WPGU’S Top Albums of 2015: #31-50

50. Blur – The Magic Whip

The Magic Whip marks the official comeback of a band whose last release was 12 years ago, and since then has brought back the original lineup of 13 (1999). It is obvious that the intrigue of this album lies in its unpredictability and snappy, fully-charged riffs. The release not only restored our hope in the Brit-pop revival, but also gave us memorable tracks like “Go Out,” which remind us that Blur has still so much to offer after many years . -Brenda Herrera

49. EL VY – Return to the Moon

Where The National verges on melodramatic, EL VY (side-project of the National’s frontman Matt Berninger) is risky and full of quirky whimsy. “No Time to Crank the Sun” sounds like the music aliens would listen to at a party with a talented DJ. “Silent Ivy Hotel” is the every day version of “The Monster Mash.” And if you think these things are weaknesses or complaints, you have to give the album a try to experience why they’re not faults at all, but instead, welcome experimentations. -Emma Goodwin

48. The Neighbourhood – Wiped Out!

The popular alternative band hit an artistic high with this year’s album. When they debuted with their album I Love You, acoustic guitarists worldwide responded with plenty of covers of “Sweater Weather.” Even with the appeal of simple homegrown songwriting, they also achieved a sweet swirling soundscape you could get lost in. The sonic atmosphere is the same but the Neighbourhood has chosen to write something more than pop music, as is evident in the opening track “A Moment of Silence,” which is exactly what it sounds like. This probably scared some people, but most were relieved when they heard the catchy riff in “Prey” and the singability of “R.I.P. 2 My Youth.” -Mateo Muro

47. Coldplay – A Head Full of Dreams

Being a fan of Coldplay for me is like being a Sox fan. It’s just the way I was raised; it was a staple in my home, but I’m happy about it and I couldn’t hate it even if I tried. However, in this album more than ever, Coldplay has proved to everyone that they simply don’t deserve the hate. Their album is a complex kaleidoscope (no pun intended) of sounds and experiments, from the boisterously celebratory “A Head Full of Dreams,” to the inspiring, psychedelic-Beatlesesque closer “Up&Up.” Say what you want about Coldplay (it should be mostly positive), but nobody can ever say they never tried to do new things and evolve, which AHFOD epitomizes. -Emma Goodwin


46. Telekinesis – Ad Infinitum

I was pretty surprised by how little attention Michael Lerner’s most recent Telekinesis album received when it was released earlier this year. Sure, the album lacks the energy of Lerner’s debut, and it is less of a stab to the gut than 12 Desperate Straight Lines, but Ad Infinitum presents a focus and diversity in its sonic richness that Dormarion failed to deliver before it. This album proves that Lerner is still capable of writing instantly charming tunes like “Sylvia,” even as he mellows some with age. -Claire Schroeder

45. Neon Indian – VEGA INTL. Night School

Electronic pop artist Neon Indian has come back from the depths of his European ’90s club with this dance-worthy album that makes you think of neon signs and light-up bars. With the amount of reverb Neon Indian uses on these tracks, you feel like you’ve been brought to an underground club that only you can get into. One track, “Annie,” has been played many-a-time on WPGU’s show The Emmageddon so it would be foolish not to include it in this year’s list. -Emma Kelley

44. Panama Wedding – Into Focus

Normally we don’t include EPs on our year-end lists, as they are generally regarded as being more closely related to singles than to albums. However, Panama Wedding’s EP somehow snuck its way onto our final list this year, and I can’t even pretend to be all that mad about it. There are cheesy and/or sugary moments to be found on Into Focus, to be sure, but the layered production almost always redeems the less-impressive lyrics. At times, these songs sound like they were pulled straight from a Genesis session. So if that’s your thing, check this release out. -Claire Schroeder

43. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Multi-Love

Perhaps the most unexpected part of Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s third album release is the direction of sound. The title track off the album is as indie-pop as it gets, but somehow it still manages to seduce you into embracing every second of its vibrant and engaging synth sound. Although Nielson has almost completely ditched his guitar riffs for a burst of synth beats, there is still something quite special about his output. -Brenda Herrera

42. Youth Lagoon – Savage Hills Ballroom

Melodically eerie, the walk through Savage Hills Ballroom is a continuous yearning for purpose and sense of individuality. As put in the words of the mind behind the thoughts, Trevor Powers exudes an upfront vibe of reality and a place in the world where desire and actuality don’t always go hand in hand, but can be fought for. With graceful instrumentals, soft pianos, and its electronic sounds the album rides through different levels of emotion, creating a smoky and curious 36 minutes for its listeners. -Kayla Martinez

41. My Morning Jacket- The Waterfall

Behind the release of these Southern rockers’ seventh album, you will find a collection of songs that are quite beautiful and thoughtfully contrived. Singles off the album like “Big Decisions” possess qualities of an uplifting break-up song and a single like “Spring (Among the Living)” catches My Morning Jacket at its best. -Brenda Herrera

40. The Decemberists – What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World

Plenty of bands become very self-aware by the time they have been around for more than a decade, and usually address that in interviews before the release of their seventh album. Some bands even have songs in said albums about what it feels like to be such a band, but very few have done so as explicitly as the Decemberists did in their opening track “The Singer Adresses His Audience.” The whole song is written in first and second person, talking about the changes both the band and most listeners have gone through. This love song to the audience is just one songwriting gem that can be found on the album. -Mateo Muro

39. Martin Courtney – Many Moons

Martin Courtney — lead singer for the excellent Real Estate — released his first solo album this year, and while it doesn’t stand apart from Real Estate in any tangible ways, the album holds onto the purity and excellence that makes Real Estate so enjoyable to listen to in the first place. And even if it doesn’t sound unique to the band, more music from Courtney is only welcome. Every song begins almost as a Bob Dylan homage that gets sweeter with the crisp and smooth vocals Courtney offers. -Emma Goodwin

38. Florence + The Machine- How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

As we all know, Florence + The Machine will always have soft spot for us thanks to that tremendous 2010 hit of hers. With that being said, the release of the highly anticipated third album was once again met with the similar unrealistic expectations to replicate her debut success. When taking a closer listen to her latest release you will find that, despite some of critics’ mixed reviews, Florence has managed to deliver and put forth a solid album that establishes her as a true artist. Tracks like “What Kind of Man” best define the emotional place the album comes from, which is a woman tied between her lovers and inner demons. Florence freely orchestrates different instrumentation, which best reflect the rawness of emotion. The dog days of comparison to her earlier works may never quite be over for this artist, but there is no doubt her music has grown into something much more profound. -Brenda Herrera

37. Bill Ryder-Jones – West Kirby County Primary

Bill Ryder-Jones is no musical rookie. West Kirby County Primary is already his third solo album, and those came after he spent years working on projects with The Coral. All that said, this album has a youthful vibe. At times, Ryder-Jones sounds unashamedly tired, crackling out melancholic lyrics. At other times, he hints at a restless and creative energy within himself, which is trying to push its way out past the haze of smoky boyishness. This album has received a whole lot of critical praise since its release, despite its rather quiet reception in the music marketplace. I have a feeling that those who know about it will continue to turn back to WKCP for years to come. -Claire Schroeder

36. Kamasi Washington – The Epic

Any casual reader of ours should know that I have a serious soft spot for saxophones. In addition to working with a bunch of cool people in recent months, from Raphael Saadiq to Kendrick Lamar, Kamasi Washington also released his soulful and smooth solo debut this year. His album is enough to make any jazz fan’s mouth water, with melodies that somehow strike perfect and spontaneous-feeling chords at the same time. Listening to The Epic, it’s rather easy to imagine Washington inhaling and then literally exhaling beautiful music as a natural respiratory function. -Claire Schroeder

35. BORNS – Dopamine

If you haven’t heard “10,000 Emerald Pools,” I’m sorry but something is wrong with you. BORNS’ eccentric voice, combined with synth-pop vibes only prove that this is just the beginning for BORNS. -Julia Antonson

34. Skylar Spence – Prom King

Skylar Spence AKA Saint Pepsi has released his first album after the Fiona Coyne/Fall Harder EP was received so well last year. Everything I loved about Skylar Spence from his previously released tracks just oozes from this year’s album, Prom King. The electronic synths plus disco and Motown beats get you pumped up for anything, perhaps like you’re prom king. -Emma Kelley

33. Purity Ring – Another Eternity

In just a short amount of time since their debut album Purity Ring has already invented their own genre that mixes elements of electronic music with an underlining pop and rock influences. In their sophomore release, they maintain the same enchanting and vibrant energy of their already-established sound. Some of the most deeply satisfying moments happen in songs like “bodyache” and “begin again,” with the alluring vocals of frontwoman Megan James, who can possibly show pop artists a thing or two. Although it may not be as strong as their debut, this album definitely has a number of songs that hit it straight out of the ballpark, especially in terms of lyrical content. -Brenda Herrera

32. Deafheaven – New Bermuda

Spotify awarded heavy metal as the genre with the most loyal fans. I don’t know what numbers they used to come to this conclusion, but I think it’s not too hard to see this as true. The heavy metal community is full of purists who like to sneer at the precious four-chord songs that most people listen to. Contrapositively, most people who say they listen to all sorts of music like to add that they think heavy metal is too aggressive for their tastes. While Deafheaven’s New Bermuda is not lacking in intensity anywhere, it is definitely noteworthy for taking conscious steps towards crossover appeal. The melodies are followable and there are hints of shoegaze and other rock subgenres. I only wish they would offer more variety in the arrangements so I could really appreciate the timbre of each instrument more. -Mateo Muro

31. Will Butler – Policy

As Policy is Will Butler’s debut solo album, it’s hard to not label him as the guy from Arcade Fire. However, it’s his whimsical lyrics and early-80s indie vibes that set Will Butler out from the rest. -Julia Antonson


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