Recently, DFC gathered a few friends together to write about their top albums of the year. 2015 has been a fantastic year in music, full of comebacks, surprises and lots of buzz. Read what some friends of the blog had to say about their top picks.
Sufjan Stevens – “Carrie and Lowell”
by Jeremy Nifras
With his latest studio effort, Michigan-born singer songwriter Sufjan Stevens taps into his personal side. On past records, such as the lush Illinois, or the pretty Seven Swans, Stevens uses his fantastic songwriting skills to tell a story, with a personal anecdote thrown in occasionally. However, on Carrie and Lowell, Stevens dives head first into his own past and emotions. The record mostly revolves around Stevens’ dead mother, and the feeling he has towards her in the past and his reflections about them in the present. Each plucked banjo note or piano chord soaks the listener in a pool of somber reflection. A great example of this would be on the song “Fourth of July”, where Stevens imagines a conversation between him and his mother on her deathbed. I’ve noticed many people who have lost loved ones can easily relate to the themes of this record, such as confusion, regret and depression surrounding the deaths of those close to them. But even if you’ve never lost a loved one, with each listen, Stevens makes you feel as if you’re trying to make amends with someone from beyond the grave, and it will crush you every time.
Death Grips – “The Powers That B”
by AJ Rangel
My respect for Death Grips as musicians, visual-artists & self-promotion grew to an extent I have never felt for previous before them, all thanks to their recent album, The Powers That B. “Jenny Death” not only showcases the group’s maturity as a collective tight-functioning trio of a band, but also as writers. From hip-hop influenced beats such as “Pss Pss”, to pop culture tongue-in cheek lyricism on tracks such as “Inanimate Sensation”. I am fond of acts that can progress as composers & lyricist, & a track like “On GP” give me that sort of hope that fuels me. Peaking at my No.1 album for 2015’s album of the year, I highly recommend giving this album a listen, whether you love industrial-hip hop tucked firmly under an range of abrasive vocal-deliveries, Death Grips alone is an act I firmly believe everyone should give a listen. It’s not too late to give this album a listen, a double-album is sure to grab your attention in a business in which mixtapes surface the web every second. Death Grips, a band in which I am honored to say I saw in concert on their most recent tour, have gained my vote for my top album of 2015.
Beach House – “Depression Cherry”
by Richard Guereca
Probably one of the most difficult decisions but I would have to say that my favorite record of 2015 would have to be Depression Cherry by Beach House. This album really speaks to me. It is there for me when there is no one. This album is my best friend. My sorrow. My joy. Although the there are many albums that caught my attention this year including Peripheral Vision by Turnover, Currents by Tame Impala or I Love You, Honeybear by Father John Misty, but this album just stuck out the most this year. Everything about his release is flawless. From the velvet sleeve to the beautiful clear vinyl copies this album had it all, and I will continue to spin this for many more years to come.
23 Missed Calls – “Ridding”
by Chris Lepore
The second album coming from 23 Missed Calls following up the widely loved From Comfortable to Uncomfortable continues the success of the young group from New Jersey. Opening with “Figures” and setting up the overall tone of what’s going to overcome your senses as you press on the journey. “Like Sheep” is a song that will consume you mentally and physically as the bands emotionally charged lyrics and music pierce through you to almost hurt you. Creating the entire nuance of pain and despair while keeping you enthralled in the continuation of the work.
Slaughter to Prevail – “Chapters of Misery”
by Dakota Newton
This year, I’ve listened to a lot of metal albums. New and old, mainstream and Bandcamp-wise. The one band that kept bringing me back was a certain deathcore act in Russia, who, because of imagery and lyrics, have provoked accusations of anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi views, Slaughter To Prevail. This young group has that certain qualify I always look and long for in a deathcore band. What I’m talking about is that raw, mad-as-fuck, break-something power. When the riffs come in. When the bass drops over the breakdown. You hear an absolute crunch in the guitars. The vocals sound beautifully hellish and indecipherable, just the way I prefer. Drumming and bass work are also skin tight. By the way, the band has refused and denied all allegations to the above mentioned controversy.
Bjork – “Vulnicura”
by Xela Weeks
It is only human for us to relate to things created by other humans, whether it be written in words, with actions, or with sound. Sadness is often one of those feelings that is easy to relate to. We have all felt sad, we have all mourned over something. Loss of love, friendship, or something that can only be understood on a sentimental level. Bjork culminates something given to us back with 2001s Vespertine with a storm of rage and remorse. Commanding you to show her emotional respect, and search for your personal place both in your own life, and the lives of those around you. Ranging from tightly wound percussive marches to wide open ambient passages, Vulnicura offers every form of atmosphere, all with a powerful response to what might seem like a depressing occurrence (those who are versed in Bjork’s history know all too well of what I am speaking of). Arca and Haxan Cloak provide a beautiful backdrop to what I believe is Bjorks best record since Vespertine. This is not a Swan Song, but a brutal killing of that Swan.
The Nostalgia Factory – “Quietus (Music by The Nostalgia Factory)”
by Ryan Dye
Sometimes our trying times can make for some of our finest hours. For the last few years I’ve been following multi-instrumentalist Jessie-Jamz Ozaeta, I’ve seen him explore so many different facets of music; his fancy changing constantly with the seasons. But it was only after he experienced his first real existential roadblock that these facets came together for a completely original and realized body of work. Quietus works to incorporate pianos and guitars with electronic and hip-hop elements to tell a story of loss, confusion and deprivation. The story itself plays out in the form of small vignettes, sampling cinematic works as varied as Richard Linklater’s Before series and Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). Intentionally or not, Ozaeta effectively takes these scenes and rescores them to better fit his own position and, in doing so, makes them all the more captivating. His own pain and depression is laid bare for all to see. But Quietus isn’t without hope. Tracks like “Talk to Me, Asclepius” and “Thank You, One Last Time” underline the requisite traits of experiences such as these; that they’re essential to growth. While there may have been many socially and emotionally potent releases in 2015 that resonated with me, I’d be lying if I said that this one wasn’t the most impactful.