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The best and worst of 2015

by The Concordian December 1, 2015
The best and worst of 2015

As the year comes to a close, we reflect on its brightest and ickiest works

Marked by a bevy of surprise, impromptu releases and impressive ambition, 2015 was quite the year in music. Before we close the book on it, let’s commemorate the year’s best and worst offerings in style! Without further ado, here are the year’s best and worst as chosen by The Concordian:

 

BEST: Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly

Singular in its ambition and unparalleled in its introspection, To Pimp a Butterfly represents something of a landmark releases not only for hip-hop but for contemporary music as a whole. Rarely has a major-label release been so uncompromisingly conceptual and personal without sacrificing its musicality, of which it has in absolute spades; Thundercat, Sounwave and a host of reputable collaborators assure a vividly dynamic backdrop for Lamar’s confessional dialogue. To Pimp a Butterfly is an often uncomfortably honest, yet incredibly nuanced and timely statement on black celebrity within the confines of a uniformly white system and the guilt that comes with it. Though the statement itself isn’t unprecedented, Lamar’s layered approach grants it new life, solidifying his place as one of the genre’s greats.

 

WORST: Miley Cyrus – Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz

With collaborators like Ariel Pink and Sarah Barthel of Phantogram and The Flaming Lips as a backing band, it’s understandable why some were somewhat interested, even moderately excited for Miley Cyrus’ latest excursion into psychedelic edginess. At a whopping 23 tracks, spanning an egregious, interminable 92 minutes, Cyrus continuously reminds listeners that she loves pot, sex and the combination of the two while belting and muttering through what sounds like a toy phone. To make matters worse, the instrumentals are a muddy assortment of trap beats and faux-Beach House dream pop, the latter of which feature Cyrus’ incoherent dazed musings. While there is something to be said about a falling pop star releasing such a messy, unpleasant album, Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz is little more than an ugly, insufferable mess and a bad way to spend 90 minutes of your life.

 

MOST DISAPPOINTING: Deafheaven – New Bermuda

Released in 2013, Sunbather left California black metal outfit Deafheaven in a bit of a predicament; as revered as it was, audiences were decidedly split on it, some claiming it was too heavy to be pretty and vice versa. New Bermuda attempts to please the latter by playing within a more conventional black metal playing ground, stripping their sound of many of the shoegaze trappings that distinguished them. Just as Deafheaven reach a cathartic crescendo however, the band repeatedly throw away all momentum in favour of the tamest, most generic of post-rock interludes, neutering their songs of any tension. It’s a frustratingly incoherent misstep that rings increasingly maddening with every new song. There’s a good album somewhere in New Bermuda; hopefully Deafheaven will learn to string their riffs and sections better next time.

 

WEAKEST COMEBACK: Refused – Freedom

Best & Worst of 2015 -WEAKEST COMEBACK Refused - Freedom

Let’s face it, comeback albums are rarely satisfying, let alone good; for every remarkable one like D’Angelo’s Black Messiah, there’s about a dozen less noteworthy ones, like Guns N’ Roses’ Chinese Democracy. For some reason, Sweden’s Refused really thought Freedom, their first album since disbanding 17 years ago, would serve as a worthy successor to their landmark art punk manifesto The Shape of Punk to Come. A pale imitation of their former selves, sometimes even coming dangerously close to plagiarism, Freedom is mostly puzzling, combining the brand of post-hardcore they pioneered ages ago with pseudo-Aerosmith glam rock riffs. It’s a combination that’s rarely truly unlistenable but also rarely works at all. “Servants of Death,” the album’s penultimate track, combines the worst elements of Finger Eleven, Maroon 5 and punk rock to craft something that’s utterly confounding. Whatever statement the band was trying to make probably should’ve stayed under wraps.

 

Staff Lists:

Samuel Provost-Walker – Music Editor

  1. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
  2. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell
  3. Kamasi Washington – The Epic
  4. Joanna Newsom – Divers
  5. Mgła – Exercises in Futility

Worst: Hopsin – Pound Syndrome

Best Beach House album of 2015: Deerhunter – Fading Frontier

 

Cristina Sanza – Life Editor

  1. The Maine – American Candy
  2. Gabrielle Aplin – Light Up The Dark
  3. Kacey Musgraves – Pageant Material
  4. The Sheepdogs – Future Nostalgia
  5. Tori Kelly – Unbreakable Smile

Worst: Selena Gomez – Revival

Most ironic covers album: Ryan Adams – 1989

 

Calvin Cashen – Staff Writer

  1. Viet Cong – Viet Cong
  2. Tame Impala – Currents
  3. Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear
  4. Beach House – Depression Cherry
  5. Waxahatchee – Ivy Tripp

Worst: Miley Cyrus – Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz

Biggest Disappointment: Deafheaven – New Bermuda

 

Simon New – Contributor

  1. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly
  2. Joey Bada$$ – B4.DA.$$
  3. The Internet – Ego Death
  4. DJ Premier & Royce Da 5’9” – PRhyme
  5. FKA twigs – M3LL155X

Worst: Miley Cyrus – Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz

Best Remix Album Containing Only Cat Samples: Run The Jewels – Meow The Jewels

 

Mia Pearson – Staff Writer

  1. Ought – Sun Coming Down
  2. The Garden – Haha
  3. toe – Hear You
  4. Pope Francis – Wake Up!
  5. Doldrums – The Air Conditioned Nightmare

Worst: Whatever Imagine Dragons released

Best song of 2015 released in 2013: Eddie Murphy – “Red Light”

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