Alright, here we go. Take a read of #37-11 if you haven’t yet, and I’ll see you back here for my top 10!
10. Justin Bieber—Purpose
Every year, I put pop records on my list, and every year some dinkwad will say to me my list doesn’t count because I put so-and-so’s record on it, but to you I say, “grow up, son.” Deciding that I didn’t have to pretend to be cool and shit on popular music about 7 years ago was one of the best decisions I ever made, and this record is too good to be denied. Don’t get me wrong, this record still has some hideous garbage on it, I’m not NOT 30 years old and I can’t swallow shit where Bieber proselytizes over his own song or the one where he tries to rag on an ex by saying his Mom doesn’t like her in one of the softest moments on record in 2015. I’m not about to tell you how to live your life, either. But there are 7 unqualified volcano jams on this and if you can’t get into it that’s your problem and not mine.
9. Bandit—Of Life
While we are on the subject of revival records(or we were like, 4 albums ago or whatever), this is as good of a 90s alternative revival record as you’ll find. And these albums aren’t easy to write. People went apeshit over garbage by bands like Pains of Being Pure at Heart and other stuff that was just so blatant, and meanwhile bands like this have 900 twitter followers and play your local street corner to try and make money. This record is probably the one the least number of my friends have heard of, so just listen to it right now. Trust it. Believe it. Shake my hand later.
8. The Amazing—Picture You
This would be the album I would choose if I was trying to sound super cool and hipster-like. It was released in early February by a Swedish band with an egregious name and you’d be all, “Cullen doesn’t even like this record he just wants to be cool,” and to that I say, I’m not as cool as this record, but please don’t fault me for trying. This is a gorgeous record featuring some of the best drumming work of the year. It’s Explosions in the Sky if they were Swedish, which is to say a touch less melodramatic and a lot less wanky and just really great, guys. It also has singing, if you hate EITS for that reason. And it’s nice singing, too.
7. Drake—If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late
I love Drake. What was purported to be a mixtape(and with the lack of features and beats sounding far less glossy than what we’re used to hearing from Drake, it makes sense) has no business being this good, with Drake absolutely going in from track 1 right until the end. It’s a bit overlong, but no one ever accused Drake of not trying hard. I don’t really know what else to say other than as a 30 year-old high school teacher I probably have no business telling people that if I die, I’m a motherfucking legend, but that happened and I feel no regret.
6. Dawes—All Your Favorite Bands
Okay yeah so every year there needs to be at least one album on the list that’s just a downright PLEASANT album to listen to, one you can put on any time, sing along, and love yourself while it’s on. This is that record for 2015. You can’t name catchier songs that came out this year than the title track, “Right on Time”, or “Things Happen”. Not possible. I can’t imagine anyone listening to this and not enjoying it. Seems like they would be soulless, or something.
5. Carly Rae Jepsen—E-MO-TION
So for some reason people that hate pop music and shit on me for having dope pop music on my list every year actually like this album, like this was the one pop album you could be on and still keep your street cred. So you can only imagine how good it got for a guy like me who loves pop anyway. All the critics are up on the internet being like “how didn’t this sell more?” and I’m sitting here like, “you’re serious, if I wanna see Carly Rae live I have to watch her open for HEDLEY?!” and nothing was more offensive in 2015 to me than that. I hope Jacob Hoggard or whatever that idiot’s name is(it’s Jacob Hoggard, I looked it up) watches a few of her sets, because dude stands to learn a few things. This album has bangers for DAYS.
4. Beach Slang—The Things We Do to Find People Who Feel Like Us
Sometimes you turn 30 and you need records to make you feel like back when you were a teenager and you loved listening to music that made you feel awesome but also kind of like you were against everything at the same time. Beach Slang find that with this record, a sort of tossed-off vibe even though you can tell they do care quite a bit about what’s going on. It’s a grunge-y record that never sounds too same-y and you can tell the record is good because I just used two -y words in one sentence. Inspiring.
3. Pusha T—Darkest Before Dawn
Hip-hop records should sometimes scare you when you put them on. I’m really not quite sure if Pusha T still deals drugs, or if he’s actually killed anyone, but sometimes being scared is okay. And when he’s scaring you over these tip-top beats and with his trademark sneer, you feel like anything is possible, and that don’t bounce. (that last line is a reference to one of the lyrics on the record because I’m a good writer)
2. Vince Staples—Summertime ’06
It was a big year for hip-hop, and in related news, I’ll be seeing Vince Staples and Pusha T two days apart from each other in March and there’s a good chance I might die by the end of it, so it’s been a good run. This record reminded me a LOT of Clipse’s “Hell Hath No Fury” and seeing as that’s probably my favorite hip-hop record of all-time, that’s high praise. It’s got the same gritty production, the same vicious yet eager vocals, and the same tenacity that Clipse record had. Staples is in his early 20s, but his conscience is highly developed and that makes the record that much stronger. This guy will be showing up everywhere very soon(if he hasn’t already for you).
1. Jamie xx—In Colour
I don’t even like the xx, so I don’t know what the hell this is doing here, but I probably listened to this record more than any other in 2015, as I guess this seemed to me like Jamie xx figured out how to map emotions and then made them into soundscapes, or some other dreamy writing fluff like that. I don’t really know much, but I do know these songs are incredible in the car, in headphones, at a party, blaring at the beach, and in one of the verses of a song he gets a rapper to say he’s going to “ride that [woman’s part] like a stroller” and it’s probably the most unintentionally funny thing I’ve ever heard and let’s be honest that’s why this record is #1. No, but seriously. The songs are so good. They’re ridiculously good. This isn’t even a genre I enjoy. They’re that good. Get into it.