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Tomi Milos/ANDY Editor
56 Nights – Future
Future absolutely destroyed 2015 and it all started with 56 Nights. Following the likes of Monster and Beast Mode, 56 Nights goes about asserting Future’s exponential growth as an artist since his very public breakup with Ciara with a slew of hyper-personal tracks many do a disservice by dubbing “turn-up bangers”. Despite how heavy they go in the club, songs like “Never Gon Lose” and “March Madness” do everything but glorify narcotics. Anyone who listens closely to the lyrics will be able to perceive how Future is driven to drugs as a coping mechanism and only resorts to self-celebratory verses to mask his deep pain.
In Colour – Jamie xx
Everything about Jamie xx’s modus operandi reeks of deliberateness. His debut solo record is titled In Colour, and befittingly sports a rainbow-hued cover that also hints at what lies inside. Just like his music with his band The xx, Jamie’s efforts on In Colour are rich in emotional depth and range. The eleven-track record has a stunning array of highs and lows, as well as what is probably the song of the summer in “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)”. While that particular Young Thug collaboration is the most obvious ear-worm, the rest of the songs all reward multiple listens in which their genius subtlety comes to light.
Return To The Moon – EL VY
The National didn’t release an album this year with its members either focusing on their families, or investing energy into solo projects, but all of them have released stellar material regardless. Matt Berninger’s collaboration with Brent Knopf is arguably the most immediately gratifying of the bunch. Return To The Moon finds Berninger at his most self-aware, making fun of both himself and all the dad-rock jabs that his work gets from critics. The title track is a pitch-perfect example of the occasionally formulaic catharsis that Berninger’s band aims for, while the rest of the record decidedly distances itself from any comparisons.
The Names – Baio
Chris Baio has released solo material for some time now, but Vampire Weekend’s extended break has allowed the bassist-turned-producer to put out an extremely polished record in The Names. The quiet, intellectual that Baio comes across as in interviews marries his exuberant on-stage personality on the record. Sometimes uncomfortable, but always danceable, The Names is a heartwarming foray into electronic music by a talented musician who reveals himself to be an academic in his devotion to learning a new craft, but not in blending his knowledge into a cohesive product.
I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside – Earl Sweatshirt
While Odd Future has ceased to be interesting, Earl has remained a brilliant outsider unhindered by the tunnel vision of his old peers. I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside sees Earl remind us how miserable he is, but in much more inventive fashion than usual. While listening to someone’s personal struggle can get grating, what makes Earl’s continued forays down that path rewarding is that he has matured much more than his former friends. Whereas Doris had a lot of misplaced anger on it, I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside has a much grander scope and is ultimately about recovering from the bleak episodes that he recounts.
Vannessa Barnier/ANDY Reporter
RULES – Alex G
Before getting signed to Domino last year, Alex G dropped this lil album on Bandcamp. G has since put out other albums this past year, but it was something about the comfortable, lo-fi, bedroom-cooing featured on RULES that made it trump 2015’s Beach Music. It was only in 2015 that this album, along with TRICK, was mastered in a studio and made commercially available. Domino’s reissue put RULES on the map for me, and contributed to it becoming my most-played album of last year.
Homespun – Jordaan Mason
From the first seconds of Jordaan Mason’s Homespun, you can predict how intimate the album will sound in its entirety. You can hear Mason walk in and sit down on the first track as they join you in the experience that is this album. Homespun is a vulnerable piece that was made as a gift to Mason’s husband, who convinced Mason to share this album publically. This album is Mason’s attempt at an ambient-sounding album with warmth and sounds they weren’t hearing in the ambient genre. The result is a comforting record.
Carrie & Lowell – Sufjan Stevens
As a mainstream artist, the heartfelt nature of Sufjan Steven’s Carrie & Lowell was rather unexpected. This album affected a lot of listeners since high-profile musicians — for the most part — don’t use their music as an opportunity to tell hyper-personal stories about themselves. Listeners of this album often admit to crying to the songs, noting that this is a confessional album that really hit them. This is a sad album, but I’ve heard sadder albums. For what it’s worth, I overplayed Carrie & Lowell in 2015, and will continue to do so in 2016.
A New Place 2 Drown – Archy Marshall
This year, Archy Marshall moved away from his moniker, King Krule, and released an album under his own name, in partnership with his brother, Jack. A New Place 2 Drown was accompanied by a book, as well as a short film to fully explore the themes of brotherhood and art in the release. With murmuring and static, Marshall released an album that showed more sides of him than he had cared to display in his previous albums. His deep, beautiful voice vibrates out his poetic lyrics and went well with the lethargic tempo of the album.
Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress – GY!BE
Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress came out on the last day of March, when I was ending a relationship that I had hardly let begin. Luckily for me, GY!BE released this track after a long hiatus and just in time to save me from sinking into personal despair. This album is every bit reminiscent of GY!BE’s past work without being derivative. This LP is home to the usual drone-y ambience with some added gusto that makes the listening experience all the more rich. I’d recommend listening to this when you catch yourself staring out of a window.