According to Spotify I managed to consume 72 thousand minutes of music in 2015 – just over 50 days worth and 20% up on the previous year. I challenged myself to collate a list of the 2015 releases I enjoyed the most, as well as attempting to talk around the top 10 albums (discovering I'll never be a music critic in the process...). The result is this page, featuring everything from the Thai-funk inspired music ofKhruangbin to the Baroque pop of Julia Holter. Each EP/LP has a recommended track, most of which have been included in a Spotify playlist at the end. The playlist isn't limited to last year and includes songs I enjoyed throughout 2015. Enjoy!
- Patrick.
Slum Sociable
Listen to: All Night
Toro y Moi
What For?
Listen to: Buffalo
Listen to: Echo In
Listen to: Camembert
A Dream Outside
Listen to: Embers
Hiatus Kaiyote
Choose Your Weapon
Listen to: Molasses
Listen to: Ader
All We Are
All We Are
Listen to: I Wear You
Dutch Uncles
O Shudder
Four Tet
Morning / Evening
Listen to: Morning Side
Billie Black
Teach Me
Listen to: Going Under
Beach House
Depression Cherry
Listen to: Bluebird
Courtney Barnett
Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
Listen to: Depreston
Listen to: Roots
Fading Frontier
Listen to: Duplex Planet
Real Lies
Real Life
Listen to: North Circular
Yumi Zouma
Listen to: Second Wave
This Is The Kit
Bashed Out
Listen to: Vitamins
The Tallest Man On Earth
Dark Bird Is Home
Listen to: Sagres
Ainslie Wills
Oh The Gold
Listen to: Drive
The Good Fight
Kendrick Lamar
To Pimp A Butterfly
Emilie & Ogden
Listen to: Hold Me Down
Julia Holter
Have You In My Wilderness
Listen to: Feel You
Billie Marten
As Long As
Listen to: Roots
Everything Everything
Get To Heaven
Listen to: Blast Doors
C Duncan
Listen to: Say
Tame Impala
Listen to: The Moment
Szymon –
Tigersapp is the debut album from Australian musician Szymon, who sadly took his own life in 2012. Since then his family have been piecing together leftover recordings Szymon made in his bedroom on self-taught instruments such as the guitar, saxophone, flute and clarinet, evolving into this wonderfully moving debut. Roma, Medusa and Golden are standout tracks on an album overflowing with high points - the evocative atmosphere Szymon creates on Golden is particularly affecting, while his vocals on Medusa are vivid and transfixing. One of my favourites from last year.

Essential Listening: Medusa
Wolf Alice –
My Love Is Cool
Wolf Alice have been gathering a following in the indie rock scene ever since the release of the Blush EP in 2013 and Creature Songs in 2014. Amongst relentless sold-out touring in 2015, they released this debut album which is as shoegazey and grungy as fans have come to expect over the past few years. Their headline show with Drenge at Brixton Academy back in October can be described quite simply as 'loud, and a lot of fun' and that's not too far off what their debut LP has turned out to be. Watch the pretty nuts video for Giant Peach to get an idea, or alternatively Moaning Lisa Smile from an earlier EP.

Essential Listening: Giant Peach
Maribou State –
Drowned in Sound descibes this album better than I ever could - "impressively easy to like, refreshingly difficult to get tired of". The instrumentation is much more natural than their electronic peers and a warm, organic atmosphere emerges through the vocals of long-time collaborator Holly Walker, particularly in tracks like Midas and Steal . Fans of Zero 7 and Bonobo will love this.

Essential Listening: Midas
Ghostpoet –
Shedding Skin
Of the 72,000 minutes of music I streamed on Spotify last year, this album was streamed the most. Ghostpoet's third full-length release is his most atmospheric yet, and features guest appearances from notable artists like Nadine Shah and Lucy Rose. Progressing from the gritty electronic themes in his earlier work, Shedding Skin brings a full band into the mix, ultimately highlighting Ejimiwe's greatest strength - his distinctive voice. Worth listening to alone for the unique, poetic way in which his vocals are delivered across the album.

Alex G –
Beach Music
Alex G's albums are anything but accessible, and his latest LP Beach Music is no deviation. What initially sounds murky and disconnected turns out to be carefully arranged and meticulously thought out, behind all of the haze and lo-fi aesthetic. Giannascoli has amassed a bit of a cult following and with songs like Kicker and Salt that is sure to continue. His headline show at the 100 Club on Oxford Street in October was one of the more unique gigs I saw last year, and that uniqueness is well worth investing some time in.

Essential Listening: Kicker
Floating Points –
Along with Number 10 Szymon's Medusa , the first track to be released from this album, Silhouettes, has to be one of my favourite songs of the year. The song builds upon the subtle orchestration of 2011 release Shadows, this time including a string section, combining electronic and prog-rock influences, adding intricate twisting jazz melodies on top... and the result is a 10 minute highlight of the album. Although Peroration Six , the album closer, is arguably up there as well.

Essential Listening: Silhouettes (I, II, & III)
Khruangbin –
The Universe Smiles Upon You
Blend jazz, soul, funk, dream pop and pyschedelia and this is probably what you'll get - one of the grooviest albums of last year. Khruangbin first surfaced for most people when Bonobo featured A Calf Born in Winter on his Late Night Tales mix, and I've been following their releases ever since. The Universe Smiles Upon You introduces vocals to a few of the tracks for the first time (most notably in White Glove) and progresses upon the "1960's Thai Funk" explored in The Infamous Bill. Ultimately, it's a really strong debut album, that just sounds ridiculously good.

Essential Listening: Two Fish and an Elephant
Steven Wilson –
Hand. Cannot. Erase.
Hand. Cannot. Erase is a poignant concept album by prog-rock frontman Steven Wilson, theming the life of Joyce Carol Vincent - a woman who died alone in her London bedsit, only to be discovered 3 years later. With fewer jazz sections and an increased sense of melancholy, the album is very different to Wilson's earlier solo work and also that of Porcupine Tree. But this refined sound is his strongest yet, and the long list of distinguished musicians quietly perfect the best prog-rock album of last year. Ninet Tayeb's vocals on Routine still gives me shivers every time I hear the last chorus, and her final scream on the song could be heard throughout every inch of the Royal Albert Hall back in September - one of my favourite live music moments ever.

Essential Listening: Happy Returns
Marika Hackman –
We Slept at Last
Marika Hackman put on my favourite live gig of last year in Aldershot of all places. In a small, intimate venue she played the dark, mystical folk which this album is so rich with, along with music from previously released EPs. I wasn't sure how this would transfer to a live setting without the medieval flutes of Monday Afternoon or the deeply layered Animal Fear . But it was a stunning set. With just her guitar and voice, Marika creates an absorbing, ethereal sound which invites you to get lost in. The album is haunted, twisted even, but has colourful overtones and mesmerising lyrics.

Essential Listening: Ophelia
Sufjan Stevens –
Carrie & Lowell
Carrie & Lowell, the 7th studio album from Sufjan Stevens, is a bare, deeply personal depiction of his relationship with his mother. The lyrics pierce through you as Sufjan struggles with his feelings of grief, incompleteness and emotional dissonance. The instrumentation is delicate and exposed, sometimes sparse to the point of ambience such as in Blue Bucket of Gold and the radiant ending of Drawn to the Blood . The warm descending melody which pours in half way through The Only Thing is one of the few exceptions, and the album builds itself around these devasting moments of pure emotion. Fourth of July is perhaps the most heart-breaking of them all, capturing a final conversation between Sufjan and Carrie on her deathbed. The emotional weight of the story behind the album is intrusive, overwhelming and often hard to handle. But the powerful atmosphere which this evokes makes Carrie & Lowell not just one of the best albums of 2015, but of the last few years.

Essential Listening: All of Me Wants All of You
Listen to the Spotify playlist
Most of the recommended tracks linked above and other songs I listened to throughout 2015