Winning Musically

Over the last few issues of The VN, I reviewed a few of my top albums of 2015. But after spending most of break thinking and debating, I have come up with my definitive list for the year.


#10: Seaway, “Still Weird”

Pop punk newcomers Seaway killed it on their debut full-length album, one that will hit home with anyone who felt awkward at an eighth grade dance. Check out “Freak.”


#9: Twenty-One Pilots, “Blurryface”

Rap-rock is back, but not in the same way as when Linkin Park and Limp Biscuit were huge. The Columbus, Ohio, duo succeeds on their follow-up to “Fuelled by Ramen.” The quality of the album has helped the band sell out shows across the world and has them lined up for an amphitheater tour in the summer. Listen to “Lane Boy.”


#8 Bring Me the Horizon, “That’s the Spirit”

This album is a total change of sound for the English metalcore outfit. They’ve abandoned their signature screams for soft harmonies and EDM-infused beats. The album focuses on the theme of mental illness and lead singer Oil Sykes’ personal struggles with his ever-changing mental state. Try “Happy Song.”


#7 Dance Gavin Dance, “Instant Gratification”

DGD is now on their third lead singer in ten years of being a band. Their seventh studio album may be their best release yet. DGD has always had good clean vocalists but Tilian Pearson may be their best ever. Pearson’s voice blends with Unclean vocalist Jon Mess’ screams to create a truly beautiful fusion of sound. The only downfalls to this record is that it has two tracks that dominate the album and that Jon Mess’ lyrics have no meaning.  Give “We Own the Night” a try.


#6 Kendrick Lamar, “To Pimp a Butterfly”

Kendrick followed up his 2012 release “Good Kid, M.A.D.D City” with one of the most musically complex albums of the decade. In many critics’ eyes, this is the album of the year. Kendrick packs it with all his emotions about growing up and succeeding as a young black man in America. Kendrick shows that even at the top it’s still hard to be a young black man in this country. As a 22-year-old white kid, I have a hard time understanding parts of the album, but I appreciate the honest commentary and lyrical content. Check out “King Kunta.”


#5 The Story So Far, “The Story So Far”

I reviewed TSSF’s third release back in October. I still feel the same about the album as I did then. From start to finish, TSSF’s self-titled is a very good record. With no one song that stands out, this is a perfect portrait of teen angst. Listen to “Solo.”


#4 Kasey Musgraves, “Pageant Material”

This is another album I reviewed in the fall for The VN. To keep it simple, Musgraves wrote an album to save country from itself. In an era of “bro country,” Musgraves shines with old school sounds and new age lyrics. “Dime Store Cowgirl” will sell you.


#3 Neck Deep, “Life’s Not Out to Get You”

The Welsh rockers wanted to make a different album from their pop-punk peers. Instead of the same sad boy rhetoric, Neck Deep came out with an album about making the best of bad situations. This was one of the biggest surprises of the year and I have to think having A Day To Remember vocalist Jeremy McKinnon produce and co-write the album had something to do with it. Try “Kali Ma.”


#2 Stick to Your Guns, “Disobedient”

I have fallen in love with this album over time. The message is what makes it the number two album on my top 10. Written well before it seamed America started to exist in a state of unrest, this album challenges anyone who feels oppressed to fight back against any preserved injustice. The lead single “Nobody,” a song about being bullied and being proud to be an outsider, sets the tone. It gets you fired up about injustice. With everything going on with Mike Brown and Eric Gardner, this seems like it came out at just the right time.  Check out “The Crown.”


#1 The Wonder Years, “No Closer to Heaven”

If you want to know why I love this album so much, go on The VN website and read my full review. A paragraph cannot do it justice.