Friday, January 1, 2016

Best Albums of 2015

Top 10 of 2015 by Chris C.

1. Alabama Shakes - Sound & Color

Alabama Shakes could have gone the same route on their second album but decided to make a statement and release the best album of the year. Listening to "Boys & Girls" would not prepare you for the depth and soul of "Sound & Color". Perfection!

2. Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Multi-Love

Unknown Mortal Orchestra released their 3rd album and completely changed their sound from complicated indie rock into a funk/soul juggernaut. With quite the story behind the album's title and source of the songs, read up on the what went into making the record and you'll appreciate it even more:

3. New Order - Music Complete

New Order surprised everyone with an album that hearkened back to their roots as one of the purveyors of dance music. Probably their best since "Get Ready".

4. Foals - What Went Down

Foals unleashed a monster in "What Went Down". Loved the intensity of the self titled single to the masterpiece of "A Knife In The Ocean".

5. Leon Bridges - Coming Home

Leon Bridges might be the hidden gem in the bunch but he is starting to get the recognition he deserves and rightfully so. Sounding like he's straight out of the Motown era and not missing a beat. If you're looking for a record that everyone one will love then this is it.

6. Twin Shadow - Eclipse

A hell of a follow up to "Forget" and would have launched him further had he not been in a near fatal crash. Gives the R&B rubbish on the charts a run for it's money with well crafted, giant love songs.

7. The Vaccines - English Graffiti

A stab at the rock n' roll stadium crown that Arctic Monkeys carry so well. A huge statement from The Vaccines that they are ready to play bigger shows with a much bigger sound.

8. Editors - In Dream

Have always like Editors and tend to listen to all of their music but with this album they stepped it up. They've always released consistently great songs but singles "No Harm" and "Marching Orders" rank among their best.

9. Cold Showers - Matter Of Choice

Loved their debut album and this record expands on their 80's inspired, synth sound. Doesn't sound dated despite their influences and is a solid sophomore release.

10. Tame Impala - Currents

Tame Impala constantly evolve as a band and have never sounded like they're treading the same waters on any album. With "Currents" they've gone from psychedelic troubadours to funky Bee Gees sounding funk machines. Kevin Parker continues to prove he's one of the more interesting musicians to come along in the last while.

And here are the guest contributors lists:

Top 10 of 2015 (Contributed by Anil R.)

1. D'Angelo & The Vanguard - Black Messiah
2. Dam-Funk - Invite The Light
3. Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp a Butterfly
4. METZ - II
5. Wand - Golem
6. Kamasi Washington - The Epic
7. Panda Bear - Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper
8. Alabama Shakes - Sound & Color
9. Gaz Coombes - Matador
10. Tobias Jesso Jr. - Goon

Top 10 of 2015 (Contributed by Keith S.)

1. Northern Beauties - Self titled
2. Free the Cynics - Showtunes from the Basement
3. Dead Pretty - Death Row single
4. Dead Emperor - Self titled
5. Mammoth Grove - Sun Catcher
6. Twin River - Should The Light Go Out
7. Alexa Borden - Dynamite single
8. Sobcek - Your Eyes Don't Lie (Featuring Tamara Kaboutchek)
9. Walking With A Stranger - Escondido
10. Ghost Loft

Top 10 of 2015 (Contributed by Hef)

1) Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp a Butterfly
2) New Order - Music Complete
3) Marilyn Manson - Pale Emperor
4) Graveyard - Innocence & Decadence
5) Butch Walker - Afraid of Ghosts
6) Refused - Freedom
7) Beach House - Thank your Lucky Stars
8) The Vaccines - English Graffiti
9) Disasterpeace - It Follows (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
10) Viet Cong - S/T

Top Album of 2015 (Contributed by Paige W.)

Meloria - Ghost

Top Albums of 2015 (Contributed by Rich P.)

Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly

Brilliant lyricist, phonetically perfect rapper too, brilliant production, he makes everything sound so easy, even with his mad helium voice

The Libertines – Anthems of Doomed Youth

Probably my favourite band ever behind The Beatles. Glad they didn’t disappoint, good to see some of the v old ones finally see some light too. You’re my Waterloo is heartbreaking.

Bill Ryder-Jones - West Kirby County Primary

Underrated gem from The Coral guitarist. Beautiful.

Miley Cyrus – ‘Miley Cyrus And Her Dead Petz’

Absolutely fucking mental. I love her and y’all can go fuck yourself

Florence And The Machine – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

Consistently great songs, always.

Young Fathers – 'White Men Are Black Men Too'

Not just because they’re from my home town. These guys work their ass off and it shows. Hip-Hop, pop funk, all blended perfectly

Father John Misty – ‘I Love You, Honeybear’

So sweet and surprisingly dark and his voice grabs me right away, can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.

Kurt Vile – 'B’lieve I’m Goin’ Down…'

This guy is a fucking genius. He’s fucking nuggets too, love him.

Chvrches – 'Every Open Eye'

Her voice is perfect, again not a Scottish thing, I just think they tread that line between synth-pop and indie really well

Free the Cynics – Showtunes from the Basement

Pretty much exclusively because of how Goddamn sexy the singer is.

Robot Workers

I still think you gotta see these guys live to really feel the full effect of just how much is going on, one of those bands where every single person in the band is ridiculously good at what they do.

Solid Brown - Our Rich Heritage

Never seen a band like them, mad vision and pushing boundariews in everything they do.

Dead Emperor – Dead Emperor

Brilliant psych, reminds me a lot of The Coral, though none of them have even heard of The Coral. Monday is one of the singles of the year.

Flowshine - Soak Me Like A Wave

Top Albums of 2015 (Contributed by Arron C.)

1. Father John Misty - I Love You, Honeybear

2. Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats - Self Titled

3. Houndmouth- Little Neon Limelight

4. The Wooden Sky- Lets Be Ready

5. Alabama Shakes- Sound & Color

Top Albums (Contributed by Kirstin J.)

Holy Wave - Relax
Ty Segall - Melted
Allah-Las - Allah-Las
Crystal Stilts - Alight Of Night
Froth - Patterns
Unknown Mortal Orchestra - II
Rolling Stones- England's Newest Hit makers
Dead Ghosts - Love And Death And All The Rest
Holy Mount - We Fell From The Sky
Cass McCombs- Big Wheel And Others
Mystic Braves- Mystic Braves

Top Albums (Contributed by Jay H.)

Blur - Magic Whip
Spoon - Gimme Fiction
Royal Headache - High
Screaming Females - Rose Mountain
Twerps - Range Anxiety
Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Multi-Love
Swim Deep - Mothers
Lee Fields and The Expressions - Emma Jean Instrumentals
Foals- What Went Down
The Grounders- Grounder

And I'm adding two tracks:

This one goes out to my Calgary boys and it's The Dandy Warhols- Primary (from "Perfect As Cats: A Tribute To The Cure")
And this one by a group called Money

Top Albums of 2015 (Contributed by John D.)

1. Kendrick Lemar - To Pimp a Butterfly
2. Tame Impala - Currents
3. Jamie xx - In Colour
4. Alabama Shakes - Sound & Color
5. Future - DS2
6. Beach House - Depression Cherry
7. The Weeknd - Beauty Behind the Madness
8. The Dead Weather - Dodge & Burn
9. Sleater Kinney - No Cities to Love
10. Father John Misty - I Love You, Honeybear

Top Albums of 2015 (Contributed by Rob W.)

First off, I'm not a good writer (I can't spell or have any real grasp on grammar. Second I'm not a music critic. Third I didn't buy a lot of new albums this year and finally I like talking a lot so some of these reviews you may not enjoy. Some of these albums you may not have heard of and some of these artists may be completely foreign but I hope that some of what I write may inspire you to check out these albums. So here are my top albums of the year:

Lets Start with Honourable Mentions:

-We Are the City - Above Club

Anyone familiar with this band knows that they like to take risks and experiment. They are more focused on their art than singles. There are parts of this album that almost feels like they push that idea further than they should, pushing us to the edge and it seems that the band is barely holding everything together and just as we feel like it's about to completely fall apart the band takes a step back from that edge and allow us to breathe before plunging us right back.

It's not a record that will capture you right away but it's one that I find myself going back to over and over trying to figure out why. It's like my Ike Turner. It keeps on doing bad things to me but I just keep going back.

-Brand New - Leaked Demos 2006

Like the title suggests it was originally leaked in 2006, but it wasn't officially released by the band until this December. I won't get into all the reasoning and backstory of the album. Brand New is one of my favourite bands but I couldn't justify putting an album released last decade on my best of 2015 list. That being said I'm giving it honourable mention because it's really good.

If you are a Brand New fan you would have heard this album years ago and if you aren't a Brand New fan nothing I say will convince you to check them out.


-Refused - Freedom

Let me start off by saying that I love Refused. Let that sink in as I say I hated this album so much. It has a few (very few) bright spots and a lot of average moments. It's like watching golf on TV eventually you'll see something good but you'll most likely be bored before you do.

They sound like a band that is trying way too hard to sound like Refused. This was by far the biggest let down I have had in a long time. This is like the Phantom Menace of Refused albums, from the outside it looks better but once you're inside it's nothing but Jar Jar Binks with a tiny bit of Darth Maul.

Albums of the year in no order:

-Side Saddle - Young Professional (ep)

A pleasant discovery of mine this year. It reminds me of Milo Greene's self titled album in ways. A little country, a little folk and a little roots an album that due to its short length begs for repeated listens. With each listen you discover something new that'll bring a smile to your face.

A soundtrack for late night drives in the country with someone special. A great record that won't disappoint fans of this genre. The band is able to take a music style that has been around for ages and make it sound fresh and new.

-Flowshine - Soak Me Like a Wave (ep)

The second best EP I heard all year by far. The problem with some bands with good musicians is that sometimes they let their ego get in the way of making good music. They figure that people would rather listen to this sweet (insert instrument here) solo than anything else. Flowshine is a band with fantastic musicians that know when to scale back the theatrics and solos for the good of a song. There are moments where you get to hear members of the band shine but they are more of a passenger in the song instead of the driver.

With this EP they are able to take us on a ride through different feelings and styles while remaining true to who they are and what is left is an album that shows a band capable of bending genres and taking us places we never have been before.

-I've Taken a Lover - I Wish Teenagers Weren't So Tough (ep)

This band has always been about being unconventional. Their last album was an experimental concept noise rock album that was recorded live off the floor in two days dripped in reverb and noise. So naturally they follow it up with this record. A "pop" record or as close as these guys could get to that genre.

Released on Valentines Day this record shows a growth in musicianship and songwriting. A band that always seemed burdened by trying to write concept albums put out a record where the only concept was to have songs with verses and choruses in them. They took all their noise soaked bridges and progressive songwriting and pushed them neatly into a dark corner and we were left with simple songs about love and adventure and being young.

-Sorority Noise - Joy, Departed

I love and hate the term Emo. When I think of Emo I think of Sunny Day Real Estate, Cursive, Mineral, Braid and The Promise Ring not the cheap copy from early 2000 with the black hair and eyeliner. So when I say that this is one of the better emo records that I've heard in a long time I'm comparing it to the bands that I listed above and not the MTV version.

It checks off all the boxes I look for in a good emo record. It's sad but in a brokenhearted way not in a "my parents don't understand me" way. The band that made this record obviously grew up listening to some of my favourite bands and have made a real good modern day version of those classic emo records. It doesn't come across like a rip off though it still manages to sound like a band that can stand on it's own but that isn't afraid to pay homage to those that came before.

-Windmills - Measures

To be honest I've known this guy for about five years but I couldn't think of putting out a best of list without including his newest album. First things first he is a solo artist that uses loops, samples and his guitar to recreate his sound live. He has a great voice and is capable of writing great lyrics. On this record he stepped up the production quality and spent more time crafting his songs.

Most of these are love songs but not in the traditional sense but a love of travel, family and of course women. Expect to hear something that isn't quite like anything you've heard before.

-le albatross - h.o.s.f.

I wrote this one and if I'm being quite honest this is the only way it was getting on anyone's best of list. Not because it's bad, no it's great, but the length and the recording quality turn most people off.

Some of my best lyrics and music I've put out and one of the better stories I have told but my voice is almost as bad as the recording. You won't like it but I do and this is my list so it's on it.

-Sufjan Stevens - Carrie & Lowell

It's a great record. It's a folk record that has been stripped down to just the bare necessities. It's a real sad record with a story he wanted to tell. Maybe that's why he went for the minimal approach with this record to remove any distractions from the listener.

Most of the record is just Sufjan and his guitar only adding other flourishes in certain places but they are done in a way that you almost don't notice them. They add just enough to remind you that you are listening to more than just a man and a guitar but a master songwriter who has spent years perfecting the art of surprising us with each new album and style even if he's just going back to his roots.

-Braids - Deep In the Iris

With Deep In the Iris I avoided it for awhile because of all the praise it was getting. I find that when albums get a lot of hype I am usually disappointed with them, on the other hand if I read a few bad reviews it can turn me off completely.

I finally got around to giving the album a listen to at the beginning and was blown away by it. In my opinion it's Braids finest album to date. A band that seems to be at the peak of their creativity. The songs are different and interesting but are catchy enough to keep the casual listeners interest. It sounds like something you've never heard before but at the same time something about it is familiar and comfortable.

-Reuben And The Dark - Funeral Sky (Deluxe)

I get mad at Reuben some times. First off he is incredibly handsome. Second he sings like an angel. He writes great songs and is very friendly and easy to talk to so it's also very hard to stay mad at him.

This album came out last year but the deluxe edition was released this year. It comes with a few alternate versions of songs which are almost as good as the ones used for the original release. With 17 song you definitely get the most bang for your buck with this release. Every song has a highlight and it doesn't feel as long as it should. You may find yourself surprised at how fast and easy of a listen it is.

-Dustin Kensrue - Carry the Fire

It's hard for me to put in word how good this record is. My first run through there were countless time where I had to stop the record and go back and listen to a certain part again because it was so good.

Parts of it remind me of his debut solo record but this record is so much more. It's has more of a rock vibe to it but not too heavy. There a parts that could appear on a folk record and there are parts that could even be played at a wedding yet no song sounds out of place but the songs compliment each other and show Dustin's rage as a songwriter.

Top Albums of 2015 (Contributed by Curt V.)

1. Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp A Butterfly
2. Blur - The Magic Whip
3. Beach House - Thank Your Lucky Stars
4. Twin Shadow - Eclipse
5. New Order - Music Complete
6. Brandon Flowers - The Desired Effect
7. Viet Cong - Viet Cong
8. Editors - In Dream
9. Libertines - Anthems For Doomed Youth
10. Alabama Shakes - Sound & Color

Song of the year : King Kunta - Kendrick Lamar

Show of the year : Morrissey with special guest Blondie - Madison Square Garden - New York, June 27, 2015

Top 10 of 2015 (Contributed by Franco M.)

1) Thee Oh Sees - Mutilator Defeated At Last
2) Yonatan Gat - Director
3) Blind Shake and Swami John Reis- Modern Surf Classics
4) Godspeed You Black Emperor - Asunder. . .
5) Viet Cong - S/T
6) James McMurtry - Complicated Game
7) Kamasi Washington - The Epic
8) Metz - Metz II
9) Girl Band - Holding Hands With Jamie
10) Alabama Shakes - Sound & Color

Top 10 of 2015 (Contributed by John M.)

1. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
2. Alabama Shakes - Sound & Color
3. Songhoy Blues – Music in Exile
4. Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Multi-Love
5. Protomartyr – the Agent Intellect
6. Royal Headache – High
7. New Order – Music Complete
8. Hiatus Kaiyote – Choose Your Weapon
9. John Andrews & the Yawns – Bit by the Fang
10. Tame Impala - Currents

Top Albums of 2015 (Contributed by Steve B.)

1. Blur - Magic Whip (Record of the year)
2. Beach House - Depression Cherry
3. Beach House - Thank Your Lucky Stars
4. New Order - Music Complete
5. Tame Impala - Currents
6. The Libertines - Anthems for a Doomed Youth
7. Bjork - Vulnicura
8. Metz - Metz II
9. Refused - Freedom

Show of the year: Jesus and Mary Chain, Vogue Theatre

Honourable Mentions:

The Maccabees - Marks To Prove It
Brandon Flowers - The Desired Effect
Gary Clark Jr. - The Story Of Sonny Boy Slim
Alberta Cross - S/T
Vince Staples - Summertime ‘06 Blackout Lights - Blaster
Belle and Sebastian - Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance
Mark Ronson - Uptown Special
Wolf Alice - My Love Is Cool
Bjork - Vulnicura
Pond - Man It Feels Like Space Again
Silversun Pickups - Better Nature
Metric - Pagans In Vegas
Peace - Happy People
Mercury Rev - The Light In You
Carl Barat and The Jackals - Let It Reign
A Place to Bury Strangers - Transfixiation
The Black Ryder - The Door Behind the Door
Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - Chasing Yesterday
Squarepusher - Damogen Furies
Dave Gahan & Soulsavers - Angels & Ghosts
Sleater-Kinney - No Cities To Love
Stereophonics - Keep The Village Alive
Paul Weller - Saturn's Pattern
Hardcore Superstar - HCSS
John Carpenter - Lost Themes
Matthew Good - Chaotic Neutral
Big Grams - S/T
Wilco - Star Wars
The Go! Team - The Scene Between
Drake - If You're Reading This, It's Too Late
Deerhunter - Fading Frontier
Puscifer - Money Shot
Foo Fighters - Saint Cecilia
Eagles of Death Metal - Zipper Down
Courtney Barnett - Sometimes I sit and Think, Sometimes I Just Sit
Dr. Dre - Compton
Lee Harvey Osmond - Beautiful Scars
Battles - La Di Da Di
The Cribs - For All My Sisters
Coldplay - A Head Full of Dreams
The Prodigy - The Day Is My Enemy
Death Cab For Cutie - Kintsugi
Lower Dens - Escape From Evil
David Gilmour - Rattle That Lock
Mew - +-
Mumford & Sons - Wilder Mind
My Morning Jacket - The Waterfall
Hot Chip - Why Make Sense?
Sun Kil Moon - Universal Themes
Muse - Drones
The Chemical Brothers - Born In The Echoes
Mac Demarco - Another One
FKA Twigs - M3LL155X
The Fratellis - Eyes Wide, Tongue Tied
Low - Ones and Sixes

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