Counterclockwise by Oddisee
Oddisee is one of my favorite 2015 discoveries. This Maryland rapper and producer made one of my favorite albums of the year titles The Good Fight. The song “Counterclockwise” stands out because of it’s killer breakbeat and powerful lyrics. “Stay afloat, and stay a while, and take a break. All you hear is orders barking, brick and mortar stopping walls and space.” Check out his NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert to really grasp how talented he is.
Death With Dignity by Sufjan Stevens
Sufjan Stevens really tore my heart inside out with his album Carrie & Lowell. I found myself reading every article and interview pertaining to the creativity process and thought behind it. “Death With Dignity” is about the death of his mother and if you listen to the lyrics, it’s gut wrenching. I took it off my running mix because I was in tears at the gym while it played.
No Colonial Fiction by Yasiin Bey
Yasiin Bey, formerly known as Mos Def, hits it out of the park with this song. Released the day after the Paris attacks, “No Colonial Fiction” is the first song released off of his upcoming mixtape The Human Being (My Favorite Band). The song embodies some of my favorite qualities about Bey’s creativity. He’s always direct, passionate and is able to get his message across in such a creative fashion.
REALiTi (demo) by Grimes
I’m on team Grimes. I love her ability to balance the fine line between indie, electronic and pop music, although I’ve learned not to classify her music under any category. Her ability to have total control of her image and music is beyond impressive. This demo version of REALiTi is infectious and perfectly exemplifies her ethereal voice and synth sound.
Before We Begin by Martin Courtney
Real Estate is one of my favorite bands making music right now. This year one of the lead singers of the group, Martin Courtney, released his solo album Many Moons. It was the most listened to record of 2015 in my house. There are so many good songs on it but I chose “Before We Begin” because of the beautiful string arrangements throughout the song. I also love the chorus, “Will there be feeling? Will there be love all around you?” Bravo, Martin. Bravo.
Depreston by Courtney Barnett
This year is Courtney Barnett’s year. The Australian singer was just nominated for Best New Artist and also tops several lists as having the best album of 2015. Her “say it like it is” vocals and lyrics remind me of a combination of a young Lucinda Williams and The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn.
Expressive by Slum Village
Slum Village still slaying it after all these years. Even though the line up continues to change, I’m always impressed with the music they make. “Expressive” really takes me back to why hip hop is my favorite type of music. From it’s Dilla beat to the smooth lyrics, I’m on board.
Pretty Pimpin by Kurt Vile
Kurt Vile wins the award for the catchiest groove of 2015 with “Pretty Pimpin'”. I love everything Kurt Vile touches – from his time spent in War on Drugs to his solo career. There is no way you can’t listen to this song without bobbing your head.
Top 5 Podcast Episodes (if you care)
A Mom, A Transgender Daughter And A Podcast by How Sound
Lower 9 + 10 by This American Life
Women of the Hour – The Body Episode by Lena Dunham
Any episode of Serial
The WTF Marc Maron interview with Terri Gross