By Kevin Taylor (@Antiquation)
2015 was a great year for music across many different genres. I’d like to highlight some of my favorites, and highly recommend taking the time to check these all out as they deserve your attention for the remainder of the year and beyond.
Fetty Wap - "Fetty Wap"
Fetty said hey, what’s up hello this year and exploded into a thugged out crooning phenomenon with the hit Trap Queen early this year. After releasing a few more singles, his full length project dropped containing banger after banger. His enthusiasm is highly infectious, every hook makes you want to sing along. Joined by his squadmate Monty, we’re given some of the best party music this year has to offer.
Key songs: My Way, Trap Queen, Again
Death Grips - "Jenny Death"
The second half of the double album The Powers That B was released early in the year and features some of the band’s most sporadic music to date. MC Ride is just as aggressive as ever as the band brings the heat with guitar filled instrumentals and intense rhythms. These guys are an acquired taste and they force feed their goodies to you until you can’t take it anymore. Jenny Death is raw emotion at its best.
Key songs: Pss Pss, Why A Bitch Gotta Lie, The Powers That B
The Dead Weather - "Dodge and Burn"
Armed with badass bluesy riffs, The Dead Weather return on the top of their game to groove you through your day. This supergroup is lead by Jack White and Alison Mosshart and their trading vocal duties provide multiple textures to their songs. It’s gritty and driving, perfect for a long trip. These flows are very dance friendly and it’s hard not to nod your head or sway along to the entire album.
Key songs: I Feel Love (Every Million Miles), Three Dollar Hat, Cop and Go
Future - "DS2"
Intoxicatingly entrancing artist Future was all over the place this year and DS2 is one of the strongest projects he released as well as one of the strong projects in hip hop. It’s hard to deny how catchy these songs are, the production is smooth and bumpin and Future’s voice is muffled and contrasting. Even if you don’t lead the life he leads, for a good while you feel like you’ve been about it your whole life.
Key songs: Where Ya At, F*ck Up Some Commas, I Serve the Base
Carly Rae Jepsen - "Emotion"
Everyone likes a good throwback and CRJ doubled-down on that ideal with a psuedo 80s pop experience of sugary pop music. Her voice is sweet and light over the heavy hitting beats and chilled on the slower numbers. These are well crafted jams, containing more poise and innocence than her peers. Like the name implies, she brushes across the gamut of emotions, but maintains a sense of positivity through all the bad times.
Key songs: Making the Most of the Night, Boy Problems, Black Heart
Made In Heights - "Without My Enemy What Would I Do"
I hope this duo can break out into the mainstream soon because this project deserves way more attention than it was given. Sultry vocals combined with intricate and unconventional production would be the best way to describe this indie pop album. There’s so many ways to groove here; some feel like top 40 staples, some feel like soul hitting slow jams. “If you can feel the beat, then why the hell we talking?” No more words needed.
Key songs: Pop It In 2, Slow Burn, Lunette
Strawberry Girls - "American Graffiti"
Lead by ex-Dance Gavin Dance guitarist Zachary Garren, Strawberry Girls presents their latest foray into psychedelic groove rock. Primarily an instrumental album, attention is focused on how tightly the trio plays together and the vibes they bring on each track. Precision is key but losing yourself is as well, the balance between both entities is apparently all the way through. The featured vocals provide a nice sense of normalcy on the journey and are great additions to an already well-rounded sound.
Key songs: Betelgeuse, Antiquation, Overrated
Erykah Badu - "But You Caint Use My Phone"
Even though this one released not too long ago, this album is too smooth not to mention. Ms. Badu brings a new spirit to a lot of classic phone related hits and the result is an incredibly chill one. We even experience a few “Drake” features and one from André 3000 that will knock you off your feet. It’s easy listening and easy to hear how effortless it was for her to make with the intense skill she’s known for.
Key songs: Phone Down, Hello, Medley: What’s Yo Phone Number / Telephone (Ghost of Screw Mix)
The Money Pit - "The Money Pit"
Out of the old comes a new project from ex-Gatsbys American Dream members Nic Newsham and Bobby Darling, and even though it’s new, it feels as good as the old. Showing their maturity, the two smooth out most of the aggressive riffs in favor of a refined jab at your heartstrings. Many of these songs will get stuck in your head before they even end. Your money is well spent here.
Key songs: I Want My Money Back, Killing Time in Hawaii, No Problemó
CHON - "Grow"
This album is pure happiness in the form of intricate progressive post-hardcore. The guitar lines float and caress your earlobes. The drums are frenetic and punchy, cutting through the mix to lay down some unconventional beats. The bass is low and sultry, and provide some solid backbone to the chaos. This is another band that doesn’t need vocals to convey their messages, but sometimes it helps to have a couple songs with them. Set your mind at ease with CHON.
Key songs: Splash, Book, Can’t Wait
Dance Gavin Dance - "Instant Gratification"
The second album to feature the same lineup for the first time in their history, DGD take no prisoners with their infectious pop friendly-ish approach at progressive post-hardcore. Everyone’s in their zone, delivering some of the most passionate products of their respective instruments. Not a bad song on the bunch and there’s something for legitimately every emotion you could think of.
Key songs: Awkward, We Own the Night, Variation
Kendrick Lamar - "To Pimp a Butterfly"
Kendrick delivered a product overflowing with passion, maddeningly catchy, incredibly poignant, super sleek and thought provoking. This album is flat out good. You could pick any avenue of discussion towards this thing and speak for hours. It deserves your time and energy because it will give it all back to you tenfold.
Key songs: Alright, These Walls, How Much a Dollar Cost