Albums of the Year 2015

Colin Stetson and Sarah Neufeld went head to head, Grouper joined a band, Ian William Craig remade ambient music in his imagine, and Steve Hauschildt kept glistening. Also Kamasi Washington released the longest album in the world.

Bestseller of the Year 2015

Sleaford Mods - 'Key Markets'

Sleaford Mods - 'Key Markets'

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2.

Four Tet
Morning / Evening

On 12” vinyl or CD on Text. In perfect indemnible style, Four Tet releases his new album on his own imprint shrouded in mystery and intrigue. Only info in this is via his bareboned tweets, giving us the front cover and the fact that there are only two songs, each around 20 minute mark in length, one entitled Morning Side, the other (shockingly) Evening Side. I’ve already bought it, my friends have already bought it, and so should YOU!?!
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3.

Sleaford Mods
A Little Ditty / I'm Shit At It

Angry. Angry. Angry. Shouty. Angry. Angry. Shouty. Sweary. Shouty. Angry. Angry. Sweary. Sweary. Sweary. Angry. Shouty. Shouty. Shouty. Shouty. Angry. Punchy. Punchy. Punchy. Angry. Punchy. Punny. Angry. Sweary. Fighty. Angry. Fighty. Angry. Angry. Angry. Shouty. Angry. Angry. Shouty. Sweary. Shouty. Angry. Punky. Punky. Angry. Punky. Punky. Angry. Sleaford. Mods. Sleaford. Mods. Shouty. Mods. Fighty. Mods. Sleaford. Angry. Sleaford. Mods. A 1000 only pressing, 500 on blue vinyl *SOLD OUT on BLUE now!* 500 of random colours, from Sleaford Mods. 'A Little Ditty' from the album 'Divide and Exit' and an exclusive B-side 'I’m Shit At It' with a guest slot from John Paul.
4.

Concretism
Town Planning

A spooky little record with little information offered up about who left it lying about, 'Town Planning' lives up to its mystery, collating archived audio from the Cold War era with more traditional but still expressively experimental sounds -- synths, loops and all that good obscuring stuff. The sound is detached and disengaged, as if the Cold War had washed over Britain and sucked out its soul.
5.

Ryley Walker
Primrose Green

Harking back to an era of technically proficient folk guitar, Ryley Walker brings a high level of craftsmanship to his work. Hailing from the Chicago scene that brought an exquisitely understated fusion of jazz and prog (Tortoise et al), Primrose Green brings a pastoral flavour to an area of rich musical heritage. Out on CD and vinyl LP from Dead Oceans.
6.

Beach House
Depression Cherry

Depression Cherry is Beach House’s fifth album and they return to a more simple, melodic feel while continuing to change their sound as they go. Subtracted down to fewer instruments, Beach House keep their dreamy, otherworldly, dream-pop feeling as they pick you up and gently carry you away. Available as a CD, Vinyl and CD or a limited white vinyl LP.

7.

Deerhunter
Fading Frontier

At last, new Deerhunter! With their seventh album, the band have taken a fairly accessible approach, crafting songs with a strong melodic thrust and clear production. Lovely stuff. But they can’t hide their inherent weirdnesses entirely: Fading Frontiers is full of the odd little touches that make this band so special. On 4AD.
  • Label(s):
  • 4AD
8.

Thee Oh Sees
Mutilator Defeated At Last

A new year, a new album. That’s how it goes. Thee Oh Sees are back with more dirty, messy rock. Having strayed from their noisy ways on 2014's Drop, their new album Mutilator Defeated at Last is right back on our favorite track of unforgiving tracks packed with racks of distorting effects and overdriven amplifier stacks.
9.

Joanna Newsom
Divers

Indies of the world delight! A new record from the unique Joanna Newsom! Five years on from Have One On Me, Divers continues her life-long mission of creating immaculately arranged songs, each seemingly containing a universe. Divers is available from Drag City on diverse formats: double LP, CD, or cassette.
10.

AFX (Aphex Twin)
orphaned deejay selek 2006-2008

Not content with throwing out a whole discography’s worth of tracks on soundcloud recently, Richard D. James is clearly on a mission to make 2015 as busy as possible. orphaned deejay selek 2006-2008 is the first Aphex Twin release under the AFX moniker since 2005, so hoover up these eight tracks quick! On Warp.
11.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress

We thought we'd lost them forever but here they are with their first single length album since their very earliest days. Recorded in late 2013/14 with Greg Norman (not the golfer but the Electrical Audio engineer), 'Asunder, Sweet and other Distress' is described as Godspeed's most focussed and best sounding record to date. Clocking in at an anaemic (for them) 40 minutes, all the usual touchstones are in place, so expect enormo-crescendos, strings and guitars in glorious unison and exhilarating noise and drone explorations. For those with an interest in stats, track count is at 4 this time whilst exclamation mark total is at a lowly 2.    
12.

GNOD
Infinity Machines

When was the last time you saw a triple album that was named Volume 1? Well Gnod have never been too concerned with what is ordinary, and frankly the prospect of almost two straight hours of incantatory-heavy-psych-dub-electric-noise-rock-weirdo madness should excite you greatly. Welcome to Infinity Machines (Volume 1) on Rocket Recordings. The first 100 copies come with a bonus 40 minute live CD recorded when they supported Earth!
13.

Helen
The Original Faces

Check this one out Grouper fans! Liz Harris has formed a band, as in ‘an actual band’ band. Harris’ unmistakeable vocals can thus be heard over a sort of shoegaze/indie-pop backing. Helen still maintains an essentially mystic nature, but it is very welcome to hear a whole new side to Harris. The Original Faces is released by Kranky.
14.

The Pop Group / Sleaford Mods
Nations / Face To Faces

Implausible / remarkable team up here from Norman favourites Sleaford Mods and The Pop Group: a split 7” giving us a track from each. The Sleaford selection is an (even) rougher version of a track from their forthcoming album, and Mark Stewart’s boys give us one from their latest. On Freaks R Us.
15.

Levitation
Meanwhile Gardens

Much to the band’s evident dismay (see the press release), Levitation’s second record Meanwhile Gardens was never released in 1993 when it was recorded. It has taken until now for the album to receive the full, proper release it was meant to: now, we can all hear the alt-guitar sound the band crafted back then. On Flashback.
16.

Aphex Twin
Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments pt2 EP

Available on 12” Vinyl and CD. After Syro, the first material from Richard D. James under his Aphex Twin moniker in 13 years, dropped near the end of 2014, I think most of us hoped that it wasn’t going to be an equally long wait. James says he’s been making computers play real instruments for years, designing and contracting people to build his manic contraptions. Of course, being Aphex Twin, the title could be a complete misnomer.
17.

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

Sometimes I Sit And Think And Sometimes I Just Sit is the debut album by Australian singer/songwriter Courtney Barnett. It follows on from the brilliant Double EP: A Sea Of Split Peas which was released in 2013. Filled with lyrically sharp, catchy songs, this album confirms Courtney Barnett as a genuinely brilliant and unique artist.
18.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Multi-Love

Some twenty first century scorn from Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Multi-Love is the next instalment from the art-pop freaks. This one is full of Ruban Nielson's dreamy croon, swaying synthesisers and grooved out bass & drums. It sounds like Steely Dan, Tame Impala and Deerhunter somehow collaborated in New Zealand. Out on vinyl LP and CD from Jagjaguwar.
19.

Death And Vanilla
To Where the Wild Things Are

Recorded using a ten pound microphone they found at a flea market, Death and Vanilla have, on this their third album, really captured the sights, the sounds, the smells of all the best bits of late '60s/early '70s dreamy pop. Their sound is woozy, evocative and blatantly in thrall to the kaleidoscopic sounds of Broadcast, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Mazzy Star and 60's sci-fi soundtracks. It's beautifully listenable; a veritable tapestry of warm sounds to soothe and refresh. Their previous records have been popular but this could send them into the stratosphere. We'll have the indies-only orange vinyl version ahead of official release so get to the front of the queue.   
20.

Joanna Gruesome
Peanut Butter 

‘Peanut Butter’ is twenty five minutes of hyperactive, violently melodic, aggressive, economic pop that’s packed full of tasty hooks and screams from highly acclaimed Cardiff based pop punk ensemble Joanna Gruesome. Recorded in Leeds at Hookworms frontman M.J’s Suburban Homes Studios, the album comes with the following warning: "a marriage of radical politics with peanut butter spread".
21.

Ela Orleans
Upper Hell

Upper Hell is Ela Orleans’ much anticipated follow up to the magical Tumult in Clouds album from 2012. The noir pop wizardess teams up with uber-producer Howie B for her new music, and seductive, brilliantly evolved sounds are the inevitable result. On the man’s HB imprint on CD and vinyl, and destined to win over many more hearts with this effort.
22.

Jim O'Rourke
Simple Songs

Let’s be clear, Jim O’Rourke has never stopped putting out records. But it’s been over a decade since he released an album of ‘proper music’ rather than noise/improv/jazz/electroacoustic/drone wonder. But now he’s back on Drag City with an album literally titled Simple Songs! Eight tracks, with lyrics and everything. Be excited.
23.

Michael Head and The Strands
The Magical World of The Strands

Michael Head and The Strands produced The Magical World Of The Strands during the early 90s, first releasing the collection of work-in-progress material in 1997. Everybody loved it, so now it returns, on CD or 180g gatefold LP on Megaphone. Brand new liner notes from Mr Head himself round out the package.
24.

Low
Ones and Sixes

A bloke called Alan who’s a member of Low says of One and Sixes; “I'm not going to tell you what this record is about because I have too much respect for that moment when you come to know it for yourself”. He goes on to talk about “the moment” and all that. All I know is that they continue with their slow sleuthing indie rock, which also has hints of traditional folk. They're singing well known tunes and just giving you a generally good time. Don't let up on the harmonies, y'all. Available on 2LP or CD.  
  • Artist(s):
  • Low
25.

Mogwai
Central Belters

Something of a motherload here for Mogwai fans: the noisy Scottish group are celebrating their 20th anniversary with a grand, box-set compilation, equal parts favourites and rarities. If you’ve never heard their ‘My Father My King’ before for instance, now’s your chance! Three CDs or a whole six vinyl records! On Rock Action.
26.

The Heads
Time In Space

The Heads is pretty much the purest possible distillation of a psych-rock band name isn’t it? Time In Space collects together tracks from three tour-only CDr releases: they span live recordings, studio outtakes and rehearsal tapes, forming a nice miscellany of the band’s heavy jams. Double LP (with each disc pressed to a different colour of splatter vinyl) on Rooster, in an edition of only 600 copies!
27.

Broadcast
Tender Buttons

Broadcast released their third album to critical acclaim, presenting a refined sound that pushed the psychedelic elements out of the Pram-esque noir of previous outings. The core of stripped back rhythms, synths and robotic vocals remained, brought into fuller colour with a new approach to songwriting and production.
28.

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 band that includes bassist Thundercat. Hell of a thing.
29.

Julia Holter
Have You In My Wilderness

‘Have You In My Wilderness’ is a collection of dreamy, atmospheric, intimate ballads textured with the imagery inspired by various literary references, exploring familiar themes such as love and human relationships in a way that is enigmatic and slightly unnerving. The record seems to be drawn from a more personal source than her first two releases.
30.

Olafur Arnalds & Nils Frahm
Life Story Love And Glory

Ólafur Arnalds and Nils Frahm are pretty much the dream team if you are a fan of the Erased Tapes aesthetic. Life Story Love And Glory is a 7” containing some casually improvised piano duets, inventive and intimate. The vinyl is exclusive to record stores like ourselves, and may hint towards further future work...
31.

Various
In A Moment... Ghost Box

Available on either double heavyweight vinyl, or a double digipak CD, In A Moment….Ghost Box is a collection from the label’s back catalogue to celebrate ten years of releases. Hand picked and remastered, artists include Pye Corner Audio, Belbury Poly, The Advisory Circle, and John Foxx to name a few.
32.

The Advisory Circle
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33.

Jon Brooks
52

Jon Brooks takes a step away from his Advisory Circle work with what promises to be a lovely new LP on the ever great Clay Pipe records. Inspired by hs grandma's house, this record consists of reflective synth laden evocations of the house he lived as a child. As with anything on Clay Pipe the artwork is sure to be absolutely stunning and the last record he recorded for the label 2012's 'Shapwick' sold out quickly.  
34.

Sufjan Stevens
Carrie & Lowell

Sufjan Stevens left behind the folk game a long time ago, declaring his plan to write fifty records for fifty states a mere joke -- a sentiment that failed to wash away the beauty of the ornately composed Michigan and the pantomimic Illinoise. In the years since, he's been writing song cycles dedicated to the solar system, conducting orchestras in tributes to American highways, making fun of people on his blog and releasing records that betray deep existential crises -- All Delighted People and the synth-mad Age of Adz. He returns now with Carrie & Lowell, a record which promises a retracing of footsteps, back to the days when Stevens was about acoustic guitars, banjos and soft sadness. It's dedicated to his mum and step-dad. Argh. Crying.
35.

The Lucid Dream
The Lucid Dream

The Lucid Dream? Must be a psychedelic band right? Correct. A psych band delivering their second LP, the self-titled, The Lucid Dream. Truly a band of the new psychedelic drive we find ourselves in, the group edge closer to the kraut inspired bands of TOY or the heavy-rockers of Bo Ningen on this LP, a swirling mess of guitar and vocals punctuated by some heavy-hitting, Can inspired drumming. The LP is half aqua marine and half green wax and limited to a pressing of 750.
36.

The Declining Winter
Home For Lost Souls

Following the success of our Album Of The Year winner 'Exist/Resist' by Bracken album, the other co-founder of that much-loved post rock/electronic group Hood (namely Richard Adams) unleashes a brand new album under his The Declining Winter moniker. Expect warmly produced, forward-thinking, melancholic English music referencing Talk Talk, Bark Psychosis, Robert Wyatt, Radiohead and of course Adams' former buddies Hood. Sold out in mere seconds in March the album has been re-pressed on olive green vinyl with download code for full album plus further 5 track EP. CD version contains 'The Waning Mill Chronicles' EP plus two non album bonus tracks.  

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39.

Björk
Vulnicura

Back from Iceland, Björk is bringing another piece of her wild and crazy pop history to us. Vulnicura is released on double vinyl, in a deluxe digipack or a classic CD, but as far as we know none of the editions includes any fancy Björk swanmade dresses. We tried to make it happen, we really did.
40.

Follakzoid
III

With music that is more stretched out than the country they come from, Föllakzoid are now back with their third LP. On III, the band tries to focus on creating long and minimal soundscapes, combined with their musical ancestors, which yields a haunting and hypnotizing endresult. Now that's föllaked up.

41.

Jon Brooks
Music For Thomas Carnacki

Jon Brooks, although probably more 'famous' for his work as The Advisory Circle, has also released a series of records under his own name, most of which seem to sell out on release. Here we present on a limited LP run of an album which expands on a piece he made for the Resonance FM series Weird Tales For Winter. This is an abridged version of the original digital release with all tracks appearing on a bonus download. Brooks is expert at producing retro-sounding soundtracks which reference library music, 70's incidental themes and an eerie kind of prog/folk. Delightful.
42.

Jamie xx
In Colour

In Colour is the debut album by Jamie xx, from the Mercury Music Prize winning band, The xx. Over the past six years Jamie xx has worked with and re-worked the likes of Radiohead, Alicia Keys and Florence & The Machine but his crowning glory must be the reworking of Gil Scott Heron’s I’m New Here album. In Colour will please fans of his collaborative efforts and includes, Girl, Sleep Sound and Loud Places. The latter is the forthcoming single.
43.

Pye Corner Audio
Stars Shine Like Eyes / Quasar ll

Death Waltz and Pye Corner Audio. Flourescent Orange Vinyl and beautifully designed sleeve art. And you still haven't ordered it yet? This is essential for fans of John Carpenter, sci-fi soundtracks, dystopian fantasies and just good electronic music. Two tracks of future, past and present inspired cosmic music from the ever excellent Head Technician. Don't sleep on this, the latest in the Originals line from Death Waltz.
44.

Sleaford Mods
Talk Bollocks / No One's Bothered

Now that we have a Conservative party in full power and therefore five years of austerity and cuts ahead of us we'll be needing Sleaford Mods more than ever. An initial spin of 'No One's Bothered' from their forthcoming 'Key Markets' album reveals a band pretty close to the top of their game. This pulsating track appears here alongside the typically titled 'Talk Bollocks'. Both tracks are new and copies of this will disappear as fast as Ed Miliband's political career.   
45.

Jon Brooks
Walberswick

Limited to 300 copies on the Canadian More Than Human label this is the latest instalment in the Advisory Circle man's solo endeavours. Here he uses modular synths to create calm and icy soundscapes and shows him in more reflective mood than in the recent sold out ''Music For Thomas Carnacki'. All Brooks releases sell out with a few days and we are the only UK store selling this so be quick...be very quick.  
46.

Flying Saucer Attack
Instrumentals 2015

The first release in fifteen years from Flying Saucer Attack sees David Pearce perform 15 new lo-fi tracks recorded at home. One to be listened to from beginning to end, this British space rock album resonates, drones and creates a stunning emotional arc from start to finish. Vinyl double LP or CD from Domino.
47.

Goat
It's Time For Fun

Rejoice! A brand new single from Goat and the first new material since the much-loved 'Commune' album. Goat keep up the pretence of being some kind of hedonistic commune dwelling trolls by disappearing to the village of Korpilombolo in Sweden to record new material which will appear on an upcoming third album. This 7" however was actually recorded in the less rural environs of New York and we're promised dubby ESG-like no-wave on the A side whilst the B side conjures up 'Future Days' era Can reflections with Fripp & Eno style ambience. That's another 20 sold then. Be quick!   
48.

Ian William Craig
Cradle for the Wanting

Ian William Craig's previous release 'A Turn of Breath' was not only a favourite with us but with the New York Times. So there. The Wire have also featured this Canadian sound collagist of late so there is high anticipation of this new record. This time round Craig has recorded very quickly (months rather than years) and has used only his voice as instrument. From the sound of the early clips, this is going to be a very special record indeed. For fans of Grouper, Colin Stetson, Belong and Arthur Russell.   
49.

SEXWITCH
SEXWITCH

It has been a good long while since we heard from Bat For Lashes’ lead performer Natasha Khan, so she’s decided to make a big return splash with a new group named Sexwitch. For this self-titled debut (which also features the band TOY), Khan takes on six 1970’s psych-folk tracks, covering in inimitable style. On The Echo Label Limited.
50.

The Declining Winter / Isnaj Dui
Split

Absolutely gorgeous looking hand numbered split 12" on Rural Colours with screen printed sleeves and additional postcards. The Declining Winter side consists of seven stripped back pop songs recorded in a remote cabin producing a raw, evocative sound that reflects the environment it was made. Overleaf Katie English aka Isnaj Dui puts away her flute and changes to the cello for two longer pieces which are based more on texture and rhythm but have the same feel of isolation as the Declining Winter tracks.  12" vinyl edition 200.