I feel a change in the air. Working at Stinkweeds, we have become sensitive to the ebb and flow of musical ideas and trends. Of course, music is constantly evolving and devolving. Both, the evolution and the devolution are crucial to these dramatic shifts. Influence from the music of the past is equally as important as new ideas and sounds. Relatability is at the heart of objectively good music. But, it takes that shift in ideas to shake things up. This isn’t to say that music has been completely stagnant for so many years. Music always endures and delivers fresh ideas. It’s those moments where we’re all kind of left scratching our heads, unable to fully process the thing that is happening in front of us, that something new is born. Most bands and genres can be traced back to a source of inspiration. Sometimes, those sources are so prevalent that it changes the landscape. With a lot of the music that happened in 2015, we are seeing new ideas starting to sprout and some shedding of older trends. Things seem ripe for another little renaissance. In fact, I can think of many cases where this has already started. I’m sure, with all our picks and those of the contributors we have reached out to, you’ll find some of those new ideas, along with some music you might have missed.

As we compile our lists of 5 albums, we would like you to think about what albums would make your list. What has caught and kept your attention in a sea of music, often delivered non stop to our ears. Feel free to share your top picks in the comments below, along with a few words, stating what you found in these albums and songs. If you share, we will enter you into a raffle for a $20 Stinkweeds Gift Card, just in time for the holidays and a new year of music.

Our Top 5s will be up on Friday December 11th, along with some favorite show picks!

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  1. I find it really hard to keep up with the proverbial kids these days, and honestly I spent a lot of 2015 catching up with older music (ahhh, there’s too much! I can’t believe I just got to, e.g., The Jam’s All Mod Cons this year!). But here are 5 from 2015 that grabbed me:

    Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly

    It’s hard to say anything beyond the KENDRICK IS TRUTH refrain I’ve heard a lot lately. Stylistically rich / varied, provocative lyrics (and the occasional free jazz trip), and an absolute finger-on-the-pulse wrt social justice. His best, probably in my top five hip-hop albums from any year.

    Kamasi Washington – The Epic

    This triple (!!!) LP is an overwhelming foray into spiritual and soul jazz with a huge dose of the avant garde and some vocal soul thrown in. Oh, and Agharta-era Miles fusion to boot. It doesn’t really break new ground so much as put a huge swath of old ground up on a pedestal, and it’s really exciting to have this popping its head into the mainstream in 2015 (largely due to Kamasi’s presence on TPAB above).

    Sleater-Kinney – No Cities to Love

    Re-affirmed everyone’s belief in the greatest rock band in the world, and come on – how many of the reunited indie bands dropped anything even approaching this? I was lucky enough to see them (w/ my young daughter!) in Tempe this year, and this material on No Cities to Love stands with everything else they’ve done. I.e., excellent.

    Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell

    Crushingly beautiful and personal, and a nice step away from the frenetic experimentalism of the past few efforts. Just a gorgeous, sad disc.

    Father John Misty I Love You, Honeybear

    Vitriol and grandeur, hilariously memorable lyrics and an impressively bizarre stage character make this one stand out quite a bit. The biting narratives remind me of bitter-est Zimmerman, and it’s extremely easy to slip into the ornate production on this album. Great stuff!

    Looking forward to y’all’s picks next week – thanks!

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