Best Albums of 2015: Or (My Grammy Awards)

I wasn’t happy with the results, so I did something about it. I made my own awards, and now you, my fine friends, are invited! 2015 had a lot of good options…

What is a little awards show without any backlash? After all, how do you intend to reward somebody without a little drama, right? But this is the Grammys, the most notoriously subjective and unorthodox awards show out there, so they are used to criticism. If you think about it, how do you choose a list of 5 nominees to be dubbed the “Best” album of a particular year, when that year had hundreds, if not thousands of different singers, songwriters, albums, singles, and genres. When you take this into account, it is impossible to please everyone (if not anyone), but some years leave you scratching your head more than most. While my intention is not so much to complain about the nominees, but rather to take a look at what great opportunities were missed in 2015. As is tradition, we are going to go with 5 Nominees for the Andrew Warnes Grammy Awards (Best Album of the Year)! But with this task, there should be a bit of a disclaimer towards my own subjective musical tastes…

I am not gonna hide from my inner demons; I like everything sugar coated to some extent. I suppose you could say I am too deranged by the pop culture, but frankly, I like endearing and thought provoking albums that are…how do I put this? “Listenable.” In today’s “indie” standard of critical acclaimed albums, many end up sounding like noise with a vast amount of pretentious ideas spurting to and fro. Well, I for one like a good old album that doesn’t have to be a Top 40 hit, nor a street side hippie; a happy medium perhaps. With this mentality in mind, understand that this list will undoubtedly, beyond the shadow of a doubt, be the very best of the Best (Albums) that 2015 had to offer (in my little world at least)! So, the nominees are…

5. Tie: American Beauty/American Psycho (Fall Out Boy) & 25  (Adele)

             Best Album 1                Best Albums

Before you cry “foul!” Keep in mind that I am the head honcho here, so I can break my rules anytime I see fit. How could I choose between 2 fantastic groups/singers who have so much talent, and both developed top notch albums this year? Take into account that Nate Ruess’ Grand Romantic missed by this much (*showing an inch with my fingers*), but I figured a 3 way tie would’ve been a wee bit ridiculous. While Fall Out Boy’s American B/P may not be held up as their most critically acclaimed album to date. Its new sound and electronic inspired tone sure makes for one of the most fun albums of 2015 (Here is a review to keep in mind the content issues). Adele likewise never disappoints. Our favorite Brit once again brings her extraordinary vocals to a table full of beautiful and relatable songs from broken hearts. She delivers once again, this time combining the sounds of both her past albums into one thrilling record. Like I said before, how could I possibly choose between these two albums?

Best Song(s): Fall Out Boy: The Kids Aren’t Alright is the most ambitious and meaningful song on the Album (a fascinating song about the pain of an unhealthy relationship), but Irresistible is so much fun too (NOT the awful Demi version). Adele: Hello (duh), but I also like River Lea!

Worst Song(s): FOB: Novocain is kinda eh (IMO). Adele: Seriously, it is a solid album. I guess I Miss You isn’t my go to, for now…

 

4. Just Kids (Mat Kearney)

Best Album 3

Kearney got a bit of (undeserved) backlash after his last album, Young Love, seemed to tread more on the Pop side of the musical river. Alas, if there are any complaints (and there always is) with Just Kids, than they are just a mere cry for attention and nothing more. This album sees Kearney at his finest, bringing the easy listening pop songs to full center, but also having a vast majority of other intriguing musical elements that call back to his prior years. I don’t want to have to reiterate what I already stated in my review of this marvelous album (which can be viewed by the click of a BUTTON), but it should be known how truly fascinating this record is! It is viewing the past with the same excitement, innocence, fear, and uncertainty all us kids endured. He observes his highs, and his mistakes, and seeks deliverance and understanding all along the way…and it is played out to perfection!

Best Song(s): Billion for pop, Just Kids for unique.

Worst Song: Ghost, while not bad, definitely seems more on the forced sentiment side though, especially knowing it is not his personal story.

 

3. Carrie & Lowell (Sufjan Stevens)

Best album 4

Here is my concluded view regarding Carrie & Lowell; it is the most graphic album of 2015. By a brief surveillance, you wouldn’t believe it. In fact, this album makes the peculiar choice of making each and every song sound very similar, and not in a gothic manner at all. Rather with an omnipresent tone and sound in the form of acoustic guitar, light piano, and Stevens voice reaching barely a whisper the entire time, it doesn’t exactly scream agonizing, just a bit melancholy. What this album conveys though is Stevens reminiscing about his difficult childhood and circumstances. It is him looking back at the troubled and mostly absent mother he had his entire life. And it specifically desires a time when she was wed to a caring man named Lowell, a moment of brief peace, evidently.  It should be noted that #3 (All of Me Wants All of You) has a crude reference near the beginning, and #10 (No Shade In the Shadow of the Cross) has 2 harsh profanities. This album is difficult and sad because he realizes how hard his life has been because his mom was hardly there for him, even though he still loves her. He uses mythical, allegorical, and even Biblical illustrations and paintings to show his loss of faith in his mother at such a young age. Yet, this pristine, unique, and dreamlike album experience is definitely worth checking out, for it is sure beautiful and graphically personal.

Best Song: Fourth Of July is a pinnacle for the album. A sober, beautiful, and sentimental track which documents his conversation with his mom on her death bed.

Worst Song: No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross, for the stated reasons.

 

2. How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful (Florence and the Machine)

Best album 5

2015 was full of mega bands and song writers trying to broaden their horizons, and attempting to demonstrate a maturity in their new albums that may have been absent from their original records (no matter how great they have been). It seemed that the aim was to create a smooth and well thought out record than just mere “Chart Toppers.” Some were successful (Mumford and Sons, Of Monsters and Men both coming close to ranking), others only barely (Imagine Dragons – not bad, just alright, IMO). None were able to better this technique this year than that of Ms. Florence Welch, and her Machine! In this near flawless album, she is able to display a more concise and subtle force than she has done in the past, all the while sticking to the roots that make her so loved. She makes a perfect blend of sophisticated soft rock/pop anthems, jazz tunes, and classical ballads, all of which are knitted together by her crystal clear vocals. While the first song features a Lord’s name in vain, and a few odd Spiritual/Biblical illustrations are used (she plays the role of Samson in one song. Not inappropriate, just odd), the album still shines as possibly the most well organized album of 2015 (the biggest surprise snub from the nominees for sure).

Best Song(s): How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful is phenomenal, as is the Queen of Peace, Oh, and so is…

Worst Song: Caught isn’t my favorite, but it works good in the flow of the album.

 

1. Blurryface (Twenty One Pilots)

Blurryface

What else can I say? It has been the anthem album of my year (I had it on repeat ALL summer)! Seriously, each song, every song…every single song is incredible! Not only that, the album tells the bold and well-structured story of lead singer, Tyler Joseph, fighting his inner demons (specifically, the made up representation of his evil self, Blurryface in whom he is fighting to find good – my review/summary of it can be found here). Yes, this album is ambitious, unique, and a bit far-fetched, but it succeeds on every level! Never has an album brought more genres and musical experiences to the table than that of Blurryface. The indie duo may not get enough recognition when it comes to Grammy time, but they have created quite the following for themselves. That is all thanks to their fresh, exciting, flawless, and downright cool music and storytelling! If you have not yet heard this grandiose achievement, go check it out NOW!

Blurryface 2

Best Song(s): I love so many of them, but I guess Stressed Out, The Judge, and Goner are my top trio…and don’t ask me to separate them, c’est impossible!

Worst: Hometown isn’t quite a revelation, but that doesn’t mean it is bad.

…Whatcha think? If you haven’t caught on already, this whole shebang is completely depending on your personal taste and preferences. But still, I truly stand by these ones to be quality work (both lyrically and musically). Like always, you might want to check out the lyrics more in-depth for issues you might find. But were there any real missteps I took, or albums I have missed? Let me know in the comments section. Either way, I hope you enjoyed your time at the Andrew Warnes Grammy Awards, where only the best is considered!

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