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First Quarter Roundup: 2015's Best Music So Far

Kendrick Lamar's new release is an instant classic.

As March draws to a close and marks an end to the first quarter of the year, here are ten of the best music releases in 2015 so far! Did your favorites make our list?

Kendrick Lamar
Album: To Pimp A Butterfly

One of the year’s most anticipated albums, and deservedly so, Kendrick’s new album is a hip-hop masterpiece. Stream-of-consciousness style lyrics fill all spaces between every sound, beat, and snippet of dialogue. Complete with elements of free-form jazz and classic soul overlaid by stellar production, To Pimp A Butterfly inspires listeners to overcome racial, social, and emotional barriers and to simply live life being the best person you can be. 

Father John Misty
Album: I Love You, Honeybear

Former Fleet Foxes member Joshua Tillman has released the second studio album under the moniker Father John Misty. The result is a deeply personal work that reflects his own struggles with relationships. Although the heart of the album rests primarily on Tillman’s well-crafted lyrics, Honeybear also features a variety of instruments – from violins to brass to cello – that allow for a highly-satisfying listen. 

Courtney Barnett 
Album: Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

Courtney’s debut combines crunching guitars with whip-smart lyrics to create an indie rock punch to the face. The current single, “Pedestrian At Best,” is an adrenaline rush full of irony and contradictions in itself. Other tracks command you to sit up and listen, but that isn’t to say the album is devoid of sweeter moments. Underneath there are still the young adult yearnings to find love, acceptance, and purpose in life, something which we can all relate to. 

Album: No Cities To Love

Girl rockers Sleater-Kinney returned after their ten year break between 2005’s The Woods, and their latest release. Although a fairly short listen, these ladies still manage to pack excitement and raw nerve into these 32 minutes. Sleater-Kinney’s past has solidified as being a key part of the riot grrl female empowerment movement propelled by punk bands in the early 90s, and their new album, although agreeably more tame, is a worthy addition to their legacy. 

Sufjan Stevens
Album: Carrie & Lowell

Folk-inspired musician Sufjan Stevens’s new release is a combination of his classic roots and newfound electronic influence. The album was inspired by Steven’s mother, who passed away in 2012, and the family trips that they took to Oregon in his childhood. Like previous releases, Carrie & Lowell is a beautiful narrative of time, memory, and hope for the future. 

Viet Cong
Album: Viet Cong (self-titled)

Canadian post-punk band Viet Cong released their first album earlier this year. The record may seem like a dark nightscape upon first listen, every track bathed in shadow. But the root of it relies heavily in classic punk and art rock. What seems at first a jarring listen is indeed so, and droning abyss of sound is what undoubtedly makes Viet Cong stand out against other rock albums of the year so far.

Purity Ring
Album: Another Entity

Purity Ring’s second album is a pristine example of modern pop music at its finest: shimmering synths, interwoven electronics, and catchy bubblegum melodies. Purity Ring do not sacrifice their newfound popularity for quality, either; although these songs will no doubt be making waves on your radio, the production is dazzling and from start to finish is candy to your ears. 

Surf City
Album: Jekyll Island

Surf City’s new release is a rockin’ blend of chilled-out garage rock and warm 60s-infused melodies, with a hint of shoegaze. The New Zealand band may still be new to the game, but they sound like they’ve been writing songs at least for a decade or two. Jekyll Island makes for the perfect summer soundtrack as time flies by. 

Album: Range Anxiety

Range Anxiety features Twerps at their best yet, furthering their sound that may as well be directly reminiscent of classic underground acts such as The Clean, Beat Happening, or maybe even Pavement. Sometimes life does not motivate you and it’s alright to just take a moment and contemplate what’s around you before setting foot forward. Twerps remind us that nobody is perfect, and having huge success – or lack thereof - is not what defines an individual’s sense of purpose. 

Lupe Fiasco
Album: Tetsuo & Youth

Rapper Lupe Fiasco released his fifth studio album earlier this year, with lyrics inspired by his upbringing in Chicago’s crime-ridden westside. The result is a multilayered, left-field hip-hop release full of metaphors and wordplay. In a world where many mainstream artists’ messages prove vapid and meaningless, Lupe makes it clear that he still has a lot to say.

What is your favorite album of 2015 so far?
What upcoming releases are you excited to hear?
Tell us in the comments below!

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