As news feeds and magazines are plastered with lists of the year’s best music, we rounded up 2015’s local releases. A standout album is more than just a collection of catchy singles; it’s a carefully curated work that grows and develops with each song. These notable Boston-bred releases charmed our team and successfully captured those elements:
1. Latrell James – Twelve
Rapper/producer Latrell James gave us 12 reasons this past May why he’s regarded as one of Boston’s best lyricists. His album, Twelve, offers candid lines like “I grew up with my own Heathcliff and Clair/to have both of your parents in your household is rare.” On top of original production from James and his brother, Twelve is an album that young people everywhere can relate to and find new meaning with each listen.
2. Darlingside – Birds Say
A gulp of refreshing indie folk, Birds Say touches unexpected places — a bubbly soft drink that tickles your nose instead of your tongue.
3. The Ballroom Thieves – A Wolf in the Doorway
Swell and sway with the sweet harmonies of this wholesome folk trio. Less a work of dainty dancers and more of weathered sailors, there’s a roughness and grit that comes with many of the tracks. All little pigs and folk fans should welcome this Wolf with open arms.
4. Ripe – Hey Hello
A fresh, groove-filled jam from funk’s forbidden fruit. Jovial vocals and warm blasts of horns are a welcome change from the sullen garage rock prominent in our local music scene.
5. Michael Christmas – What A Weird Day
The sequel to Is This Art?, October’s What a Weird Day expands Michael Christmas’s regular-guy-rapper repertoire, this time featuring many different producers and high-profile guest artists like Mac Miller and Logic, both of whom Christmas has now toured with. An 18-track medley of Christmas’s experiences since leaving Boston to pursue music professionally, What a Weird Day solidifies Christmas as a national presence.
7. Vundabar – Gawk
8. Palehound – Dry Food
Female-driven, melancholy noise-rock courtesy of Ellen Kempner. Honest and raw, Dry Food is more about human nature than dog sustenance.
9. Mad Satta – Break Me Free
Begins with danceable modern funk before stepping back to melt you with smooth, silky, soulful sounds. Or, as we mentioned earlier this year, “an oh-so sensual groove that whispers please don’t show this to your parents.”
10. These Wild Plains – These Wild Plains
Rock ‘n’ roll guitar solos with a touch of twang, thanks to harmonica and acoustic guitar picking.