1. Kendrick Lamar “To Pimp A Butterfly” (Hip-Hop)
Best Tracks: ‘King Kunta’, ‘i’
Kendrick Lamar turned the music world on its head this past year with T.P.A.B., proving not only that ‘Swimming Pools’ wasn’t a fluke, but that it was only the tip of the iceberg. By far the most exciting artist working today.
2. Millencolin – “True Brew” (Punk)
Best Tracks: ‘Autopilot Mode’, ‘True Brew’
The best punk rock album of the year by a band we perhaps didn’t forget about, but forgot just how damn good they are. “True Brew” has the hooks of “Pennybridge Pioneers” with the force of “Home From Home”.
3. Jedi Mind Tricks “The Thief and the Fallen” (Hip-Hop)
Best Tracks: ‘Fraudulent Cloth’, ‘No Jesus, No Beast’
Vinnie Paz and Stoupe the Enemy of Mankind have been cranking out Jedi Mind Trick albums since the mid 90’s. Every album is a gem. An intense, intensely personal journey with jagged beats and orchestral touches. “The Thief and the Fallen” is their masterpiece. Keep an eye on these guys.
4. Jeff Rosenstock – “We Cool?” (Punk)
Best Tracks:‘You, In Weird Cities’, ‘Hey Allison!’
Jeff R is best known as the singer of The Arrogant Sons of Bitches and Bomb the Music Industry! However, with his new solo record, “We Cool?” changing lives coast to coast, look for Rosenstock’s punk rock star to skyrocket in the coming year.
5. The Weeknd “Beauty Behind The Madness” (R&B)
Best Tracks: ‘Losers’, ‘Can’t Feel My Face’
Canada’s proudest musical export right now, The Weeknd has been tapping toes with the infectious ‘Can’t Feel My Face.’ “Beauty Behind The Madness” is so much more than that poppy club thumper though. It’s a big, atmospheric record full of mood changes and funky signatures.
6. Joey Bada$$ – “B4DA$$” (Hip-Hop)
Best Tracks: ‘Paper Trail$’, ‘Hazeus View’
Joey Bada$$ is the best rapper out there right now doing it like they used to. Taking his cues from 90’ship hop royalty, “B4DA$$” is a dizzying slab of slick beats and fat bars from the first track to the last.
7. Barrington Levy – “Acousticalevy” (Reggae)
Best Tracks: ‘Unda Mi Sensi’, ‘Here I Come’
This is a little bit of a cheat because most of the songs on “Acousticalevy” were previously released in their original forms. On this however, reggae godfather Barrington Levy strips the songs down to their bare essentials. It’s mostly just him and his guitar and while he uses autotune far more than he needs to, what we’re left with is Barrington breathing new life into classic songs. The best reggae release of the year.
8. Elle King – “Love Stuff” (Rock)
Best Tracks: ‘Where the Devil Don’t Go’, ‘America’s Sweetheart’
Elle King has a wicked little voice that makes you think she’s always up to no good. Her “Love Stuff” album is one of the catchiest, funnest, most badass releases of the year. Literally every track on this album is a radio top 10 hit waiting to happen. Can’t wait to hear more from her.
9. Son Little – “Son Little” (Soul)
Best Tracks: ‘Your Love Will Blow Me Away’, ‘The River’
Son Little may seem like he just showed up out of nowhere, but he’s actually Aaron Livingston, the prolific musician best known for his work with RJD2. Son Little’s debut release is the perfect mix of old school soul and r&b mixed with modern electronic inflections and heady beats. His voice is the highlight here though and it holds it all together with a wonderfully raspy soulfulness.
10. The Atom Age – “Hot Shame” (Punk)
Best Tracks: ‘Too Much Fun’, ‘Barracuda’
10. The Atom Age – “Hot Shame” (Punk) Best Tracks: ‘Too Much Fun’, ‘Barracuda’ There were a lot of good punk releases this year that didn’t quite make the top 10. And one reason for that is The Atom Age’s “Hot Shame”. The Atom Age is the best punk band you’ve likely never heard of. But one spin of “Hot Shame” and you’ll wonder where they’ve been all your life. A big, messy, catchy, loud, brilliantly crafted half hour of punk rock glory that will tear the roof off of any building brave enough to crank it. The best track on the album is also the perfect description.