#16. Thank Your Lucky Stars/Depression Cherry – Beach House
Thank you Beach House, for dropping two incredible albums in the same year. Championing a genre that deserves greater exposure, Beach House puts shoegaze front and center in these projects. The production is intricate and textured, but never jarring. Gliding and swirling through the layers is vocalist Victoria Legrand’s tranquil voice. The music on these albums is thematically complex, but its reupholstering of dream pop makes it a serene listen. Wonderfully, these albums complement each other. If Depression Cherry is the surreal dream, Thank Your Lucky Stars is the jolt back to a harsher reality. All you need for this experience is to close your eyes and let the music engulf you.
#15. Sound & Color – Alabama Shakes
If the grooves and funk that slinks its way in and out of the spaces of this album don’t make you feel incredibly alive, kindly visit a doctor for your soul. This is an album that will tug at your heartstrings just as well as it might cause you to pull a hamstring while dancing. It feels epic, without losing any of Alabama Shakes’ everyman soul. Sound & Color is truly an appropriate title; rather than music, this is on par with a vibrant theatrical performance. And as with any good performance piece, there’s little else to be said about this album. Experience it. It’s worth every second.
#14. A.L.L.A – A$AP Rocky
A$AP Rocky has been an intriguing character from the start of his career. His music, Houston-inspired despite him being from New York, placed him as an outlier in the culture, just as much as his fashion sense did. Yet, Rocky’s been having massive success. A.L.L.A however, unravels quite a bit of the person behind the success and conflicts. Still recovering from A$AP Yams’ sudden death and a breakup, while still dealing with his fame, Rocky infuses A.L.L.A with lyrics that are in turns mournful, frustrated, celebratory, and brash, backed by production dripping with psychedelic influences. It isn’t possible to nail down a single persona for A$AP Rocky, and that seems to be the point. A.L.L.A is self-assured, often arrogant, an album that revels in its darkness; much like the man responsible for the music.