The music gods have decided to abandon their perches atop the tombstones of 2011’s releases and grace us with their presence this year. It was about time.
Only halfway through 2015 and there is already more than enough material to write lengthy “best of” lists. That being said, this list is comprised of not-so-obvious records, which explains why there is no Kendrick Lamar, Jamie xx, and so on. It’s not to say that those albums weren’t record breaking and delicious on their own, but some other releases deserve some facetime. Also, they’re listed in order of release date, not rank.
Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear
In February, Josh Tillman, otherwise known as Father John Misty, returned with his sophomore album only to show us that he’d gone soft. A lot has happened to Tillman in the past three years: he married artist Emma Elizabeth Tillman and moved from LA to New Orleans. Honeybear is not without Tillman’s trademark sarcasm though. In a handful of interviews, he’s stated that a large part of his struggle with writing the album was how to make the love songs sincere enough. The collection of tracks is an homage to Emma and includes a tongue in cheek pop song (“True Affection”), notes about their sex life (“I Love You, Honeybear”), and a touching ballad of the couple’s first encounter (“I Went To The Store One Day”). Honeybear is a real treat.
Big Sean – Dark Sky Paradise
It’s 2015 and Big Sean is back in the game. Dark Sky Paradise sounds like the moment before a rookie athlete takes the court or field. He’s standing in the tunnel to the locker room, clenching and unclenching his fists, taking deep breaths, and knowing that once he steps out into the floodlights, there’s no turning back. Lucky for him, his team has an accomplished roster that includes Drake, Kanye, E-40, Lil Wayne and Jhene Aiko, who are only a few artists that are featured on the album. This album finally made people take Sean seriously, which was exactly what he needed to stay relevant.
Tobias Jesso Jr. – Goon
On March 17, Tobias Jesso Jr. released the album that people didn’t know they needed. The Canadian-born, LA-based Jesso broke up with his girlfriend, found out she was dating someone else, and got his bike stolen, which all led to Goon being written. For a guy who started messing around on the piano only a year ago, Jesso has done pretty well for himself. Immediately after the album’s release, he embarked on a tour with a lone piano and a couple self deprecating jokes up his sleeve. Goon is a record that is both strong and intimate— and your dad will like it too.
Chastity Belt – Time to Go Home
Every time I listen to this album, I want to scream because it’s so good. Luckily, a ton of other people are taking notice: Johnny Marr just gave them a shoutout in a recent interview and The New Yorker gave them a nod last month. In short, Time to Go Home is equal parts feminism and kick-ass guitar riffs, and you have full permission to abandon this post and start listening to it right now.
Turnover – Peripheral Vision
The term “easy listening” is usually reserved for the occasional John Mayer song flowing out of your parents’ satellite radio. But Turnover’s Peripheral Vision begs to differ. Released by Run For Cover Records, a label notorious for is post punk and emo-laiden artist roster, Turnover’s third album is a breath of fresh air. The band has certainly grown up; they’ve abandoned the distorted guitars and boyish vocals for delay pedals and sentimental lyrics. Peripheral Vision has created a new brand of easy listening— one that you actually want to pay attention to.
A$AP Rocky – AT.LONG.LA$T.
It had been almost three years since A$AP Rocky had released material to follow up 2013’s LONG.LIVE.A$AP., and then May brought AT.LONG.LA$T. An album that features Schoolboy Q, Miguel and M.I.A., AT.LONG.LA$T. guaranteed Rocky a slot in this year’s hip-hop charts. The album speaks to his maturity over the past three years, growing from the hit “Fuckin’ Problems” to paying tribute to his mentor, A$AP Yams, who died early this year of an accidental drug overdose, on his album cover. Since the album’s release, Rocky began his acting career in the movie Dope, and provided a few guest verses on Selena Gomez’s new single.
Kacey Musgraves – Pageant Material
Over the past three years, Kacey Musgraves single-handedly began to save country music from itself. Last week she released her second album, Pageant Material, a follow-up to 2013’s Grammy Award-winning Same Trailer Different Park. Her melodies and accompaniments are reminiscent of country’s golden age while her lyrics are progressive and relevant. But make no mistake: Musgraves is not another Taylor Swift, as she made very clear in her recent Fader interview (she’s this month’s covergirl), and her rumored Swift diss track, “Good Ol’ Boys Club”. Pageant Material proves that a vital part of growth is remembering your roots. (And check out her Tiny Desk Concert, which took place on the day that the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage!)
Below are some songs that were highlights of albums that didn’t make the list or were released as singles for upcoming releases.
“1971” – Motopony
“Pierre” – Ryn Weaver
“The Night We Met” – Lord Huron
“Timothy” – The Tallest Man On Earth
“Give Me A Sign” – The Vaccines
“Bitch Better Have My Money” – Rihanna
“The Way You’d Love Her” – Mac DeMarco