Musically, 2015 in review.

Rarely do I consider myself to be a music aficionado, but I’m proud and often amazed at how far my musical taste has changed in the past five years. Like them or not, Coldplay was the beginning of the eventual change that introduced me to the world of alternative rock, just as Radiohead introduced me to the world of experimental music and beyond. Both bands, in many ways, paved the way for my own taste this past year in music. Most of these artists I never talked about, some I did, and others I only recently discovered within the past few months. In all, 2015 was a remarkable time for all sorts of artists, but what I’ll take away from most the artists on this list is the ongoing theme of rebirth or a light through the clouds.

ALBUMS

Honorable Mentions: 

7. Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress – Godspeed You! Black Emperor

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Released: March 31, 2015

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6. Star Wars – Wilco

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Released: July 16, 2015

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5. Carrie & Lowell – Sufjan Stevens

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Released: March 30, 2015

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Best Of

4. The Cutting Edge 1965 – 1966: The Bootleg Series Vol. 12

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Released: November 6, 2015

Though none of these tracks are new persay, the collection itself is. And boy, is it something. Dylan’s twelfth bootleg collection sits right in the middle of his triad of classic albums Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde. Covering a whopping 145:04, The Cutting Edge encompasses 18 discs and hours upon hours of demos, cut material and outtakes of some of Dylan’s most treasured work. Whether you prefer Love Minus Zero/No Limit to I Want You, The Cutting Edge has about everything and more you would want from his most recognized time as a musician.

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3. To Pimp a Butterfly – Kendrick Lamar

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Released: March 15, 2015

Whether or not Kendrick Lamar set out to accomplish the same goal, To Pimp a Butterfly mirrors the same effect Kanye’s Late Registration had in 2005: giving new life to hip-hop. That’s not to say hip-hop has been on any sort of decline, but every once in a while, you’ll have an artist shake things up so drastically it sets a new standard for what’s good and what’s greatKing Kunta was the first taste I had of Lamar’s new sound, and much like a root in the ground, I graduated from one song to the entire album. There’s much to be said about the legacy hip-hop artists leave for future generations, but it’s safe to say To Pimp a Butterfly is going to be remembered for a long, long time.

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2. A Head Full of Dreams – Coldplay

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Released: December 4, 2015

Coming like a thief in the night following the 2014 breakup album Ghost Stories, Coldplay returns with the high-end, energetic A Head Full of Dreams. As the band dictated, their seventh album would be the ‘day’ to Ghost Stories ‘night’. Kicking off with the indie rock-esque Birds, Coldplay continues the trend of reinventing of themselves despite preconceived notions of who they once were. It’s often hard to believe this is the same band who released Yellow, Everything’s Not Lost and even Viva La Vida, but often times a sign of great artistry is the ability to separate yourself from what comes easy. Hidden track X Marks The Spot puts the Coldplay of 2005 and the Coldplay of 2015 in two different universes, however, that’s okay. Because it works. And with guests Beyoncé, Noel Gallagher and President Barack Obama (partially), A Head Full of Dreams succeeded in doing exactly what Chris Martin and the band intended to do: conclude the first chapter of their iconic career.

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1. In Colour – Jamie xx

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Released: May 29, 2015

Mostly known for his work with The xx and Gil Scott-Heron, DJ Jamie xx welcomed his debut studio album In Colour to critical praise, a summer full of club hits and heavy emotional hitters. The opening track, Gosh, is reminiscent of 90’s rave that flows brilliantly to the smooth, ambient Sleep Sound, something you’d find yourself bopping your head to without noticing. Arguably the best track, Loud Places, featuring The xx’s Romy, acts as a modern tale of love lost, but eloquently so and without giving too much or saying too little. Having ignored this and any album like it until I had someone suggest it to me earlier this year, I sit astounded at just how well executed In Colour is. Truly, there is not a single bad or average song, and for that, it deserves the album of the year.

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Tracks

8. Warm Blood – Carly Rae Jepsen

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7. Back to Back – Drake

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6. SeeSaw – Jamie xx

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5. King Kunta – Kendrick Lamar

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4. Birds – Coldplay

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3. All Day (feat. Paul McCartney) – Kanye West 

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2. Gosh – Jamie xx

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1. Loud Places – Jamie xx

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(Damn. Did I forget to leave off Adele? Damn!)

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