The Top 26 Overlooked Albums of 2015

Beyond not just making the all-important critical end-all be-all distinction of landing on Noisey's Best Albums of 2015 list, some albums simply didn't get the attention they deserved. We fixed that.

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Dec 23 2015, 2:00pm

We may have said it once or twice before, but 2015 was a great year for music. There were good albums from pretty much every part of the musical world, and, as it happened, there were far more than 50 of them, which made our year-end list of the best albums a bit of a teeth-pulling affair. What does it say that in a year in which the "Why You Always Lyin'" Vine was made, that song couldn't even land on a year-end list? We rest our case.

The point is, there were a few albums that, beyond not just making the all-important critical end-all be-all distinction of landing on Noisey's Best Albums of 2015 list, simply didn't get the attention they deserved. Maybe they were released during a crowded time of year and got overshadowed by flashier artists. Maybe they didn't have the massive PR apparatus behind them that other bands had. Maybe people other than the hardcore fans just aren't checking for a new album from whomever it is in 2015. Maybe they were put out by a rapper who got his clock so fully cleaned in a rap beef that everyone forgot about his music. Whatever the reason, these are, in no particular order, the albums we loved this year that we felt didn't get the credit they deserved:

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Brandi Carlile – The Firewatcher’s Daughter

After about ten years of pushing a more polished pop sound, Brandi Carlile abandoned the effort, left her major for indie ATO, and produced a rock 'n' roll album that, at least on paper, should’ve enjoyed widespread success in 2015. Firewatcher carries the heart and spirit of singer-songwriters like Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen in a year where artists with Carlile’s country rock roots were beginning to turn the heads of pop audiences. And in a traditional sense, it was successful—it topped Billboard’s Rock Albums chart, and just picked up a Grammy nod for Best Americana Album. But it largely slipped under the radar of anyone beyond the NPR crowd, her talents relinquished by the country world, despite the fact that she’s one of the genre’s biggest champions.

The record is worth your time: Firewatcher is a study of human bonds, exploring the desperation of the ones that escape our grasp, and the weariness of the ones we must fight for. It’s about surrendering to the inevitability of pain and regret, and giving into the connections that can’t be broken. It’s also a lot of jangly, uptempo fun. Throughout it all, Carlile’s voice is the star, a country-soaked wail that is incapable of being anything other than arrestingly honest. Or, to put it more simply: A few months ago, I listened to the record on repeat while driving across the desert; by the end, I was ready to let my heart get broken again. It’s one of those. —Andrea Domanick


Meek Mill – Dreams Worth More Than Money

Yeah, yeah. Meek Mill got his ass kicked by Drake. So much so that his dream of being anything more than a street rapper is probably over. But goddamnit, the biggest tragedy of The Beef™ is that Dreams Worth More Than Money—after initially topping charts and selling a shitload of copies—kind of disappeared. There’s some great work on here: “Jump Out the Face” featuring Future, “R.I.C.O.” featuring Drake (heh), “Check,” and “Classic” are all heaters. Will Meek ever rebound from getting roasted in 2015? Probably not. But that doesn’t matter because we’ll always have the intro to “Lord Knows.” —Eric Sundermann


Katie Dey – asdfasdf

There's no reason that asdfasdf should work: It's right there in the title that there's not much rhyme or reason to these songs (Dey herself even mentioned that she chose the title by mashing the keyboard and then realized that "asdfasdf" was ideal because it connotes mashing the keyboard). If anything about this music were just a little bit less composed, it might get filed away as bedroom GarageBand experiments, but there's a weird logic to the screeching and scratching and vocal filters, and, more importantly, to the strained emotion that creeps through in the nearly undecipherable singing. It's a gentler version of noise, a more concrete version of ambient music, a more self-assured approach to the faded pop of digital bedroom production. It's My Bloody Valentine for the laptop generation. You can picture these textures, pulled from pop music and indie rock and then oddly refracted, finding their way back into the production of the future. asdfasdf is puzzingly listenable, a collage of sounds that aren't quite familiar and, thus, ones that leave you yearning for their inimitable pull. —Kyle Kramer


A Steady Descent into the Soil

Vile Creature –

I was just kicking myself the other day for forgetting to include this album in my best of 2015 list, and then remembered we were doing this feature, so feel like a bit less of a sap now. It's a dirty shame that it didn't appear on more metal year-end lists, too, because even outside of the band's personal affiliations, the self-professed "anti-oppressive queer vegan doom" duo, there's something wonderfully unique about what they've cultivated on their debut release. A Steady Descent into the Soil sees them embrace death metal (and death itself), as well as depressive black metal, miserable atmospheric doom, and a slight whiff of droning psychedelia; the thick, stifling atmosphere is made even more impressive when one considers that it's all made with a guitar, a drum kit, and some vocal mics. It's got its pretty moments, of course—this kind of extreme metal always does—but every moment of clarity is quickly smothered under a blanket of fuzz and gloom, choked on ash and simmering rage. "The whole record is about the hatred and violence that queer persons, female-identified persons, and non–cis-gendered persons are subjected to on a regular basis, and our experiences with that," guitarist KW told Noisey in an interview earlier this year. In a year when trans rights became a huge part of the cultural conversation, supporting an objectively great release from a band like Vile Creature feels more important than ever. —Kim Kelly


All of Something

Sports –

Chalk it up to Sports’ name essentially rendering them ungooglable, or the fact that college bands are hard to pin down as members graduate and come and go, or that, at under 25 minutes, All of Something barely seems like a full album. Whatever it is, this record hardly got the credit it was due. All of Something throws so many hooks at you to over the course of these ten songs that one of them will assuredly get caught in your head, whether it be the whispered cracks in the breathy opener “Stunted,” the adorably perfect chorus on “Reality TV,” or the wonky vocal stretches on “Get Bummed Out.” Sports will lodge themselves in your brain. —Dan Ozzi


Christine and the Queens

Christine and the Queens –

Christine first emerged in America on the cramped stages at this year's SXSW (when we snagged her first Stateside interview). At this point she was already a huge star in Europe: Just months before Madonna had ripped off Christine's "Saint Claude" video for her Grammy performance, and as 2015 winds to a close Christine—born Héloïse Letissier—can tick headlining festivals in her home country for 50,000 fans off her career checklist. Just last week the 27 year old joined Madonna onstage in Paris, with the diminutive singer dancing circles round the Queen of Pop. What makes her such a hot commodity? It's the combination of elastic but never too slick dance routines (she's flanked by Vogue dancers who she falls in and out of step with with casual aplomb), her frame always encased in tailored-to-a-tee menswear, but more than the performance or the packaging, Christine's album is a sublime digest of sophistico pop which includes savvy, cool collaborations with Perfume Genius and Tunji Ige and showcases her idiosyncratic, curvy tones. Christine's a perfectionist—but one who makes every perfectly articulated angle of her art seem effortless. —Kim Taylor Bennett


Marauding in Paradise

Jazz Cartier –

It’s hard to break out of Toronto unless you’re traveling on the wings of a golden owl, and it’s been rare that anyone from the city achieve even a myopic amount of rap fame without having to hop the border into America. But the way Jazz Cartier managed to do it was to accomplish his world travels before writing any of his debut project Marauding in Paradise, and it’s resulted in the closest thing Toronto has had to a global mark on the rap scene since The Boy. Jazz pulls from his journeyman past to tell stories that are fleshed-out and three-dimensional, and his go-to producer Lantz helps carve out sonic landscapes that feel cinematic. One song is a tale of getting over an ex, the next is about how making money can be a religious experience. Jazz is able to hold a number of opposing views concurrently, drawing on them as needed, depending on what kind of production Lantz has cooked up. Based on the Jazz singles that have come out since the release of this project, the rest of his career is set to follow this trend of making music that plays to either your emotions or your temper, but manages to sticks to your ribs whenever it hits. —Slava Pastuk


Mutant

Arca –

I’m a little bit in awe of Arca. His debut album Xen took the sound he carved alongside his production work with FKA twigs, Kanye West and three EPs of his own and stretched it beyond the imagination—creatively using traditional song structure and creating collages that in no real way bled together, but were all the more enticing for it. Since the album’s release, his assistance on Bjork’s Vulnicura and Kelela’s “A Message” have pushed his sound on to a wider audience, but that hasn’t influenced him to rein in experimentation with his solo work.

Less than a year after his debut LP, Arca’s Mutant is far from the cobbled together offcuts from numerous studio sessions that you might imagine. What you find instead is a collection of complex, contradictory soundscapes that would completely swallow you if they weren’t so arresting. The album on first listen sounds completely inhospitable, filled with shallow shards of melody that are as confrontational as they are fragile. This constant battle between the aggressive and comforting is what makes each track fascinating—for every muffled scream on Mutant, there’s a redemptive, welcoming synth fighting to push through and reassure you that the aural assault you’ve just been subjected to was worth it. Just as is reflected in Jesse Kanda’s repugnant but incredible artwork, Arca finds a way to make digital distortion and quote-unquote ugly noise seem enticing. Mutant’s flaws are the features most worth celebrating, providing a pummelling, exhausting, and often frightening listen—but one that’s supremely rewarding. —Mitchell Stevens


Get Weird

Little Mix –

Little Mix, the British girl group formed a few years ago on The X Factor, don’t get a lot of props from the trendier parts of the internet. Unlike other X Factor groups Fifth Harmony (who landed in Complex and FACT’s albums of the year) and One Direction (the subject of a 1,000 thinkpieces—you’ve probably got one open on a tab right now), Little Mix aren’t taken very seriously. But Get Weird is actually the group’s most consistent record to date and one of the most enjoyable listens of the year. Unlike other pop bands who try to gain some credibility by sounding a bit like Banks or pretending to like grime, Little Mix haven’t shyed away from what they are: a manufactured British pop band. Rather, they have doubled-down on their effort, with songs that whizz and whir and tootle like a badly animated steam engine. Special mention to track ten, “A.D.I.D.A.S.,” which genuinely includes the lyrics “Slaving in the kitchen, iced you a cake / Then I served you a plate, but that ain't what you ate / now been busy doing all Fifty Shades / While we listen to Drake.” —Sam Wolfson


Tetsuo & Youth

Lupe Fiasco –

After years of failed promises, botched album rollouts, and weird extramusical decisions, the court of popular opinion holds up Lupe Fiasco as one of rap’s corniest artists, so few beyond hardcore fans seemed to pay much attention to Lupe's latest album. But unlike past attempts, Tetsuo & Youth didn’t fall flat on its promises. Fiasco lavishly brushstrokes words on the record’s canvas with nuance and wisdom. There are visually beautiful couplets about “pancakes cut in swirls” and “incense smoke” that makes “vortexes and curls” placed across the record’s rich tapestry. It’s a Rap Genius wet dream. There are the big choruses too: “Blur My Hands” soars like a white dove that’s been placed inside a firework. For those looking for tougher sounds, there’s the DJ Dahi-produced posse cut “Chopper”, where seven rappers deliver their 32 bars on their seven deadly sins. A self-proclaimed grand and “artistic” record, it's exactly what people don't trust Lupe to do well. But give it the time it deserves, and it’s a rewarding listen. —Ryan Bassil


I Want to Grow Up

Colleen Green –

I Want To Grow Up is a case study in arrested development. Colleen Green wants to grow up—but only in a way that's so abstract and removed from reality that she doesn't actually have to. The result is this record of Green stewing in her own mental filth. The anxiety so obviously at play here gives an emotional tenor to Green's signature dead-pan vocals. Up until now, Green's sound has been decidedly bare-bones, with only a few drum loops and Weezer-esque harmonics to dress up the bass. This album is her first with a full band, and, with an actual drummer and studio production, Colleen Green becomes the fully-realized rocker her home demos always hinted at. —Bryn Lovitt


Eat Pray Thug

Heems –

Eat Pray Thug was the first full album Himanshu Kumar Suri (a.k.a. Heems) made after stepping out of the shadow of Das Racist, and it might be his last as well. The Queens rapper didn’t walk into a ton of fanfare after venturing away from the group. Even when putting out a series of promising mixtapes over the last couple of years, it seemed like people were unable to separate him from his DR collaborator Kool A.D. It’s a shame because Heems’s solo debut, Eat Pray Thug, sees him holding his own and then some with songs about being a native New Yorker over a decade after 9/11 and confronting ethnic stereotypes while defying hip-hop archetypes. So if this is the one Heems goes out on, at least he paved a path for the next rapper who doesn’t fit the mold. —Dan Ozzi


Blackheart

Dawn Richard –

The internet was supposed to usher in an era of genre-agnostic musical appreciation where the worlds of pop and underground music could comfortably slam together and make a beautiful collage of sounds that led to everyone just having one big dance party that overcame all identity barriers holding people apart. And, sure, in a year in which Justin Bieber reinvented himself by making tropical house chart-toppers with Skrillex and Grimes cemented her pop star ambitions, it may seem silly to complain that we haven't arrived at that endpoint yet. But for proof of how much marketing narratives play into the way that we perceive albums, look no further than Dawn Richard's Blackheart, one of the most explosively inventive electronic albums and bold imaginings of what pop might sound like in the digital near future, which was presumably written off into the world of niche R&B based on Richard's past pop career. We don't quite have the lexicon for an album like this, which embraces narrative piano ballads, fist-pumping EDM anthems, and clattering garage breaks in equal parts, sometimes in the same song. If you've ever hoped for a world in which weird electronic Radiohead suddenly remembered how to make radio hits, though, you're on the right track. To that end, sometimes Blackheart verges on heading too far into thought experiment. But it's surely only through some sort of clerical error that songs like "Calypso" and "Phoenix" aren't heating up the pop charts and lighting up dance festivals and that lyrics to songs like "Choices (Interlude)" and "The Deep" haven't become mantras for social media. It's not hard to imagine this being the kind of album whose influence will reverberate much more than anyone counted on in the years ahead. Let's hope so. —Kyle Kramer


Moth Boys

Spector –

I think most people think Spector are a bunch of East London hipsters with celeb-y mates who undermine their audience of largely teenage fans by throwing so many self-aware gags into the music that they’re almost mocking them for liking the band. And while there may once have been a degree of truth to that, on Moth Boys they found a way to be smart and heartfelt at the same time. In the US you have your Aziz Ansaris, Amy Schumers, and Lena Dunhams, but in Britain there aren’t really any astute young comedians casting a commentative eye on the way culture is developing, and so those kinds of critiques come from more unusual sources. Moth Boys was that, a look at how romance has been commodified by Orange Wednesdays and the faux-romantic-nihilism of love in the Tinder age, written over smart Orange Juicey Pet Shop Boys pop. Spector, along with another London band, Real Lies, provided a meaningful account of the failings and joys of the shoddy world we’ve consented to be a part of. —Sam Wolfson


b’lieve i’m goin’ down

Kurt Vile –

To call b’lieve i'm goin’ down a flop would be unfair—this record received high marks critically, Vile spent the fall touring across the States in sold-out venues, and “Pretty Pimpin’,” presumably, got played a bunch on college radio stations. But this record was supposed to be Kurt Vile’s moment, the one that’d break him out of indie circles, with which he’d find himself in the mainstream alongside his old bandmate Adam Granduciel’s band The War on Drugs. And it’s a shame it didn’t. b’lieve features some of Vile’s best work of his career—standouts include the banging “Pretty Pimpin,’” the floating “That’s life, tho (almost hate to say),” and the introspective “Lost my Head there”—so hopefully this record will slow burn its way into hearts forever. —Eric Sundermann


American Tragic

Wax Idols –

As far as I'm concerned, Hether Fortune is the torch-bearing goth-rocker. Over the course of three albums, she's grown her dark pop outfit Wax Idols from Bay Area garage staple into the extremely sleek and incisive rock band behind this year's standout American Tragic. While the album is of course steeped in the post-punk yesteryear of Siouxsie and The Cure, Fortune’s sharp critique of modern love through a blackened veil aesthetic gives her pop melodies the darkest touch. She told Noisey in a recent interview that American Tragic as a whole was meant to be a “diss track” to heteronormative privilege, and its cutting result reminds us that no one can air grievances as elegantly as a goth band. —Bryn Lovitt


Bang 3 Pt. 1

Chief Keef –

Chief Keef may go down in history as one of rap music's most misunderstood artists, and his 2015 is a perfect example of the hurricane of distraction that he is forced to work within. He took up paintball, got suspended by his label, got signed by an eccentric billionaire, and then got dropped again. Somewhere in between the confusion he released Bang Pt. 1 and Bang Pt. 2, both of which are a manic collection of noise from which a number of good-ass songs appear. “Superheroes” with A$AP Rocky may be some of Keef’s best work since “Faneto,” and “New School” so jubilantly describes how Keef and his compatriots have fights with stacks of money that you can’t help but cry. That’s not to mention “Ain’t Missing You,” which was such a success take on the John Waite classic that it made you forget any trace of the original record. Chief Keef seems to be at his best when he’s left to his own devices. Perhaps one day he’ll be put in a situation where he can do just that and continue to put out music that soundtracks our existence. —Slava Pastuk


Supersonic Home

Adventures –

Almost every review of this album references the 90s, which is fair enough given that the artwork could make it pass for a Superchunk record, but it's also a little dismissive. Was there an album featuring rock guitars released in 2015 that wasn’t described as being “90s influenced”? Made up of four-fifths of Deathwish-housed hardcore band Code Orange, Adventures is a project build on three key things: sharp songwriting, quality hooks, and tight vocal harmonies. Rather than being a displaced indie relic from the golden years of college rock, it’s their very specific balance of mood and melody, nostalgia and modernity, that makes Supersonic Home so affecting. That and the fact the tracklist is back to back bangers. Sometimes sweet, sometimes bold—a dynamic reflected in the dual soft but-rough-round-the-edges vocals—most tracks hinge on the tensions that come with having a whopping big crush on someone, and it's in their most sincere moments that Adventures succeed most. Plus The Needle Drop described their stuff as “like a Creed song but good,” so there's that. —Emma Garland


Dark Sky Paradise

Big Sean –

OK, so maybe the guy responsible for verses like “Still rockin' Louis Vuitton condoms, cause I'm so fuckin' in style, wow“ and “Like the delivery man, I'm outstanding” isn’t the best rapper. However, Big Sean—to whom those aforementioned lines belong—delivers a fully furnished and complete album as an artist in Dark Sky Paradise. Sean expands his verbal repertoire doing exhaustive double- and triple-time flows over songs like “Paradise” and “Deep” while holding his own with the likes of Lil Wayne and mentor Kanye West. Not to mention there’s a greater sense of maturity in these songs. Gone—well, almost—are the days of cringe-worthy ass anthems and “I love life” soliloquies. In their stead we get a confident hitmaker fully aware of his talents with “I.D.F.W.U. and “Blessings,” as well as an artist who knows how to deftly pull the heartstrings on songs like “One Man Can Change The World.” By no means is Dark Sky Paradise a perfect project, but it’s an extremely solid one that deserves to be heard more than it was in a year full of so many projects from Sean's peers. And lord as my witness, anybody who says “Paradise” isn't one of the greatest-sounding beats of all time is a liar. —Jabbari Weekes


Escape from Evil

Lower Dens –

The Baltimore band have been knocking around for half a decade, making their name concocting atmospheric, synth-swaddled cocoons of sound, motorik beats with gothy underpinnings—they're purveyors of a very melancholic kind of indie pop that sometimes erred on the sprawling side. This year's third album showcased a surprising laser focus, thanks in part to singer Jana Hunter processing loss and all the ground leveling repercussions that come along with it. Perhaps it also has something to do with Hunter's new partnership with producers Chris Coady (Beach House, Future Islands) and Ariel Reichstadt (Vampire Weekend, Haim). Whatever the case, songs like "Your Heart Still Beating" and "Ondine" quiver and tug. Hunter's velvety invocations are repentant, seductive, and hypnotic—a brand of pop-noir all their own. —Kim Taylor Bennett


Free T.C.

Ty Dolla $ign –

2015 really should have been Ty Dolla $ign's year. He penned Rihanna, Kanye West, and Paul McCartney's supercut “FourFiveSeconds” and the latter two's “Only One” along with a round of promising singles for then-upcoming debut Free T.C. The album, it should be noted,was promised to “be out while it's still hot outside.” It’s December now, and little to no love has been shown since its October release. It’s hard to understand why. “Straight Up” feels like a first class 70s-era commercial flight with the soft ‘n’ sync vocals of classic R&B group Jagged Edge and airy metronomes bringing the song to its final destination. The rest of the album plays from the pleasantly acoustic (“Solid” and “Horses in the Stable) to hook-heavy trap (“Blase”), all under Ty's singular spell. These aren’t throwaways from the oft-invoked “Ratchet ‘n’ B” mold but instead the work of a multi-talented composer. Free T.C. deserves to be loved and made love to. —Jabbari Weekes


Hex of Nine Heads

Gloam –

This is another one that falls on the black/doom scale, but unlike certain other genre-blending releases that got showered with praise this year, Gloam's superb Hex of Nine Heads got short shrift from most list-keepers, metal and otherwise. In fairness, the album—cassette, really—was released by the proudly underground Caligari Records, so it's doubtful it was shepherded into many media inboxes (it made it into mine, but I've been following the label for awhile). The fact that an album this great was so overlooked is just another indication of what happens when writers get lazy and stop digging—when they rely solely on publicists and labels to spoon-feed them listening material. Promos are great, but not every band has a publicist, and digital crate-digging on Bandcamp, on forums, and in the many corners where music lovers dwell often turns up all kinds of wondrous things that you'd have never guessed were hiding there. Gloam's spooky, primal take on atmospheric black/doom—with a heavy emphasis on the black metal, especially in its tinny, biting leads—had me hooked instantly, and comes with my highest recommendation. —Kim Kelly


First Bath

Avid Dancer –

I get it, indie rock is dead, at least for now. Which is really a damn shame for LA’s Jacob Summers, who put out a basically perfect debut album as Avid Dancer in April. First Bath follows less in the path of the twee and hifalutin indie that made the genre’s bed than in the meaty, psychedelic tradition of the Dandy Warhols and Nada Surf. At 12 songs, First Bath is an ambitious listen, but there really isn’t a bad song on it. Summer’s voice is gentle but passionate, wrapping thoughtful lyrics around smart, muscular song constructions. “I Want to See You Dance” was my favorite living room dance jam of 2015 (also a great video), while “Stop Playing With My Heart” and “Medication” sound like the soundtrack to realizing your summer fling might be more than you bargained for. In the end, First Bath breaks no new ground, but not all new records have to. Like a favorite sweatshirt, there’s something to be said for taking comfort in the familiar. —Andrea Domanick


Late Nights

Jeremih –

We've had two years, one mixtape, one collaborative EP, and countless babies made to Jeremih's music since he announced Late Nights: The Album, but when it finally came on December 4, it gave us more than enough reason to forgive the wait. More than a collection of songs that could probably be the first official Netflix & Chill soundtrack, it’s easily the most adaptable work he’s ever released, metamorphosing from wide-eyed adoration on album opener “Planez” to the unhinged, staccato versed braggadocio of “Feel Like Phil.” Even Jeremih’s most sexually explicit, questionable lyrics on the album are enough to make you go misty-eyed; tales of orgies, sexual gymnastics, and getting high are delivered with the same wonder as discovering a new part of the world. Late Nights' supporting cast is great, but it never outshines its star, with Jeremih outflowing Migos on “Giv No Fuks,” out-Future-ing Future on “Royalty,” and pushing Big Sean into new territory, helping him sound better than he may ever have before. A special shout out is also due to Twista’s breakneck flow over the top of the acoustic-tinged “Woosah” for one of the album’s bigger surprises. Using its title more than literally, Late Nights sweeps you into the situations that arise in the evening’s lost hours: the refusal to wait until the club closes before you take someone home on “Impatient,” making poor, liquor-informed decisions on “Drank,” and waking up the morning after to celebrate the chaos that has unfolded around you on “Paradise.” Jeremih’s provided the soundtrack, now it’s up to you to create your own late nights. —Mitchell Stevens


New Place 2 Drown

Archy Marshall –

This record—although received well critically—surfaced earlier this month all in the span of a week (alongside a 208-page book of sketches, photographs, and poetry and a short film), and it’s safe to say that the latest version of King Krule was lost among the year-end madness. But this is not King Krule. New Place 2 Drown is a gloomy collection of cracks stumbling over each other, with Marshall’s wistful yet mumbled crooning floating over the top. The one thing that is good about its unfortunate release date is that this is the perfect record for standing in the middle of a snowstorm. —Eric Sundermann


Leather Corduroys – Season

Joey Purp and KAMI's wisecracking duo tends to get slotted in behind their more prominent Save Money peers, and, to a certain extent, that makes sense: Their music bounces so manically between different modes that it can be hard to get a handle on, and the attitude of "hey, let's try this out" yields experiments that don't always connect. Season can feel a little like listening to a very precocious school project, with its dutifully rendered impressions of Yeezus-style Kanye and Young Thug. But on the other hand, these songs slap. They are fun. And at a time in which the stakes for making music seem so terribly high, since everything you put on the internet is instantly open for eventual viral fame (of either the good or bad sort), that sort of attitude is increasingly rare in music. Who wants to risk having fun when they could be getting famous? Why fuck around when Drake might notice you? Well, the answer is because you can almost hear these guys falling over each other laughing as they realize how fun it is to croon "humina humina" in Auto-Tune on "Adios," which, for no rational reason, became one of my favorite songs of the year. And sometimes it might yield something like the genuine anthemic, feel-good verve of "Rocket Man," which would hopefully make Elton John proud. There's something to be said for music that exists, at least to some extent, just for the hell of it in the get-rich-quick landscape of 2015. Season was a consistent reminder this year that rap could do exactly that, as well as a hint of good things to come in this duo's future. —Kyle Kramer