I'm too timid/nice to put them in a rated/chronological order. No backbone!
Taylor Swift, 1989
Pop music, for the most part, is uncharted waters for me (so much so, that I was a year behind on Lorde's album). It's not because I don't think it has merit, but the decision to take it seriously is like deciding whether or not to use that last piece of deodorant that just fell on the ground. And I seemed to find something in this album. I don't know what that is yet, to be honest. But it's something.
"Disco//very" was the track that really drew me to this album and to the artist(s). Warpaint have the same emotional (perhaps aggressive-ish) undertones as the Dum Dum Girls, but their execution is more ethereally haunting. Each track is a chant in its own right and has enough variables to reach a spectrum of emotion.
Ought, More Than Any Other Day
Most reviews I've read of this album link it closely to Merchandise. And while I wouldn't completely dispel that comparison, I was initially reminded of Against Me!, oddly (or maybe normally) enough. No shouting, really, but there's something about the cadence of Tim Beeler's voice that hovers ever so closely to Against Me!'s 2002 album Reinventing Axl Rose.
Schoolboy Q, Oxymoron
I typically use my mom as a musical compass, as far as the transcendence/versatility of an album goes. For example, she thinks Beach House is "too morbid," Blonde Redhead "sounds good for people in their 40's," and that this Schoolboy Q album has "good beats." And I have to agree with her. We're used to having the oscillation of Drake or Kanye releasing a big album every year (at least for the past 4 years). And without either this year, I have to say that it allowed me to see more artists that would probably have been hidden behind the king and prince of hip hop.
Mac DeMarco, Salad Days
I can't have a memory without a song. And this album, for me, was released in the thick of my master's degree finals. I seem to remember those albums the most. This is goofy, earnest, and dark all at the right times. Just like my Virginia Woolf final.
Blonde Redhead, Barragán
I grew up on this band, for better or worse. And seeing them live just a couple weeks ago was phenomenal, "Dripping" especially. While I'm a little unclear as to why people started to mosh and throw up hardcore hand signs, I suppose it just reinforced how energetically brilliant the album is.
Wild Beasts, Present Tense
I wasn't hugely into Wild Beasts before this album, largely in part because I was creeped out by Hayden Thorpe's vocal range. However, this album really made me appreciate Thorpe in a way I hadn't. He has an interesting way of delivering the narratives of his songs—in "Nature Boy," especially. The songs are almost conversational, inviting the listener to adopt his pain while also feeling like he or she is the cause.
Perfume Genius, Too Bright
It's hard to categorize this album/artist, but I think that's the point, really. I hadn't heard anything like this before its release—comparisons to other artists seem to reduce Mike Hadreas' creativity. I am particularly fond of his ability to serve glam rock on a synth pop platter.
When your album is featured on the British Laguna Beach equivalent, you know you've really hit a cool and somewhat tangible obscurity. Obviously I think Hospitality is more than that, but hearing tracks on Made in Chelsea made feel better about watching rich kids in central London.
Parquet Courts, Sunbathing Animal
This is the second album on this list to remind me of Against Me!. While Ought touched on the vocal cadence, Parquet Courts is there with the energy. "Black and White" was really there for me when I had to spend 8 hours on a bus to NYC each week. Parquet Courts has so much energy that they have a Jefferson Airplane/Starship spinoff called Parkay Quarts, which is just as good.