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Albums of the Year 2015

After the usual careful deliberation, here are our Albums of the Year.

Top 50 Albums Top 50 Reissues Top 50 Bestsellers 'Near Misses'

Album of the Year 2015

Colin Stetson And Sarah Neufeld - 'Never Were The Way She Was'

Colin Stetson And Sarah Neufeld - 'Never Were The Way She Was'

Colin Stetson has here teamed up with Arcade Fire’s violinist Sarah Neufeld to create an album where each instrument collides with the other over a series of polyrhythmic, ever-shifting compositions. Evocative, raw and genuinely new, 'Never Were The Way She Was' possibly deserves Album of the Year simply by turning the saxophone into a listenable instrument....

Using no loops, overdubs or samples, the album is incredibly varied and nuanced - particularly considering it was created in real time. The result is, by far, the most exciting work of their respective careers.

Buy it now
2.

Dråpe
Relax / Relapse

It’s funny that Phil has just been talking about album of the year when this arrives. Firstly its title is remarkably similar to that of our previous winner Bracken’s ‘Exist/Resist’ and secondly it’s the sort of album that I imagine is in Phil’s hotlist for the coveted 2015 awar...view item »
3.

Ian William Craig
Cradle for the Wanting

You might think that Ian William Craig’s work sounds sacred. An erudite opera singer in love with a rich lineage of drone music that stretches back to his twin-obsession with Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Stars of the Lid, his work suggests formal ...view item »
4.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Multi-Love

Behold ‘Multi-Love’, wherein Unknown Mortal Orchestra get out of the psych pop game and take up a nice suburban retirement listening to Prince; wherein they forget the high-minded art practices and sing La La La La, La La La La, because it feels good; wherein their studio sounds like an open-air funk fair...view item »
5.

Steve Hauschildt
Where All Is Fled

Remember Pokemon Emerald? That was a good game. You play as Steve Hauschildt and your rival is called Mark McGuire; Professor Oak is also there, struggling to listen to drone. Since the dissolution of that band/video game, McGuire’s been making lofty beat music like a more reserved M...view item »
6.

Viet Cong
Viet Cong

If both of Women’s records feel like masterful accidents -- either because the band were having too much fun to give a shit about time constraints and song structures, or because they’d been preparing the downfall of their band in advance -- then Viet Cong flips the coin, offering a complete version of i...view item »
7.

Shit & Shine
54 Synth-Brass, 38 Metal Guitar, 65 Cathedral

This morning I placed a lukewarm cup of coffee in the microwave and marvelled at the whirring grind drone for a good 30 seconds before realising that the microwave was actually a CD player into which I had placed the latest Shit & Shine. While this tale is actually a false combination of two events which actually occurred in two separate roo...view item »
8.

Ought
Sun Coming Down

There are some lyricists so good that come review time I just want to splurge their words, plus additional exclamation marks, onto the page. Ought’s Tim Darcy is one of them -- an orator much as a singer, tunneling out of a spoken word night and breaking into a punk gig. To that end, reiterating his words sucks -- to quote him takes the pe...view item »
9.

Helen
The Original Faces

As time trundles slowly onward, so does my uneasy relationship with Liz Harris’ final Grouper album ‘Ruins’. Though it first felt like a different kind of drone pop discombobulation, I’ve come to see the record as a profound collection of accidental ballads, the type that sound as if Harris i...view item »
10.

Julia Holter
Have You In My Wilderness

Firstly: 10/10 for Julia Holter’s dog. What a long, strange press release it’s been for the mutt with no name, no titles and no accolades. Having put the music video to “Feel You” in quite heavy rotation since its release, I’ve come to think of Holter’s dog as integral to the themes of ‘Have Y...view item »
11.

Sufjan Stevens
Carrie & Lowell

Sufjan Stevens has always been a solo artist, but he has never made a solo album. With American states as his muse and orchestras of the Danielson Famile as his sidekicks, he has never had a musical private life. In a recent interview with Pitchfork, he addressed the juxtaposition: “some people h...view item »
12.

The Declining Winter
Home For Lost Souls

On his latest record, ‘Home For Lost Souls’, Richard Adams receives a snowflake on a plate of caviar and says “no thank you very much”. So begins the saddest album ever made. The ex-Hood and current Memory Drawings guitar cyborg ...view item »
13.

Ryley Walker
Primrose Green

An absolutely breathtaking album from start to finish. Many singer-songwriters are currently mining that 1970’s folk/jazz influenced type territory for inspiration but no-one has nailed this sound better than Ryley Walker. The album is the perfect concoction of Tim Buckley, ...view item »
14.

Manyfingers
The Spectacular Nowhere

Manyfingers is the nom de plume of Chris Cole, who has a history of playing in some of the finest bands Bristol has produced. Search the internet carefully and you’ll see him eating an ice cream with Movietone, whilst he has also played in the live band of Matt Elliott...view item »
15.

Joanna Newsom
Divers

On the front of the CD label she seems to have got herself into difficulties with a peacock but you would find everyday bird interactions difficult if your compositions were this complicated.   For the uninitiated, feed Kate Bush and Tori Amos’s ...view item »
16.

Death And Vanilla
To Where the Wild Things Are

Death and Vanilla are pretty close to being the perfect band for those who worship the ‘60’s exotic electronica that so influenced the music of Broadcast. Opener ‘Necessary Distortion’ sets out it’s stall pretty clearly -a pulsating, kraut jam which sits perfectly in that sweet spot b...view item »
17.

Helena Hauff
Discreet Desires

Laurie is taking a techno nap, so he’s requested backup for the final edition of today’s electronic releases, Helena Hauff’s wonderful ‘Discreet Desires’, which I will now try to describe in as much ernest as I can muster. After a slew of 12s and minute techno slices, Hauff has readied her first record of...view item »
18.

Jenny Hval
Apocalypse, Girl

Despite arguably being Jenny Hval’s most accessible record, ‘Apocalypse, Girl’ is anything but linear. Hval continues to obsess with how songs are sound and words are utterances, and how these things can appear when reiterated and realigned. Like changing the sound of a chord through the sequence around it, she reuses phra...view item »
19.

Yair Elazar Glotman
Études

The double bass is an instrument that has struggled to escape from the world that created it - the ruthless traditionalist institution of Classical music. Jazz was its ray of hope, but that soon formalised into something not too far away from the Vienna schools. Yair Elazar Glotman is a child of this system who realised that you can actually do ...view item »
20.

Rival Consoles
Howl

OK I’ve been looking forward to this all morning because we’ve already had this album on a few times in the office and it’s garnered pretty much universal approval. It’s amazing. Ryan Lee West made some pretty stunning sounds happen with Sonne, sounds you could almost sink your teeth into and feel the spicy tang ...view item »
21.

Sleaford Mods
Key Markets

Well of course we like it. But let’s talk about it. Sleaford Mods have actually been making records for years now, like the prolific crossover between a crusty band doing 7” splits, a rapper throwing archives onto DatPiff and, you know, the Fall. They have a good half dozen full le...view item »
22.

Pinkshinyultrablast
Everything Else Matters

“That’s definitely The Edge on guitar” mutters Laurie as the first sign of skyscraping guitars leaping heavenwards flutter into view. This album of join the dots Euro-gaze was surprisingly ripped off the stereo by our resident ‘gaze expert Ian. The thing is, he loved it. It was just that he sensed everyone else was making...view item »
23.

Kamasi Washington
The Epic

If you enjoyed the corners of Flying Lotus’ music where he flirts with psychedelic jazz, now is a chance to get more, much more… The Epic, released on FlyLo’s own Brainfeeder label, is a three disc super-album orchestrated by Kamsai Washington and utilising orchestra, choir, and a ban...view item »
24.

Low
Ones and Sixes

If I was going to write the press release for ‘Ones and Sixes’, it would be to the point: “literally none of these songs are about pissing into a cup”. Over the past two Low records, the world’s most sonorous lullaby pop band have been developing a wicked sen...view item »
25.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress

Godspeed have always spoken through others. Our favourite anonymous band, their rise has been charted through phonies opening our eyes, nostalgics waxing lyrical, helicopter crews circling in; the nameless of North America, trying to stake their claim on it. The idea of them as a political band is just that: an idea. It is us who talked and list...view item »
26.

Björk
Vulnicura

‘Vulnicura’ is so unconditionally painful. It is above and beyond the call of duty of any sad singer-songwriter album. It is a full consumption of heartbreak; an analysis of how to struggle with it, a treatise in feeling it, and an exhibition of the physical sound it makes. That’s a lot for one record to cover, but her...view item »
27.

Natural Snow Buildings
Terror's Horns

Here’s one more from the band who never stop releasing records, not even if an ambient cease and desist were to sustain its way through their letterbox. Robert Pollard, take note, because this duo have made the same album time and time again, and I’ve always wanted to listen to it; following last ...view item »
28.

Courtney Barnett
Sometimes I Sit And Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

Australian prankster Courtney Barnett is back for the first proper record of her deconstructionist indie pop, in which she talks her way into songs and jokes her way out of dodgy situations. We’ve talked a lot about how happy we are with the potential cancellation of Top Gear and the death knell for Jeremy Clarkson recently, but I would li...view item »
29.

Coil
Backwards

I have a strange relationship with the music of Coil. Some of their work I absolutely adore and is among some of my favourite music ever created. Music of unparalleled beauty. Then there’s the other side where there’s tracks I literally can’t bare to listen to, and when I do come across them I have to...view item »
30.

C Duncan
Architect

Hurling its hat into the ring for the coveted feel good summer pop album of 2015 is this lovely drifty album from Glaswegian Chris Duncan also known as C. Duncan. The time he's saved in coming up with a decent band name has been used wisely in creating a gorgeous textured record. The opening glut of songs are all fantastic. ‘Say&rs...view item »
31.

Phantom Horse
Different Forces

Umor Rex are taking 2015 by storm. That Kara-Lis Coverdale and LXV thing was beautiful, slightly more so than the James Place, a place where (rainy) dreams are made on his second record Living on Superstition. Now a duo of German electronickers called P...view item »
32.

Triptides
Azur

They say there is no such thing as love at first sight but is love at first listen a thing? It took three whole seconds before I decided that the brisk opener ‘Wake’ was made with my ears in mind. Twin guitars jangle (one in each ear, natch) basslines wander hither and thither, vocals are hushed and slathered in delay. This is magnif...view item »
33.

Prurient
Frozen Niagara Falls

Dominick Fernow has become somewhat of thee “noise” poster boy in recent years. If such a thing would appear to be anti-noise then you can blame the internet for that. He clearly works tirelessly with his Hospital Productions label and over the past 17 years has produced an immense discograp...view item »
34.

Helm
Olympic Mess

I suppose Luke Younger’s second album for PAN could be described as a mess. The mess inside a man’s head as he tries to make sense of his existence amongst the chaos and trials of life. As the album progresses, slowly things feel less lost and lonely and move into a more positive rational zone where things s...view item »
35.

Mika Vainio & Franck Vigroux
Peau Froide, Léger Soleil

It’s always a bit scary putting on a new Mika Vainio release because you never know quite what you’re going to get; it could be anything from a brutalisingly cold rhythmical assault, an incendiary electronic tone freakout, eerily stripped-down electro or the faintest of ethereal whispers set against ...view item »
36.

Minami Deutsch
Minami Deutsch

It makes sense! If I use enough exclamation marks it makes sense! Minami Deutsch are taking the genre’s origins at face value, dedicating themselves to the grooves they’ve wrought and letting their rigid vocal interpolations ring out overtop, with some classy reverb as the piece de resistance. Amidst the workout aesthetic they’...view item »
37.

C418
Minecraft Volume Alpha

For those who don't have children, it's really hard to imagine what their constant squawking does to ones ears. Their high-pitched perma-wailing is probably one of the reasons why mothers have constant headaches and fathers spend a lot of their time in the shed or simply sat alone in their car. 'Minecraft',  for those who don't know, is a k...view item »
38.

Ghostpoet
Shedding Skin

Ghostpoet certainly starts like an express train on his third album. Opener ‘Off Peak Dreams’ is a skittering, soulful effort driven by pounding drums, sparse piano notes and a funk ladled synth. It’s like he’s woken up and realised that he’s spent two albums making underground hip hop with esoteric appeal but has n...view item »
39.

Vision Fortune
Country Music

Named ‘Country Music’ as a joke at the genre’s expense, Vision Fortune are actually referring to the lavish villa they hauled up in to record their newest and weirdest record -- it’s got a pool, a few different buildings and a decent congregation of shrubbery. So much for that honest pick-up truck life: this miniature col...view item »
40.

Girlpool
Before The World Was Big

Philadelphia - not exactly renowned for having a particularly vibrant music scene, but the city’s home to one of the most interesting duo’s of recent times. Having upped sticks and moved from LA - where there’s music by the bucketload, it seems that Girlpool are very much a welcomed aspect to Philly’s music sce...view item »
41.

Thomas Brinkmann
What You Hear (Is What You Hear)

Just a couple of weeks ago I was waxing lyrical about a collaborative release by Mark Fell and Gábor Lázár; praising them for liberating their mercurial rhythms from the gridlocked template that has driven so much minimal techno into the mire. Well, this latest release by Thomas Brinkman is just as mind blowing as that recor...view item »
42.

Jefre Cantu-Ledesma
A Year With 13 Moons

Jefre Cantu–Ledesma may be best known through his collaborations with Liz Harris (aka Grouper) as Raum or as the head of the influential Root Strata label, but he’s been releasing music as a solo artist for years. This album, put together from mammoth recording sessions during ...view item »
43.

Lakker
Tundra

Their now-native R&S sees the release of Ireland-based Lakker’s next LP, and it’s a proper melee. Controlled noise and insistent beats coalesce on Tundra to stir you into stony-faced intensity; this is Lakker’s golden era. The above statement is slightly void, owing to the fact that I’ve only heard a ...view item »
44.

Oneohtrix Point Never
Garden of Delete

Welcome to Daniel Lopatin’s garden. To your left, you will see discarded cigarettes, and to your right, audio detritus. If you would be so kind as to look up, you’ll find some selfies that Mr. Lopatin wanted to put into a press release. Warp were not game. This garden is actually a digital garden, the Recycle Bin that resides on OPN&...view item »
45.

Sightings
Amusers and Puzzlers

I think I’m slowly moving from anger to the acceptance stage in the process of mourning the break-up of Sightings. Over the last fifteen years or so, Sightings have developed an utterly singular musical language that’s as weird and idiosyncratic as say the Magic Band, except rather than being a re...view item »
46.

The Apartments
No Song No Spell No Madrigal

I was recently given a severe reprimanding by a customer after I failed to mention in this review of the recent Captured Tracks re-issue of The Apartments' early work that the band were still going. Please accept my heartfelt apologies for this oversight but I hope that I can ...view item »
47.

Loop
Array 1

Loop have been away for a very, very long time, but as their name suggests, they’ll always return, and with much thanks to our collective, fervent love of alt rock nostalgia (credit goes to the ever-predictable ATP), the band has made very linear moves towards a comeback -- live shows, of course, and then a bunch of new material set to tri...view item »
48.

FIS
The Blue Quicksand is Going Now

This is a review of an album called the Blue Quicksand is going now. I don’t know what that means, maybe because I only got up an hour ago and can’t think straight. It must be verbal music to your alert ears/eyes, and actual music to your ears. Out on the new, anonymous Loopy imprint. FIS is a man from New Zealand wh...view item »
49.

Anna Caragnano & Donato Dozzy
Sintetizzatrice

As soon as you hit play, you meet the mouth tree. It’s many branches mutter as the breeze passes through it, each sentence lost in a cascade of layered obscurity. Each branch is sown from the same seed, and that seed is Anna Caragnano. The entire record’s subject material is sourced from her vocal cords, the seed then nurtured by ...view item »
50.

Michael Chapman
Fish

When stuck I like to think of Michael Chapman as a direct cross between John Fahey and Jim Bowen. Both masters in their particular field but Chapman is more than just a wise cracking guitar man, he has made straightforward singer songwriters, he's gone to the moon and back with Th...view item »

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