2015 in Review: Day 14 – Album of the Year

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[The 2015 in Review Series]

1. Prelude (Best Album Art)
2. R&B and Soul
3. Rock and Alternative
4. Rap and Hip-hop
5. Dance and Electronic
6. Pop and Ballad
7. Folk and Country
8. Jazz and Blues
9. Crossover and Other
10. Best Collaborative Work
11. Rookie Artist of the Year
12. Artist of the Year
13. Song of the Year
14. Album of the Year
15. Staff Picks
16. Other Recognition
17. Concluding Remarks

Album of the Year 2015

Yi Sung-yol - SYX

Yi Sung-yol – SYX

Produced by Yi Sung-yol

It’s a sweep for Yi Sung-yol at the song and album categories this year. Pulling back from the stormy and cryptic abstraction of V, Yi nevertheless continued to experiment in SYX. In the process, he produced sparkling moments: note the contrast between dense synths and innocent bells in “Asunder”, the dream-pop ambience that actually seem to sparkle in “Amore Italiano”, the suffocating noise that hides “Love For Sale”‘s melody, the paradoxical grandeur of “To Build a Fire”. Typically, I write this kind of description to highlight an album’s best spots. I’m not accomplishing that here, because the entirety of SYX is like this: this diverse, this unpredictable, this endlessly creative. Tied together only by Yi’s sober and dry singing, it’s an absolute tour de force that transports us away to unimagined places.

Runner-up Album of the Year 2015

Kim Il-du - Soul of the Moon and the Stars

Kim Il-du – 달과 별의 영혼 (Soul of the Moon and the Stars)

Composed/written/arranged by Kim Il-du; producing, recording, and mixing by Casey McKeever; mastering by Ron Davis

The question isn’t if anyone can imitate Kim Il-du’s voice. It’s about whether anyone would want to. Still, Kim chooses to sing in that weighty, drawn-out, sometimes off-key manner where no sentence seems to end in anything but a period, and it couldn’t be a more perfect fit for his writing. Kim once again grabbed his guitar (and nothing else) in Soul of the Moon and Stars to tackle everything from physical desire to loss to respite. His lyrics are stories that could seemingly be anybody’s, in the folksy and relatable sense, but also seems to be nobody’s in particular, as much as they leave to the imagination. Each compact track is an engrossing listen, but I have to make note of “직격탄” (“Direct Impact”), which was the only song of 2015 to get a physical reaction out of me with its unexpectedly hair-raising ending.

The First Ten Out/Honorable Mentions

2nd Moon - What Have You Been Doing

3. 2nd Moon – 그동안 뭐하고 지냈니? (What Have You Been Doing In The Meantime?)

Produced by 2nd Moon

Boni - Love

4. Boni – Love

Produced by Jay Cry (executive) and Boni; additional credits to Loudnine, Young Soul, Mild Beats, and Grace Shin

E Sens - The Anecdote

5. E Sens – The Anecdote

Produced by Daniel “Obi” Klein

The Koxx - The New Normal

6. The Koxx – The New Normal

Produced by The Koxx

Kim Sa-wol - Suzanne

7. Kim Sa-wol – 수잔 (Suzanne)

Co-produced by Kim Sa-wol and Kim Hae-won

Bye Bye Badman - Authentic

8. Bye Bye Badman – Authentic

Produced by Kim Jun-won (Glen Check) and Bye Bye Badman

Fromm - Moonbow

9. Fromm – Moonbow

Produced by Fromm, Andi Roselund, and Yeo Bit-na

Salon d'O - Le Souffle de Paris

10. Salon d’O – 파리의 숨결 (Le Souffle de Paris)

Produced by Salon d’O

Deepflow - Yanghwa

11. Deepflow – 양화 (Yanghwa)

Co-produced by TK and Deepflow; additional credits to Assbrass, Buggy, and Jun Baek

Jin Kim - The Jazz Unit

12. Jin Kim – The Jazz Unit

Produced by Jin Kim

Sources: header image and artist/album images from Bugs Music.

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