#1 Julien Baker - Sprained Ankle (6131 Records)
These are truly the kind of albums that I live for every year. They just seem to come out of nowhere. I knew after listening to the first song that I was going to love this album. She is sort of like a young Chan Marshall of Cat Power. A beautiful and haunting voice that I just can't resist. An album I want to listen to again as soon as it ends. I have always been a fan of anything Mark Kozelek and Bill Callahan. All things dark and introspective. And she will fit nicely on your shelf next to those artists. I never find music like this depressing. There were a lot of great albums out this year but it was sort of hard to come up with my favorite of the year. But as soon as I finished this album for the first time I knew that I had found it. A perfect album.
#2 Tamaryn - Cranekiss (Mexican Summer)
This is the third album by Tamaryn but my favorite by them so far. And it is really rare to make an album this good on your third try. A perfect album for fans of anything dream pop or shoegaze. Tamaryn often sounds to me like 90s shoegaze greats like Cocteau Twins, Cranes or Curve. I have spent a lot of time with this album this year. The perfect album for long drives home from work. I can never get enough of this genre and am so happy that bands keep putting out albums like this.
Got a tween or teenager’s to shop for? Looking to expand their musical horizons? Check out some of our music recommendations!
Like Ms. Minaj, Shamir can sing, rap and makes dance music with a healthy dose of sass. Shamir’s androgynous style speaks to how kids are throwing out old notions of gender and stereotypes, thanks to teen idols like Miley Cyrus taking that bull by the horns. But Shamir’s lyrics are actually a lot less raunchy than either Minaj’s or Cyrus’, making him a better choice for younger teens.
Looking for a gift for yourself or someone special this holiday season? Check out these 20 upcoming or recently released vinyl LPs, including some of the best albums of 2015, holiday classics and rad reissues.
The greatest Christmas album ever! If you don’t have it already, get these lively wall-of-sound, girl-group renditions of holiday classics like “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” and “White Christmas” on shiny red vinyl.
Just released as a “Record Store Day First” Black Friday title, world music legend William Onyeabor’s second album includes the title track, a standout from his well-received 2013 compilation, Who Is William Onyeabor? Get into these hypnotic Afropop grooves, and pick up his other just-reissued albums, too: Body and Soul, Crashes in Love, Tomorrow, Hypertension, Good Name and Anything You Sow.
Ryan Adams’ full-album cover of Taylor Swift’s blockbuster album 1989 is easily derided in concept. What benefit would Adams fans get from the cultish, prolific artist seeking inspiration from a pop singer as young and ubiquitous as Swift? Plenty, it turns out. Adams hasn’t sounded this directed in ages. “Welcome to New York” is perfectly suited to Adams’ Springsteen-ish heartland rock tendencies (think of it as a cousin to his own “New York, New York”). Musically, 1989 is gorgeous; the reverb-rock take on “Style,” mandolins as strings in “Out of the Woods,” chiming Smiths guitars in “Wildest Dreams” and ’80s rock pulse of “All You Had to Do Was Stay” give 1989 an immaculate sheen worthy of its pop predecessor. Some of Swift’s lines and singsongy melodies sound a little silly coming through Adams’ world-weary lips (“Shake It Off’s” “Haters gonna hate”), but he also has a way of revealing not only the darkness underneath most pop lyrics (“you look like my next mistake” sound sad rather than impulsive in “Blank Space”), but the universality of the emotion behind them. Part of the record’s success can be attributed to Adams’ chutzpah; the rest comes from the fact that these were solid hooks and entertaining lyrics to begin with. It’s clear from listening that 1989 is no cash-in; Adams may have been 15 in 1989, when Swift was born, but he uses that to his advantage. The youthful emotion present in these songs still courses through him, and the tinges of regret and nostalgia he adds makes the material all the stronger.
One of the most prolific and idiosyncractic songwriters of his generation has covered an entire album from one of the most ubiquitous pop stars of her generation, and soon you can own the results on LP or CD!
Ryan Adams' full-album cover of Taylor Swift's megaselling 1989 album was an welcome surprise, as Adams filtered Swift's maximalist radio pop into his world-weary Americana style. The album will be released by Blue Note on CD Oct. 30 and on LP Dec. 11.
Reviews for the album have been overwhelmingly positive, with Entertainment Weekly's Leah Greenblatt claiming, "If turning the biggest, shiniest pop record of the past year into a survey course in classic rock economy sounds like a novelty, it is. But it’s also the best kind—one that brings two divergent artists together in smart, unexpected ways, and somehow manages to reveal the best of both of them."