Greatest Albums of 2015

As we live out the last month of 2015, it’s time to talk about the greatest music of the year. And 2015 was a clusterfuck for superior music — a slew of artists made extraordinary statements. In fact, there’s a huge list of albums lined up for my listening pleasure/analysis that I haven’t gotten around to and most likely won’t get to before 2016 arrives. But it’s OK; Strings & Laces will just post about the albums that I spent the most time listening to in 2015. Because, as we all know, great albums become even greater with repeated spins. The way Strings & Laces sees it (or, actually, hears it), records that were released in the first half of a year (January — June) may have a better chance to be written about at the end of the year; the listeners had more time to enjoy them. However, this theory is not always correct; a great album should always be a great album no matter what month it was released in. Although, again, music is made to develop over time. Or, an album is just bad from the beginning, never to be listened to again, but we won’t be speaking of any of that here.

Many websites/blogs list the best albums from 50 to one; Strings & Laces is taking a different approach. Instead of rating these releases with a number, we’ll just be talking about why they were great and why they are worth every listeners’ time. Because, sincerely, Strings & Laces’ favorite albums of 2015 all deserved at least one #1 vote for one reason or another. This isn’t statistics, people; it’s music.

So, without any further explanation, Strings & Laces gives you its Greatest Albums of 2015:

We start with an up-and-coming female singer/songwriter who is far from a sophomore slump:

Torres : Sprinter

An overcoat; a lantern; a bible; a pink cell phone; cigarettes; innocence; a letter from my grandparents; empathy; and a shameless smooch. These are some of the things I want and/or feel when TorresSprinter is playing. It’s a nonsensical mix, but not much will make sense when you’re daydreaming and re-learning how to breathe.

“Heavy” can mean two definitions in music: 1) the instrumentation itself sounds weighty; 2) the lyrical material and delivery of song can be so profound as to create its own being, its own personal vortex. Sprinter does the latter, and also a little of the former. Mackenzie Scott, who performs under the name Torres, made the album alongside Rob Ellis (best known for his work with PJ Harvey) that both takes away oxygen and pulverizes the senses. As emotional as Brand New’s The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me, and as cosmic as EMA’s The Future’s Void, Sprinter is a flawlessly sequenced collection of nine songs that have the power to reverse disintegration. Ellis’ production cannot be undermined, but Scott is a strong songwriter, and an underrated singer. Anyone that can write a song as haunting and overwhelming as “Son, You Are No Island,” or as effective as “Sprinter,” deserves free coffee for life.

The clang of a ride cymbal propels the sway, a pedal steel makes jabs, and the harshest breakdown puts the listener under a blanket.

Torres hoped that Sprinter would find a place in your world, and I became a true believer. Scott fears the people who do not know darkness, and there’s nothing in this world that she wouldn’t do. “I will no longer claim to know where we go when it’s time to go,” Torres sings, almost a whisper during closer “The Exchange,” a modernized version of Bob Dylan’s best moments. And it won’t be long before Sprinter is really yours.

— Jordan J. Michael

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