679408135923_2638874728401495756_n4|Foxing – Dealer

Dealer came out of nowhere for me. I saw TWIABP post about this record not too many months back. I clicked the link and within seconds was angrily asking myself where Foxing has been all my life. This record is gorgeous and dark. I’d have to classify it as emo-folk swirling in a sea of post-rock. The sounds, vocals, and themes will all together destroy your heart.

Grimes_-_Art_Angels3|Grimes – Art Angels

Grimes is the coolest, weirdest, most wonderfully enjoyable solo female artist out there right now. Her quirkiness shines really strong on this record. It’s definitely much weirder than all of her past material, at points almost frightening in the best way. And it’s chock full of subtle societal commentary to boot.

10_700_700_544_telekinesis_900px2|Telekinesis – Ad Infinitum

This album is freaking flawless. It is one of those rare albums that comes as a perfect package, no songs skipped, ever. Everything flows perfectly and each little piece has its own personality like each song is a best friend of the next. The bonus is that Michael & Co. pretty much played this record in its entirety on the last tour. It is probably, in all honesty, the first Telekinesis album that I have been completely in love with. Lastly, “Farmer’s Road” was my favorite song of the year. (Please go fall in love with it)

mat-kearney1|Mat Kearney – Just Kids

As always, a Mat Kearney record has carried me through every unbearable moment of another year. He is one of, if not thee, most uplifting artists I know of. This is on the poppy end of MK, lots of new production style and playing around with non-conventional sounds on Just Kids, and it’s awesome. Still full of that wonderfully fun rhyme spitting. The best part , as always, is how MK never fails to write such positive words. The album takes a big look at the hardships of life, with a feeling of nostalgia floating over the whole album, begging of what could be if we could stay just kids forever. This is the one record this year, that I came back to the most, laid in bed with the most, cried in the car to the most, and plowed through each and every bad day of the year with. Seriously – if you ever feel lost in life, give my brother from another mother a play.

DAVE

v600_slipmat_design-v3Honorable|Kevin Devine – Devinyl Splits

This is release that gets a special mention because it isn’t an album. Kevin Devine partnered up with Bad Timing Records to release 6 split 7” records, each with a song from Kevin and someone he handpicked to record a song for the B-side. He collaborated with Tigers Jaw, Matthew Caws (Nada Surf), Cymbals Eat Guitars, Meredith Graves (Perfect Pussy) & Mike Kinsella (Owen) and another artist yet to be announced. The splits were all different featuring covers & original songs, showing another side to Kevin’s ever-changing musical landscape.

1035x1035-MI000380844910|Jose Gonzalez – Vestiges & Claws

Jose Gonzalez has always recorded his solo albums as just that: Solo, just his voice and his guitar. Vestiges & Claws is the first album with more than just that and it works beautifully. He’s the perfect singer-songwriter for me, mellow and soulful. If you need something to chill out to, take a listen.

tmr331_front9|Dead Weather – Dodge and Burn

For the 3rd album from Jack White & Alison Mosshart have made an album that really captures the frantic feelings of their live shows. Their chemistry along with Dean & Little Jack is undeniable. The last track of the album “Impossible Winner”, gives Alison a chance to show off her softer side, it’s one of my favorite moments on the album.

petsym-petshounds_original8|Pet Symmetry – Pets Hounds

Evan Weiss has many projects (Into It. Over It.,Their/They’re/There) and Pet Symmetry is his catchiest. It’s like he’s mastered the art of writing 10 songs that all get stuck in your head after the first listen. The debut album from Pet Symmetry is filled with great riffs and even better song names. The album also gets on this list for having the best cover photo – punk celebrity Chris Farren (Fake Problems) holding two bloodhounds in a white suit.

a1175010942_107|Metz – II

30 Minutes. This album is exactly 30 minutes of head pounding, guitar crushing, mosh-inducing music. It’s a pure ripper in every sense of the word. METZ has managed to top their first album without really changing anything. I don’t say this lightly but if you are looking for a hole that you are trying to fill with something that evokes the heavier side of Nirvana, METZ is for you

Death_Cab_For_Cutie_-_Kintsugi6|Death Cab For Cutie- Kintsugi

Death Cab’s final album with Chris Walla and their first of Ben’s post-divorce lyrics. Having just moved to Seattle this album was the perfect soundtrack to the exploration of my new home. Not their best, but definitely falls into the better parts of DCFC’s catalog.

Cournetbarnett5|Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit

I had a few people recommend Courtney’s music based off her split EP, but I had no clue how good she was until I heard this album. The title of the record reflects the tone for her songs, sometimes she gets deep and other times she seems to not give a fuck. It’s an album full of slacker anthems and damn good rock ’n’ roll.

sound-color-cover4|Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color

The second album from the Shakes was vastly different from Boys & Girls which lead me to discover this band all over again. The song “Gimme All Your Love” was my single favorite song of the year.

front-bottoms-back-on-top3|The Front Bottoms – Back On Top

My second most anticipated release of 2015, The Front Bottoms gave us all the jams for summer 2015. You can’t help but sing along to every word on this album, it’s the most fun I had all year with music. Brian Sella is maturing as a songwriter which is evident, and he still has fun while doing it. So have no fear, they aren’t gonna stop “Getting high and hanging out” any time soon.

Blur-Magic-Whip-Album-Cover2|Blur – The Magic Whip

Announced by Blur out of the blue this album became my most anticipated of the year, and it is an instant classic. Blur managed to make an album that sounds like it could have come out in the middle of their career, but came 15 years after they “broke up”.

a3957713360_101|The World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am No Longer Afraid To Die – Harmlessness

This is my absolute favorite album of the year.  This is meant to be listened to as an album, not a few songs, but all 13 tracks in order.  From the beginning acoustic guitar of “You can’t Live There Forever” to the last lyric of “Mount Hum” (“We’re all gonna die”), this album is absolute perfection. It’s ambitious in every way, making me believe that the best is yet to come from this 47 piece band from all over the place.  (There’s 14 people in the band, I think)

SAM

louisa10|Louisa Lyne & di Yiddish Kapeyle – A Farblonzhere Blondinke

The very much welcome return of Louisa Lyne and her Yiddish Kapeyle, A Farblonzhere Blodinke sees Louisa step up her musical game with inventive arrangement, inviting yet haunting vocals  and to satisfy the musical ear we are treated to the wonderful Svedanka that makes eastern european hearts at home.

canzoniere9|Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino – Quaranta

Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino are a consistent live hit and Quaranta seek to capture the energy, tenderness and politics at the heart of the group. The album includes one of the most important political songs of the year Solo Adanta which documents the struggle facing refugees heading for the shores of Italy in overcrowded boats. The video moved me to tears as you see the translated words calling for the bare humanity we have lacked during the European refugee crisis. CGS heard the cries of the refugees and put them in song to create something dark yet beautiful.

elina8|Elina Born – Elina Born

Elina Born has to be one of the stars of this years Eurovision taking a strong song into the competition then releasing a career defining debut self-titled record. The songs sound like tunes Rihanna was stupid to reject. Angular, aggressive fully loaded electro pop which we need more of . Estonia has a rising pop star who if marketed right could be hitting top 40 charts soon. Mystery is the key track for this record with industrial electronic instrumentation and a catchy hook how can it fail?

the-souljazz-orchestra-resistance7|The Souljazz Orchestra – Resistance

The Souljazz Orchestra have an uncanny knack in creating absurdly danceable polyrhythms and snappy riffs that you want in your ears on repeat giving listeners a technical guide to each musical style they purvey. The group bring out ridiculous beats and riffs on ‘Shock and Awe’ whilst articulating the rebel soul inside of them with afrobeat style vocal lines ‘they got the guns we got the numbers ‘ we are told as we are invited into the resistance with a dangerous Coupé-Décalé rhythm that shows the revolution will start with dancing.

Whilst many Italian pop stars are lurching into middle of the road material that doesn’t challenge the listener it seems Malika Ayane didn’t get the memo. Naif is a testament to the quirky interesting pop we come to expect from her. Spreading the record with rocky edges Ayane creates stadium filling songs that italian audiences will love whilst rhythmically variating. The best track from the record is ‘Cose che ho capito di me (?)’ a cracking pop song with AYane giving us attitude over a too cool for school drum beat.
 Tove Styrke has been a top find of the year. Scandinavia have been getting pop right for years and every day make it cooler in some way. Bringing that cool this year has definitely been Tove Styrke who just doesn’t give a fuck. Kiddo was a highly anticipated album of the year for me and it didn’t disappoint. The album has many stand out tracks with the call-out song of the year ‘Ego’ and the dub pop masterpiece Borderline, possibly my favourite song of the year which lyrically reads as a wonderfully venous attack on patriarchy.
 Wales has a new musical hero in Gwenno. Her album Y Dydd Olaf is not only based on the amazing story of the same name about using the welsh language to defeat robots, but manages to progress welsh music from the roots of the Super Furries into something wonderfully psychedelic and yet still modern and of its time. The record was the easy winner of the Welsh Music Prize being the only shortlisted record which took welsh pop music somewhere new and fresh. With her face now part of the cardiff skyline as part of a mural on legendary venue Clwb Ifor Bach Gwenno is around for the long haul.
 Trijntje Oosterhuis is one of the Netherlands most venerated soul singers with a string of records to her name but she may have  found a new edge this year with Walk Along. The record is hit song after hit song and goes from the down right funk deep soul of ‘Your Soul is Gone’ which is so infectiously groove driven to the mournful wop pop of ‘Weather in April’ which has the lyrical prowess of Hal Leonard and a referential instrumental arrangement spector would be proud of. This for me is Trijntje’s hit record and boy is it groovy!
 On first listen I didn’t get this record quite completely but then I went to see Melody Gardot perform at the Wales Millenium Centre and she brought the house down with her swagger and sass and ridiculous backing band, featuring Irwin Hall on of the most exciting sax players I’ve heard in ages. After hearing it live I got the album and really escaped inside its rich arrangements and beguiling vocals. Despite the sass Gardot provides my favourite track on the record is one of its morne tender moments ‘Morning Sun’. Morning Sun combines South African jazz stylings with messages of hope and renewal of a sunrise. Gardot has created an expansively joyous and fierce record that is a classic for the collection.
 With strong competition in this lit it was hard to decide who to award my album of the year to but then I heard the lyrics ‘It was rare and remarkable’ on my speakers from the song Magic Spell and the decision was made for me. This is the Kit have created such a lyrically challenged and musically inspiring record in Bashed Out reminding me why I love this kind of folk music. The sheer lyrical richness from ‘rusty dusty’ rhythmic use of words to related odes to the apocalypse, in Silver John, give Kate Stables an important place in British music. It is often difficult for a musician to realise the full musical potential of words but this is something Stables is a bard at. The soundscapes created are relaxed and gorgeous as well as delightfully mystical with shimmerings and simmergins galore. I have fallen in love with this record and don’t ever want to break up with it.

Let us know if you think we’ve completely missed something wonderful or share your favorites with us! Tweet us at @SecretlyRad or send us a note on our Facebook page. Happy 2015 listening, everyone. Thanks for reading and cheers to a 2016 full of new music.