THE MODERN WORLD HAS DECLARED THE LP DEAD – WHAT A LOAD OF TOSH. WE LOOK BACK OVER THE TREMENDOUS MUSIC OF THE YEAR, FROM POP, METAL, DANCE AND MORE, CHOOSING THOSE ALBUMS WHICH HAVE MADE THEMSELVES GREAT.
JAY ROCK – 90059
2015 – the year of Black Hippy. With Kendrick Lamar producing a masterpiece with To Pimp A Butterfly, Jay Rock’s first record since 2011’s Follow Me Home was always going to be in the shadows but what a record it is. With features from Busta Rhymes, Kendrick Lamar and more, the album isn’t short of lyrical talent. Rock has shown no symptoms for that wretched “second album syndrome” with stand out tracks ‘Vice City’ and ‘Money Trees Deuce’ showcasing his unique style as a torchbearer of modern west coast hip-hop.
KENDRICK LAMAR – TO PIMP A BUTTERFLY
Has anything else this year had protesters chanting its choruses, garnered such huge critical acclaim, or given the jazz flute such mainstream exposure? On the surface it’s an incredible combination of West Coast hits, experimental jazz-raps, funk and a surreal appearance from Tupac, but read deeper and it’s an intense look at race, gangs, addiction and fame. It’s the story of Kendrick Lamar’s battles with Lucy (Lucifer) and Uncle Sam (greed), depression and homeless gods, in which every turn offers something new to learn, shock or inspire.
TOBIAS PUGH @
MUSE – DRONES
At the junction between the heavy rock circa Showbiz/Origin of Symmetry and the electronic-infused departures of their more recent albums, Drones sees the world’s most awe-inspiring live act ‘find themselves’ somewhat. Perfectly excessive, super-charged over-indulgence being the Muse staple, Drones is a volatile compound of early and mature; scorching riffs and delicate introspection; the sublime and the sublimely ridiculous. Plus, of course, a heady dose of conspiracy paranoia. Worth every millisecond of the three-year wait.
MINNIE WRIGHT @
NECK DEEP – LIFE’S NOT OUT TO GET YOU
Neck Deep’s second studio album Life’s Not Out To Get You amazingly reached #2 in the UK Top 40. The Wrexham mob put together a record of mainly happy go lucky pop-punk tracks such as ‘Gold Steps’ but of course still included the select few emotional and beautifully written composed tracks, such as the acoustic number ‘December’. Neck Deep have made their mark on not only the UK pop-punk scene but the world stage with this record.
SAM TAYLOR @
PALMA VIOLETS – DANGER IN THE CLUB
2015 saw the return of Palma Violets who after touring debut album 180, for what seemed like an eternity, released their second album Danger In The Club. 180 was a rough and ragged album but it was full of emotion, like flicking through drunk photos ten years after they were taken. Danger in the Club follows suit but everything feels more together. Yet it still has that same sense of pandemonium, for instance when you hear tracks like ‘Gout Gang Go’ and ‘I Got It’. Palma Violets have achieved a youthful and joyful sound on their second album, which has the power to make you reminisce. It feels like a proper moment.
TOM STANISZEWSKI @
SCREAMING FEMALES – ROSE MOUNTAIN
Not all females and not all screaming, Screaming Females released their triumphant sixth album Rose Mountain in February. Although not as turbulent as previous work, Rose Mountain crooned maturity and created a career stepping-stone. King Mike and Jarrett Dougherty’s prestigious basslines and rhythm backbones matched with Marissa Paternoster’s devil-traded guitar shredding and distinctive vocals create the perfect indie-rock sandwich, generating songs such as ‘Ripe’ and ‘Burning Car’. Screaming Females produce rock music that’s fresh, yet are cool and content with staying underground.
KIWI VINCENT @
SLAVES – ARE YOU SATISFIED?
Slaves solidified their promise as one of the year’s breakthrough acts with a debut of epic proportions. Packing out venues from Sheffield to Tokyo, word of their electrifying stage performance spread like wildfire and soon everyone had gotten a whiff of their punk stench. The same vigour of that live show permeates through the album, lined with bellowing, anti-establishment diatribe; it’s as if the two stepped off stage and straight into the studio, the crowd following them through the door. Are you satisfied? You betcha.
JORDAN LOW @
SPECTOR – MOTH BOYS
Commercially overlooked bands are ten-a-penny but none so criminally as Spector. With the acerbic wit of a pop-art Morrissey and tunes bigger than anything the ‘80s produced, their 2012 debut, Enjoy It While It Lasts, skimmed the mainstream but should have topped every pop fan’s Album of the Year list. Moth Boys takes the same route of fuzzed-out synths and huge choruses but strips back all the “have fun while you’re young” to a more sombre state. They’re a bit angrier and more jaded, but God is the album zest-filled poetry.
JODIE-MAE FINCH @
SUFIJAN STEVENS – CARRIE & LOWELL
After the death of his mother in 2012, Sufjan Stevens decided to return to his indie folk roots and write an album. Instrumentally, Carrie & Lowell is an austere approach to songwriting with a solitary guitar and ambient keys making up the majority of the album’s composition. However, it is the emotional weight this record carries that truly makes it stand out, where Stevens laments over matters such as loss, regret and even guilt.
LEWIS EDWARDS @
TAME IMPALA – CURRENTS
Everyone knows Kevin Parker is a genius but Currents, released this July, knocks everything else out of the water this year. Currents is a natural progression into the music that Parker has “always wanted to do”. It’s synthpop at its best, it’s crunchy, boisterous and lyrically brilliant. The themes of change and growing up fit seamlessly with the nu-wave 80s sound. It’s a step in a wonderful direction for Tame Impala, somehow more mature and still beautifully youthful.
MADDY HARDMAN @
THE WEEKND – BEAUTY BEHIND THE MADNESS
“I’m that nigga with the hair singin’/Bout poppin’ pills/Fuckin’ bitches/Livin’ life so trill” insists the Canadian singer-songwriter Abel Tesfaye better known as The Weeknd. Beauty Behind The Madness is revealing with charming honesty, with blunt lines fragranced by Tefaye’s angelic voice. By far his biggest album yet, featuring unlikely icons such as Lana Del Rey and Ed Sheeran who he exceeds them with his raw, virtually arrogant vocals.
SIAN WILSON @
FOALS – WHAT WENT DOWN
From the word “Go”, Foals‘ 2015 album What Went Down is a monumental explosion of pure attitude. Tracks like ‘What Went Down’ and ‘Snake Oil’ are sonic attacks of passionate ferocity. As cymbals crash together and fuzzy bass-lines tear through your eardrums, the integral ingredient of front man Yannis Philippakis‘ billowing vocals eclipses all other noises. All the while, perfectly executed pop tracks ‘Birch Tree’ and ‘Mountain At My Gates’ present irresistible sliding synth lines and rhythmic tip-toe riffs. Altogether, the composition is expertly produced to create an all encompassing, mind consuming atmosphere to become entirely lost in.
RUPERT TAYLOR @
WHILE SHE SLEEPS – BRAINWASHED
Following their explosive first album and an intense throat surgery, While She Sleeps second album was just as loud and exciting as any one of their live shows. Brainwashed is everything that British metalcore is about, tracks such as ‘Four Walls’ and ‘Trophies of Violence’ definitely are the ones to keep you moving. Hailing from Sheffield, the five-piece always like to keep their fans on their toes with a wide range of diversity throughout the album.
LAURYN PLUMMER @
WOAHNOWS – UNDERSTAND AND EVERYTHING ELSE
Smashing into the D.I.Y. punk scene, WOAHNOWS have created an LP that screams excitement and makes you want to sing along to every word. The Plymouthian trio, with their poppy riffs, their gritty bass and the vocalist Tim’s highly distinguishable voice, have made a sound no one has before. Starting off the album with first single ‘Sounds Like Spitting’, the listener is drawn in within seconds by high octane riffs and tempo. The album is just outstanding from start to finish.