2015 is coming to a close and we’re finishing our first full year open in Dallas. So many great records were released this year and limiting any list to 10 records has proven to be difficult. Some quality records will certainly be left out. But we did it. The only requirements we used to compile this list was that it was both a full length release and that it was released on vinyl record; ya know because we are a record store. Our list isn’t in any sort of order, just 10 records that we certainly dig and think you will too.
10. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell (Asthmatic Kitty)
Sufjan Stevens’ seventh studio album is his best, no question. The music is sparse and hypnotic which sets the tone for Stevens’ lyrics. The album’s title is a reference to his Mom and Stepdad and the album focuses on his feelings about his troubled relationship with his mother as a child and ultimately the struggle with her death in 2012 from stomach cancer. The album is deeply intimate and honest and is one of the year’s best releases.
9. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly (Aftermath Entertainment, Interscope Records)
A lot of people claim that hip hop has lost its originality and has moved more into the realm of pop. This album however is proof that all of those people are wrong. To Pimp a Butterfly breaks a lot of the rules of what hip hop is supposed to be, which is what hip hop is supposed to do. Armed with musicians like Robert Glasper and Thundercat, To Pimp a Butterfly explores a lot of musical territory not unlike Andre 3000’s The Love Below. We are all better off for it.
8. Fogg – High Testament (Tee Pee Records, Under The Gun Records)
We’re partial to Fogg. They’re from Ft. Worth. But this album and these guys rock as hard as anything that has come out of that city, or this city for that matter. High Testament is a solid listen throughout and is an homage to unadulterated 70s stoner rock filled with superb performances all around. Fans of Blue Cheer and Black Sabbath take note. You will be hearing a lot more from these guys.
7. Holydrug Couple – Moonlust (Sacred Bones Records)
This album admittedly took us all by surprise. It’s 1 of those albums you don’t have any expectation going into and are then blown away when you hear it. From the opening cut Atlantic Postcard, which has tinges of The Orb’s Little Fluffy Clouds, the Chilean duo takes the listener through a floating soundscape of neo-psych and electronica. Every track is great and this is our sleeper pick of 2015.
6. Jamie XX – In Colour (Young Turks)
Jamie XX’s solo debut In Colour may be his first solo release but he’s hardly new to the game; he’s produced The XX’s first 2 albums and remixed a Gil Scott-Heron album (bonus points!). Rarely can an electronic artist deliver a full album that you’ll listen to from start to finish. This album delivers though on a number of fronts and covers a wide range of genres effectively.
5. King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard – Quarters! (Castle Face)
King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard are a store favorite and this album was highly anticipated. Quarters breaks down into four 10-minute-ish songs of psych and jazz psych. Australia has been making a lot of noise the last couple of years and these guys are at the center of it. The listener has to be willing to take a journey through each of the 4 songs as they morph into different directions, quite unpredictably yet always intriguing. This wasn’t even their only 2015 release as Paper Mache Dream Balloon was released late in the year and is an entirely different beast on its own.
4. Ryley Walker – Primrose Green (Dead Oceans)
Primrose Green is Ryley Walker’s second solo album and really caught our ear from first listen. In the tradition of the 70s UK folk/freak-folk scene, Walker is able to channel Nick Drake and Bert Jansch while still maintaing his own style. The band he’s assembled for the album is impeccable as they blaze through songs like Sweet Satisfaction. A solid listen throughout.
3. Leon Bridges – Coming Home (Columbia)
Yet another Ft Worth entry in our top 10 records of 2015 and one that likely everyone has heard by now. Rarely does an artist explode onto the scene so quickly. New Years Eve 2014, you could have seen Leon Bridges perform an intimate show for 25 people in Deep Ellum and we did. With early support from Gilles Peterson and a signing to Columbia Records, Leon Bridges now is one of 2015’s brightest musical talents, having played global festivals, a gig on Saturday Night Live and most recently earned a Grammy nomination. Recorded in a warehouse with members of White Denim, Coming Home is not just another neo-soul record but a soul record in the purest sense of the word. Think Sam Cooke and Otis Redding and you’re half way there.
2. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Multi-Love (Jagjaguar)
Multi-Love is the best indie-pop album of 2015. At times psychedelic and other times electronic and at other times both, every song has that stickiness to it that will wake you up in the morning rattling in your head. Recorded entirely by 1 person (Ruban Nielson), Multi-Love blends a lot of genres (and effects) into 1 album but does so effectively and effortlessly. If Bruno Mars was forced to record an album on a limited budget in a home studio while on mushrooms, it just might sound a bit like this.
1. D’Angelo & The Vanguard – Black Messiah (RCA)
Although released digitally at the end of 2o14, Black Messiah was released on vinyl in March. It was surely the most anticipated album of the year. D’Angelo’s last release Voodoo came out in 2000 and he’d hardly made an appearance since then. D’Angelo practically invented the neo-soul genre and Black Messiah had a lot to live up to. It’s been 15 years but that’s time that was taken for the album to develop and let simmer. Lyrically Black Messiah is an editorial on the state of affairs in our country, with scathing commentary on systemic racism with an eye on recent officer-involved shootings. It’s at times chaotic and at other times soothing yet it commands your attention throughout. A Grammy nomination cements Black Messiah as 1 of the best releases of 2015.