As my best albums list is the “Best Albums I Listened To” as opposed to just the “Best Albums,” it is more pointedly subjective than my other best of lists. I usually do not listen to enough albums each year to really be able to definitively say which are the absolute greatest. Thus, instead of focusing on objective critical analysis, I am concentrating more on my own personal experiences with each of these entries.


1. Tame Impala, Currents – The Australian psychedelic rockers’ latest gets my top spot because it is one of those vaunted albums in which I wanted to listen to every track over and over, both as a whole and individually. Tame Impala’s previous release, Lonerism, is one of my favorite albums of all-time; I am counting my blessings that its follow-up is now in the same category.

2. Miguel, Wildheart – I love a good song about sex, but so much bedroom R&B is so blunt that it actually kills the mood. The ever-thoughtful Miguel, however, makes his tunes so pleasurable, knowing that satisfaction goes both ways and providing the lush soundscapes to make everybody feel electric. Plus, his social consciousness is intrinsic to his sense of fun.

3. Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly – When Kendrick dropped his third album, the critical praise was so absolute that it was a little overwhelming. I was not yet a big fan, but I was getting the sense that I soon would be. Oh yeah, the word on this one was more signal than noise.

4. Carly Rae Jepsen, E-MO-TION – I liked “Call Me Maybe” perfectly fine, but I didn’t see it as the be-all, end-all of pop music that so many did. But I do kind of like how Carly’s near-one-hit wonder status makes the relative commercial disappointment that is E-MO-TION feel sort of like an alternative album even when it is a pure pop confection.

5. Sleater-Kinney, No Cities to Love – I am a fan of Carrie Brownstein thanks to Portlandia, so I was eagerly awaiting the latest Sleater-Kinney release, even though I don’t think I had ever heard any of their earlier music. I am off and on when it comes to punk, but I am on for S-K because they manage to be friendly at the same time that they bring the attitude.

6. Major Lazer, Peace Is the Mission – 2015 was THE year of Major Lazer. “Lean On” was their biggest and best hit yet, the Animation Domination cartoon was a trippy delight, and Peace Is the Mission was the fullest realization of a vision in which dance music saves the world.

7. The Arcs, Yours, Dreamily, – I am pretty sure I have only listened to this album once, but that is enough to know that Dan Auerbach has done it again.

8. The Weeknd, Beauty Behind the Madness – This album strikes me as a collection of singles more than an album proper, but those singles are weird and unlikely chart toppers. So there is a consistent approach binding these units that otherwise seem haphazardly assembled.

9. Alabama Shakes, Sound & Color – David O. Russell keeps this band in my mind. So do their extended instrumental breaks, especially that smoking hot call-and-response number in “Gimme All Your Love.”

10. Disclosure, Caracal – I have this feeling that this album title and cover are going to help me out on Jeopardy! one day.