Favorites of 2015 (part two)

I was looking back at some of my top tens from previous years and was surprised at how many of those albums I rarely got around to listening to again. I don’t love them any less, and a large part of it is that my job keeps me always listening to new music, but some of the collections I considered so monumental didn’t have the staying power that I expected at the time, but I guess that’s how it’s always gone. They’re like friends from past lives. They most definitely had an impact on who you’ve become, and that should be noted and celebrated, but you don’t really talk to them anymore. Just a smile when you see the cover art as you’re sifting through old stacks.

So on to the thrilling conclusion of this year’s senior superlatives … and other yearbook metaphors.

5. Kendrick Lamar — “To Pimp A Butterfly”

It may not be my number one, but I don’t mind saying that it’s the most important record of the year. A perfect album with perfect timing. I mean, 2015 was a pretty lousy year as far as history goes. But, while most artists were ignoring the political climate for fear of dividing their audience, Lamar ran straight into the fire — not with a battle cry, but with a truth mirror.  And the image wasn’t pretty. We may have been aware, but put that message into some seriously fun-sounding songs and the gut punch is all the more powerful.  Now I can only hope that his new-found followers do something positive with the message, because it’s uphill for all of us.

4. Laura Marling — “Short Movie”

There hasn’t been a Laura Marling album yet that didn’t make my end-of-the-year list. Does that make me biased or just a fan? The real answer has nothing to do with me and everything to do with one of the most talented songwriters of this century. It blows my mind that she’s not more heralded in the U.S., though at the same time I’m secretly happy that I don’t have to share her with everyone. Like her previous records, it has her folk-ish stamp all over it, but also like those other albums, it twists just enough to make it something different, something new. Immaculate subtleties push her forward.

3. My Morning Jacket — “The Waterfall”

When I first heard “The Waterfall,” it breezed by. I couldn’t get a hold of the songs, as they made their weird little journeys past me, but isn’t that what makes this band so special? Their songs carry a singalong chorus without spoon-feeding you the usual formula. It’s a bit challenging while still being fun, and when we think back to the greatest classics, that’s usually what they were about. Does “The Waterfall” have any classics? I think so. If we’re not all singing “Compound Fracture” in ten years then something’s wrong. It’s one of their finest accomplishments.

2. Mark Ronson — “Uptown Special”

I surprised myself on this one. After I chose all of my favorite records and began dwindling them down to some sort of order, Ronson’s third solo release kept going higher. Why? I mean, yes it got insanely overplayed, but do you remember the first time you heard “Uptown Funk?” It was like the mashup of James Brown and Michael Jackson that I always wanted. And then, for something completely different, he tags Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker to take three songs, all of which could probably make my top singles list. But the kicker, the cut that really put it toward the top here, is the masterpiece that is Mystikal’s “Feel Right.” If I ever lived in a world where we all had intro music whenever we walked into a room, that would most definitely be the one I’d fight for.

1. Destroyer — “Poison Season”

But my number one, the record that I played around my house more than any other this year, is a much more subdued scene. When I felt like something calm and pretty, I turned to it. When I wanted something with a jazz flair, I turned to it. Parts of the record could be classified as classical, even though it is definitely a rock record. Dan Bejar’s lyrics are abstract enough to keep me guessing, but at the same time I never have trouble following the general sentiment. I love this album, and I hope I love it forever. •

Kyle Meredith is the music director of WFPK and host of the nationally syndicated “The Weekly Feed.” Hunting bears was never his strong point.