Nicole

  1. Emile Haynie cover Emile Haynie cover (abstracted)

    Emile Haynie

    We Fall

    Listen

    This is a star-powered album with vocals from the likes of Randy Newman, Lana Del Rey, Lykke Li, and Father John Misty. All the songs are catchy, danceable, and so much fun. My favorite is Little Ballerina (warning: it will get stuck in your head).

  2. Hiatus Kaiyote cover Hiatus Kaiyote cover (abstracted)

    Hiatus Kaiyote

    Choose Your Weapon

    Listen

    I was introduced to Hiatus Kaiyote in the beginning of the year and fell in love with their soulful sound. Their music borrows from an eclectic mix of genres, including jazz, R&B, soul, and funk, to create something unique and intricately layered. Choose Your Weapon is a fantastic follow-up to Tawk Tomahawk. Listen and dance.

  3. WATERS cover WATERS cover (abstracted)

    WATERS

    What's Real

    Listen

    I heard WATERS open for Tegan & Sara at the end of 2014 and was so excited to hear that they were working on an album. Their music is rocky and poppy and often accompanied by headbanging.

  4. Lianne La Havas cover Lianne La Havas cover (abstracted)

    Lianne La Havas

    Blood

    Listen

    Lianne La Havas’s latest album feels like a celebration of life and love. If you haven’t already, take a look at her Tiny Desk Concert. She performs with such joy and carries herself so gracefully. This album is uplifting and beautiful and puts a smile on my face.

  5. Family of the Year cover Family of the Year cover (abstracted)

    Family of the Year

    Family of the Year

    Listen

    Family of the Year’s eponymous album is a nostalgic summer pop record: equal parts dance party, road trip, and lazy day at the beach. Songs like Dead Poets and Hey Kid feel melancholy and personal, while others like Make You Mine and Facepaint are just plain fun.

  6. Lana Del Rey cover Lana Del Rey cover (abstracted)

    Lana Del Rey

    Honeymoon

    Listen

    The first time I listened to this album, I wasn’t sure about it. Then my friend played it in the car with the sunroof open and the windows rolled down and I understood. This is an album for road trips at sunset, dancing in the living room in your socks, and coding into the wee hours of the night.

  7. Sufjan Stevens cover Sufjan Stevens cover (abstracted)

    Sufjan Stevens

    Carrie & Lowell

    Listen

    Somehow this album didn’t make its way into my life until the end of the year, but I’m so happy it did. Carrie & Lowell paints an intimate portrait of Sufjan Steven’s life. The instrumentation is sparse, allowing the delicate lyrics to shine through. You can hear him deal with pain and tragedy, but somehow this album doesn’t bring you down. There is hope and something to look forward to (like listening to the whole record again).

  8. Miya Folick cover Miya Folick cover (abstracted)

    Miya Folick

    Strange Darling (EP)

    Listen

    Though this is technically an EP, I had to include it in my list of favorite albums. Miya’s latest musical release marks a definite departure from her Blue Whale EP. It’s edgier, grungier, and more raw. Her song Talking with Strangers feels like the story of my life, and I often find myself singing the chorus in the shower. Do yourself a favor and give it a listen.

  9. SOAK cover SOAK cover (abstracted)

    SOAK

    Before We Forgot How To Dream

    Listen

    I had the immense pleasure of seeing SOAK perform at The Echo over the summer. She seemed so comfortable onstage that it felt like we were all just hanging out with her in a living room. Though most of her record features percussion and a lot of instrumentation, she performed solo with just her acoustic guitar. Her soulful voice and melancholy lyrics really shone through and made all the songs seem even more personal and intimate. I’m so excited to see what SOAK does next.

  10. Death Cab for Cutie cover Death Cab for Cutie cover (abstracted)

    Death Cab for Cutie

    Kintsugi

    Listen

    2015 was a rollercoaster year for me with moments of blissful happiness and periods of intense sadness. I met this album during the happy times, but it became my dear companion during the sad times and brought me through to the other side.

Roman

  1. AnnenMayKantereit cover AnnenMayKantereit cover (abstracted)

    AnnenMayKantereit

    Wird schon irgendwie gehen

    Listen

    I had already decided upon most of the albums on my list, but then I discovered this German trio (whose name is made up of the band member’s last names). I was immediately smitten by the singer’s deep, raspy voice. I suppose that this would have landed at a higher place if I had found out about it earlier in the year. Their full-length debut will be released early 2016 so they might make another appearance on my list next year.

  2. WATERS cover WATERS cover (abstracted)

    WATERS

    What’s Real

    Listen

    I met Waters as the supporting act for Tegan & Sara last year and had been anticipating their debut record ever since. It’s melodious, screamy, California pop rock (Grouplove is an apt comparison) and best enjoyed with the windows rolled down.

  3. Josh Ritter cover Josh Ritter cover (abstracted)

    Josh Ritter

    Sermon on the Rocks

    Listen

    Every year is a good music year when a Josh Ritter album appears. This one is quite a departure from its contemplative, mourning predecessor. Seems like Ritter’s outlook on life is looking up: “Even me, yes, yes, y’all, who has been so long alone / I’m headed home”, he asserts in Homecoming. Musically, this might be his most adventurous album—barn-stomping country is interrupted by soulful interludes, even some Hawaiian schmaltz appears in the last song. Yet it’s all held together by Ritter’s poetry—a barrage of beautiful, witty words that his songs can barely contain.

  4. Death Cab for Cutie cover Death Cab for Cutie cover (abstracted)

    Death Cab for Cutie

    Kintsugi

    Listen

    I did not fall for Death Cab until Plans (quite late, I know, but then completely). I’ve been following the band since then but haven’t been this excited about one of their records until now. There is rhythmic urgency and melodic beauty in equal parts. And I do have a melancholic soft spot for breakup records.

  5. Coeur de Pirate cover Coeur de Pirate cover (abstracted)

    Coeur de Pirate

    Roses

    Listen

    Beatrice waltzed into my musical life a few years ago when I discovered a live performance of Comme des enfants). I fell for her beautiful French singing and her adorable face. This record fully replaces the chanson of yonder—even the lyrics are mostly in English. The resulting sugary sweet dance pop is well worth it. And even though a rapper crashes one of the songs without need, it’s a joy of an album.

  6. Marina and the Diamonds cover Marina and the Diamonds cover (abstracted)

    Marina and the Diamonds

    Froot

    Listen

    Another singer that I fell hard for a few years back. (The video for American Dreams is the most life affirming thing ever.) I didn’t get into her second album, but this third one is a keeper. It’s nice to make amends with old friends. And it’s fun to fully surrender to my guilty pleasure pop instincts.

  7. Family of the Year cover Family of the Year cover (abstracted)

    Family of the Year

    Family of the Year

    Listen

    I was one of their early fans ever since I received a free three-song EP at their Satellite gig in early 2012. Their full-length debut made my list that year. And brought the world the anthem Hero, whose one-hit-wonder-like popularly seems to be a blessing and a curse. (The band joked at their recent Troubadour concert that they might not play it.) This self-titled follow-up did not disappoint: epic melodies, shimmery but fierce production, and heart-on-your-sleeve lyrics create a satisfying musical journey. Favorite songs: We Need Love and Blue Jean Girl.

  8. Joris cover Joris cover (abstracted)

    Joris

    Hoffnungslos Hoffnungsvoll

    Listen

    I found out about Joris while checking on who was playing at a favorite club in my hometown, Rostock. The song Herz über Kopf became my favorite for the whole year. And slowly, but surely, over repeated listenings, the entire record won me over. Musically it sounds like a lot of other (American) bands, but I enjoy the frictional German language rubbing against my eardrums.

  9. Tom Brosseau cover Tom Brosseau cover (abstracted)

    Tom Brosseau

    Perfect Abandon

    Listen

    Witnessing Tom Brosseau perform his quirky, homespun, tall-tale songs at the Largo was one of my favorite musical moments of the year. This record follows last year’s equally amazing Grass Punks and proves that Brosseau is on a roll. He combines a mid-western dry sense of humor, exquisite guitar playing, Roy Orbinson–esque vocals, and surprising melody lines with odd-ball lyrics. That Landlord Jackie song is something else. And: she was in the audience at the concert!

  10. SOAK cover SOAK cover (abstracted)

    SOAK

    Before We Forgot How To Dream

    Listen

    I think of Soak as the female answer to Jake Bugg: Brooding, young, captivating, and accented. I got to catch her show in Washington, DC, this summer, and I was mesmerized by her ability to commandeer an entire room with just her guitar and voice (plus some strategic reverb). Of course, it didn’t hurt that I met NPR music’s Bob Boilen that night, and he invited me to see Soak play again the next morning at the Tiny Desk Concert. My year might have peaked that day...

See our 2014 albums

Back to top