Q3 2015: Top Albums

Another quarter, another list of phenomenal records. Truth be told, I didn’t think the back half of 2015 could hold a candle to the first half. I was wrong. These past three months have introduced a number of remarkable records into the my year-end best-of list. None have impressed me quite like Deafheaven’s New Bermuda, a scathing slab of black metal counterbalanced by gorgeous post-rock tones. It’ll be hard to top, but with three months to go anything can happen.

  1. Deafheaven, New Bermuda 
  2. Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly
  3. Hiatus Kaiyote, Choose Your Weapon
  4. Dungen, Allas Sak
  5. Failure, The Heart is a Monster
  6. The Tallest Man on Earth, Dark Bird is Home
  7. Emancipator, Seven Seas
  8. Anekdoten, Until All the Ghosts are Gone
  9. Chelsea Wolfe, Abyss
  10. Bjork, Vulnicura
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The Best Albums of 2015 So Far

Six months in, 2015 is shaping up to be another fantastic year for new music. I’ll refrain from saying that it was harder to pick my favorite releases this year than it has been previously since I’m pretty sure I said the same thing last year and the year before. Redundancy is the enemy of every writer, after all. That said, it was definitely a challenge to narrow so many great albums to a meager ten. I’m happy to finally share my favorites with all of you. Here they are. I hope you find something new to enjoy.

  1. Hiatus Kaiyote, “Choose Your Weapon”
  2. Kendrick Lamar, “To Pimp a Butterfly”
  3. Failure, “The Heart is a Monster”
  4. The Tallest Man on Earth, “Dark Bird is Home”
  5. Anekdoten, “Until All the Ghosts are Gone”
  6. Godspeed You! Black Emperor, “Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress”
  7. Vennart, “The Demon Joke”
  8. Father John Misty, “I Love You, Honeybear”
  9. Bjork, “Vulnicura”
  10. Steven Wilson, “Hand. Cannot. Erase.”

Recent Digs, May 2015

I haven’t posted one of these lists since February, which is far too long. From now on, you’ll find one of these per month: a list of my favorite albums released in any given month or albums I just can’t stop spinning. From the brilliant soul-funk of “Choose Your Weapon” to the gorgeous nostalgia of “Dark Bird is Home,” May has brought some fantastic albums. Sure, some of these records weren’t released in May, but I think exceptions can be allowed when albums as good as Monolord’s “Vaenir” and Anekdoten’s “Until All The Ghosts Are Gone” are still fresh in memory.

  1. Hiatus Kaiyote, “Choose Your Weapon”
  2. The Tallest Man on Earth, “Dark Bird is Home”
  3. Faith No More, “Sol Invictus”
  4. Steve Von Till, “A Life Unto Itself”
  5. Anekdoten, “Until All The Ghosts Are Gone”
  6. Thee Oh Sees, “Mutilator Defeated At Last”
  7. Amon Tobin, “Dark Jovian”
  8. Mew, “+-“
  9. Monolord, “Vaenir”
  10. Hop Along, “Painted Shut”

Top 50 Albums of the Half Decade

It occurred to me recently that we’re halfway through the “new” decade. That’s a big milestone. Since the first days of 2010 we’ve had some truly game changing albums — albums that will likely shape their genres for years to come. We’ve had just as many albums that, while not particularly innovative, have emerged as the leading examples of their particular styles. From experimental jazz to psychedelic rock revival to piercing singer-songwriter, we truly have had it all. Let’s celebrate. Here’s my top 50 albums of the half decade.

  1. The War on Drugs, “Lost in the Dream”
  2. Ulver, “Messe X.I-X.IV”
  3. The Tallest Man on Earth, “The Wild Hunt”
  4. Flying Lotus, “Cosmogramma”
  5. Kendrick Lamar, “To Pimp a Butterfly”
  6. Kurt Vile, “Wakin’ on a Pretty Daze”
  7. Gazpacho, “Demon”
  8. Ben Howard, “I Forget Where We Were”
  9. Earthless, “From the Ages”
  10. GY!BE, “’Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!”
  11. Steven Wilson, “Hand. Cannot. Erase.”
  12. Burial, “Kindred”
  13. Run the Jewels, “Run the Jewels 2”
  14. Deftones, “Koi Yo Nokan”
  15. Sharon Van Etten, “Are We There”
  16. Grouper, “Ruins”
  17. Boards of Canada, “Tomorrow’s Harvest”
  18. Anekdoten, “Until All the Ghosts are Gone”
  19. Hammock, “Departure Songs”
  20. Esoteric, “Paragon of Dissonance”
  21. The National, “High Violet”
  22. Fleet Foxes, “Helplessness Blues”
  23. St. Vincent, “Strange Mercy”
  24. Aidan Baker, “Already Drowning”
  25. Tim Hecker, “Virgins”
  26. Frank Ocean, “Channel Orange”
  27. Agnes Obel, “Aventine”
  28. Father John Misty, “I Love You, Honeybear”
  29. Lo-Pan, “Salvador”
  30. Wovenhand, “Refractory Obdurate”
  31. Clutch, “Earth Rocker”
  32. Enslaved, “Axioma Ethica Odini”
  33. Fiona Apple, “The Idler Wheel”
  34. Sigur Ros, “Kveikur”
  35. Max Richter, “Infra”
  36. James Blake, “Overgrown”
  37. Causa Sui, “Euporie Tide”
  38. Hidden Orchestra, “Night Walks”
  39. Low Roar, “0”
  40. Nujabes, “Spiritual State”
  41. The Great OId Ones, “Tekeli-Li”
  42. Bjork, “Vulnicura”
  43. Converge, “All We Love We Leave Behind”
  44. Deafheaven, “Sunbather”
  45. Chelsea Wolfe ”Pain is Beauty”
  46. Bonobo, “Black Sands”
  47. Niechec, “Smierc w Miekkim Futerku”
  48. The Roots, “undun”
  49. Jon Hopkins, “Immunity”
  50. Bohren & Der Club of Gore, “Piano Nights”

Q1 2015: Top Albums

One of my favorite traditions over the years has been tracking my favorite album releases throughout each quarter of the given year — noting which records remain on the list over the months and which are slowly whittled off. At the end, only 25 albums will make it, but, for now, here’s my top 15 albums of 2015. I hope you find something to enjoy.

  1. Steven Wilson, “Hand. Cannot. Erase.”
  2. Father John Misty, “I Love You, Honeybear”
  3. Kendrick Lamar, “To Pimp a Butterfly”
  4. Bjork, “Vulnicura”
  5. Elder, “Lore”
  6. The Decemberists, “What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World”
  7. Mount Eerie, “Sauna”
  8. Death Grips, “Fashion Week”
  9. Napalm Death, “Apex Predator – Easy Meat”
  10. Lupe Fiasco, “Tetsuo & Youth”
  11. Vessels, “Dilate”
  12. Joey Bada$$, “B4.DA.$$”
  13. Thou / The Body, “You, Whom I Have Always Hated”
  14. Jose Gonzalez, “Vestiges & Claws”
  15. Beardfish, “+4626-Comfortzone”

Recent Digs, February 2015

With February almost over, and with this website nearly a month old, I’ve been giving serious consideration to new types of content to introduce here at ToneScratch, and I definitely have some ideas in the pipeline. Starting this month, I’ve decided to type down an extensive list of what I’ve been giving my attention to — you can call it a playlist, if you will. I hope you’ll find and hear something new to enjoy here as I log down my month’s listening habits.

Without further adieu, and in no particular order, here is my playlist for February:

  1. Boards of Canada, “Tomorrow’s Harvest”
  2. Andrew Bird, “Break It Yourself”
  3. Napalm Death, “Apex Predator – Easy Meat”
  4. Midlake, “Antiphon”
  5. The Tallest Man on Earth, “There’s No Leaving Now”
  6. Sigur Ros, “Kveikur”
  7. Oceansize, “Music For Nurses”
  8. The Grateful Dead, “American Beauty”
  9. The Decemberists, “What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World”
  10. Lo-Pan, “Salvador”
  11. Mount Eerie, “Sauna”
  12. Neurosis, “A Sun That Never Sets”
  13. Grouper, “Ruins”
  14. Lupe Fiasco, “Tetsuo & Youth”
  15. Rx Bandits, “Gemini, Her Majesty”
  16. Musk Ox, “Woodfall”
  17. Blue Oyster Cult, “Secret Treaties”
  18. Incubus, “New Morning”
  19. Deathspell Omega, “Paracletus”
  20. 10 Years, “The Autumn Effect”

Top 25 Albums of 2014

Sure, this list may be a little late in the grand scheme of music journalism, but I did just launch this site earlier in the week, so it couldn’t be helped. My philosophy maintains that its better late than never, though. In celebration of that old adage, here are the best albums released in 2014. I hope you can all find something here to enjoy.

  1. The War on Drugs, “Lost in the Dream”
  2. Gazpacho, “Demon”
  3. Ben Howard, “I Forget Where We Were”
  4. Musk Ox, “Woodfall”
  5. Flying Lotus, “You’re Dead!”
  6. Nothing, “Guilty of Everything”
  7. Run the Jewels, “Run the Jewels 2”
  8. Motorpsycho, “Behind the Sun”
  9. Low Roar, “0”
  10. Sharon Van Etten, “Are We There”
  11. Lantlos, “Melting Sun”
  12. Freddie Gibbs and Madlib, “Pinata”
  13. St. Vincent, “St. Vincent”
  14. BadBadNotGood, “III”
  15. Thom Yorke, “Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes”
  16. Wovenhand, “Refractory Obdurate”
  17. Todd Terje, “It’s Album Time”
  18. Primordial, “Where Greater Men Have Fallen”
  19. Tobacco, “Ultima II Massage”
  20. Electric Wizard, “Time to Die”
  21. Spoon, “They Want My Soul”
  22. Interpol, “El Pintor”
  23. Kayo Dot, “Coffins on Io”
  24. D’Angelo and the Vanguard, “Black Messiah”
  25. Rx Bandits, “Gemini, Her Majesty”