Something You Said’s top albums of 2015

Sufjan Stevens

It’s time for somethingyousaid.com’s end of year review, where we tell you what has been floating our boat over the last twelve months! We’ve already talked you through the fashion highs and lows, now here are the best albums of 2015, as voted for by our team of contributors:

SOMETHING YOU SAID’S ALBUM OF 2015 IS: SUFJAN STEVENS – CARRIE & LOWELL 
Few other albums will have as much of an emotional impact on you as Carrie & Lowell. The record documents Sufjan Stevens’s often troubled relationship with his late mother and the almost lullaby arrangements on this album expose stories of neglect that simply destroy the listener with its power. The ‘Lowell’ of the title is Carrie’s second husband and Sufjan’s stepfather who was a stabilising force in Carrie’s life while also becoming her son’s greatest champion and supporter at the start of his career. It beautifully, and at times painfully, documents a son coming to terms with the end of his mother’s life with the juxtaposition of his feelings towards her years of maternal absence. Brutally honest but delivered in the most gentle way, this album isn’t embarrassed to confront real, grown up issues. Words by Gary Page

2. TAME IMPALA – CURRENTS 
Following on from Lonerism, Tame Impala’s third major release Currents is a standout album that further elevates the band into a new world of synth pop and sharp beats, while managing to continue the psych groove that they are so well known for. Kevin Parker’s project has come so far, and Currents is an epic evolution for the band. I remember my first time seeing Tame Impala at Future Music in 2011 playing their highly adored first album Innerspeaker, and Kevin nervously told the relatively small crowd – “I have no idea why we were asked to play at a dance festival.” He continued… “I don’t think we’re a very dancey band”. If only Kev knew what was to come. Melissa Barrass

3. FATHER JOHN MISTY – I LOVE YOU HONEYBEAR 
Josh Tillman has made another album filled with razor sharp, witty and occasionally cruel lyrical observations. The music still follows the alt-country blueprint of Fear Fun but does introduce a few more elements of electronica into the mix. The album balances on the tightrope between self obsession and out-and-out lyrical genius. You have to admire Tillman for some of the words on this record regardless of how ridiculous they are at times. This is only part of the package however, as he has a knack of crafting melodic tunes that stay with you long after the record has finished. Gary Page

4. GRIMES – ART ANGELS 
Grimes will never be a pop-star created by a spoiled cultural image; she is unquestionably herself. Writing, producing, and directing her own pop sound, she is re-directing the genre to new and exciting heights. With artists like Grimes, there is hope after all. Rhosian Woolridge

5. JAMIE XX – IN COLOUR 
In Colour, the surreal debut from Jamie xx, is simply incandescent to the ears. It is animalistic. Rhythmic. Perhaps a kaleidoscopic representation of modern British dance. But most importantly, it establishes Jamie Smith as a capable and imaginative solo artist and producer, beyond his beginnings as the percussionist of internationally successful act, The xx. Chloe Keung

6. KURT VILE – B’LIEVE I’M GOIN DOWN… 
A lot of b’lieve i’m goin down… reads like the plot of an Absurdist novel. Just like Camus, Vonnegut or Beckett, this album is about the absurdity of the human quest for purpose. For many people it would be exhausting to carry such existential weight, but not for Kurt. He’s a level-headed visionary. Rhosian Woolridge

7. KENDRICK LAMAR – TO PIMP A BUTTERFLY 
Not only is this a harmonious culmination of his ability to spit verses, but also his smooth singing voice. The production on this album is supreme, and is pieced together in such a way that you’re taken into the heart of each song. It’s an important statement album for Kendrick, as he cements his place in the rap/hip hop music scene, but also as a hero of Compton. Annastasia Robertson

8. COURTNEY BARNETT – SOMETIMES I SIT AND THINK AND SOMETIMES I JUST SIT 
Courtney Barnett is a national treasure. I know for a fact, she will go down in music history as one of the very best quintessential Australian acts. Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit is flecked with Courtney’s usual everyday observations, sarcastic thoughts and dry humour. The album is catchy and honest with some standout tracks that will have you easily singing along, goofing off in your bedroom. Melissa Barrass

9. ALPINE – YUCK 
This album was worth the wait. After touring with A Is For Alpine for years, Yuck marked a triumphant return for the Melbourne outfit. The single Damn Baby is typical Alpine, with booming horns and the vocals of Phoebe and Lou in full flight packed with all the pitch and sass we have come to expect from the lead singers. Shot Fox as is customary with Alpine tracks starts gently before bursting at the seams. Tracks like Come On and Crunches show influences of the bands surprising love affair with R&B and hip hop. Courtney Dabb

10. DARREN HAYMAN – CHANTS FOR SOCIALISTS 
Darren continues to stake his claim as the best songwriter in England. This was his first of two albums release this year the second hasn’t had enough plays yet to break in to my ten but I’m sure it will in time. In 20 years time people will look back on Hayman’s recent run of records as undiscovered cult classics. Clever, passionate and witty but most of all just beautiful, beautiful songs time after time. Neil Martin


11. ROYAL HEADACHE – HIGH 

12. PURITY RING – ANOTHER ETERNITY

13. GHOSTFACE KILLAH + BADBADNOTGOOD – SOUR SOUL

14. JOHN GRANT – GREY TICKLES, BLACK PRESSURE 

15. HERMITUDE – DARK NIGHT, SWEET LIGHT 

16. UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA – MULTI LOVE 

17. BEACH HOUSE – DEPRESSION CHERRY 

18. MAC DEMARCO – ANOTHER ONE

19. PANDA BEAR – PANDA BEAR MEETS THE GRIM REAPER 

20. CHVRCHES – EVERY OPEN EYE


HIGHLY COMMENDED

Here are some albums which didn’t quite get enough votes to make our Top 20 but that our team reckon are worthy of your attention.

SUI ZHEN – SECRETLY SUSAN
It takes confidence and a sign of great musicianship to make an about-turn to your earlier works and produce an album unrecognisable to what put your name on the map, but with Sui Zhen, you would expect nothing less. Perhaps it is her ongoing work in other outfits (including No Zu) that allow this left field album to be so strikingly magnificent. The gentle and jazzy tones of Dear Teri shows a case of less is more and Infinity Street is another demonstration of her compositional skills fusing; keys, drum machine, organs, hand claps and vocals as a one-man-band. Courtney Dabb

TRILL IS GONE – AMERIGO GAZAWAY 
Amerigo Gazaway is one of my favourite producers. More than simply mashing up two artists, he takes the best of each artist and reworks it into new and unique productions. Having previously re-worked Fela Kuti, Tribe called quest and last year’s Mos Def and Marvin Gaye – this time around BB King meets Texas Rap Legends UGK. Another stone cold classic album. 25ThC

JOEY BADASS – BADASS
I just have such a profound respect for Joey Badass. The whole album is immaculate from production to lyrics and the dude is 19. I struggle to think that it might be down from here but since he dropped 1999 I’ve considered him to be one of the best rappers of all time… and he’s a teenager. Travis Jordan

FLYYING COLOURS – ROYGBIV
This Melbourne band is young and super fresh. They’re absolutely owning the psych-shoegaze genre and this album is both dreamy and energetic, with fully charged riffs and heavy choruses to get the body moving. Melissa Barrass

BLUR – MAGIC WHIP
I never would have dreamed that there would be a new Blur album in 2015. The fact that it was recorded in a week off from touring in Hong Kong and the tapes were revisited many months later makes the quality of the songs and production even more remarkable. I personally hope this isn’t the fitting end of their career that has been suggested by many. Gary Page

ARCA – MUTANT
Mutant is an enthralling and abstract electronic journey. It’s frightening and beautiful at the same time. Liana Gow-Killingbeck

OH WONDER – OH WONDER
Oh Wonder has always been a magical listening experience for me. I stumbled across them in the early hours of the morning, slightly delirious possibly from the lack of sleep, and have been enchanted ever since. The harmonies! The wow! The wonder! Addy Fong

BULLY – BULLY
This punchy little album has a tip of the hat the 90’s grunge scene but sees a new generation sustaining the same angst that made the early 90’s so memorable. A little pocket rocket, Alicia Bognanno bolts out of the gates with I Remember, her vocals scraped over hot coals and sugary sweet all within the same verse. Standout tracks likeTrying pours over the agony of inadequacy and disaffection while Trash gives you the sensation that Alicia is tearing herself apart. A sucker punch album leaves wanting to see Bully live. Courtney Dabb

HOP ALONG – PAINTED SHUT
“Hop Along are fronted by the beautifully unique voice (read: emotional, husky, pack-a-day-smoking cement mixer) of singer Frances Quinlan who broods, yelps, screams, whispers and sings (often exquisitely) over the band’s country-punk songs. A criminally-underrated release. Matt Lengren

IN HEARTS WAKE – SKYDANCER
Just bloody good metal with some really nice lyrical themes. Joel Anderson

Do you agree/disagree with our team’s selections? Tell us in the comments’ section below…