In 2015, in terms of music, I started over.
Around this time last year, I decided that in 2015, I would only listen to music that was new to me. That meant unchecking the thousands of songs in my iTunes library, and beginning on January 1, not letting myself listen to them under any circumstances (unless my self-imposed ban got in the way of my work, which only happened once).
I had to re-build my music library from scratch. That meant exploring artists that were new to me, artists I had previously overlooked or never made time for, genres I had not yet considered, and overall, being more open to new musical experiences. The latter was the main point of the whole exercise. I too often found myself listening to the same few albums and artists over and over again, so I decided I needed to do something drastic to free myself from my comfort zone.
And it worked. If a year seems too daunting, try listening to only unfamiliar music for just a month, and like me, you might have the (in hindsight, super obvious) realization that there is unbelievably great music out there beyond the stuff you already like, and that your definition of unbelievably great can be changed by a single song.
After the first couple months or so, I rarely missed my old music, although sometimes I would think of the classic-to-me albums I hadn’t listened to in months and have a big craving. So I satisfied those cravings with similar artists, and therefore formed strong relationships with acts I now love. I fell in love with Mac DeMarco, explored pre-Yeezus Kanye West (I’m new to being a hip-hop fan so cut me some slack), and enjoyed artists I would have never even considered listening to (Willie Nelson and Slipknot are both fantastic, for example).
I’ve added something in the neighborhood of 3,200 songs to my music library this year (or about 5-7 albums a week), which resulted from being forced to follow more leads in terms of new music. That had the pleasant side effect of me becoming a more informed music writer, and it also led to me hearing a lot of great 2015 albums that were criminally under-heard and under-discussed.
Click through the gallery below to check out my 10 favorite albums that I thought flew way under the radar in 2015 (presented alphabetically), and let us know in the comments what your favorite overlooked releases from this year are.