A huge align of expansive records, standalone singles, and early bits of new music makes its manner into the worldly concern over the course of 10 years. These past ten years in especial, we ’ ve jointly been more hyper-aware of all the music at our fingertips than any previous generation. All of which is to say, deciding on the best albums of the 20-teens was no easy job. thankfully, we here at The Key had a massive total of help oneself .
Some 45 music experts in our periphery contributed the vote for this list you ’ re about to read — including most of WXPN ’ s on-air staff, sub-rosa production folks, american samoa well as The Key ’ mho staff of contributing writers and photographers. We ’ re all passionate about the music we consume, we all love vastly different things, and these are the records that made the biggest impact on us jointly .
25. Phoebe Bridgers — Stranger in the Alps — Dead Oceans, 2017
Balancing hauntingly beautiful arrangements with downright gothic subject matter, the Los Angeles singer-songwriter ’ s debut album introduced songs that sting angstrom much as they comfort. Sparse and evocative, with periodic punches that reinforce Bridgers ’ unpredictability. – Sarah Hojsak
Standout Tracks : “ Motion Sickness, ” “ Funeral, ” “ Scott Street ”
24. Brandi Carlile — By The Way, I Forgive You — Low Country Sound / Elektra Records, 2018
On her one-sixth album, Carlile channels real-world resignation into melodious catharsis that finds the lastingness to surmount roadblocks both personal and political. Lush string arrangements balance the weight unit of the singer-songwriter ’ s raw-edged vocals. – S.H .
Standout Tracks : “ The Joke, ” “ Party of One, ” “ Every clock I Hear That Song ”
23. Jason Isbell – Southeastern – Southeastern Records, 2013
The Drive-By Truckers affiliate had released three alone albums former to Southeastern, but none were this vulnerable and emotional. Written during and after a stint in rehab, it finds Isbell honestly reflecting on his liveliness and determination with a newfound graveness. – John Vettese
Standout Tracks : “ Cover Me Up, ” “ Stockholm, ” “ Something More Than Free ”
22. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs – Merge Records, 2010
theatrical Montreal rockers contemplate the platitude of suburban sprawl, the nostalgia of misspend youth, and the loss that comes with a quickly change world. big concept, bigger anthems. – J.V .
Standout Tracks : “ Sprawl II ( Mountains Beyond Mountains ), ” “ We Used To Wait, ” “ Ready to Start ”
21. Car Seat Headrest – Teens Of Denial – Matador Records, 2016
Every generation gets its four angsty white dudes making one of the biggest and best rock albums, and Car Seat Headrest belongs to the 2010s. Led by the Will Toledo, who falls in with DIY artists like ( Sandy ) Alex G and Cloud Nothings ’ Dylan Baldi, Teens of Denial was ambitious adequate to reach outside the give cult following Toledo held prior, and pushed the group to critical and popular acclaim. – Sam Kesler
Standout Tracks : “ Fill In The Blank, ” “ ( Joe Gets Kicked out of School for Using ) Drugs with Friends ( But Says This Isn ’ t a Problem ), ” “ Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales ”
20. Solange – A Seat At The Table – Columbia Records, 2016
With shimmering electronic back and a soaring voice that won ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate be denied, Solange Knowles captured complexity, frustrations, and personal might on her third base album. In a review for The Key ’ s best albums of the year, Sameer Rao wrote “ Solange ’ s lush A seat at the Table brims with the anger and catharsis well-known to people—most relevantly to this album, black women—that club reduces to mere demographic categories. ” It provides quad for bring around, space for empathy, and a informant of forte. – J.V .
Standout Tracks : “ Cranes In The Sky, ” “ Don ’ thymine Touch My Hair, ” “ F.U.B.U. ”
19. Angel Olsen — My Woman — Jagjaguwar, 2016
Expanding her melodious style out of the tribe singer mold, Olsen interprets “ the complicated mess of being a woman ” with retro pop influences and a cinematic arch. Stacking the upbeat, sun-soaked tunes on the A-side leaves board for a B-side that ’ sulfur sprawl and sparse. – S.H .
Standout Tracks : “ Shut Up, Kiss Me, ” “ Sister, ” “ Woman ”
18. St. Vincent – St. Vincent – Loma Vista Records, 2014
With her fourth record under the St. Vincent streamer, Annie Clark brought the spectrum of her strengths to the postpone : she ’ s a writer of haunting, ethereal songs ; a guitar player par excellence ; a futuristic manner icon ; a harnesser of incredible pop sensibilities. Though it ’ s a unlike St. Vincent than we heard on Marry Me and Actor, and a different St. Vincent placid than we heard on Masseduction, the record captures the moment where Clark ’ s Bowie-esque shape-shifting cycles to the point where her respective faces are all in concenter ; it ’ s the truest photograph of one of the hundred ’ s most significant artists. – J.V .
Standout Tracks : “ Digital Witness, ” “ Prince Johnny, ” “ Birth in Reverse ”
17. D’Angelo and The Vanguard – Black Messiah – RCA Records, 2014
After a decade and a half out of the limelight, R & B star D ’ Angelo revealed his long-in-the-making third LP to much-deserved ostentation. Moving beyond the sleek and aphrodisiac soul that defined his early work but ultimately drove the singer uncomfortably into foramen, the record rocks with a funky, fierce importunity ; it ’ south brash and beautiful, touching on spiritual and social themes with crystalline clarity. – J.V .
Standout Tracks : “ Really Love, ” “ The Charade, ” “ Sugah Daddy ”
16. Frank Ocean – Channel Orange – Def Jam Records, 2012
Singer and songwriter Frank Ocean ’ s first base major label project sits absolutely between the loose, poppy kitsch of his debut project Nostalgia, Ultra and the immersive, disingenuous ambition of its follow-up, blond. It ’ s the best of both worlds in that regard, boasting his most last song of the ten ( “ Thinkin ’ Bout You ” ) vitamin a well as the relatable personal lyricism that draws so many listeners in, but besides hints at the feats he ’ second capable of, the broader canvass he ’ five hundred be painting former on in his career. – J.V .
Standout Tracks : “ Thinkin Bout You, ” “ Bad Religion, ” “ Super Rich Kids ”
15. The National – Trouble Will Find Me – 4AD, 2013
Although the group had been around for more than a ten at this item, in Trouble Will Find Me, The National had in truth found their groove in the telephone line between excess and nuance, mastering the finely art of restraint in Matt Berninger ’ second well wear vocals and the Dessner brothers laser-precise orchestrations. – S.K .
Standout Tracks : “ Don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate Swallow The Cap, ” “ Sea of Love, ” “ Demons ”
14. Alabama Shakes – Sound and Color – ATO Records, 2015
Brittany Howard and her bandmates shake free the genre trappings of folk-Americana that defined their introduction to make an endlessly more complex and interesting record. It ’ s not fair rock, not just soul, not barely blues, not fair tribe, it ’ south all of those things and more, with an irresistable groove. – J.V .
Standout Tracks : “ Don ’ thymine Wan sodium Fight, ” “ Gimmie All Your Love, ” “ The Greatest ”
13. Hop Along – Get Disowned – Hot Green Records, 2012
A coming of long time fib in rock candy record kind, Frances Quinlan and her bandmates explore life on the cusp of adulthood with imaginative, artful production and bright lyrics about memory, injury, and resilience. The ring ’ s desegregate of cathartic play and immersive audio collage place you directly in their worldly concern. – J.V.
Standout Tracks : “ Tibetian Pop Stars, ” “ Kids on the Boardwalk, ” “ Young and happy ! ”
12. Kacey Musgraves — Golden Hour — MCA Nashville, 2018
Some say it ’ second hard to write music from a position of personal happiness, but Musgraves proves the worth of reveling in everyday smasher with the chasteness of her quick and invite songs that blend state and pop influences into an album that transcends both genres. – S.H .
Standout Tracks : “ High Horse, ” “ Slow Burn, ” “ Rainbow ”
11. David Bowie – Blackstar – Columbia Records, 2016
A identical public coming to terms with his own mortality, experimental rock ‘n’ roll great David Bowie made his twenty-fifth album in secret over the course of 2015 with downtown NYC jazz bandleader Donny McCaslin and his quintet, and released it on his birthday in 2016, two days before he passed off. – J.V .
Standout Tracks : “ Lazarus, ” “ I Can ’ metric ton Give Everything Away ”, “ ★ “
10. Hop Along – Painted Shut – Saddle Creek, 2015
Philadelphia ’ randomness Frances Quinlan has proven time and again to be one of the singular voices of a life, and that ’ s no better exemplified than on Painted Shut, which pulls inspiration from the stories of Buddy Bolden, Jackson C. Frank, and Quinlan ’ s own biography. The group ’ s diverse influences are drawn together to craft an album as essential and timelessly american english as road trips and Paul Simon. – S.K .
Standout Tracks : “ Horseshoe Crabs, ” “ Waitress, ” “ well-groomed ”
9. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City – XL Records, 2013
The avatars of blogrock cool pull together their wit and notion, the pop sensibilities of songwriter Ezra Koenig, and the adventurous production of Rostam Batmanglij, keeping all forces in libra for a career-defining album. – J.V .
Standout Tracks : “ Diane Young, ” “ Unbelievers, ” “ Ya Hey ”
8. The War On Drugs — A Deeper Understanding — Atlantic, 2017
Sprawling and expansive, The War On Drugs ’ fourthly record launched the Philly-based project to fresh heights. Songwriter Adam Granduciel ’ s ambitious compose and recording march manifests in large-scale songs that blend classic rock candy influences with impressionistic languor. – S.H .
Standout Tracks : “ Holding On, ” “ Thinking Of A Place, ” “ Knocked Down ”
7. LCD Soundsystem — This Is Happening — DFA / Virgin, 2010
A hearer could draw a through-line from one LCD Soundsystem album to the next, charting a person ’ randomness growth from casual adolescent scenester to anxiety-ridden adult. so if the set ’ s self-titled debut sets its view on the coke/ecstasy/PBR-ridden dancefloor of some nightlong rager in a Brooklyn loft, and Sound of Silver is the hungover, sleep-deprived underpass ride into one ’ south soul-crushing Manhattan 9-to-5 the next day, the newfangled ten brought This Is Happening, the point where the trappings of youth have been long outgrow and a leaner, mean kind of existential malaise sets in. James Murphy and his indie-dance army rode the zeitgeist into the crunch on this one, but did it dancing all the room. – J.V .
Standout Tracks : “ I Can Change, ” “ Dance Yrself Clean, ” “ Pow Pow ”
6. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit And Think and Sometimes I Just Sit – Milk! Records, 2015
Her debut album but not her first foray into the public eye, with two EPs to her diagnose at the fourth dimension, Sit was surely Barnett ’ s gateway into becoming not only a anchor of australian indie, but besides internationally, fully of lackadaisical stone rock that meanders in healthy and sensitivity. – S.K .
Standout Tracks : “ Depreston, ” “ Dead Fox, ” “ Nobody Really Cares If You Don ’ t Go To The Party ”
5. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy – Def Jam Records, 2010
A very raw and very real self-expose of one rap titan ’ mho idaho, the deeply and occasionally disturbed bars on Kanye West ’ s one-fifth studio apartment field day are searing and callous, but besides introspectively self-critical, and backed with some of the identical best, stadium-rocking beats of the newfangled millennium. Try as one might to dislike and dismiss Ye ( and the lyric sheet alone might offer a few reasons ), MBDTF is nothing short of a gloat. – J.V .
Standout Tracks : “ All Of The Lights, ” “ Monster, ” “ Power ”
4. The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream – Secretly Canadian, 2014
Experiencing depression and anxiety after touring extensively for 2011 ’ randomness Slave Ambient, Adam Granduciel took two years to form Lost in the Dream, creating something akin to what it would sound like if you blended together all your favorite jam bands from the 80s and stretched the merchandise out like taffy. But within the extend guitar solo and four-on-the-floor drums, Granduciel is kneading and pulling at the sound with adept dexterity. – S.K .
Standout Tracks : “ Under the pressure, ” “ Red Eyes, ” “ Eyes to the Wind ”
3. Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d city – Interscope Records, 2012
After establishing himself as a formidable articulation in hiphop with his debut undertaking Section.80, Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar brought his craft to new heights with his major label break good child, m.A.A.d. city. In it, he delivers honest vignettes of life in Los Angeles County, and by extension, animation as a young black man in a city and nation and system that tries to hold you down. churning emotions and disruptive decisions mix with struggles and ferocity in this album ’ randomness vulnerable storytelling, and for his character, Kendrick neither glorifies nor condemn, but lays it on the line : the luff here international relations and security network ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate one of right-v-wrong morality, the target is making us feel what he feels. – J.V .
Standout Tracks : “ Swimming Pools ( Drank ), ” “ Real, ” “ Bitch, Don ’ triiodothyronine Kill My Vibe ”
2. Beyoncé – Lemonade – Parkwood Entertainment and Columbia Records, 2016
Accompanied by an hour-long film, Lemonade is equally much a ocular endeavor as a melodious one, its exponent and saturation shining through in both art forms. Grief, pain, joy, hope and resilience all find their stead as Beyoncé holds her personal experiences in the context of what it ’ s like to be a black womanhood in America. – S.H .
Standout Tracks : “ Formation, ” “ Freedom, ” “ All Night ”
1. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly – Interscope Records, 2015
Having extensively research life as a young black serviceman in the city of Compton, Kendrick Lamar turned his sights broadly for its follow-up. To Pimp a Butterfly examines American company at large in an era of escalate violence against people of color – or more specifically, company ’ s escalated ability to discuss the ferocity publicly – but it besides turns inbound, discovering deeply personal truths. The album unpacks struggles with religion, with affair, with addictions and the painful means of coping in a world that refuses to love you for who you are. But it does indeed with a mighty current of hope and forte ; the body-moving “ Alright ” became a de facto anthem for the Black Lives Matter bowel movement, while “ i ” might just be the best self-care celebration this side of Lizzo. A masterpiece. – J.V .
Standout Tracks : “ Alright, ” “ one, ” “ King Kunta ”
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