2015, for me, was somewhat of a music “slump.” Now, I did have a very hard time cutting down my initially very long (and STILL too long….) best of 2015 picks. However, 2015 was a low in that there was very little music discovery. Whether it was simply because I was busier or what, I found myself mostly listening to releases by artists I already knew, as well as to more mainstream artists. With all of that said, there was also a huge high point this year due to my trip to Korea during peak music festival season! So here are my top releases of 2015, in no particular order, and with the wrapping up of a low year comes hope for many highs in 2016.
The Black Skirts : Hollywood
As a huge fan of The Black Skirts, “Hollywood” was both the best and the worst thing that happened this year. After waiting years for new releases from The Black Skirts, finally a new release!! But…it was only a single. “Hollywood” is an amazing song that made the wait for new music worth it, but the wait for a full-length album continues to be agonizing…
With soothing, peaceful, and uplifting songs about everyday struggles, Coffee Boy released yet another heartwarming album this year. This album is truly precious, and is my go-to for days I’m feeling low. But, really, I’m such a big Coffee Boy fan that he has got to do something terribly wrong for his album to not make it to my best of picks!
Heart to Heart OST
All feelings about this drama aside, this is a phenomenal OST album. Kudos to Tearliner for his role as the music director, as this album will no doubt go down as one my favorite drama OST albums ever. Tearliner, Low-End Project, Zitten, what more can I say… this is a must listen.
While Hyehwadong Boy did also have a more recent release, it’s 사람, 사랑 that is no doubt one of the best albums of 2015. The singing, lyrics, emotions, sound mixing, instrumentals….everything was just spot-on. Definitely an album I will keep coming back to.
Jooyoung : 3
I can seriously listen to Jooyoung’s voice all day. And that’s precisely what I did for several days after the release of 3. And that’s probably what I’ll be doing very frequently for the next two years as he, unfortunately, recently went into his mandatory military duty.
Okdal (옥상달빛) : 희한한 시대
Although only 2 songs (4 tracks including the narration versions), 희한한 시대 is a delightful and deeply emotional single. The narration tracks also work so well with the songs, really bringing out the emotional depth of the lyrics. Another strong release by Okdal, who never seem to disappoint.
While most of the songs in 나빠나빠 were already familiar to me (I saw him live at Greenplugged Festival + through YouTube videos and such), this album was still a definite favorite. The first mini album after a string of singles, 나빠나빠 will surely put a smile in your face with its witty lyrics about small, relatable things in life and relationships.
Primary, Ohhyuk : Lucky You!
Hyukoh is no doubt one of the biggest breakout artists of 2015. However, even more then Hyukoh’s album released this year, it was Ohhyuk (the lead singer of Hyukoh) and Primary’s collaboration album that really blew my mind.
Casker : ground part 1
As a Korean indie fan, I’m ashamed to admit that this was the first Casker album I gave a serious, thorough listen to. Of course I knew Casker’s famous songs and title tracks, but taking a good listen through ground part 1, I found myself fully captivated by the ethereal feel. What have I been missing out on?!
No Reply : Where is Love
I always slightly panic when amazing artists collaborate because it’s extra heartbreaking when the result isn’t so great. But when the collaboration works, it’s a dream come true. And such is the case for this simple, lovely winter single by No Reply and Jung Joon Il!
Bamspicnic (밤의 피크닉) : 어지러진
To be honest, 어지러진 sometimes borders the line between the style of music I like and don’t like. Despite this, the album makes it to the list because it’s such a musically well made, high quality album and the songs I like, I absolutely LOVE. I recommend “티티카카” and “비뚤어진 입” in particular, but every track is worth a listen.
Yang Da Il (양다일) : 널
All R&B fans who did not listen to this single must go listen. Now. All I can say is that I hope 2016 brings much more Yang Da Il music.
Yoon Duk Won (윤덕원) : 축의금
I mentioned Yoon Duk Won’s 흐린 길 as an honorable mention in my best of 2014 post, but it was afterwards, in 2015, that I really fell in love with it. So I was excited when he released 축의금 and sure enough, this is a beautifully moving song based on Yoon Duk Won’s real experience that will tug at your heartstrings.
9 : 문학소년
The first solo release by 9 of 9 and the Numbers, 문학소년 does not diverge too much from the style of 9 and the Numbers’ songs. But with this solo release (and a second single released later in the year), 9 takes things a little deeper and a little more personal, the end result being one of the strongest releases of the year.
Yoon Jong Shin (윤종신) : 행보 2014 윤종신
Is it cheating that I’m putting this album in my picks for 2015? The album is a compilation of all the singles Yoon Jong Shin released in 2014… but the compilation album was technically released in 2015. Yoon Jong Shin had a lot of amazing singles in 2015 as well, but realizing that I did not put any of his 2014 songs in my best of 2014, I just had to pick this. “지친 하루” is a personal favorite, but all Yoon Jong Shin songs are worth a listen.
Today’s Radio (오늘의라디오) : 난 네가 좋아
Mad Clown : Piece of Mine
San E, Mad Clown : 못먹는 감
Monkeyz (몽키즈) : 느낌이 와