2015 was a powerful year for music. Some of the best and brightest released new albums, launching themselves into the forefront of our attentions and imaginations. With the music scene’s ever-present emphasis on performances, we wanted to take a moment and recognize some of the leaders in recorded music of 2015.
Without further ado, we present the top 20 albums of 2015!
20. Wilco – Star Wars
Wilco surprised fans by releasing a brand new, full album’s worth of original material. Hailed as a return to their mid-career sound, Wilco brings a whole bunch of energy and passion to this ninth studio release. Considering the band offered it up for free, there’s no questioning Wilco’s devotion to their fanbase. Stream it below:
19. The Revivalists – Men Amongst Mountains
The Revivalists are a one-of-a-kind band. Steeped in the New Orleans tradition, the fun-loving group fuses a number of worldly elements and make a product completely unique. The groove all comes together in Men Amongst Mountains, their third studio release. Catchy, soulful, and everything in between, The Revivalists are only getting bigger and better from here!
18. Turkuaz – Digitonium
2015 was really a breakout year for Turkuaz. The band had not one but two studio releases: the first, the Stereochrome EP, paid tribute to their roots, while the second was a full LP of their futuristic funk. The nine piece group injects their high-energy power, bringing Digitonium to life on each and every track. Stream some funk below:
17. New Mastersounds – Made For Pleasure
The New Mastersounds showed fans what they were all about in 2015, as their new studio album’s title said it all. The album really was Made For Pleasure, delivering the groovy funk throughout. It’s the kind of release that this British band is known for, staying in the pocket with tight musicianship and catchy songwriting. This instrumental, for example, is what NMS is all about…
16. Rising Appalachia – Wider Circles
Not enough can be said about Rising Appalachia’s approach to music. Led by sisters Leah and Chloe Smith, the two employ unique instrumentation and exquisite songwriting and create a masterpiece. Their ability to capture the beauty of folk music comes from their honest and passionate efforts, and their craftsmanship shines brightly on Wider Circles.
Check out their official video of “Medicine” from the album below:
15. Ratatat – Magnifique
Coming back with their first album since 2010, Ratatat hit this year with a vengeance. They certainly surprised fans with the release of Magnifique, departing from their roman numeral discography with some of their best music to date. The track “Cream On Chrome” took the scene by storm, and the whole album followed suit, jampacked with great music that captures the band’s instrumental style.
14. The Wood Brothers – Paradise
The Wood Brothers are true blue when it comes to Americana music. Powered by brothers Oliver and Chris Wood, along with multi-instrumentalist Jano Rix, the band’s authentic sound rings true on the new release. It’s soul music at its purest form, and a wonderfully executed album, through and through. Plus, they brought in Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi for the song “Never and Always,” which you can hear below:
13. Snarky Puppy with The Metropole Orkest – Sylva
Snarky Puppy‘s most-recent release was on a musical plane of its own. Imagine a highly-technical, Grammy-award-winning collective of musicians pairing up with one of the most touted orchestras in the world, and the result is the fusion jazz-classical odyssey of Sylva. There’s nothing quite as whimsical or captivating as the musical creations featured on Sylva, clearly one of the most intricate and unique entries of this list.
For a taste of this, listen the 15-minute musical journey known as “The Curtain,” below:
12. Tame Impala – Currents
Aussie rockers Tame Impala brought their synthesizer wave of progressive rock to the forefront with the release of Currents. The band’s third release was their most expansive yet, with danceable songs and entrancing melodies throughout. Led by Kevin Parker, the future remains bright for Tame Impala. Get down to the new release below:
11. The Word – Soul Food
In 2000, John Medeski and the North Mississippi All-Stars were looking to make a record in the Sacred Steel tradition, and discovered a then-unknown Robert Randolph through a track on a random disc. That was the mythical story behind the supergroup The Word, who released their debut, self-titled album in 2001. Fast-forward fourteen years, as The Word re-exploded onto the scene with their follow up album Soul Food. Every bit as exciting as the original, The Word’s new release captures the powerful spirit of gospel music in style.
Check out an intimate session of The Word playing Soul Food track “Come By Here,” below: