Best of 2015 … The final countdown

What do you get for the artist who has everything at this time of the year? A mention on the Half-Life Music Best of 2015 list, of course. Here are my favourite albums of the year. Artists, you’re welcome. Happy Holidays.

Joanna Newsom – Divers


My favourite album of the year was full of wonderfully elliptical phrases, both musically and lyrically. There were hints of earlier work. ‘You Will Not Take My Heart Alive’ had a distinct ‘Monkey & Bear’ feel. Yet this is an songwriter who showed that she is maturing with every album. There was simply nothing to compare with it.

Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell


An album about maternal abandonment and death? Only his Sufjanness could write this most beautiful set of songs about such a miserable theme. Just the thing to put on at that point in the holiday when the merriment becomes just a little bit too much.

Sun Kil Moon – Universal Themes


If Mark Kozelek has a marketing manager, then she or he must surely have been doing a face palm at the very moment when this album came out. Mr Moon’s frankly offensive comments to a journalist on the eve of its release overshadowed the critical reception to the album. To be fair, the music press still tried to assess the album dispassionately, but it was difficult. Yet this was a masterpiece. Woven together across the different tracks, the observations were pointillistic, but the themes were indeed universal.

My Morning Jacket – The Waterfall


‘Only Memories Remain’ was the wistful coda to a triumphant return to form from the Jacketeers. It pointed to the fact that underneath the rollicking riffs and shimmery synths, there were some darker themes to The Waterfall.

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