#7. Sleater-Kinney: No Cities to Love

#7. Sleater-Kinney: No Cities to Love

Forget what the Grammys say, No Cities to Love is the best rock album of 2015. One of the best punk bands of all time came roaring back this year after a decade-long, seemingly indefinite hiatus. While most reunion albums feel like a victory lap dedicated to hardcore fans, Cities rocks just as hard as anything else released by the band, and it might just be their best work yet.

The trio returns with sharpened teeth as Brownstein’s and Tucker’s guitars snarl over Weiss’s vigorous drumming. Never have they sounded more in sync than they do on these ten tracks. Tucker’s voice retains all of its youthful energy, and Brownstein’s lurid drawl fits perfectly beneath it. Some of the best moments on the album are when the two women sing in counterpoint, such as on the climax of “Price Tag.” It’s a testament to a band’s internal synergy when they can belt out completely independent melodies and still lock in tighter than most of their younger contemporaries.

As songwriters, they spin melodies with flexibility and ease. They are just as adept at writing the delicately constructed melodies sung by Tucker on “Hey Darling” as they are at playing the sputtering, almost accidental guitar melodies of “A New Wave.” The breadth of their melodic range is showcased on the title track, “No Cities to Love.” Pentatonic guitar solos spit their way between vocal lines in the verses, and blend perfectly with the tight harmonies of the chorus and the arpeggiated balladry of the bridge.

There is no best song of No Cities to Love. All ten tracks kick ass, and together they make an airtight album that packs a heavier punch than any other rock release this year. Sleater-Kinney had already earned their place in the pantheon of rock legendry. Cities is merely here to remind us mortals of their inimitable legacy.

#6. Sufjan Stevens: Carrie & Lowell

#6. Sufjan Stevens: Carrie & Lowell

#8. Grimes: Art Angels

#8. Grimes: Art Angels