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Best Albums of 2015…So Far

26 min read

Every week the team here at Renowned For Sound spin dozens of new records, eagerly listening out for the cream of the crop in new music. While many miss the mark there are plenty of releases that come our way that excite, inspire and keep us begging for more.

With this in mind we thought it was the perfect time to reflect on the year so far and compile a list of the 60 releases that have kept us tapping our toes and humming along above all others that have been released so far in 2015 (January-June). This is a list of those titles (in alphabetical order) that we consider the best releases of 2015…so far. Take a look and join the conversation by letting us here at Renowned For Sound know what release(s) have ticked all your boxes so far in 2015…

Artist:  Ace of Base   Album: Hidden Gems

Ace of Base - Hidden GemsSweden has long been regarded as a hot spring in the music world. Over the last few decades the petite Scandinavian country has offered us some of the biggest selling pop acts in the world such as ABBA, Roxette, Robyn and of course, 90’s staple pop group Ace of Base. The quartet made their mark at the height of the 90’s pop music surge with tracks like All That She Wants, The Sign and Lucky Love. While the band have been disbanded for over a decade, band members Jonas and Ulf have remained busy promoting the work of Ace of Base and their latest project puts a collection of some of the bands unreleased pennings together for those who can’t get enough of their distinctive pop genius. This is a must have record for fans of pop music and those who crave a nice slice of 90’s pop nostalgia – (Editors pick)

Top 3 tracks: Go, Go, Go, Make My Day, Mercy Mercy

Click here to read our review of Hidden Gems.

Artist: Alaska Thunderfuck 5000    Album: Anus

Alaska Thunderfuck AnusIn the cut-throat industry of drag, it takes a strong attitude and plenty of self-confidence to make it work; there’s no better example for how it’s meant to be done than Alaska Thunderfuck. Anus is a varied mixture of sexuality, ferocity and playful fun, covering all facets that make up both Alaska and queens in general, backed up by electronic and pop beats to match. As drag queens move further into the mainstream spotlight, there’s none you should be watching closer than Alaska – (Chosen by Michael)

Top 3 tracks: Beard, Pussy, Your Makeup Is Terrible

Click here to read our review of Anus.

Artist: Allie X    Album: CollXtion

Allie X CollXtion IAfter appearing out of nowhere a year ago, Allie X blew us away with CollXtion. The intelligent and often morbid lyrics mixed with the sleek modern production of the music makes for a combination that’s almost begging to blow up in the future. As the first step for a potential anthology of releases, a multimedia project and most importantly her career, you couldn’t ask for a stronger start  – (Chosen by Michael)

Top 3 tracks: Hello, Prime, Tumor

Click here to read our review of CollXtion.

Artist: Ash    Album: Kablammo

ash kablammoOne of the rare surviving bands from the 90s, Ash are still going strong and prove it with the release of Kablammo! Their usual trick of creating a record with a mix of rock, punk, ballads and pop is once again repeated, and leaves the listener begging for more. It’s refreshing to listen to something that isn’t pretentious and fashion orientated, and instead straight from the heart and played with passion (Chosen by Jamie)

Top 3 tracks: Cocoon, Free, Dispatch

Click here to read our review of Kablammo.

Artist: Best Coast   Album: California Nights

Best Coast - California NightsCalifornia Nights is a straight shot of sunlight; a beautiful, chaotic, deliciously upbeat release that manages to be joyous and cathartic without ever sounding saccharine or gooey. It’s the most enjoyable record the band have yet turned in, but more than that, it’s their most heartfelt and solidly composed too – (Chosen by Joseph)

Top 3 tracks: Heaven Sent, Jealousy, In My Eyes

Click here to read our review of California Nights.

Artist: Björk    Album: Vulnicura

Bjork - VulnicuraWith Vulnicura, Bjork turned in the finest album of her illustrious career. Genuinely moving in a way so few albums are, it managed to transform the story of Bjork’s own break up into ballads of human lust, love and heartbreak. Perfectly controlled and sustained, and boasting the most impressive string arrangements on a pop release in years, it is a work of transformative power – (Chosen by Joseph)

Top 3 tracks: Atom Dance, Black Lake, Mouth Mantra

Click here to read our review of Vulnicura.

Artist: Blur    Album: The Magic Whip

Blur The Magic WhipBlur redefine, and reconfirm the greatness of their abilities with The Magic Whip. The album tosses and turns though influences put forward by Coxon and Albarn alike, and is surprisingly well structured for an album supposedly thought out over a single studio jaunt. This is an impressive return for the band, and hopefully a sign they will be recording more in the future – (Chosen by Jamie)

Top 3 Tracks: Lonesome Street, New World Tower, Ghost Ship

Click here to read our review of The Magic Whip.

Artist: Bob Dylan     Album: Shadows In The Night

bob dylanIs there anything that Bobbie can’t do? Stripping back songs recorded by the late Frank Sinatra, Dylan manages to breath new life into the tracks on Shadows in the Night, re-recording them with a five-piece band instead of the huge production they were previously treated to. This brings the songs out of their shells, lays them bear, and therefore shows off Dylan’s mastery of music. Seductive and times, sweet and innocent at others, Shadows in the Night proves Dylan has so much more left in him – (Chosen by Jamie)

Top 3 tracks: That Luck Old Sun, Enchanted Evening, I’m Afraid of You

Click here to read our review of Shadows In The Night.

Artist: Brandon Flowers     Album: The Desired Effect

Brandon Flowers The Desired EffectWith its 80s tinged lovliness, The Desired Effect is a real step forward for Brandon as a solo artist. This time round he’s delved into his love of 80s music and makes no apologies for borrowing from his biggest influences. What is born from this is a classic pop record that’s a sign of the maturity and skill of an artist at the top of his game – (Chosen by Jamie)

Top 3 tracks: Can’t Deny My Love, The Way It’s Been, I Can Change

Click here to read our review of The Desired Effect.

Artist: Carl Barat & The Jackals    Album: Let It Reign

carl barat let it reignCarl’s really thrown himself into this record. With influences spanning his entire career, the record takes you on a journey of love, loss, friendship and a pining for what wasn’t to be and what’s to come. With a raucous tone at times, and an innocent feel at others, Barat and The Jackals manage to create a record that can stand up against anything that he’s done before – even with his brother in arms Pete Doherty and The Libertines – (Chosen by Jamie)

Top 3 tracks: Glory Days, Victory Gin, Let It Reign

Click here to read our review of Let It Reign.

Artist: Ciara    Album: Jackie

Ciara JackieJackie sees Ciara showing her increased confidence after the end of her engagement and the birth of her son. She’s showing more attitude than ever, and the album’s perfect mix of R&B and Pop and constant infectious hooks keeps it interesting even beyond the first listen. Ciara’s sounding better than ever – (Chosen by Michael)

Top 3 tracks: Stuck On You, I Bet, One Woman Army

Click here to read our review of Jackie.

Artist: Conchita Wurst    Album: Conchita

Conchita Wurst ConchitaConchita is a brilliant debut by Austrian singer and 2014 Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst. Filled with drama, Conchita’s strong vocals an abundance of uplifting messages, the album is a celebration of power and raw emotion. Not only is this a great pop debut, but also the album intermingles with different genres including electro, ethno sound, jazz and ballads. Within this album Conchita is strong, powerfull and flawless – (Chosen by Andja)

Top 3 Tracks: You Are Unstoppable, Colours of Your Love, Pure

Click here to read our review of Conchita.

Artist: Courtney Barnett    Album: Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit

Courtney Barnett Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just SitShould Courtney Barnett be made Australian of the year? Yep. Is Sometimes I Just Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit one of the albums of the year? You betcha. Is Pedestrian At Best one of the year’s finest singles? Certainly. Are people going to be talking about this album for decades to come? Without a doubt – (Chosen by Joseph)

Top 3 tracks: Elevator Operator, Depreston, Small Poppies

Click here to read our review of Is Sometimes I Just Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit.

Artist: Curtis Harding    Album: Soul Power

Curtis Harding Soul PowerCurtis Harding Soul PowerCurtis Harding Soul PowerThe son of a peripatetic, gospel-singing evangelist, Curtis Harding was raised on the sweaty, gritty sounds of soul, blues and R&B, permeated with heavenly church harmonies. Also immersed in the garage rock scene of Atlanta, Harding’s versatile musical aesthetic, christened “slop ‘n’ soul”, is a magnetic marriage of the emotional intensity of R&B soul, with the bluster of garage and punk rock. His debut is adventurous and vivacious, sensual and stirring, whose eclecticism is invigorating – (Chosen by Meggie)

Top 3 tracks: Next Time, Beautiful People, Castaway

Click here to read our review of Soul Power.

Artist: Daniel Johns    Album: Talk

Daniel Johns - TalkGone is the Daniel Johns we first made acquaintances with, and here is the new and improved Daniel Johns who blew our minds away with a stunning electropop debut solo album, Talk. You can listen to it the whole way through and not think about rock outfit Silverchair once, Johns has truly evolved and stepped out into his own divide. For an artist to step away from his stigma as the frontman of a rock group to an established solo experimental pop artist is a demonstration of pure talent, which Johns has always had – (Chosen by Marcus)

Top 3 tracks: We Are Golden, Preach, Going On 16

Click here to read our review of Talk.

Artist: Danny & The Champions of the World    Album: What Kind Of Love

Danny and the Champions of the World March 2015   not worked onWhat was impressive about What Kind Of Love was the way that Danny Wilson wrote the album from one concept, winding up with versatile lyrics and all with a delivery so heartfelt. The album is an absolute delight to listen to whether in rain or shine, Winter or Summer…you get the idea – (Chosen by Marcus)

Top 3 tracks: Clear Water, Precious Cargo, Just Thinking About My Friend

Click here to read our review of What Kind Of Love.

Artist: Diana Krall    Album: Wallflower

Diana Krall - WallflowerDiana Krall releases her covers albums in a very interesting way indeed, often spanning over two or three decades; with Wallflower she covered from the mid 1960’s-80’s, and boy did she do them justice. Diana sang the collection of songs as if she had written them herself, but what also made the album sparkle was its glistening instrumentation – (Chosen by Marcus)

Top 3 tracks: Superstar, I Can’t Tell You Why, Don’t Dream It’s Over

Click here to read our review of Wallflower.

Artist: Du Blonde    Album: Welcome To Black Milk

Du Blonde - Welcome Back To MilkBy abandoning a moniker and a sound and adopting entirely new ones, Beth Jeans Houghton has crafted her most personal release yet. Welcome Back To Milk is a brilliant, emotive listen: one that feels fresh and energetic, and yet complex and human too – (Chosen by Joseph)

Top 3 tracks: Black Flag, Raw Honey, If You’re Legal

Click here to read our review of Welcome Back To Milk.

Artist: Eaves    Album: What Green Feels Like

Eaves What Green Feels LikeLeeds-based singer-songwriter Joseph Lyons, aka Eaves, reveals a haunting perceptiveness on his debut studio album What Green Feels Like. The delicate, heartfelt affair explores the musician’s upbringing, dreams and aspirations, as well as bravely tackling the themes of death, desire, small-town experiences and the struggles of the working class. He offers sophisticated metaphors, striking poetry, and stunning melodies; he has mastered the art of simple orchestration and arrangements, and unveils voice that is at once pure, unpretentious and wisdom-wearied – (Chosen by Meggie)

Top 3 tracks: Pylons, Timber, As Old As The Grave

Click here to read our review of What Green Feels Like.

Artist: Elle King    Album: Love Stuff

Elle King - Love StuffElle King has a beautiful voice, and a knack for writing catchy country/pop/rock/soul tracks that stick in your mind (Ex’s & Oh’s stays in your head for weeks!). Love Stuff is the full package really with its edginess, attitude, openness and personal approach. You feel like a part of King’s world when listening to this album, and that’s a connection all artists should be proud of establishing with their audience and their fans. Elle’s career will be a fruitful one – (Chosen by Marcus)

Top 3 tracks: Ex’s & Oh’s, Last Damn Night, Song of Sorrow

Click here to read our review of Love Stuff.

Artist: Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell    Album: The Traveling Kind

Emmylou Harris Rodney Crowell- The Travelling KindEmmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell are both country juggernauts who have collaborated several times in the past and already got a Grammy-award-winning album under their belt in 2013’s Old Yellow Moon. Despite this shared history and the album’s quick turnaround, The Travelling Kind is just proof that lightning can strike twice. Bring It on Home to Memphis is barn-busting, bar-filling fun thanks to Harris’ Southern sass and Crowell’s devil-may-care attitude. Yet, the tender moments are just as captivating like the nostalgic tribute to gypsy life that is the title track and the quaint, delicate You Can’t Say We Didn’t Try.

Listeners can hear a distinct journey from separation to reconciliation from start to finish. Not to mention, the vocal and band performances are outstanding. Another Grammy nomination should be on its way – (Chosen by Andrew)

Top 3 tracks: Bring It On Home To Memphis, The Travelling Kind, You Can’t Say We Didn’t Try

Click here to read our review of The Travelling Kind.

Artist: Florence and the Machine    Album: How Big How Blue How Beautiful

Florence and the Machine How Big How Blue How BeautifulBy switching gears and reinventing her sound, Florence + the Machine has made something that transcends what came before. The 70s style rock sound of How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful is different enough to create a fresh album, but suitable enough to carry Florence’s mannerisms, while still feeling like a natural progression. How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful is a gem – (Chosen by Michael)

Top 3 tracks: Delilah, St Jude, Mother

Click here to read our review of How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful.

Artist: Ghost Culture    Album: Ghost Culture

ghost culture - ghost cultureNothing beats a good old fashioned surprise. While we were busy waiting for more established artists to drop the first few great albums of 2015, James Greenwood snuck in and released a masterpiece – a layered, tonally complex electronic work of art that is as danceable as it is intelligent. With his beautiful voice and impeccable grasp of melodies, Greenwood has already established himself as a powerhouse in the electronica genre – (Chosen by Joseph)

Top 3 tracks: Arms, Glacier, Guidecca

Click here to read our review of Ghost Culture.

Artist: Girlpool    Album: Before The World Was Big

Girlpool - Before The World Was BigWith the sparsest instrumentation imaginable, Girlpool use music to explore the emotions most other bands wouldn’t dare touch. Walking a fine line between innocence and experience, they have translated the personal into the profound, turning out one of the year’s finest records in the process. Girlpool are more than a band to watch: they are legends in the making – (Chosen by Joseph)

Top 3 tracks: Ideal World, Before the World Was Big, I Like That You Can See It

Click here to read our review of Before The World Was Big.

Artist: Halestorm    Album: Into The Wildlife

Halestorm - Into The Wild LifeHalestorm’s third album set a new benchmark for the group, what was really admirable was everything put in place to make its conception and production a reality; the group’s approach to write whatever came naturally and trusting in the capabilities of a different producer were two key factors as to what made Into The Wild Life an electrifying listen – (Chosen by Marcus)

Top 3 tracks: Scream, I Am The Fire, What Sober Couldn’t Say

Click here to read our review of Into The Wild Life.

Artist: Hiatus Kaiyote    Album: Choose Your Weapon

Haitus Kaiyote Choose Your WeaponHiatus Kaiyote are an intensely intelligent group of musicians. Their understanding of music as both a practical and theoretical skill, and an expressive art form, however, allows them to create intellectual music that remains creatively and emotionally impassioned. Their self-branded style of “polyrhythmic gangsta shit” continues to reign supreme in their sophomore album, seamlessly blending the harmonic complexities of modern jazz with African and Latin rhythmic intricacies, all stitched together by Nai Palm’s distinctive voice. Choose Your Weapon is a 70-minute journey that feels both endless and fleeting – (Chosen by Meggie)

Top 3 tracks: Shaolin Monk Motherfunk, Breathing Underwater, Borderline With My Atoms

Click here to read our review of Choose Your Weapon.

Artist: Holly Herndon    Album: Platform

Holly Herndon - PlatformHolly Herndon’s Platform certainly won’t be for everyone. It’s a difficult record in the best sense of the word, both sonically and thematically. Rather than damning technology, Herndon actively embraces it, and the result is record that twists and turns like a swirling ribbon of data. It’ll take a while to grow on you, but when it finally sinks in its teeth, it will reveal itself to be a genuinely eye opening experience – (Chosen by Joseph)

Top 3 tracks: Lonely At The Top, Home, An Exit

Click here to read our review of Platform.

Artist: Hunter Hayes    Album: I Want Crazy

Hunter Hayes - I Want CrazyCountry singer Hunter Hayes is, like Taylor Swift, making the successful transition from country to pop. While there are still elements of his career beginnings present in I Want Crazy, it is definitely dominated by pop influences; while that may be true, the lyrics remain genuinely written and the melodies of each track get stuck in your head – (Chosen by Marcus)

Top 3 tracks: Invisible, Light Me Up, Wanted

Click here to read our review of I Want Crazy.

Artist: Jack Ladder and the Dreamlanders    Album: Playmates

Jack Ladder - PlaymatesA two part release ensures Jack Ladder and The Dreamlander’s Playmates is not only one of the albums of the year for 2014, but for 2015 too. Powerful, dark, and sexy the work represents an artist in total control, as each song blisters with beautiful instrumentation, powerful vocals, and astonishing lyrics – (Chosen by Joseph)

Top 3 tracks: Reputation Amputation, Come on Back This Way, Slow Boat To China

Click here to read our review of Playmates.

Artist: Jess and the Bandits    Album: Here We Go Again

Jess And The Bandits - Here We Go AgainHere We Go Again has everything a debut album needs to grab your attention, which is an array of versatile tracks that stay true to what the band/artist aimed for and enticed you from beginning to end. Jess And The Bandits have an undeniable chemistry and their love for country music will hopefully continue to wow audiences and increase their fanbase – (Chosen by Marcus)

Top 3 tracks: Ready Set, You Can’t Stop Me, My Name Is Trouble

Click here to read our review of Here We Go Again.

Artist: Jib Kidder    Album: Teaspoon To The Ocean

Jib Kidder Teaspoon To The OceanTeaspoon To The Ocean is an album that asks very little from the listener, and even when it does ask, it does so gently, without ever overstating its case. It is an understated record of gentle, twisting beauty, with lyrics that resist analysis and melodies that wash over their audience like the warmest of summer breezes – (Chosen by Joseph)

Top 3 tracks: Dozens, Melt Me, Appetites

Click here to read our review of Teaspoon To The Ocean.

Artist: Kacey Musgraves    Album: Pageant Material

Kacey Musgraves Pageant MaterialKacey Musgraves is renowned for the personality she puts into her songwriting, not to mention her lyrical and vocal charm. Continuing on from her Grammy award winning debut, Pageant Material continues Musgrave’s style with ease and stays true to her country roots. You will laugh at her comedy, relate to her on a personal level and your heart will be warmed at times – (Chosen by Marcus)

Top 3 tracks: Pageant Material, Biscuits, Cup Of Tea

Click here to read our review of Pageant Material.

Artist: Kendrick Lamar    Album: To Pimp A Butterfly

Kendrick To Pimp A ButterflyTo Pimp A Butterfly can be read as the sonic biography of a nation, enveloped by Lamar’s sharp poeticism, social awareness and deep political participation. The album ambitiously expands upon Lamar’s musical influences, abandoning many preferred hip-hop structures for elements of avant-garde jazz, soul, and funk. Lamar is fearless from second one; making it clear that To Pimp A Butterfly is anything but apolitical or unmoved. This near 80 minutes of ground-breaking, and overwhelming analysis, opinion and reality is accompanied by a flood of exciting and ambitious music; an amalgamation of influences that diverge drastically from mundane populism – (Chosen by Meggie)

Top 3 tracks: King Kunta, The Blacker The Berry, Mortal Man

Click here to read our review of To Pimp A Butterfly.

Artist: Kodaline    Album: Coming Up For Air

Kodaline - Coming Up For AirTo put it simply, Kodaline did something that really hit the spot with their sophomore effort Coming Up For Air; you found yourself hooked on every upbeat and catchy track, you were also captivated by the rawness of the deeper and more downbeat numbers too. What was also notable was that the album consists of sixteen tracks, which would usually be perceived as being too many on a standard album, but surprisingly doesn’t put a downer on the quality of the music – (Chosen by Marcus)

Top 3 tracks: Honest, Human Again, Lost

Click here to read our review of Coming Up For Air.

Artist: Laura Welsh    Album: Soft Control

Laura Welsh - Soft ControlThe thing about Laura Welsh’s Soft Control is that it was produced wonderfully, written beautifully and delivered stunningly; each track has their own part to play, and even though they sounded different they still felt like they belonged and earned their place on the album. There are moments on this album which really allow you to connect with Laura Welsh not only as a singer, but as an artist, sometimes in the modern world of pop music this is hard to achieve –  (Chosen by Marcus)

Top 3 tracks: Soft Control, Ghosts, God Keeps, Hollow Drum

Click here to read our review of Soft Control.

Artist: Leikeli47    Album: Leikeli47

Leikeli47 Album ArtworkLeikeli47 is an enigma and a phenomenon and her most recent project is testament to her faceless magnetism. In an industry that unashamedly sexualises the female form and experience, the Brooklyn-based rapper tenaciously remains incognito, indefinable and intangible. While challenging the appearance-based expectations of the music industry the rapper also delivers a counterattack against a society that values artistic expression while simultaneously devaluing its young practitioners. Like the artist, this album is thumping and gritty, intensely socially- and self-aware, and assertively present while preserving a captivating anonymity – (Chosen by Meggie)

Top 3 tracks: Drums II Clean, Heard Em Say, Kit Kat

Click here to read our review of Leikeli47.

Artist: Mackintosh Braun    Album: Arcadia

Mackintosh Braun - ArcadiaMackintosh Braun have a clear vision and keen ears when it comes to making their music, Arcadia is perhaps the pinnacle of their career so far. Each song seemed to belong one hundred percent and they differed from each other greatly, giving the album some diversity and anticipation for listeners as to where the sound was going to wind up next – (Chosen by Marcus)

Top 3 tracks: The City Below, In Reverse, Holding Pattern

Click here to read our review of Arcadia.

Artist: Madeon    Album: Adventure

Madeon AdventureMadeon’s debut album has been a long time coming, Adventure was definitely worth the wait. The shift to a heavier pop sound paid off, and whether he’s using a guest vocalist or singing for himself everything about the album just falls into place and works effortlessly. With the right amount of his signature synths on top and just enough house influence to keep it interesting, the album is perfect for both new and old fans alike. Adventure is the kind of electronic album we’ve needed for a long time now – (Chosen by Michael)

Top 3 tracks: OK, Nonsense, Home

Click here to read our review of Adventure.

Artist: Marika Hackman    Album: We Slept At Last

Marika Hackman - We Slept At LastBitter, beautiful and uplifting all at the same time, Marika Hackman’s debut album We Slept At Last proves the artist’s unmatched skills when it comes to mixing emotional tones. As complicated as it is touching on an innately intimate level, We Slept At Last works in all the right ways – (Chosen by Joseph)

Top 3 tracks: Drown, Let Me In, Ophelia

Click here to read our review of We Slept At Last.

Artist: Marina & The Diamonds    Album: Froot

Marina and the Diamonds - FROOTAt times it is hard for an artist to try something new or to build up on an existing sound they have already been known for, but what Marina And The Diamonds achieved with Froot was spectacular. Marina continued to write and record catchy, fun and quirky pop/electronic tracks while still managing to pen some decent lyrics; now this is an artist who understands the importance of gradual evolution, the changes are there but in small doses. It makes you wonder what the next release to follow Froot will be like – (Chosen by Marcus)

Top 3 tracks: Happy, Froot, Solitaire

Click here to read our review of Froot.

Artist: Mark Knopfler    Album: Tracker

Mark Knopfler-TrackerFormer Dire Straits leader Mark Knopfler goes as intimate as possible in his eight studio album. Surprisingly, the guitar isn’t the main protagonist, the instrumentation is rich and there’s room for Knopfler’s warm and nostalgic voice, which retraces youthful memories and pays homage to places (Sicily) and writers (Basil, Beryl) – (Chosen by Allesandra)

Top 3 tracks: Laughs and Jokes and Drinks and Smokes, Lights of Taormina, Beryl

Click here to read our review of Tracker.

Artist: Martin Gore    Album: Martin Gore

Martin Gore Martin GoreDepeche Mode’s own Martin Gore always had a dream to conceptualise and release an instrumental electronic album since he first delved into the genre, and he finally made it happen with MG. What was great about this album is that every track had a purpose, not one sound was out of place or irrelevant; he wanted to create music where words aren’t needed to express emotions, and he succeeded – (Chosen by Marcus)

Top 3 tracks: Brink, Stealth, Crowly

Click here to read our review of Martin Gore.

Artist: Mika    Album: No Place In Heaven

Mika No Place In HeavenNo Place In Heaven is a refreshing pop album that showcases Mika’s shift from campy style to more mature pop. The great success of this album is the candid quality of the stories told, as well as the variety in musical composition. Lyrically, this album is propelled to great heights as the lyrics are complex, honest and clever. This album is filled with a lot of heart and simply put – pop genius – (Chosen by Andja)

Top 3 Tracks: All She Wants, No Place In Heaven, Hurts 

Click here to read our review of No Place In Heaven.

Artist: Muse    Album: Drones

Muse - DronesMuse approached making Drones a little different than their previous two records by going back to basics and focusing on one concept. The trio dropped the theatrics and focused more on incorporating instruments back into their songs so they can practically perform the entire album live, injecting a decent rock record back into their once heavy rock-laden career. With a relatable concept and delivery that only Muse could muster, Drones is a must have for 2015 – (Chosen by Marcus)

Top 3 tracks: Dead Inside, Psycho, The Handler

Click here to read our review of Drones.

Artist: Olivia Chaney    Album: The Longest River

olivia chaney the longest riverThe Longest River is a mesmerising folk album that breathes new life into the genre (there is not a hint of a incessant banjo to be found). Utilising styles of medieval music, traditional folk and even contemporary ballads, the album is a raw collection of enchanting tracks that explore complexity in lyrics, melody and accompaniment. The Longest River is only for those who dare tread in the depths of musical meaning, and can appreciate the storytelling and often unique structure of her songs – (Chosen by Andja)

Top 3 Tracks: False Bride, Swimming In The Longest River, There’s Not A Swain

Click here to read our review of The Longest River.

Artist: Panda Bear    Album: Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper

Panda Bear - Panda Bear Meets the Grim ReaperNoah Lennox already boasted an enviable body of art before he dropped his best album to date: Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper. Although the album’s style might not be a complete 180 degree turn for the artist, he has pushed his textured, dense songs into a realm of true, unashamed beauty. His six minute magnum opus, Tropic of Cancer is an awe-inspiring track, and easily one of the best songs of the year – (Chosen by Joseph)

Top 3 tracks: Tropic of Cancer, Sequential Circuits, Acid Wash

Click here to read our review of Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper.

Artist: Ricky Martin    Album: A Quién Quiera Escuchar

Ricky Martin A Quien Quiera EscucharRicky Martin’s A Quien Quiera Escuchar was captivating, but it may have been completely different if it had been recorded in English; having Google Translate handy made the listening experience all the more fun, it gave you a general gist of what the superstar was singing about. You just felt every emotion Martin was expressing in each lyric, he really know how to use that voice of his to soothe you and touch your soul –  (Chosen by Marcus)

Top 3 tracks: Adiós, Disparo al Corazon, Isla Bella

Click here to read our review of A Quien Quiera Escuchar.

Artist: Ryan Adams    Album: Ten Songs Live At Carnegie Hall

Ryan Adams - Ten Songs From Live at Carneige HallMuch more than just a lazily constructed cash grab, Ten Songs From Live At Carneige Hall sees Ryan Adams show off his incredible strengths as a singer/songwriter. As always, his honesty and emotive lyric impresses, but from the record emerges a portrait of the man himself: an intelligent, funny and deeply humble human being named Ryan Adams – (Chosen by Joseph)

Top 3 tracks: Gimme Something Good, Oh My Sweet Carolina, Kim

Click here to read our review of Ten Songs From Live At Carneige Hall.

Artist: Say Lou Lou    Album: Lucid Dreaming

Say Lou Lou Lucid DreamingSay Lou Lou first created ripples in the electro-pop scene a few years ago when their first few singles gained them widespread attention from some of the biggest blogs and publications around the globe. It took the pair, sisters Elektra and Miranda Kerr, quite a while to follow up with a full length record but when they did fans were offered something truly exceptional with Lucid Dreaming providing the pair with a sturdy debut of 11 dream pop tracks including singles Everything We Touch and Games For Girls. The record is one of the best releases of the past decade in the genre of electronic pop music and should definitely be included in the collection of anyone who considers themselves as a purveyor of finely crafted music – (Editor’s pick)

Top 3 tracks: Everything We Touch, Beloved, Wild as the Wind

Click here to read our review of Lucid Dreaming.

Artist: Surfer Blood    Album: 10,000 Palms

Surfer Blood - 1000 Palms1000 Palms walks a fine line between heartbreaking honesty and joyous, emphatic wonder. It’s an album that ultimately and utterly has one rejoicing, but it’s not a one dimensional piece either: there is a subcurrent of darkness running through the piece that keeps it firmly grounded. It’s an incredible work, and quite easily the band’s best – (Chosen by Joseph)

Top 3 tracks: Dorian, Into Catacombs, I Can’t Explain

Click here to read our review of 1000 Palms.

Artist: Texas    Album: Texas 25

Texas - Texas 25Texas have been a staple in pop/rock for over a quarter of a century. With international singles including I Don’t Want A Lover, Summer Son, Say What You Want and Inner Smile, the Scottish outfit, fronted by talented lead singer Sharleen Spiteri, have long since proven their place in music’s history books. Their latest collection is a celebration of their 25 years as one of music’s best selling acts and to celebrate the milestone, the band have re-recorded some of their biggest singles with Motown makeover alongside 4 brand new numbers including the stunning lead single, Start A Family – (Editor’s pick)

Top 3 tracks: Inner Smile (Truth And Soul Session), When We Are Together (Truth And Soul Session), Start A Family

Click here to read our review of Texas 25.

Artist: The Cribs    Album: For All My Sisters

The Cribs for all my sistersFor All My Sisters is a culmination of everything that’s great about The Cribs. The energy, the rawness, the humour and the commentary on modern society is all here, and rolled into one lovely bundle of joy. They’ve learned something new from each album they’ve created and it feels as if it’s all been leading up to this mature, yet fantastically raucous record; the question is, how can they possibly top this? – (Chosen by Jamie)

Top 3 Tracks: An Ivory Hand, Different Angle, Finally Free

Click here to read our review of For All My Sisters.

Artist: The MakeMakes   Album: The MakeMakes

The Makemakes - The MakemakesThe MakeMakes may not have taken the crown for Austria in 2015’s Eurovision Song Contest, but that doesn’t mean that they couldn’t make a stellar album. The trio’s self-titled effort was really solid and you can’t help but enjoy every single track from beginning to end. Hopefully for The MakeMakes it only gets better from here, because their debut album is a winner – (Chosen by Marcus)

Top 3 tracks: I Am Yours, Heartache, Light In The Tunnel

Click here to read our review of The MakeMakes.

Artist: The Mountain Goats    Album: Beat The Champ

The Mountain Goats - Beat The ChampWith Beat The Champ, The Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle turns in not only one of the strongest records of the year, but also his career. By focussing on the world of wrestlers and wrestling, Darnielle provides entrance into an exciting, heartbreaking and ultimately unforgettable universe. It’s a powerful, deeply personal release that comes to feel more intimate than almost any other album I’ve heard in a long, long time – (Chosen by Joseph)

Top 3 tracks: The Legend of Chavo Guerro, Stabbed to Death Outside San Juan, Werewolf Gimmick

Click here to read our review of Beat The Champ.

Artist: The Wombats    Album: Glitterbug

The Wombats GlitterbugBy refining what made This Modern Glitch so good, The Wombats have managed to make their best album yet. Shifting between synth-heavy pop-rock and indie rock over the course of the album, there are a lot of sides to the guys shown here, and none of their previous charm is lost in the process. Glitterbug is The Wombats at their best – (Chosen by Michael)

Top 3 tracks: Be Your Shadow, This Is Not A Party, Your Body Is A Weapon

Click here to read our review of Glitterbug.

Artist: Tobias Jesso Jr.    Album: Goon

Tobias Jesso Jr - GoonIt’s a difficult feat indeed to make music that is sweet without being saccharine or reductive, but that is exactly what Tobias Jesso Jr. did with his triumphant debut, Goon. A tender, honest, mature work, it could easily become the soundtrack to your life. All you have to do is let it in – (Chosen by Joseph)

Top 3 tracks: Hollywood, How Could You Babe, Without You

Click here to read our review of Goon.

Artist: Tori Kelly    Album: Unbreakable Smile

Tori Kelly Unbreakable SmileTori has the voice of an angel, and it came in handy to make her album debut Unbreakable Smile as beautiful as it is. After being graced by her various acoustic sessions on her ever-growing YouTube channel, it was great to embrace an album packed with RnB vibes infused with pop and powerfully emotional vocals and lyrics. There is no denying Tori Kelly’s star potential, Unbreakable Smile demonstrates that with ease – (Chosen by Marcus)

Top 3 tracks: Nobody Love, I Was Made for Loving You, City Dove

Click here to read our review of Unbreakable Smile.

Artist: Two Gallants    Album: We Are Undone

Two Gallants - We Are UndoneTragic, tender, but never mopey or slight, We Are Undone is another great album from a band that have been consistently producing incredible material for years. Come prepared with a box of tissues: this one’s a heartbreaker – (Chosen by Joseph)

Top 3 tracks: There’s So Much I Don’t Know, My Man Go, Fools Like Us

Click here to read our review of We Are Undone.

Artist: Vision Fortune    Album: Country Music

Vision Fortune - Country MusicDifficult in the best sense of the word, Vision Fortune’s Country Music is an ambitious release that gets under your skin and stays there. Visceral, bleak, and yet utterly compelling, it is the soundtrack to the most grimly beautiful horror film never made – (Chosen by Joseph)

Top 3 tracks: Black Crawl II, Habitat, Broken Teeth

Click here to read our review of Country Music.

Artist: Waxahatchee    Album: Ivy Tripp

Waxahatchee - Ivy TrippAs Waxahatchee, Katie Crutchfield seems to be rapidly becoming one of her generation’s most impressive and powerful voices. Ivy Tripp sees the singer-songwriter at her intelligent, heartfelt best: it’s a record that positively beams with a considered, down to earth hope. It’s a feel-good album in the best sense of the word, and a powerful summation of everything the young artist stands for – (Chosen by Joseph)

Top 3 tracks: Bonfire, The Dirt, Under A Rock

Click here to read our review of Ivy Tripp.

Also check out some of the compilations, reissues and soundtracks which were given 5 stars this year:

Roxette The Rox Box
Roxette – The RoxBox: A Collection of Roxette’s Greatest Songs
Check our our review here

Tori Amos - Under The Pink

Tori Amos – Under The Pink (Deluxe Edition)
Check our our review here

Savage Garden The Singles

Savage Garden – Savage Garden: The Singles
Check our our review here

Empire - Original Soundtrack from Season One

Empire – Original Soundtrack From Season 1
Check our our review here

Universal Pictures Fifty Shades Of Grey Soundtrack

Fifty Shades of Grey – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Check our our review here