In honor of Thanksgiving (ahem, Black Friday), we partnered with “Vinyl Me, Please,” a record of the month club — or, as they say, “the best damn record club, in fact” — to curate a selection of the absolute best vinyl buys for the holiday season. Read about their top 10 picks below, and listen to all 50 on Billboard‘s Spotify.
1. Sufjan Stevens – “Fourth of July”
It’s easy to call Carrie and Lowell heartbreaking or arresting or sparse because it’s all of those things. At its core, though, it’s full of a plain clothes sadness and unrepentant clarity that don’t require any of the usual trappings of the genre. It has something to say quietly and then it will be on its way. “Fourth of July” perhaps captures that feeling in the album best.
2. Kendrick Lamar – “Alright”
To Pimp A Butterfly is one of the most culturally and musically important albums of the year. Period. “Alright” is, in our opinion, the best representative for the complex tapestry of social, political, and personal issues that make up TPAB and if we had to pick one song from this record that everyone anywhere had to listen to it would be this one.
3. Father John Misty – “Bored in the USA”
It’s been said that God gave us Faulkner to explain the South and literary critics to explain Faulkner. I think my college professor said that as some form of preemptive job security but the point is, it’s quite possible that we’ve also been given Josh Tillman to explain the absurdities of modern American culture. I have no idea who we’ll be given to explain Josh Tillman to us but in the meantime, his latest record I Love You Honeybear is one of our favorites from this year and “Bored in the USA” is an excellent first step down into the revelatory circus that the album is.
4. Kurt Vile – “Pretty Pimpin’”
Kurt Vile is going to be the king of classic radio in 20 years and he knows it so in the meantime, he continues to crank out future classic album after future classic album. His latest, b’lieve I’m goin down, is one of those albums you don’t spend a lot of time arguing with your friends about. Instead, you play it in the car while you drive aimlessly around town and talk about all the stuff you totally would have said or done. “Pretty Pimpin” is the album’s version of your friend in the front seat nodding his head and saying “totally man”.
5. Jamie XX – “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)”
If you’ve been on the Internet in the last 6 years or so you’ve no doubt heard of The xx. They burst on the scene in 2009 with a self-titled debut that probably could have run for Prime Minister if it wanted to and they haven’t slowed down since. In the midst of all of the hustle and bustle, Jamie Smith, one of the members of The xx, has released 2 side projects. The first was with Gil Scott Heron called We’re New Here, and the second was a solo project called In Colour. You’ve probably already heard the lead single from that record, “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good TImes)” 300 times and our only suggestion is to listen to it 300 more times.
6. Tame Impala – “The Less I Know the Better”
Ignoring the song title for a moment, the more you know about Tame Impala the better. Kevin Parker’s solo excursion into the lush jungle of psychedelic pop rock continues to yield one strangely catchy album/transmission after the other. Their latest, Currents, is a must-listen and “The Less I Know the Better” is one of the standout hits.
7. Sleater-Kinney – “Bury Our Friends”
Everything about Sleater-Kinney is awesome. Not only were they an iconic 90’s and early 2000’s band, but they’re now an iconic 90’s and early 2000’s band who reunited to make one of the best albums of 2015, which the reader will note is a number of years after their last record. What a time to be alive, indeed.
8. Deafheaven – “Brought to the Water”
The last time one of my favorite songs opened with bells tolling, I was in 8th grade playing JJV basketball and that song was called “For Whom The Bell Tolls” by Metallica. Fast-forward a few years and here I am no longer playing JJV basketball but in a similar spot with “Brought To the Water” by Deafheaven. This song and this record both just rule and I can’t get enough of either of them.
9. Julia Holter – “Feel You”
It’s weird to find yourself saying that someone redeemed the harpsichord for you, but here I am. Julia Holter has a knack for mixing chamber music and dream pop together to make albums that are more comfortable painting the various mysteries of our lives than trying to explain them. “Feel You” is a lot like a scenic road trip in that it’s so much better to experience yourself than to hear about.
10. U.S. Girls – “Damn That Valley”
U.S. Girls’s latest album Half Free opens with “Sororal Feelings”, a song that contains the lyrics “and now I’m gonna hang myself, hang myself from my family tree”, and never looks back. This album is thick as ivy and full of the kind of crunchy grunge pop that slinks through your ears and quietly makes itself at home in an almost-forgotten part of your mind. This album will take over your life and there’s no way to stop it.
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