Contributing editor Bryn Lovitt parses through her 2015 faves.
Before you read this list, know that I am a girl with bangs and a poetry degree that hangs out at rock shows and writes about music for a living, so my approach to year end lists is expectedly sentimental. In fact, you may recognize me as the slightly maudlin one on the site that uses "Like," for dramatic pause and consistently urges you to "stream this track or die."
When I find a new song I reaaaaally love, it's hard not to force people down and make them listen to it with me 20 times on repeat. As you can imagine, that happened a lot this year given the return of my favorite band Sleater-Kinney, countless break-through indie records, and a shit load of Phil Spector-sized guitar pop. The best part of this job is that I only write about the music that I actually want to write about, because I believe in it and think you should, too. That said, here's my objectively correct list of the music that thoroughly ripped in 2015.
BEST ROCK RECORD
SLEATER-KINNEY - NO CITIES TO LOVE
I saw Sleater-Kinney live for the first time last week and nearly broke my neck headbanging for two hours straight. After this year's litany of 90s band reunions, it would have been easy for S-K to just tour the hits or release a best-of compillation. But that is not at all the case with No Cities to Love. Instead, it's a perfect rock record of all new material that proves how Sleater-Kinney can come back after ten years and still be the best band in the world. Sorry not sorry.
BEST INDIE ALBUM
CAR SEAT HEADREST - TEENS OF STYLE
I've written about this record extensively for Noisey because I'm completely obsessed with it. Will Toldeo's freaky genuis lo-fi is up there with Robert Pollard and Guided by Voices. His songs go from hallucinations of entering divine castles to jarring gen-X references ala "I fell in love with Michael Stipe" and let's "talk about Raymond Carver." Like, did I fall asleep and wake up in thr Noah Baumbach movie I always hoped I would?
BEST PUNK RECORD - CHILDBIRTH, WOMEN'S RIGHTS
Seattle's feminist punk scene is multiplying as members of their best bands form side-projects that roll the strongest parts of each into something completely different. Case in point: Childbirth, the supergroup with members of Chastity Belt, Tacocat, and Pony Time. Always one for subversive feminism, Julia Shapioro continues to churn out cultural critiques of the patriarchy through two to three minute punk songs. All grit and guitars, Childbirth's record "Women's Rights" leave no "problematic" stone unturned, indlucing Tindr, tech bros, Best Coast, and babies.
BEST ALBUM BY A SINGER/SONGWRITER - TORRES, SPRINTER
Mackenzie Scott aka TORRES is a new force to be reckoned with. She is making the most uniquely narrative folk rock since Uh Huh Her by PJ Harvey. Makes sense since she's teamed up with Harvey's same producer Rob Ellis. Regardless, Scott's voice is absolutely massive and has full emotional range that goes from reverance to rage at drop of a beat. She released her grunge-inflected sophomore record Sprinter earlier this year, an album that was critically lauded yet tragically overlooked. I listened to "Strange Hellos" so many times the song alone nearly killed me.
MOST PROMISING DEBUT RELEASE - SHEER MAG, S/T
Sheer Mag is the future of rock and roll. I believe that this is the only band that can finally pull guitar rock from a nostalgic rut and make that classic sound relevant again in a non-ironic way. They've only released one EP but they're a critics' fave that have single-handedly brought Thin Lizzy back into the blogosphere, so thanks for that.
BEST FILM SOUNDTRACK - Heaven Knows What
Behold: two and half hours of classical symphonies remixed into techno. Like, Vivaldi as interpretted by Headhunters. Plus it's all set to artsy long-shorts of NYC heroin addicts shooting up and making out.
BEST POP COVER
Mitski - Fireproof (One Direction)
First of all, Mitski's 2014 record Bury Me at Make Out Creek is my favorite album of 2015 and that's because I listened to it every damn day of the year. It is a folk rock masterpiece that is just as much a collection of brilliant poetry as it is a blistering guitar record. But since came out last fall (sigh), I had to forgoe it for the list. However, her flawless cover of "Fireproof" by One Direction that is dare I say better than the original. I know she loves Zayn Malik so I hope he one day hears this, finds her, and falls in love her as much as I have.
BEST POP RECORD - ONE DIRECTION, MADE IN THE AM
I know for a fact that I am the only Noisey staffer with year end list that even mentions One Direction, but it's a cross I'll gladly bear. I admittedly saw no appeal in this band until I embarked on an article that exposed to complicated adult psychology behind their 21-40 year old fan base. Their stories of abuse, trauma, struggles with intimact and coping with death revealed to me that poptimism is more than just a hash tag and an actually enlightening practice. Also, there is so much Fleetwood Mac to this album that anyone who has ever loved Rumours can surely see a little bit of Lindsay Buckingham in Harry Styles.
BEST BOX SET - Roy Orbison, The MGM Years
Pop's original sad boy finally gets the royal treatment he deserves with this absurdly perfect box set. Here, in one place, are remastered versions of every aching, crooning, gut-wrenched classic since the dark angel first started dying his hair black and shopping his demos to Sun Records in the 50s.
BEST VIDEO - Father John Misty - "I Love you, Honeybear"
As obnoxious as I find Father John Misty, I do really enjoy the video for "I Love You, Honeybear." Something about lying with your lover in a bed of Rorschach sheets while a gas leak slowly seeps through your Victorian mansion and kills you seems like an extremely chill way to die, but that's just me.
Palehound - Dry Food
Peach Kelli Pop - III
Colleen Green - I Want to Grow Up
Spray Paint - Punters on a Barge
Royal Headache - High
Khing Khan and the BBQ Show - Bad News Boys