Where Your Ass Was At When 2015 Took Over?: A Review of The Year in Music

My dad used to work for Tiny Mix Tapes. It was, and still is, a respectable review website. He specialized in music reviews, something I never really took into consideration at the time. I recently read through some of his old material, some of which are rave reviews of The Decemberists, Ghostface Killah, OutKast, and The Black Keys’ early work, and I noticed a common trend. Somehow, subconsciously, I became his torchbearer with a very similar writing style. I suppose the phrase “Like father, like son” can apply here, right? In the winter of 2010, my dad gave me a CD compiling all of his favourite songs from that year. I recognized a scarce few of the bands on the compilation but I thought, “What the heck, let’s see what this sounds like”. That Best of 2010 CD, chock to the brim with fantastic artists like Sufjan Stevens, Beach House, The National, Yeasayer, and Wolf Parade, threw me head-first into the music scene.

In 2011, I decided that I would begin reviewing albums on my own. The problem in the beginning was to figure out where to start searching for albums to listen to. Wikipedia presented a small collection of albums to be released that year, so that became my main reference. The first album I ever reviewed was Cage The Elephant’s Thank You Happy Birthday. I chose that album for the sole fact that I thought the band had a cool name. Time went by and at the end of the year, I had listened to 109 new albums. I was proud of this accomplishment. In 2013, I began to release my reviews to my friends through Facebook. I’ll admit that my early writing was a bit uneducated and confusing at times but at least I was trying to give my honest opinion.

Here’s an excerpt from my review of Kanye West’s Yeezus:

“Yeezus is filled with some of the most head-scratching lyrics and subject matter, but Kanye knows how to make music that gets you moving. So, while he is speaking “Swag-hili”, I would love an instrumental version of the album. I would be much better that way.”

That’s a pretty harsh way to end a review. I quite enjoyed Yeezus at the time, and still do, but wanting to cut out Kanye completely is a step too far. Let’s see what I said about Deerhunter’s Monomania where I was even less forgiving:

“Every song on Monomania blends together into one big smoothie of disassociation. […] They don’t grab your attention and dive deep into your brain stem. They just float around the skull, trying to penetrate its thick exterior.”

Now in 2015, I have written hundreds of album reviews, interviewed dozens of artists, and been to tons of concerts. The year is over and there was a lot that happened this year in music. This article is not a full review of every single thing that happened this year. Instead, it is a snapshot of some of my personal favourites from the past 12 months. I highly encourage you to check out all of the projects I am about to describe. This is the last time I will be writing for Antidote, so I figured I would give a final goodbye in the best possible way. Thank you.


1. SZA’s verse in Jay Rock’s “Easy Bake”
2. Kendrick’s drunken sobs in “u”
4. “You’ve got a GODDAMN nerve”
5. “Imma ride in her pussy like a stroller”

Every so often, there are certain moments in songs that make you go “Holy crap”. 2015 had way too many of those moments. The spine-tingling lyrics, the relentless deliveries, and the killer instrumentals never seemed to end this year. One definite highlight was a guest spot on Jay Rock’s “Easy Bake”. SZA, one of Tog Dawg Entertainment’s (Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q) alumni, brought everything to the table with her beat-switching solo verse. If the song wasn’t already massive enough with Jay Rock and Kendrick bouncing back-and-forth in a vocal trade off, SZA bursts in with one of the smoothest bits of music in a while. Her poignant questions in relation to her big dreams and wanting to waste no time are cleverly spun and should be observed with the highest honour.

Other top song moments include one of the standout performances on Kendrick Lamar’s instant classic To Pimp A Butterfly. After the sex-filled anthem of “These Walls”, Kendrick descends into depression as he pins himself down with the harsh “Loving you is complicated”. The creaky jazz backdrop adds to the tense situation as bottles clang, tears are shed, and the realization is made that you are staring into the inner turmoil of a human being. Grimes, aka Claire Boucher, gave an equally passionate performance in her song “Kill V. Maim”, a song supposedly narrated by Al Pacino’s character in The Godfather Part II but as a gender-bending vampire. With that bizarre context in mind, Grimes explodes with a cheerleader chant of “B-E-H-A-V-E aggressive!”. FKA twigs went one step further into the realm of weird with her new EP this year. “In Time” is the album’s centerpiece and is up on the highest pedestal. When I first heard this song live in the summer, I knew it would be an unforgiving freak-out filled with choppy electronics, vocal modulation, and the FKA twigs signature sexuality. The final example I decided to choose for song moments may also be one of the most quoted lines this year. The utter ridiculousness of Young Thug’s midway outburst on Jamie xx’s “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” is one to go down in the history books. Many people have tried to explain “Imma ride in her pussy like a stroller” with different interpretations. Some say it’s Freudian, some say it’s for safety, and some say it has no meaning at all. Whatever the case may be, Young Thug gave us philosophical lyrics all year long without realizing it.


1. Death Grips
2. FKA twigs
3. Deafheaven
4. Hot Chip
5. Father John Misty

I saw a record-breaking number of concerts this year and after filtering through every band I saw, I narrowed it down to the five that stood out among the rest. After the allusive and unpredictable Death Grips announced a North American tour to coincide with their new album Jenny Death, it was an opportunity that could not be missed. Though Death Grips has been notorious for cancelling shows, this was a different time. After waiting in the endlessly long line outside Montreal’s Corona Theatre, everyone was ushered through multiple metal detectors. I thought to myself, “This is new. What kind of crowd is the security expecting?”. As I made my way inside, I joined the equally awkward, skinny white kids trying to get a good view of the stage. The show itself was an electrifying 2-hour set with no calm bits and a powerhouse setlist from all albums. All three members of Death Grips looked as if they were in a trance, hypnotically guiding the sea of moshers below.

Other highlights came from Osheaga Music Festival. Three acts in particular stood above the enormous list of talented artists. FKA twigs gave the best sound and light experience with her multimedia performance. There was a full dance choreography, the debut of new songs, and the voice of an angel throughout the somewhat short late-night performance. Hot Chip brought the groove with their mid-afternoon bout with rainy skies. The group was the definition of cool as they kept the crowd moving with a plethora of popular songs as well as a compelling performance of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing In The Dark” and LCD Soundsystem’s “All My Friends”. Finally, Father John Misty gave the best frontman performance with his cynical demeanour and provoking lyrics. To top off his seductive dance moves, Misty jumped down into the crowd only to steal someone’s phone and take a video with it.

Another live show highlight was at Toronto’s Adelaide Hall. After finally seeing one of my favourite Canadian groups The New Pornographers at Younge-Dundas Square, I cabbed over to the club to find a long line trying to get in. I flashed my press badge to the security guard and was escorted to a red carpet around back and was inside in no time. As soon as the members of Deafheaven stepped out for their late-night show, the crowd was ready for a good time. The tiny club was a frantic mess as bodies shuffled around and everyone lost their mind. I balanced myself on the stage speaker in order to not get trampled by the overly-excessive mosh pit members. By the end of the show, everyone was a sweaty heap and no one could hear anything.


1. Dr. Dre
2. Adele
3. Justin Bieber
4. Joanna Newsom
5. Sufjan Stevens

Only in 2015 did we get two of the world’s biggest artists doing unimaginable things. Dr. Dre finally released the long-awaited third album he had been promising since the early 2000s. Though it wasn’t what anyone was expecting, Compton proved to be better than we had hoped. Dre adapted his style to the modern hip-hop world and gave it his all with a fascinating collection of raps along with his friends like Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, etc. Adele also came out of hiding for her new album 25, a collection of songs so impressive that it broke sales records. The emotionally-driven “Hello” made everyone fall in love with Adele once again and proved that she has one of the world’s most powerful voices.

Another comeback in the pop sphere was Justin Bieber. The teen star made his mark with Beliebers in the early 2010s but after leaving music for a few years, the newly configured Bieber is a much stronger musician than anyone imagined. Bieber is a household name once again and has gained the acceptance of audiences with his super catchy “What Do You Mean” and soulful “Sorry”.

In terms of indie artists, Joanna Newsom came back from a 5-year absence to deliver her most accessible work to date. Her gorgeous harp playing and distinct vocal style made for one of the year’s most beautiful releases. Sufjan Stevens provided everyone with an equally-beautiful release with Carrie & Lowell , his first proper album since 2010’s Age Of Adz. The sparse strip down of acoustic instrumentation is a Sufjan we haven’t seen in full since Seven Swans.


1. Alessia Cara
2. Shamir
3. Empress Of
4. Fetty Wap
5. Viet Cong

The great thing about music nowadays is that it doesn’t take much to get noticed. Stars are getting discovered all over the place and going from zero to hero in no time at all. Notable examples are Fetty Wap and Alessia Cara. Fetty Wap became a huge sensation with “Trap Queen” and now has several music awards to his name and a recently-announced Grammy nomination. Not bad for a guy who’s most popular song is about drugs. Alessia Cara was a YouTube discovery that took over the radio stations with “Here” this summer. I saw Cara in June, who at the time only had one song to her name and a small crowd at her stage. Now she’s selling out shows and hanging out with Taylor Swift.

Other prominent new artists who released their debut albums this year are Shamir, Empress Of, and (FKA) Viet Cong. Shamir debuted his first EP last year but embraced pop in a whole new way with Ratchet. He is the voice of a generation with clever quips about society, relationships, and the world we live in. Empress Of gave us a dynamic pop album with minimalism being used at its finest. Viet Cong, or the band formally known as Viet Cong (due to a name dispute), delivered a fierce album with post-punk tendencies and an energy that never faltered.


1. Jamie xx feat. Young Thug & Popcaan – “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)”
2. Thundercat – “Them Changes”
3. FKA twigs – “In Time”
4. Arca – “Mutant”
5. Oneohtrix Point Never – “Sticky Drama”
6. Chairlift – “Ch-Ching”
7. David Bowie – “Blackstar”
8. Neon Indian – “Annie”
9. Autre Ne Veut – “On And On (Reprise)”
10. Grimes – “Kill V. Maim”


11. Animal Collective – “FloriDada”
12. Viet Cong – “Silhouettes”
13. Kendrick Lamar – “Alright”
14. Jamie xx feat. Romy – “Loud Places”
15. Oneohtrix Point Never – “Ezra”
16. Patrick Watson – “Good Morning Mr. Wolf”
17. Lower Dens – “Societe Anonyme”
18. Ought – “Beautiful Blue Sky”
19. Kendrick Lamar – “Wesley’s Theory”
20. Tame Impala – “Let It Happen”


21. Dr. Dre – “Genocide”
22. Sufjan Stevens – “No Shade In The Shadow Of The Cross”
23. Jessica Pratt – “Game That I Play”
24. Future – “I Serve The Base”
25. Death Grips – “Why A Bitch Gotta Lie”
26. Arca – “Soichiro”
27. Titus Andronicus – “Dimed Out”
28. Julia Holter – “Sea Calls Me Home”
29. Father John Misty – “Chateau Lobby #4 (I C For Two Virgins)”
30. Young Thug – “Just Might Be”


31. Vince Staples – “Jump Off The Roof”
32. Grimes – “Flesh Without Blood”
33. Erykah Badu feat. Andre 3000 – “Hello”
34. Courtney Barnett – “Depreston”
35. The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die – “January 10th, 2014”
36. Earl Sweatshirt – “Grief”
37. Sufjan Stevens – “Fourth Of July”
38. Kendrick Lamar – “King Kunta”
39. Son Lux – “Change Is Everything”
40. James Blake – “The Sound Of Silence”


41. Death Grips – “Inanimate Sensation”
42. Carly Rae Jepsen – “Run Away With Me”
43. MED, Blu & Madlib feat. Aloe Blacc – “Drive In”
44. FKA twigs – “Glass & Patron”
45. Justin Bieber – “Sorry”
46. Shamir – “On The Regular”
47. Earl Sweatshirt feat. Vince Staples – “Wool”
48. WOKE feat. George Clinton – “The Lavishments Of Light Looking”
49. Trouble Knows Me – “Celebrity Vision”
50. shy kids – “Forest Friends”


51. Neon Indian – “Slumlord/Slumlord’s Release”
52. My Morning Jacket – “In Its Infancy (The Waterfall)”
53. Young Thug – “Raw (Might Just)
54. Titus Andronicus – “(S)HE SAID/(S)HE SAID”
55. Mura Masa – “Lovesick Fuck”
56. Kurt Vile – “Pretty Pimpin”
57. Jay Rock feat. Kendrick Lamar & SZA – “Easy Bake”
58. Father John Misty – “Holy Shit”
59. Future – “Fuck Up Some Commas”
60. Majical Cloudz – “Downtown”

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61. Joanna Newsom – “Leaving The City”
62. Young Fathers – “Shame”
63. Lower Dens – “To Die In L.A.”
64. The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die – “I Can Be Afraid of Anything”
65. Nick Jonas – “Levels”
66. Nao – “Inhale Exhale”
67. Levon Vincent – “Anti-Corporate Music”
68. Drake – “Know Yourself”
69. Chelsea Wolfe – “Carrion Flowers”
70. Model 86 – “Friend”

Corin Tucker, Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss of Sleater-Kinney in New York.

71. Sleater-Kinney – “Surface Envy”
72. Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment – “Sunday Candy”
73. DJ Spinn feat. DJ Rashad & Danny Brown – “Dubby”
74. Hot Chip – “Dancing In The Dark”
75. Deafheaven – “Luna”
76. Blood Orange – “Sandra’s Smile”
77. Mourn – “Silver Gold”
78. Knxwledge – “Mylife”
79. Rihanna – “Bitch Better Have My Money”
80. Purity Ring – “Begin Again”


81. Jeremih feat. Ty Dolla $ign – “Impatient”
82. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – “Can’t Keep Checking My Phone”
83. Waxahatchee – “Air”
84. Julia Holter – “Betsy On The Roof”
85. Blanck Mass – “Dead Format”
86. NxWorries – “Droogs”
87. Czarface feat. MF Doom – “Ka-Bang!”
88. Holly Herndon – “Chorus”
89. Courtney Barnett – “Pedestrian At Best”
90. Marrow – “She Chose You”


91. Youth Lagoon – “Highway Patrol Stun Gun”
92. Panda Bear – “Mr Noah”
93. Kelela – “A Message”
94. George Clanton – “Bleed”
95. Danny Brown – “Worth It”
96. Chvrches – “Never Ending Circle”
97. Freddie Gibbs feat. Black Thought – “Extradite”
99. Floating Points – “Peroration Six”
100. Battles – “The Yabba”


TOP 10 EPs:
1. FKA twigs – M3LL155X
2. NxWorries (Anderson .Paak & Knxwledge) – Link Up & Suede
3. Mura Masa – Someday Somewhere
4. Trouble Knows Me (Madlib & Sam Herring) – Trouble Knows Me
5. Model 86 – Self Help Dance
6. Kelela – Hallucinogen
7. Alessia Cara – Four Pink Walls
8. Hot Chip – Dancing In The Dark
9. DJ Spinn – Off That Loud
10. Petite Noir – The King Of Anxiety


1. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
2. Oneohtrix Point Never – Garden of Delete
3. Grimes – Art Angels
4. Jamie xx – In Colour
5. Neon Indian – VEGA INTL. Night School
6. Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear
7. Death Grips – The Powers That B
8. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell
9. Jessica Pratt – On Your Own Love Again
10. Julia Holter – Have You In My Wilderness
11. Dr. Dre – Compton
12. Viet Cong – Viet Cong
13. Holly Herndon – Platform
14. Kamasi Washington – The Epic
15. The World Is A Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid To Die – Harmlessness
16. Young Thug – Barter 6
17. Lower Dens – Escape From Evil
18. Arca – Mutant
19. Patrick Watson – Love Songs For Robots
20. My Morning Jacket – The Waterfall
21. shy kids – Lofty!
22. Deafheaven – New Bermuda
23. Son Lux – Bones
24. Earl Sweatshirt – I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside
25. Young Fathers – White Men Are Black Men Too
26. Carly Rae Jepsen – E•MO•TION
27. Thundercat – The Beyond/Where The Giants Roam
28. Del Bel – Del Bel
29. Joanna Newsom – Divers
30. Vince Staples – Summertime ’06
31. Titus Andronicus – The Most Lamentable Tragedy
32. Drake – If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late
33. Marrow – The Gold Standard
34. Majical Cloudz – Are You Alone?
35. Shamir – Ratchet
36. Björk – Vulnicura
37. MED, Blu & Madlib – Bad Neighbor
38. Blanck Mass – Dumb Flesh
39. Knxwledge – Hud Dreems
40. Heems – Eat, Pray, Thug
41. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit And Think And Sometimes I Just Sit
42. Erykah Badu – But You Caint Use My Phone
43. Ought – Sun Coming Down
44. Sleater-Kinney – No Cities To Love
45. Freddie Gibbs – Shadow Of A Doubt
46. Tame Impala – Currents
47. Chelsea Wolfe – Abyss
48. Levon Vincent – Levon Vincent
49. Autre Ne Veut – Age of Transparency
50. La Luz – Weirdo Shrines


Jacob Crepeault

My name is Jacob Crepeault. I am a student at Carleton University with an extensive palette for all things music. Throw in some hip-hop, a dash of indie rock, a touch of experimental, and baby, you got a stew goin'. I am the eldest of 8 children which means chaos is my friend. In my spare time, I enjoy creating my own short films, dabbling in the art of remixing, and goofing around with friends. My main goal as a journalist is to enlighten avid music listeners about fresh and dynamic musicians.