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The Key’s Top 15 Albums of 2015

The albums that moved us in 2015
This is the music that moved us in 2015

It was a year of powerful records. Of loud guitars and brazen beats, of electronic tapestries and vocal abandon. It was a year of personal introspection and rallying cries for social change. It was a year when music felt inextricably tied to the world around us. When it felt more important than it had in a long time. Like we’ve said before, to narrow 12 months of incredible music down to a “top 15 albums of 2015” list is to exclude dozens of other worthy releases. This year, we had 26 writers and photographers cite a collective 82 albums as their favorites – you can view everybody’s top fives here, and I know fully well that had I asked The Key crew to give me top tens, I’d be easily looking at quadruple the titles. But we’ll go deep when our annual Year-End Mania roundup launches tomorrow. Today we take the long view and explore what rose to the surface of consensus in 2015, from the expressive moments of Kamasi Washington, Joanna Newsom and Jamie xx, to the pop permutations of Carly Rae Jepsen and Grimes , rock and/or roll from Courtney Barnett and Alabama Shakes, Philly representation from The Districts, Waxahatchee and of course, Hop Along‘s incredible breakout LP Painted Shut, which alongside the great Kendrick Lamar rose right to the top of our voting. Let’s recap the year. 
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Joanna Newsom takes Union Transfer on an introspective journey

Joanna Newsom | Photo by Chris Sikich | sikichphotography.com
Joanna Newsom | Photo by Chris Sikich | sikichphotography.com

Joanna Newsom exists in a musical universe of her own making, constructing song novellas that take the ears to places you would not expect. And then there is her harp, a musical fetish object for many, perched on a stage like a piece of an exquisite long forgotten ship that crashed into a rock venue. But Newsom is certainly so much more than her harp, as her voice, which has a range that is utterly supernatural, and songcraft always reveal something new about the world around us and, most importantly, ourselves. Continue reading →