I think it’s safe to say that 2015 has been nothing short of a challenge. If I ever needed music in my life, this was the year to cling to it – and boy did I ever! As I sit and write this, I’m trying to fathom how I ever made it through this year – the slow burns, the hopes lost, the pain, the rage, the confusion, the victory, the days when I couldn’t muster up the courage to get out of bed – they all were eased with music. I feel like this year went by so quick yet it still found the time to beat the living sh!t out of me while leaving behind some albums for therapeutic reasons. How kind.
I’ve noticed a lot of other sites’ lists are pretty much identical and to be quite honest, I’m over it. We all have varying tastes here at The Daily Listening, so within the coming days you’ll be getting a dose of what we’ve all been listening to this year rather than one big list of albums that sold well or just look cool to write about. (Sorry, not sorry). While this year saw a lot of changes in music along with New Music Fridays (can we give up on that in 2016?) 2015 was a pretty stellar year for music and we hope our personal lists inspire you to share yours with us!
This decision is always a tough one and narrowing it down to ten wasn’t a piece of cake, so imagine the horror of having to narrow down your top 10 to a top 5! I’ve agonized over this more than I should have and came to the conclusion that a top 5 would be better in terms of showcasing what really saved me this year. While albums from Carly Rae Jepsen, Selena Gomez, The Neighbourhood, Melanie Martinez, Smallpools, Zella Day, BØRNS and Lana Del Rey deserve credit for giving me some form of joy, hope and the ability to lie on the floor and let the floodgates open up, these top 5 did more than that, making 2015 a year I conquered rather than gave up on.
5. Halsey – Badlands
2015 was the year of Halsey. The singer blew up this year and with the release of her debut, Badlands, and a sold out stint at Madison Square Garden next year, it only gets better from here. I fell in love with this record the moment it met my hands this summer. Her way with words fascinates me – not only to try to be a better writer but to get a better understanding of life and the things people go through during a relationship or any kind of self-discovery. Tracks like “Haunting” and “Gasoline” took my breath away as every word sung was everything I’ve lived out loud while “Roman Holiday” gave me a taste of bliss as the fall air blew around me at a typically confusing time, giving me a sense of hope that things would maybe be OK. There’s a reason why this girl is taking over the world and I’m so lucky to witness it.
Buy Badlands here.
4. flor – Sights & Sounds EP
I fell in love with flor this year and I haven’t looked back. I’ve drowned myself in the sweetness of “Unsaid,” “Warm Blood” and “Let Me In” all summer long and the fact that they finally have an EP out that listeners can buy is a stepping stone towards that debut I’ve been waiting for. Sights & Sounds is the culmination of every track the band has released on Soundcloud over the past year. After touring with the likes of Halsey, COIN and Colony House to name a few this year, they’re finally starting to build a solid fanbase – one that keeps growing, craving for more as much as I am. “Unsaid” is what initially drew me in this past spring. The vulnerability of the chorus hit me – “Are these feelings I long for best left unsaid?” along with, “Comfort can’t help me grow up anyways.” As I’ve kept myself awake at night all summer long over the thought of expressing my feelings to someone, these songs were there to tell me to take a chance no matter how bad it can possibly turn out.
Buy Sights & Sounds here.
3. The New Division – Gemini
The New Division just gets it. There’s no need to explain what you want out of a stellar album when it comes to John Glenn Kunkel & Co because they’ve been doing it better than most for quite a while now. Gemini, the band’s third LP just hit a nerve at a particularly rough time, giving it’s dark elements more meaning and depth. Released on the day that everything started to go downhill for me, I desperately clung to this album this past summer and I am forever grateful for how it kept me inspired during those dark nights when all I wanted was to disappear from the face of the earth. Tracks like “Murder Shock,” “Copycat,” and personal favorite, “Alive,” have a sense of urgency to them I cannot explain – the latter’s lyrics of, “No one ever got this far alive,” displaying all I’ve put myself through during the past five years and how far I have yet to go. When you’ve walked through fire for something while hiding behind an illusion, it’s bound to be dark for a while. If you’re lucky, you get an album like this to keep you company.
Buy Gemini here.
2. Garbage – 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition Re-Issue
I’m not sure if it’s cool to include a re-issue on a Best Of list, but personally I do not give a sh!t. I fell in love with this record more now than I ever did when I bought the original back when I was 14. Garbage has always been my number one band but after seeing them live this fall as a part of their 20 Years Queer tour in celebration of their 1995 debut album, I can’t help but wonder how the hell I survived without them. Released with an extra disc of b-sides, or as they like to call them – G-Sides – the re-issue of Garbage easily could have been released today as it is still relevant – sonically and lyrically – as it is perfect for the stage of life I’m currently experiencing. Songs like “Fix Me Now” and “A Stroke of Luck” took on a brand new meaning as I feel like I’m experiencing everything through some painful filter – “Here comes the cold again, I feel it closing in.” However, some things never change as social media statuses turn into old AOL away messages of the past – “Things don’t have to be this way. Catch me on a better day.” Thank you, Shirley Manson for existing. Now let’s get album number 6 out this spring!
Buy Garbage here.
1. GEMS – Kill The One You Love
I discovered GEMS (and what gems they are) in early October and I’ve been captivated by them ever since. Their stellar debut, Kill The One You Love, embodies everything you’ve ever felt about existential longing and the ways we wind up killing ourselves over the ones we love. It is only through our own power that we can put an end to the one-sided pain and kill the ones we love – not in the literal sense, obviously – to put it mildly. This record has been my night time companion and tracks like “Soak,” “Scars,” “Tangled Memories,” and “w/o u” have allowed me to feel those emotions I was afraid to feel for so long. When you’re going through something difficult, it’s hard to imagine anyone or anything to relate to, but this record has it all down pact – beautifully crafted in a way I never imagined possible.
Buy Kill the One You Love here.
Stay tuned for more staff picks all month long!