It’s a little bit past the midway point of the year, which means it’s time for one of the most fun, and simultaneously most pointless, exercises: the making of the mid-year top albums list. AKA the time when everyone gets to compare each other’s lists and decide how far behind they are on listening to new music. Below you will find the 20 full-length (non-live records, sorry Anberlin and Emancipator) records I have enjoyed the most thus far this year. While there are plenty more that I have listened to, but couldn’t list because of constraints to the form of this article, there are also plenty I missed. Be sure to let me know which ones I missed by commenting below or by hitting me up on twitter at @TGSCraig.
The best of the rest (Only partially in order)
20. Hop Along- Painted Shut
19. Dance Gavin Dance- Instant Gratification
18. Kendrick Lamar- To Pimp a Butterfly
17. Dustin Kensrue- Carry The Fire
16. Death Cab for Cutie- Kintsugi
15. Drake- If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late
14. Smallpools- Lovetap!
13. Mewithoutyou – Pale Horses
12. Kacey Musgraves- Pageant Material
11. Lights and Motion- Chronicle/Music For Film and Television, Vol. 1
And now, on to the top 10:
10. The Early November – Imbue
The Early November’s newest record continues the momentum they created with In Currents. Fittingly, it is even more kinetically charged than that record, with explosive moments like the bridge of opening track “Narrow Mouth,” the 1,000-words-a-minute chorus of the vacation-picture-carousel-personified “Boxing Timelines,” and the incendiary chorus of “Better This Way.”
9. Make Do and Mend – Don’t Be Long
Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. Make Do And Mend seems to be making a career out of doing a fantastic job every time they are called upon to put out an album, but going back into obscurity when that record does not take off the way it deservedly should. While it doesn’t seem like Don’t Be Long will break that trend, it does have the distinct honor of being by far Make Do and Mend’s best and most impacting work.
8. Annabel- Having It All
I had never heard of Ohio’s Annabel before this year began, but I have a feeling I will be hearing a lot from them in the near future. Their second full-length Having It All has shocked me with its musings on disillusionment and trying to make sense of yourself and your identity in the world. As the album’s standout “Ex-Introvert” goes, “I might discover a new side of me, I just wish it would come a little bit more easily,” a feeling I think most of the band’s listeners can relate to. Growing up is hard work, but music like this will always be there to help you along the way.
7. Mariage Blanc – No Autobiography
Mariage Blanc is the band that out Death Cab’d Death Cab in 2015. Kintsugi was a tremendous return to form for Death Cab for Cutie, taking some of the elements that made them such an emotional force on Plans and The Photo Album, and adapting them to their sound in 2015. Mariage Blanc on the other hand, took all of those elements, added in a dash of Copeland’s delicate, vulnerable harmonizing, and straight up recreated those early Death Cab albums. While Kintsugi is the kind of album you put on when you’re feeling blue, No Autobiography is the kind of record you put on when the whole world feels blue.
6. Twenty One Pilots – Blurryface
Yeah, we can now definitively say that Blurryface isn’t as strong as Vessel. That much isn’t in question anymore. But the good news is, it doesn’t appear as though Twenty One Pilots has disappointed fans as much as the general reaction to the album’s lead single “Fairly Local” initially suggested. The truth is, Tyler Joseph and Josh Dunn took some creative risks yet again, welding together reggae, hip-hop, and bucket-loads more electronics into one of the most sonically diverse number 1 albums in Billboard 200 history. Quite the accomplishment.
5. Silverstein – I Am Alive In Everything I Touch
While fans were justifiably cautious when Silverstein left the creative freedom which Hopeless had seemingly afforded them to sign with Rise Records, vocalist Shane Told and Co. are here to prove that such misgivings were misguided. Whereas many longtime Silverstein fans consider the adventurous 2013 concept album This Is How The Wind Shifts to be Silverstein’s best record ever, or at least best record since 2005’s Discovering the Waterfront, I am personally of the believe that Silverstein have yet again surpassed that accomplished. I Am Alive is a raw, unassailable firebrand of a record. For the second straight record, Told has never sounded better, and the band still portrays desperation and fleeting hope better than any “hardcore” band out there, “Risecore” or not. (Also, I don’t know where else to bring this up, but listen to the chorus of “Je Me Souviens” and tell me it doesn’t sound like the chorus of “Let U Go” by Ashley Parker Angel- that is all.)
4. Misterwives – Our Own House
I can’t describe what it is I love so much about Misterwives’ debut full length album. Sure, it’s catchy. Sure, the song’s lyrics are a lot more intellectually stimulating than the genre of music would indicate. Sure, the instrumentation makes me dance like an idiot without fail. Sure, vocalist Mandy Lee’s performance is note-perfect throughout the entire record. But it’s something intangible that makes Our Own House such an enjoyable listen. Listening to this record simply feels like what sitting with your feet in the pool on a warm summer day feels like. It’s summer in a 42 minute record.
3. Enter Shikari – The Mindsweep
We should’ve all seen this coming when Enter Shikari’s new record was announced as a 2015 release. It happens like clockwork. I tell myself this will finally be the album where my irrational love for this band will finally fall apart. The album comes out, I love it to an unreasonable degree. I put it obnoxiously high on my mid-year list and then it eventually drops down to a slightly lower, but still justifiably high position on my end of the year countdown. I’m nothing, if not predictable. The Mindsweep is by far my most played record of 2015, and, I don’t say this lightly at all, my favorite Enter Shikari release yet. Maybe this will be the one that sticks around for the ride until the year-end lists.
2. Sorority Noise- Joy, Departed
The title of Sorority Noise’s second full-length record is something of a misnomer. While, yes, there are moments on the record where vocalist Cam Boucher allows himself to wallow in his insecurities and his incapability to succeed, the record as a whole is near-obsessed with the boundless possibility and endless of the future, despite an abundance of evidence playing the contrarian to this view.
Even at its darkest moments, like when Boucher is spiraling downward in “Using” (“Devil on my shoulder said try this instead / so I started using again.”), Sorority Noise responds with a burst of bright, flashing light; in this case, a light symbolized by the emphatic chants of “I stopped wishing I was dead.” While it’s not the most rousing of battle cries, it’s at least a step in the right direction.
1. Turnover- Peripheral Vision
I will just copy paste what I wrote for AbsolutePunk regarding this album:
Even before Peripheral Vision, the newest record from Virginia Beach’s Turnover, was released, listeners should’ve seen the drastic stylistic shift coming. In the second single released from the album, the appropriately titled “New Scream,” vocalist Austin Getz sings one of many self-referential lines onPeripheral Vision: “Still craving more than just, the same as how it was.” “New Scream” foretells the band’s growing disillusionment with being categorized into any one genre. Still it’s jarring to hear a band that once sounded like a B-Rate version of Superheaven or Title Fight eschew the rudiments that have become commonplace in this music scene so swiftly. Turnover invoke the transformative longing of adolescence for a memorable roller-coaster ride of an album. And that sense of longing is echoed in Getz’s own sentiments about the record. He stated in a FADER interview shortly before the album’s release: “I always remember things better than they were and miss people more than I should.”
Those words are eerily reminiscent of another torchbearer for adolescence Holden Caulfield’s famous last words in Catcher in the Rye: “Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.” Listening to Peripheral Vision may not necessarily be the same sort of universal coming-of-age experience as reading the aforementioned novel, but it is nonetheless similarly though-provoking and enjoyable. Perhaps one day in the far future, Peripheral Vision will be looked upon as the crowning achievement of Turnover’s career, in much the same way as Catcher was easily J.D. Salinger’s most acclaimed work. I believe, however, that this is just the beginning for Turnover, and their magnum opus is still coming. Even so, it will take quite the effort to top the mesmerizing lilting of “Dizzy On The Comedown,” the delicate vulnerability of “I Would Hate You if I Could,” or the unfaltering energy of “Take My Head.