Our favorite albums of 2015 (part 1)

2015 was a ridiculously good year for new releases. This will be my sixth year that I’ve publicly shared a list of my favorite albums of the year. If you’re really interested, you can revisit some of my past lists
My 15 favourite Canadian albums of 2010
My 15 favorite non-Canadian albums of 2010
My 15 favourite Canadian albums of 2011
My 22 favorite non-Canadian albums of 2011
my top 26 albums of 2012
My 40 favorite albums of 2013
My 41 favorite albums of 2014

Because it’s been such a remarkable year for new releases, I listed 25 albums that I liked a lot, but had to leave out of the top 50. Here are those honorable mentions.

This list is composed of new albums that were released in 2015. No re-issues. No tribute albums. No cover albums. No compilations. No EPs. No remix albums. No soundtracks. Proper albums. New material

I’ve fussed around with the top 50 quite a bit, sliding things up and down. There are a lot of newcomers and a lot of returnees. Some surprises and some disappointments. At the end of the day, this list is just my opinion.

As I’ve done for the last couple of years, I’m breaking the list into chunks, with a little bit of commentary on each album. Today, we’ll start counting down from 50
Click on the album artwork for a place to buy the album.

Lower Dens — Escape From Evil

50)Lower Dens — Escape from Evil
This is the third album from the Baltimore indie-pop quartet. While this album may not be as dark or as weird as their previous stuff, it’s bigger, cleaner, and sturdier. And somehow, it’s got a steaminess that the first couple of records didn’t quite have enough of. Singer Jana Hunter has often been mentioned in the same sentence with Sharon Van Etten, and that gets even more play because Hunter often goes on tour with Van Etten. This time out, though, neither the songs nor Hunter’s vocals play into that comparison.

Girl Band — Holding Hands With Jamie

49)Girl Band — Holding Hands With Jamie
This Irish noise/post-punk quartet, which has no women in it, played a bunch of sold-out North American shows before they had even released their debut album. They also released a few really amazing videos in advance of the album. Those videos, which are dark and disturbing, but magnificently artistic, were all directed by acclaimed director Bob Gallagher. In reference to this brilliant set of videos, a friend of mine said that what Michel Gondry is to Björk, Gallagher is to Girl Band. I really like this album, which I compared to a combination of Fugazi and A Place to Bury Strangers. However, it’s not the kind that you can listen to on repeat. For that reason, I parked this at 49.

Creepoid — Cemetery Highrise Slum

48)Creepoid — Cemetery Highrise Slum
This is the third album from the Philly noise pop quartet. This is a good record, but they’re much better as a live band. Back in the middle of summer, I saw them play a set opening for Swirlies. It was a fantastic show all-around, but I was probably more impressed by Creepoid than I was by Swirlies. And I love Swirlies. I don’t really know what to compare this band to, but this song here is a little Sonic Youth-esque.

Thayer Sarrano — Shaky

47)Thayer Sarrano — Shaky
It’s a recurring theme in the countdown. This is the third album by the Athens, Georgia based goth-folk singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist. She grew up in a monastic settlement, attended school at UGA, and got heavily involved in the Athens music scene while she was there.
After her second album, Sarrano suffered some great loss that was a huge inspiration for the creation of the new record. I haven’t heard those first two records, but this one gets a lot of comparison to Mazzy Star.

Rachel Grimes — The Clearing

46)Rachel Grimes — The Clearing
This is the (you guessed it) third album by the classically trained pianist from Louisville, Kentucky. Between the mid-90s and the late aughts, she was the “front” of the instrumental/chamber music/post-rock band Rachel’s. I loved that band and every one of their records, but didn’t know about Grimes’ solo work until this one was announced. I eagerly anticipated it, and it didn’t disappoint in any way, but it’s a record for special occasions, certain moods, and the right time and place (in bed, lights out). It’s not the kind of thing I can listen to all the time, but when I do listen, it really sets me free.

I’ll leave this for now, and pick up the countdown later today.

About dlee

North Carolina born and bred. I'm a restaurant guy who spends free time listening to music, watching hockey and playing Scrabble. I have a bachelor's degree in political science and I will most likely never put it to use. View all posts by dlee

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