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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 18, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 51
BEST OF MUSIC 2015: Albums
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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BEST OF MUSIC 2015: Albums

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

One or two hit singles doesn't define the overall quality of an album. It's a strong collection of well-composed and timely songs, strung together by a concept, or a mood, or a sound that does. Here are the 10 Best Albums of 2015 that overall outshined the others, in ranking order.

1. To Pimp a Butterfly - Kendrick Lamar
Hip hop might not be your cup of tea, but you have to appreciate the envelope being pushed here by Kendrick Lamar. To Pimp a Butterfly is a fascinating, bold album packed with political and social commentary that is also fun to listen to; you can't help but get up and dance to 'King Kunta' or sing along to 'Alright.' To Pimp a Butterfly is one-of-a-kind.

2. Carrie & Lowell - Sufjan Stevens
'Should Have Known Better' is one of those beautiful songs you're never going to hear on the radio, so make a beeline for it on You Tube. It's perhaps Sufjan Stevens' best-written track, off perhaps the New York singer-songwriter's best album, which is saying a lot because he's consistently put out superb music.

3. Sound & Color - Alabama Shakes
Alabama Shakes was just getting started when they bowed to audiences in 2012 with its full-length debut Boys & Girls. The Southern act's second album is certainly more adventurous and unpredictable, but that only works in their favor, because it's been well received by fans and the industry alike. 'Don't Wanna Fight' is worth listening to, if you haven't already.

4. Art Angels - Grimes
There were a dozen great electronic albums that came out in 2015, but the most impressive was Art Angels by Grimes. The Canadian artist, with songs like 'Realiti' and 'Flesh Without Blood,' elevated herself to another level; this record was sweet candy to my ears.

5. Traveller - Chris Stapleton
At a time when country albums don't really sound like country albums, it's refreshing to come across Chris Stapleton. The polished songwriter-turned-performer seems to channel all the legends - Hank Williams, George Jones, Johnny Cash - with this sensational grouping of songs, including the gritty 'Tennessee Whiskey.'

6. Beauty and the Madness - The Weeknd
There's something interesting and exciting about The Weeknd, who skyrocketed to worldwide fame this year on the strength of his mega single 'Can't Feel My Face.' But don't ignore the rest of his album, or his hit 'Earned It' from the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack.

7. Reality Show - Jazmine Sullivan
'Let It Burn' gets my vote for best R&B song of the year, delivered by the always smooth Jazmine Sullivan, who took a five-year sabbatical in between albums. Thank goodness she's back; we needed to hear tracks like 'Mascara' and 'Dumb' (featuring Meek Mill) again.

8. Pageant Material - Kacey Musgraves
'Mind your own biscuits and life will be gravy,' sings Kacey Musgraves on the first single, 'Biscuits,' from her Grammy and CMA-nominated album Pageant Material, a very satisfying follow-up to 2013's Same Trailer, Different Park. It's appropriately titled because Musgraves is indeed country's newest queen.

9. Kintsugi - Death Cab for Cutie
Minus one Cutie, guitarist Chris Walla who voluntarily left the group, the Western Washington-based band still managed to put out a rather solid new album in 2015. It felt deeper and more explorative than 2011's Codes and Keys, especially its leadoff single 'Black Sun,' proving that the well hasn't run dry for DCFC.

10 Everything is 4 - Jason Derulo
A surprisingly wonderful pop album this year was turned in by Jason Derulo. The Miami-born singer got lots of attention for the first hit single, 'Want to Want Me,' but the second released track, 'Cheyenne,' is even better.

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BEST OF MUSIC 2015: Hottest Artists of the Year
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BEST OF MUSIC 2015: Feature Artist Interview
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BEST OF MUSIC 2015: Albums
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BEST OF MUSIC 2015: Singles
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BEST OF MUSIC 2015: Live Performances
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Best of Music 2015 and special interview with Allen Stone next week
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BEST OF MUSIC 2015: Worst Music
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Ham for the Holidays with Lisa Koch and Peggy Platt is amazing comedy
FINAL WEEKEND

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Adele gives Seattle a big hello with two concerts next July
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STG presents 'So You Think You Can Dance' at the Paramount Dec. 26
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Seattle Musical Theatre presents She Loves Me
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Seattle LGBT Community Center
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Seattle musicians Brandi Carlile, Death Cab for Cutie, and Seattle Symphony earn Grammy nominations
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Danish Girl a gender journey of self-discovery
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Abrams' Star Wars brings balance back to The Force
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Rambunctious Sisters a Poehler-Fey gem
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Howard's Sea a whale of a disappointment
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