Damien Rice: My Favourite Faded Fantasy (Folk)
After an 8 year absence, My Favourite Faded Fantasy marks a triumphant return for singer/ songwriter Damien Rice. With songs ranging from sombre to depressing, the record is a remarkable listen. With masterful production courtesy of Rick Rubin, Rice’s songwriting is highlighted in a way never before heard. A must-listen.
Jungle: Jungle (RnB/Funk)
Jungle started out in 2014 completely unknown. However they’re one of the fastest rising bands in music at the moment, and it’s all thank to a near-perfect self-titled album. Pairing melancholy tracks with impossible-to-keep-still numbers, this album is perfect for putting on and listening from top to bottom.
Mark Ronson: Uptown Special (Hip-Hop/Funk)
Despite a decent amount of success in England, Uptown Special is poised to be Mark Ronson’s first big trans-Atlantic record. With excellent tracks featuring Bruno Mars and Mystikal already released, DJ-turned-producer Ronson is making good music with good musicians. This is definitely going to be the funkiest record of 2015.
Various: Native North America Volume 1: Aboriginal Folk, Rock and Country 1966-1985 (Compilation)
This 34-track offering of aboriginal songwriting and musical expression from Canada and the U.S. was a highlight for me. It’s a work of cultural anthropology that explores the diverse voices of our indigenous music-makers. A compilation filled with amazing songwriting and excellent rock n’ roll and folk music. Essential listening!
Dada Plan: A Dada Plan Is Free (Art-Rock)
A Dada Plan Is Free is a fantastic piece of highly conscious and intricately conceived art-rock from Vancouver’s five-piece Dada Plan. Deeply lyrical and mature beyond its years, it’s a debut that blends the organic and the synthesized in perfect harmony under a dystopian Vancouver skyline.
Modest Mouse: Strangers to Ourselves (Indie Rock)
It’s been too long since we’ve heard new material from Modest Mouse — seven years, to be exact. A scheduled 15-song double LP is certainly good news for people who like good news, and it’s a welcome sign for fans of the band’s impressive back catalogue and Isaac Brock’s slice-of-life lyricism.
Freddie Gibbs & Madlib: Cocaine Piñata (Hip-Hop/Rap)
Cocaine Piñata is the pairing of trap juggernaut Freddie Gibbs and Madlib, with Madlib’s exploitation-era sampling production providing the ideal backdrop for director and speaker Gibbs to spit verses on the life of a low-level street hustler. It’s producer and street poet rolling up a fat one and inviting you into a coup de ville for their own Superfly adventure.
Run The Jewels: RTJ2 (Rap)
RTJ2 is the most anticipated career release for Killer Mike and El-P, the two halves that make up the batshit insane duo that is Run The Jewels. Before you can grasp what’s happening on “Jeopardy”, the opening track, El-P spells it out for your virgin ears: “Run the Jewels is the answer, your question is ‘what’s popping?’”
Kendrick Lamar: TBA (Rap)
How does one follow an album so successful it’s been named the Ulysses of hip-hop? Despite releasing the polarizing single “i” and performing a track on TV, Lamar has been pretty tight-lipped about his next record. It may release before the end of this year, but don’t cross your thumbs; just brace yourself for what the kid has in store.
FKA Twigs: LP1 (R&B/Pop)
Alternative pop artist FKA Twigs has made waves in the industry this year, and LP1 is paving the way for sexually expressive women of colour who take charge of their own artistic expression. Producing most of the tracks and music videos herself, Twigs has finished 2014 with an impressive and critically acclaimed album.
Lykke Li: I Never Learn (Alternative Pop)
Through deep sadness and heartbreak comes an exceptional artistic vision for Swedish artist Lykke Li, with I Never Learn completing a trilogy of albums started in 2008. The album is comprised of tear-jerking power-ballads, with tracks feeling emotionally raw — a definite standout amongst today’s alternative dream pop landscape.
Solange: TBA (R&B/Pop)
Solange had announced via Facebook last spring on the near completion for her third studio album, following a successful EP collaboration with Dev Hynes in 2012. After her new record label launch, #ElevatorGate, and talks about creating an album on race, an exceptional and buzz-worthy album is no doubt in store for the Knowles sister.