Upon further reflection, 2015 was absolutely packed. It’s easy to say the year was lackluster, as we only got a few truly transcendental albums, but along with them came dozens upon dozens of great albums, some of which got lost in the rush. If you forgot how good any of these projects were, or simply didn’t hear about them in the torrent of great music that was given to us this year, we’re here to rectify that. Here’s all the stuff in 2015 that deserves a second look.

maxresdefault-2Levon Vincent – Levon Vicent
The NY/Berlin electronic producer’s self-titled album experimented with techno in ways that few others dared to do this year, resulting in both the bangers you want and the subtle tracks you need. There’s stuff for heads, there’s stuff for casual electronic music fans, and there’s stuff that anyone can dance to. One of the more idiosyncratic releases of the year and one that is well worth a couple of dedicated spins, if not only to experience songs like “For Mona, My Beloved Cat” & “Black Arm W/Wolf” in real time. (Listen)

76dbfe1c0f986e8f76b4dfc8e21b7e2171d3ff7bHunee – Hunch Music
The heavily slept on debut album by Hunee has some of the warmest and lushest house and techno you’ll hear this year. From the dark synths of “Error of the Average”, reminiscent of Detroit techno, to the deep house nods on “Rare Happiness”, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more varied and free-flowing album this year. Many of the tracks sound semi-improvisational, but Hunee never gets lost or loses the listener along the way. The man also compiled the excellent Sounds from the Far East reissue for the Rush Hour label, so we’ve got to thank him for that too. (Listen)

a0158237607_10Kara-Lis Coverdale & LXV – Sirens
This one was a delight. Kara-Lis Coverdale and David Sutton (LXV) crafted what is probably the finest ambient record of the year, if not one of the best of the decade. Equally sinister and beautiful, Sirens sees the two, who are strong on their own, combining Coverdale’s knack for atmospherics and Sutton’s synth chops to create a work that is an engaging testament to teamwork. If you enjoyed Bing & Ruth’s “Tomorrow Was the Golden Age” or any of Jefre Cantu-Ledesma’s work, this’ll take your appreciation for texture and tone to the next level. 8 great tracks of droned vocals and cooling synths to get lost in, and the album cover paints a nice picture of the listening experience to boot. (Listen)

170341Anthony Naples – Body Pill
At a breazy 28 minutes, Anthony Naples’ Body Pill is like a sampling platter that still fills you up and leaves you satisfied. The up-and-coming producer toys with an idea, takes it to its logical limit, and then moves on to the next thing. We get, more or less, the dance tracks that Naples is known for, but we also get much more material that is out of his comfort zone. “Abrazo” is a highlight that shows Naples’ skillful hand and more ‘out there’ numbers like the understated “Pale” and bubbling “Used to Be” showcase a playful mind at work.  (Listen)


heteroceteraLotic – Heterocetera
J’Kerian Morgan, AKA Lotic, is making some of the most brooding and well-layered electronic music this side of Berghain, and to simply call his work “dark” would be short-changing it. Though residing in Berlin, like most other electronic artists who want to be at the forefront of the scene (see also Morgan’s close friend and peer Jamie Whipple, AKA M.E.S.H.), Lotic was born in Houston, Texas and is a huge fan of R&B and Pop music, though you wouldn’t think it listening to this record (yet to be fair, Heterocetera does show a strong sense of melody). Being a gay black man, Morgan has stated he wanted to make music for outsiders like himself, and Heterocetera is definitely a work of someone looking outside-in. Thankfully Morgan has allowed us to join him in looking through the window. (Listen)

Kuedo-Assertion-of-a-Surrounding-PresenceKuedo – Assertion of a Surrounding Presence
Though Jamie Teasdale’s work as Kuedo has been limited to handful of singles/EP’s and a single album, he’s set the bar incredibly high for electronic music, and with his album Severant, blazed a trail towards the platonic ideals of drum n’ bass & dub. The Assertion of a Surrounding Presence EP signals the long-awaited return of Kuedo, and it’s a well-deserved wait. Darker, grittier, more melodic, and more honed, Teasdale builds upon the masterful work done in Severant and then teases what’s to come. More southern hip-hop and 80s sci-fi flairs than his previous work, but being a pioneer in your field always comes with its risks. (Listen)

travTravis Scott – Rodeo
The difference between Rodeo and most of the other album’s on this list is that Rodeo was on most people’s radar’s in 2015. Travis Scott’s long list of production credits and excellent 2014 mixtape Days Before Rodeo poised the G.O.O.D. music signee to be 2015’s biggest thing. All that came true for Scott, but critics essentially glossed over Rodeo (unless you were Anthony Fantano) for generally superficial reasons, and it didn’t get a chance to even take off. Comparing his work to his mentor’s like Kanye and his contemporaries like Young Thug and Drake, Scott was assailed as a biter and someone who put style over substance. What many didn’t see in Rodeo was one of the most fun, forward-thinking hip-hop records of the year. An elevation of the trap sound that has catapulted many young Atlanta stars into the limelight, Scott is a chameleon, weaving between soul sampling tracks like “Apple Pie” and 7 minute trap-monsters with overlayed orchestral work like “3500 (feat. Future & 2 Chainz)”. Where there are missteps (like auto-tuning The Weeknd, giving Juicy J a verse, or the rare but noticeable terribly sung hook), they are overtaken by the sheer finesse of the tracks themselves, and the album’s excellent sequencing. Scott’s verses are catchy and his flow is impeccable, as shown when “La Flame” is riding over album cut “I Can Tell”‘s second verse with incredible nimbleness and energy. If you hated the record, at least pretty much everyone agrees that “Antidote” is one of the best songs of the year. As a personal favorite, I’d implore everyone to give this record a second chance. (Listen) 

71BnHp7rRGL._SL1400_JME – Integrity>
Boy Better Know is at the forefront of grime in the U.K., and while the United States crowd might be most familiar with his big brother Skepta, JME is the heart and soul of the grime scene. His first album in 5 years, Integrity> sees the rapper in top form, and funnier than ever. This is the guy who recently rapped braggadocio over the Pokemon theme song about his “shiny Charizard” cards not having any creases or folds. Don’t let his cheerful demeanor fool you though, because JME is every bit a technically proficient and clever rapper as his brother. Integrity> sees all the tropes of grime put on full blast, and it’s a treat for anyone interested in the U.K. rap scene. (Listen)

little-simz-a-curious-tale-of-trials-and-persons-lp-stream-715x715Little Simz – A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons
21 year old London MC Little Simz is a breath of fresh air personified as a rapper. Intelligent without ever being heavy-handed, touching on topics like feminism, gender, and the rap industry with a deft hand a wiseness far beyond her age. The 10 meticulously produced tracks here showcase the versatility of Simz’s voice and her focus on singing and rapping really, really well. André 3000, Zane Lowe, Snoop Dogg, Mos Def, and Skepta are counted amongst her fans, so be sure to check out this assured debut from one of the more distinct and talented up-and-comers in the rap game. (Listen)

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Pusha T – Darkest Before Dawn
It’s crazy that after a handful of classics with Clipse, a great solo debut with G.O.O.D. music, and working with some of the best producers the world has ever seen, it still doesn’t feel like Pusha T is getting the attention and respect he deserves. Regardless, it doesn’t seem like he’s paying much mind to his position in the game, and is instead focusing on releasing some of the most raw rap records to ever grace our earbuds. Darkest Before Dawn serves as a prelude mixtape to Pusha’s upcoming second album, King Push. Though DBD takes some of the missteps as My Name Is My Name (unneeded corny R&B hooks), it also reaches some of the same heights that that album did. “Crutches, Crosses, Caskets” is one of the best tracks of the year, as Pusha rides a minimalist sample and uses his blistering verses as sermon. The man who can make a million coke metaphors also speaks on police brutality, and how being rich is more important than fame. There’s even a Neptunes sounding track with a Beanie Sigel verse. Production credits from the likes of Kanye, Timbaland, and Diddy also add to the soundscapes Pusha paints. If this is anything like what we’ll get in King Push, then there’s plenty of reason to be excited. (Listen)

1429404894_eeafb51c249e396e61e4b7a2649ac02eJazz Cartier – Marauding in Paradise
As one of the only Toronto rappers untouched by the overreaching hand of Drake and his OVO camp, Jazz Cartier is an anomaly. His tracks are somehow apt for parties but also gritty and thoughtful at the same time. Cartier offers a different take on the bedroom beats and trap influenced sounds of many of his contemporaries, and much like Travis Scott’s aforementioned Rodeo, elevates these sounds and makes them his own in interesting and clever ways. Though his debut album sees the rapper still trying to find a singular voice, it’s an interesting peek into an artist’s head, and one who could soon breakthrough into the mainstream. (Listen)

KamasiWashington_cvrKamasi Washington – The Epic
If a 3 hour jazz album called “The Epic” sounds daunting, you’re not alone. Pegged as “The One Jazz Album You Should Listen To This Year” by almost all mainstream music sites, The Epic sees Kamasi Washington weirdly brought into the Pitchfork approved pantheon, especially after his work with Kendrick Lamar on To Pimp a Butterfly catapulted him into millions of homes, albeit without most listeners’ knowledge. However, the heaping of praise on this record isn’t misplaced. The Epic is a spellbinding, exhausting journey through the mind of Washington and his collaborators, something that seems to span both eons and a millisecond of time. Richly detailed and a technical masterwork, The Epic really is The One Jazz Album You Should Listen To This Year, though hopefully it’ll inspire you to go listen to more. (Listen)

Late-NightsJeremih – Late Nights: The Album
While Frank Ocean failed to release an album this year, and Miguel’s fantastic second album Wildheart took control of the conversation, Jeremih slowly but surely made a name for himself with features on a multitude of radio hits and close work with artist’s like fellow Chicagoan Chance the Rapper. Late Nights: The Album is a culmination of all that hard work, and the build up to it, particularly Late Nights: The Mixtape, were well deserved. Jeremih isn’t afraid to play with his singing voice or give us off-kilter sex ballads. The number of kids that’s will be conceived to “oui” will probably be mind-boggling. One of the finest R&B releases in recent memory, and easily one of the most fun. (Listen)

wpid-dawn-richard-new-single-blackheart-westpoppn-com_Dawn Richard – Blackheart
Dawn Richard quietly dropped the best “Alt-R&B” record of the year in Blackheart. Regardless of stupid genre classifications, Blackheart sees Dawn Richard touch on darker subject matter and expand her palette with electronica, glitch, and experimental pop sounds. Blackheart is both understated and explosive, as Richard experiments with genre staples for 14 wild tracks. Lead single “Blow” in particular is a must listen and a sample of Richards’ vision. (Listen)

Petite_Noir_-_The_King_Of_Anxiety.jpegPetite Noir – King of Anxiety EP
South African musician Petite Noir does a lot of the same things that other great artists on this list (like Dawn Richards and Lotic) do. Blending genres and sounds to make a sonic vision all his own, the King of Anxiety EP is an engaging and revelatory listen. What Petite Noir does best is build-up, creating a beautiful and claustrophobic atmosphere on opener “Come Inside”, and he also does release incredibly well, as seen on project highlight “Chess”, which will go down as of the finest songs of the year. Though only 5 tracks, The King of Anxiety EP shows Petite Noir as one of the most promising up-and-comers in music today. (Listen)

a3778453976_10Hop Along – Painted Shut
Here’s a contender for sleeper hit of the year. Great punk guitar chops and Frances Quinlan’s incredibly emotive and tactile voice make for an engaging listen that will delight listeners with its consistent quality. Frenetic and upholding the spirit of punk, Painted Shut still carves its own distinct path, forwarded by the singular voice of Quinlan and the clear instrumentation. This album sucker punches you in the guts and then holds you in its arms to tell you that everything will be ok at the end of the day. (Listen)

ColleenGreen_LP2Colleen Green – I Want to Grow Up
Though Colleen Green’s “I Want to Grow Up” serves as quintessential Burger Records fare, it also manages to make a name for itself with catchy, well-written tracks and great instrumentals. Fuzzy guitars, ironic angst and catchy pop structures are all expertly done on this aptly titled album. Green herself shows a knack for witty writing and touches on the kind of ennui and existential dread that many of her fans, along with listeners in general, can relate to. It doesn’t hurt that the record features some of the most listenable and catchy tunes of the year. (Listen)

1035x1035-MI0003883944Titus Andronicus – The Most Lamentable Tragedy
No one can say Titus Andronicus aren’t ambitious. A folk and indie band with ferocious punk stylings, releasing a 5 act album with 29 tracks standing in at 92 minutes. Interludes, intro’s and outro’s, instrumental tracks, and more, The Most Lamentable Tragedy should be recognized for its sheer craziness. It doesn’t always go off without a hitch, but Titus Andronicus continues to show why they shouldn’t be glossed over. (Listen)

OPNCoverAnd finally, some other notable picks from Radio UTD DJ’s:
Onoehtrix Point Never – Garden of Delete
Prurient – Frozen Niagara Falls
Lizzo – Big GRRRL Small World
Botany – Dimming Awe
Jeff Rosenstock – We Cool?
Starfire – Jaga Jazzist
Ought – Sun Coming Down
Zhala – Self-Titled
San Fermin – Jackrabbit
The Districts – A Flourish and a Spoil
Oh Hellos – Dear Wormwood