Top 10 Records : 2015

A Decade of Good Music

Picks for the top records of 2015. These records were at the top of my playlist for the entire year. Some still are. I try to compile a list that contains a large assortment of music, not any one particular style.

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1. Joey Alexander – My Favorite Things
2. Adele – 25
3. Joey Calderazzo – Going Home
4.Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell
5. Eleania – Floating Points 
6. Charlie Haden – Adagio Tokyo
7. Lower Dens – Escape From Evil
8. Beach House – Depression Cherry
9. Earl Sweatshirt – I Don’t Like Sh*t, I Don’t Go Outside
10. The Revenant – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Quick Playlist:

2015 was a great year for music, and I had a difficult time choosing the top record. Adele’s record is her best yet, in my opinion, and had very strong songs, great production value and overall was very listenable and catchy (duh). But when 12 year old (twelve. He’s twelve years old!) Joey Alexander released “My Favorite Things” in November it put Adele’s record in serious contention. It’s actually not that his prodigy is twelve, as much as this is a really good jazz record. His voicings, timing and arrangements are spot on, and I’m sure there are world-famous jazz musicians–especially jazz pianists–who have turned their head towards this fella.

Adele’s record is listenable and emotional, as most of her music is. What sets this record apart for me personally was the depth of her delivery on all the pieces. I wouldn’t consider her lyrics great, per se. But, she more than makes up for it in delivery. What’s least interesting to me is the pop-radio cut Hello, which might be the weakest song on the record.

Not really enough can be said about Joey Calderazzo. I had a difficult time finding his tracks on YouTube for this particular record, but I listened to it so much–both in passing and in study that it deserved a spot at the top of the list for the first half of the year. Joey Calderazzo is simply one of the best jazz pianists alive today.

Sufjan Stevens record Carrie & Lowell actually was my top record starting out the year. What an odd and emotional tribute to his mother (mostly). It’s really two records: Casual listening fills a room nicely with his soft voice and beautiful guitar work. At study, however, it’s an emotional windfall of precious moments in his life. To me it’s a sad record, the way that Bon Iver’s record was sad a few years ago. It carries a melancholia that we all experience from time to time–as well as nostalgia.

Floating Points is a great record, and I listen to it often. It’s electronic, but then not–filled with electric piano (a rhodes, probably) and moments of singing and live drums. Very cool.

Two years in a row Charlie Haden is on my list. Maybe I just miss him that much. This record is actually very similar to last year’s best record Last Dance with Keith Jarrett. This is a very listenable duet jazz record, and I should mention the beautiful work of Gonzalo Rubalcaba should not be at all understated, which is important to note on all of Haden’s work.

Lower Dens’ Escape From Evil is a terrific pop record that reminisces about the 1980s. Keyboard-ish, and it sounds to me like the singer is wearing checkered Vans. Check out To Die In L.A. for some of the best on the record.

Spotted on my 2012 list is Beach House’s Bloom, a great singable record with complex pop music texture. I love the sound of their guitars. Interestingly, Depression Cherry landed at the 8th spot again this year.

Earl Sweatshirt can be described as a sound and music experimentalist. His record reminds me a bit of last year’s CLPPNG, which was also in the 9nth spot.

I was lukewarm on the movie The Revenant, and the thing that saved it for me was Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto‘s terrific minimalist soundtrack.

Other terrifix:

Jose James’ Yesterday I Had The Blues, Melody Gardot’s Currency Of Man, Sister Crayon’s Devotion.

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