By Jaran Chance
39: Jordan Raf – Double Negative
Jordan Raf is an L.A. based crooner, experimenting in the realms of R&B and trap. Double Negative is 36 minutes of heavily sensual tunes displaying Raf’s vocal diversity.
38: Kyle Craft – Dolls of Highland
Kyle Craft is an intriguing blend of David Bowie, Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones in his songwriting. For his debut album release, the Portland-based singer-songwriter channels a form of pure heartache through his signature wail.
37: CRX – New Skin
Lead singer of The Strokes, Nick Valensi, is also the lead singer of CRX. The band was formed behind a mutual love for Elvis Costello and the influences are apparent. Josh Homme, lead singer of Queens of the Stone Age produced “New Skin,” their debut album.
36: Kendrick Lamar – untitled unmastered.
“untitled unmastered.” is a series of eight demos from the recording sessions of last years “To Pimp a Butterfly.” This isn’t really an album it’s just a cool thing that Kendrick did. It should be received and ranked as such. However, even in a year that Kendrick didn’t record a release he consistently stayed in the spotlight with high profile features such as tracks with Danny Brown, The Weeknd, Sia, Isaiah Rashaad, etc.
35: From Indian Lakes – Everything Feels Better Now
From Indian Lakes are organic indie rock with elements of post-rock. The eerie melodies are good for both enthusiastically singing along and falling asleep to.
34: Bon Iver – 22, A Million
“Folktronica” is one word I’ve heard used to describe this new sound. Whatever it is it definitely caught a lot of Bon Iver fans off-guard this year, with some even joking that it was not a real release similar to Frank Ocean’s “Endless.” As the year closes however, it is apparent that this is a real release and with further listening, the world has come to fully appreciate the new sound.
33: Jay Prince – Smile Good
Since his break on the scene last year, Jay Prince has not ceased his effort in the studio. He released two albums last year and another single already after “Smile Good.” Prince is a London-based hip-hop artist drawing influences from all over rap. The prevailing theme on “Smile Good,” is of optimism and unity.
32: D.R.A.M. – Big Baby D.R.A.M.
Yes the guy who wrote Broccoli released his debut album this year. D.R.A.M. or Does Real Ass Music is a rapper, singer and producer. The album is full of feel-good jams and the cover is an absolutely adorable picture of D.R.A.M. holding up a dog. Well worth the listen but maybe skip over listening to Broccoli for the 200th time.
31: Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Denial
Car Seat Headrest are lo-fi pop-rock headed by frontman Will Toledo. Recently picked up by Matador Records, the group released an album of reworked material, “Teens of Style,” late last year and this year’s “Teens of Denial,” debuts new material with the bands new melded sound of lo-fi production methods and access to high-quality equipment. The album features incredibly relatable lyrics and catchy riffs.
30: Bruno Mars – 24K Magic
Bruno Mars seems to be working at reinventing his familiar sound. Originally known for his singles “Grenade” and “Locked Out of Heaven,” his new record “24K Magic,” feels like he is settling in on a new sound of pop infused, James Brown influenced, funk. The first half of this record is very strong; catchy and enjoyable. The production on the second half falls flat and sounds completely hollow. Ultimately though singles, like “24K Magic” and “Perm” are party jams fit to enter into the new year to.