What 2015 Sounded Like If You Were Me

First: These are not the best records of 2015. They are the records that brought me, a man of a certain age (old) and a certain disposition (eh), the most joy over the course of the year. There are tons of things I missed, tons of things that I should have liked that just didn’t rub me the right way, tons of things that I will actually find a few years from now and be all, “Why didn’t I hear about this back in 2015, when it came out?” And then there’s that Tame Impala album, which, I’m sorry, it’s fine, but come on.

Next: Who even listens to records anymore? You guys just stream things on your Spotifys or whatever, right? I don’t have a smartphone — did you know I don’t have a smartphone? Well, I don’t. That’s just the kind of person I am. I bet you’re pretty impressed. It’s okay, I don’t expect anyone else to abide by my code, it’s definitely not for everyone, because ideals like this are so hard to live with. You’ve really got to want to be pure — so I lack that luxury, but also I am a man of a certain age (old) who still prefers to think of songs as parts of a larger whole.

So: This list does not include any singles or EPs, even though there were a bunch of good ones. The albums on the list were all new, which means it does not feature any reissues, even though there were some great reissues in 2015, including stuff by Bing & Ruth, Ólafur Arnalds & Nils Frahm, Errol Garner, Miles Davis, that massive Eluvium package and plenty more. (Don’t even get me started on the Bob Dylan thing, because as a man of a certain age (old) I might never STOP talking about it.)

Anyway: The albums below are for the most part wordless works, although there are some exceptions. I hate words, not that that keeps me from typing them. The playlist above is a little more word-friendly and includes some songs that might not have made this list but are still pretty great on their own. (You can hear a bunch more songs here.) Where available, links will direct you to tracks or videos from the records I liked this year, so you can decide whether it’s worth your time to hunt them down on your Pandora or whatever. The order of selection is (probably) alphabetical, but if it’s on here I enjoyed it, and I hope that you will too. Enjoy.

2 8 1 4, 新しい日の誕生

36, Sine Dust

• William Basinksi, The Deluge

Bitchin Bajas, Transporteur

• Bitchin Bajas/Natural Information Society, Automaginary

• Beach House, Depression Cherry / Thank Your Lucky Stars

• The Brabant Ensemble, Jacquet of Mantua: Missa Surge Petre

Heather Woods Broderick, Glider

• Bruce Brubaker, Glass Piano/Glass Piano Versions

Ben Chatwin, The Sleeper Awakes

Coma, This Side of Paradise

Darkstar, Foam Island

Deerhunter, Fading Frontier

Destroyer, Poison Season

• Nick Diamonds, City of Quartz

East India Youth, Culture of Volume

Errors, Lease of Life

• Mahan Esfahani, Time Present And Time Past

Ludovico Einaudi, The Taranta Project

• Floating Points, Elaenia

Fort Romeau, Insides

• John Foxx, London Overgrown

Masayoshi Fujita, Apologues

Goldmund, Sometimes

Rachel Grimes, The Clearing

Gwenno, Y Dydd Olaf

Haiku Salut, Etch and Etch Deep

• Mario Hammer And The Lonely Robot, L’esprit De L’escalier

• Hauschka, A NDO C Y

Heathered Pearls, Body Complex

• High Wolf, Growing Wild

Hudson Mohawke, Lantern

• Petre Inspirescu, Vin Ploile

• Karamika, Karamika

• Kuba Kapsa Ensemble, Vandraught 10, Vol. 1

Kölsch, 1983

Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly

• Igor Levit, Goldberg Variations

Mbongwana Star, From Kinshasa

• Olan Mill, Cavade Morlem

• Andreas Ottensamer, The Hungarian Connection

Aleksi Perälä, The Colundi Sequence Level 15

Natalie Prass, Natalie Prass

• Thore Pfeiffer, Im Blickfeld

• Max Richter, Sleep

San Fermin, Jackrabbit

• Matthew Shipp, The Gospel According to Matthew & Michael

• Ensemble Signal, Reich: Music for 18 Musicians

• Skatebård, CDIII

• Slow Meadow, Slow Meadow

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Euclid

Stealing Sheep, Not Real

• Suzanne Kraft, Talk From Home

Christina Vantzou, No. 3

Waxahatchee, Ivy Tripp

• Max Würden, Retour

jamie xx, in colour