Andrew Stewart PoOP 2015

Best: 2015

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1. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell (Nominally a song cycle memorializing his mother’s death, this low-key masterpiece of emotion and restraint evokes the beauty and simplicity of the natural world, the importance of love and security, and the intertwining of fear and acceptance. Every whisper speaks volumes, and it all feels immediately familiar, and true.)

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2. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit (The broad acclaim is deserved. She’s all energy and chatter, spinning quirky epic poems set to appealing ballads and hard-edged rock songs, all with that sneering Aussie delivery that just sounds great.)

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3. Speedy Ortiz – Foil Deer (The best of this year’s ’90’s-influenced bands with female leads. The dense, alienated lyrics, crooked rhythms and shredding guitars mesh perfectly. A big wow.)

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4. Wilco – Star Wars (Their most engaging album since “A Ghost Is Born,” weird and edgy without an agenda, a straight-outta-left-field, take-that mike-drop. This just kept getting better, all year.)

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5. Deerhunter – Fading Frontier (Cox introduces a softer, dreamier, still-psychedelic sound in the service of meditations on mortality, ambition, and man’s best friend. Easy to love.)

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6. Sleater-Kinney – No Cities to Love (This economically epic, razor-sharp, lean and confident comeback requires an emotional investment but, like a big hearty meal, leaves you satisfied.)

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7. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Multi-Love (Full of weird psychedelic boogie-rock songs about connections and disconnection, and the various iterations of love, it’s both intimate and distant.)

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8. Lin-Manuel Miranda – Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording) (“Enter me!” A pure, unadulterated force of nature, this ruled the household for months, and just could not be denied.)

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9. Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment – Surf (Charismatic icon Chance the Rapper takes a back seat to the collective funk on this mélange of jazz, rap and R&B that’s full of heart and soul.)

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10. The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die – Harmlessness (Ambitious, symphonic emo-rock with a warm, lush, driving sound, epic and naïve in all the best ways.)

11. Destroyer – Poison Season (Voluptuous but not sordid, this one evokes Ferry, Fagen and Bowie.)
12. Wavves – V (Disposable but irresistible, this muddy garage-rock album is bursting with joy.)
13. Kurt Vile – b’lieve I’m goin down (More mesmerizing epic guitar jams, still effortless and louche.)
14. Titus Andronicus – The Most Lamentable Tragedy (Intense rock opera on madness and misery.)
15. All Dogs – Kicking Every Day (Dark thoughts well up, like black water through a storm drain.)

16. Diane Coffee – Everybody’s a Good Dog (An indefensible retro-soul-glam album that still works.)
17. Tobias Jesso Jr. – Goon (Simple-but-lovely piano ballads, with a heavy McCartney influence.)
18. Waxahatchee – Ivy Tripp (Better than her last, the sparer sound and simpler lyrics here work.)
19. Dick Diver – Melbourne, Florida (More than Twerps, this uptempo patchwork rock album soars.)
20. Fred Thomas – All Are Saved (Detroit-based rock veteran spits harsh truths with “Bad Blood.”)

21. Antarctigo Vespucci – Leavin’ La Vida Loca (Dirty rock songs, recorded for a nickel in Brooklyn.)
22. Jazmine Sullivan – Reality Show (Serious, sophisticated R&B album with deep messages – and beats.)
23. Young Buffalo – House (Debut from this MS-based band, like Band of Horses meets The Strokes.)
24. La Luz – Weirdo Shrine (Surfy sludge from these gnarly Seattleites with apocalyptic visions.)
25. JD McPherson – Let The Good Times Roll (‘50’s rock is fun – and some people just gotta have fun!)


Action Bronson – Mr. Wonderful (Ridiculous and ridiculously underrated dude-rap, out of Queens.)
American Wrestlers – American Wrestlers (Grainy slack-rock tries a bit too hard to get down.)
The Arcs – Yours, Dreamily, (Dan Auerbach can miss the mark, but he really can’t go wrong.)
Beirut – No No No (Though they killed it live at the Bear, the album is TOO straight – but still great.)
Blitzen Trapper – All Across This Land (This easy folk-rock recalls Gram Parsons and Elton John.)
Leon Bridges – Coming Home (More retro-soul, this debut is special, honest and real.)
Built To Spill – Untethered Moon (Although they consistently crush it, Martsch’s vocals have faded.)
Zachary Cale – Duskland (He can’t quite break out of the greys with another straight-up folk set.)
Calexico – Edge of The Sun (Meandering a bit too much, this Latin-tinged folk is still enjoyable.)
Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Style (The year’s biggest curiosity, undisciplined but oozing talent.)
Circles Around The Sun – Interludes for the Dead (Neal Casal’s instrumental jams for Jerry rule.)
Mikal Cronin – MCIII (A disappointment, too cluttered and a bit undefined, but worth a nod.)
Diet Cig – Over Easy EP (Local duo capture the zeitgeist with their sunny, sloppy breakup songs.)
Ducktails – St. Catherine (Real Estate offshoot serves up more contented, coercive synth-pop.)
Eternal Summers – Gold and Stone (More ‘90’s-ish dream-pop, full of amazing songs, a grower.)
Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear (Lush-sounding but failed experiment in ironic egotism.)
Colleen Green – I Want to Grow Up (Crunchy, delicious pop-punk gems, flags a bit toward the end.)
Albert Hammond Jr. – Momentary Masters (Strokes sideman is the best of his bandmates.)
Hop Along – Painted Shut (Solid but too harsh to love, this gets lost in the shuffle of similar bands.)
Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly (Powerful, dense, and tough to unpack. Enough’s been said.)
Lord Huron – Strange Trails (I liked this more than I care to admit; like a softer Fleet Foxes.)
The Mountain Goats – Beat The Champ (A passion play for los luchadores; Darnielle scores again.)
My Morning Jacket – The Waterfall (They’re still amazing, but not breaking any new ground here.)
Nick Diamonds – City of Quartz (Islands slugger settles for a base hit with this stoic, severe set.)
Oberhofer – Chronovision (Might have been higher, if I understood what the fuck they were doing.)
Panda Bear – Meets The Grim Reaper (Lennox goes Möbius, turns it all upside down and inside-out.)
Natalie Prass – Natalie Prass (Beautiful, moving. I wanted to fall in love, but my mind wandered.)
Promised Land Sound – For Use and Delight (Straight-up homage to CSNY, Jerry Garcia, The Band.)
Dawn Richard – Blackheart (Complicated space-age R&B diva has a chip on her shoulder.)
Royal Headache – High (Right now Ted Leo is listening to this, and crying into his microbrew.)
Son Little – Son Little (This modern-sounding R&B – soul – pop mash-up is easy, but pleases.)
Tallest Man on Earth – Dark Bird Is Home (Underrated fourth LP from this Swedish Dylan is super.)
together PANGEA – The Phage EP (Wiry, exhilarating punk-rock songs – but change the name!)
Toro y Moi – What For? (Upbeat and nerdy, this LA-beach-party Prince-worship thing goes far.)
Twerps – Range Anxiety (Goddamn, “I Don’t Mind” is as good as anything this year. Killer.)
Ultimate Painting – Green Lanes (If Malkmus covered American Beauty, you’d listen. Wouldn’t you?)
The Weeknd – Beauty Behind The Madness (Like an R&B homage to Bad, this is packed full of hits.)
Matthew E. White – Fresh Blood (For all the Spacebomb-love, this thing sounds too muddy and flat.)

Don’t Get It

Florence and the Machine – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
Grimes – Art Angels
Jamie xx – In Colour
Joanna Newsom – Divers
Viet Cong – Viet Cong

Andrew Stewart
Rhinebeck, NY