If there’s one word for music in 2015, it would be trippy. Acid in the tap water? Or just hallucinogenic musical exploration? Your call.
10. Rae Sremmurud, Sremmlife
I was a late-comer to Rae Sremmurd (that’s ear drummers spelled backwards). But it’s a surprisingly strange album, and This Could Be Us is the catchiest thing I’ve heard all year.
9. Miguel, Wildheart
Trippy R&B from one of the best voices singing today. What more could you want? Maybe some radio singles, but I approve of Miguel mixing it up.
8. Young Thug, Barter 6
Why is Young Thug’s second album called Barter 6? Well, it was supposed to be called Carter 6 before lawyers got involved (Lil Wayne’s much-delayed Carter 5 is still tied up with label issues). Whatever it’s name, it’s a very fun album, powered by Young Thug’s up-and-down delivery that makes smart lines sound like complete gibberish.
7. Boosie Badazz, Touch Down 2 Cause Hell
After spending a few years in prison, Boosie is back. Is he the “Tupac of the South” like his fans say? No, probably not. But he did drop a fiery album that hits hard.
6. Kehlani, You Should Be Here
Usually R&B albums aren’t as cohesive as I’d like, and more like a collection of singles. But the 20 year old Oakland singer’s debut is top-to-bottom earworms.
5. Alabama Shakes, Sound & Colour
I didn’t think it was possible, but Britanny Howard’s voice got even better. Just listen to the pent-up yelp that s before she unleashes a new falsetto. Alabama Shakes moved out of the middle of the road and got a lot less retro and a lot weirder.
4. Jamie xx, In Colour
Even after several weeks on repeat I’m still unwinding this stellar album. Just listen as the samples and keys and synths wash over you.
3. Tame Impala, Currents
Ok this one hasn’t been officially released yet. But it debuted on NPR’s First Listen this morning and I’ve already given it a run-through 3x. The trippiest album in a list of very psychedelic releases.
2. ASAP Rocky, At Long Last ASAP
Second albums are tough, but ASAP over-delivered. I’ve fallen in love with every track on its own, and together they show a huge leap in talent.
1. My Morning Jacket, The Waterfall
Probably the upbeat breakup albums I’ve ever heard. Jim James sings shimmering, psychedelic songs that delve into spirituality and nature, and also dysfunction and disappointment.