2015 was an unexpectedly great year in music. Here’s what I found myself most drawn to.
Blurryface by Twenty One Pilots
Since their breakout hit album Vessel, I have been drawn to Twenty One Pilots and their unique blend of indie pop hip-hop. Eager for their follow-up, I was not disappointed. Blurryface is a darker, satirical, and more cohesive effort. Though erring more towards hip-hop this time around, TOP continues to blend various styles together, retaining an original sound all their own. With a nearly flawless Side A and an emotional finale, Blurryface will be an album I keep on repeat.
The Beach Boys Discography
With the release of the indie hit film Love & Mercy, I found myself diving into the Beach Boys music more than ever before (particularly Brian Wilson). Their early hits contain a naive charm to them, while Pet Sounds (now owning it on vinyl) remains a perfect masterpiece, the greatest album ever made. After seeing the film, I was particularly inspired to hear SMILE, finding moments of it to be ambitious and moving. Despite being rooted in mid-1960’s California surf culture, the Beach Boys remain a timeless entity.
One Wild Life: Soul by Gungor
It was a beautiful summer morning when I opened my e-mail only to find a new Gungor album unexpectedly inside! Needless to say I was quite surprised. The first in a 3-part project, OWLS is the Gungor album I always wanted. After creating the perfect worship album (Beautiful Things), the perfect concept album (Ghosts Upon The Earth), and an experimental album (I Am Mountain), I wanted something that took all those themes and placed them in the world we live in. With songs about nature, politics, family, romance, God, and everything in between, the album succeeds in balancing thought-provoking lyrics with melodic sounds. The last 4 songs in particular are some of the best Gungor has written yet. Though not my favorite work by them, Gungor continues to innovate and inspire, challenging my theology and worldview. Bring on Spirit and Body!
Drones by Muse
Ok, I’ll start with this: Drones is the biggest disappointment in years. And I do not say that lightly. What was once one of the most innovative modern bands, always pushing their boundaries with every new album (whether you liked it or not), has now been reduced to a sad parody of itself. Recycled lyrics, rehashed songwriting elements, this album brings nothing new to the table. (“Dead Inside” is another “Madness,” “Psycho” is another “Uprising” and “Mercy” is another “Starlight.”) I was worried when Muse announced a “back to basics” approach (a pet peeve of mind that I loathe). The good elements are few and far between. So why put this on here? Because it made me treasure Muse’s discography all the more. After the disappointing Drones, I went back and listened to every other Muse album, and if this (their 7th album) was the first dud, then this band is at least doing something right. The previous albums are some of the best Alternative Rock music ever created. And The Resistance still stands as one of my all time favorite albums.
Fire and Stone by The Gray Havens
This was a treat! A band that writes songs based off the works of Lewis and Tolkein? Count me in! These guys are natural storytellers with a keen ear for creativity. Like King’s Kaleidoscope the previous year, The Gray Havens is my pick for best new artist this year. I look forward to their future efforts and hopefully seeing them live. Check out their stunning debut album and EP.
Act IV. Rebirth In Reprise by The Dear Hunter
With every release, the Dear Hunter moves higher and higher on my list of favorite bands. After composing their own symphony, I hoped their next album would blend classical and rock elements more so than ever before. Not only does Act IV do this, not only is it done well, but it is the best I’ve ever heard it done. The album is part rock opera and part film score. Though part of a larger storyline, Act IV stands on its own as a work of art. The story of a young man escaping his past and trying to get a fresh start in a strange town may sound cliche, but rest assured it has never been told better. This album is quickly becoming one of my all time favorites. It’s just that good! If this is a taste of what’s to come with this band, than The Dear Hunter may very well become tied with Gungor as my favorite band.
What do you think of these albums/artists? What music did you listen to most in 2015? What are you looking forward to in 2016? Sound off in the comments below!