2015 has been an awesome year for LP releases. To narrow down the top contenders for best record of 2015 so far I asked our writers to contribute some suggestions.
The response was…eclectic.
Have a read below and let us know your thoughts in the comments.
The Armed – Untitled
It wasn’t until the sleepy pace and brooding builds of Dead Actress, track 7 of The Armed’s ‘Untitled’, that I finally took a breath. ‘Untitled’ is a white-knuckled, thick-fingered hand squeezing your throat. The relentless aggression of tracks like Future Drugs and Rage Of Youth is all-encompassing and inescapable. Cling to what nuance you can. Your only hope is to drink the furious mixture down, wheel your limbs and revel in its glorious red mist. Grant.
Death Grips – The Powers That B
A double album combining the synthetic beats of ‘Niggas On The Moon’ and the psychedelics of ‘Jenny Death’, ‘The Powers That B’ is a fever dream of Bjork samples, acerbic social commentary and MC Ride’s tortured psyche. If ‘The Money Store’ proved that Death Grips can do mainstream, ‘…Powers’ proves that, whether it’s tweaked-out sonic hip hop or EQ-pushing riffs channelling Fugazi at their fuggiest, Death Grips kill it whatever direction they spiral into. Grant.
Drenge – Undertow
Drenge went heavy. The addition of bassist Rob Graham has given them new heft, blasting a whirlwind of thrash from the word go. Side B doesn’t disappoint with a slower tempo providing space for crashing beats and droned-out amplifiers. It’s a sinister second half concluding a rock-solid statement of intent to burst your eardrums. Declan.
Enter Shikari – The Mindsweep
The Hertfordshire metallers’ fourth effort is their most ambitious and accomplished record to date. With the usual mix of political rallying, explosive riffs and electronics, it’s an album that sounds like no other band performing today. Not for the faint of heart, expect pure fury at the system, ribcage-rattling noise and even the odd hook or two. Cameron. Osborne. Enter Shikari are coming for you. Alex.
Florence and the Machine – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
With a mixture of powerful melodies and haunting lyrics there’s something for everyone in Florence and the Machine’s ‘How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful’. Tracks like Ship to Wreck and Various Storms & Saints are stylistically poles apart, yet they blend. There’s vulnerability and power in Florence’s performance; the album is one oxymoron after another. Leading track What Kind of Man is rich and concise – qualities that permeate every track. It’s a dramatic release, frequently punctuated with the brooding, evocative and beautiful. Eleanor.
Girlpool – Before the World Was Big
Girlpool’s raw shriek-indie is aural marmite. For those that dig their surf infused lullabies ‘Before the World Was Big’ is the refinement last year’s debut needed. The melodies are more infectious, the vocals are gleefully shrill, and it’s all doused in the golden rays of adolescent memory. Much more than indie-flick filler, Girlpool have written a bittersweet soundtrack to the youth you never lived. Grant.
Hop Along – Painted Shut
Labelled as an indie-folk rock band, Hop Along smash their way out of the woodwork with ‘Painted Shut’. Frontwoman Frances Quinlan leads the charge with her warcry, her passionate vocals ripping through beautiful melodies. A dark fairytale in aural form, tracks like Powerful Man mislead with upbeat melodies that distract you from the melancholic undertones in the lyrics. It’s a performance that secures Hop Along as ones to watch. Eleanor.
The Internet – Ego Death
The third installment in the story of this outlaw group of Odd Future graduates fuses the best elements of the first (extreme weirdness) and second (extreme slickness) to form that incredibly rare beast: a record with depth and radiance. With Syd tha Kyd’s vocals pushed further forward and the Blackbyrds-like rhythm section dancing in jazz-rock rhythms around her, ‘Ego Death’ witnesses The Internet finally realising the potential it always hinted at: to be a female-fronted N*E*R*D on better drugs. Dan.
James Bay – Chaos and the Calm
James Bay has written a summertime necessity, a road trip must-have for tapping feet and nodding heads. Themes of self-discovery, lust and love are sure bets for teenage audiences, boasting big bluesy tracks along with the more delicate ballads. Not the most exciting album but you can’t deny that the music lingers in the air with its unfaltering grit and earnest emotion. Eleanor.
Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly
Some artists have a moment in their career where they become more than just a pop star. ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ is the album to turn Kendrick Lamar into not just one of the most important artists performing today, but one of the most vital figures in pop culture. The album dissects racial tensions currently plaguing America and asks important questions of society, tackling his own demons along the way. Yet another hip hop genius from Compton, how about that. Alex.
LA Priest – Inji
Ladies and gentleman, let’s get weird. Former Late of the Pier frontman Sam Eastgate’s first solo effort since the indie electro pioneers’ split is even more bizarre than expected. Featuring all the madness and poppy electro of LOTP, ‘Inji’ is a sludgy house masterpiece. Created by “sticking screwdrivers into synthesizers and seeing what happens,” expect new noise and songs to lose your mind too. Alex.
Mark Ronson – Uptown Special
For an artist best known for his collaborations, Mark Ronson’s ‘Uptown Special’ is a masterpiece of the form. Dedicated to the late Amy Winehouse, ‘Uptown Special’ could have been scuppered by poor team-ups. Luckily Ronson made some great choices; Bruno Mars, Mystikal and the legend that is Stevie Wonder, who pulls double duty opening and closing of the album. The highly infectious lead single Uptown Funk is proof enough that ‘Uptown Special’ should be included in this list, with its inspired vocal from Bruno Mars driving it to the top of the charts for 14 weeks. Julia.
Mini Mansions – The Great Pretenders
Beautiful, surprisingly and fluid, ‘The Great Pretender’ is a shape-shifting creature. Alex Turner and Brian Wilson’s guest appearances throw in a nice shift in vocal dynamics, adding a sophisticated tone to the record. ‘Mirror Mountain’ is the album highlight, taking liberties with the fuzz and draping it over infectious melodies. Only one thing left to say, bring on the next one, lads. Declan.
Muse – Drones
Where do you go after achieving stadium rock status? It’s a problem Muse have been fighting for a couple of records now. Despite climbing to the top of the charts on their release, previous albums ‘The Resistance’ and ‘The 2nd Law’ were both missing something. It turns out that ‘something’ was an obsession with the end of the world and the inevitable killer robot invasion. Drones is a concept record with a capital C. Featuring a lot of bombastic chat about programmable killing machines, it’s one for the fans. Your favourite conspiracy theorists are back and they’ve hit the overdrive button. Alex.
Phony Ppl – Yesterday’s Tomorrow
Bringing musicality back to the party soundtrack, Phony Ppl has provided the natural antithesis to trap beats and joke-hop with what could easily be described as this year’s successor to channel ORANGE. You feel this album owes as much of a debt to Brian Wilson, Joni Mitchell and Shuggie Otis as it does the architects of funk, disco and hip-hop culture – but boy, does it swing. Get listening and namechecking now before the next album blows up and they’re not nearly as cool. Dan.
Rolo Tomassi – Grievances
With ‘Grievances’, Rolo Tomassi have made the leap from quirky fascination to accomplished and compelling modern metal act. Abundant with technical wizardry, ‘Grievances’ is heavily atmospheric, thriving in the disparity between dynamics and offering a hugely rewarding experience. Stand-out track and lead single ‘Opalescence’ shines with an originality and beauty that has been denied us in their previous work, a new-found vulnerability so effectively bookended by brutality. Rolo Tomassi have laid themselves bare and created a true work of art. Kane.
Slaves – Are You Satisfied?
Slaves are a duo who want to make loud noises and have fun doing it. ‘Are You Satisfied?’ is their party record. They don’t take themselves seriously and they’re not entirely sure whether they’re flying the flag for punk in the mainstream. Instead of rebelling against the system they’re having a lock-in on the top floor. Maybe that’s the answer we’ve all been looking for? Lets face it, the economy is down the toilet, the government is against us and our work-to-live culture is slowly sapping our souls. So fuck it, cheep up with a piss-up. Alex.
Snoop Dogg – Bush
Once one of the globe’s most revered rappers, Snoop Dogg’s reputation has taken some hits in the past few years. His turn as an actor has been notably stilted in recent times and his botched ‘Snoop Lion’ rebrand didn’t help things either. Luckily his latest release ‘Bush’, the follow-up to 2013’s Reggae-tinged ‘Reincarnation’, is brilliant. With Pharrell Williams helping out on production duties and contributing vocals to the album’s lead single ‘Peaches N Cream’, the result is the soundtrack to a long hot summer, steeped in luscious R&B and Snoop’s penchant for old school Funk. Julia.
Sufjan Stevens – Carrie and Lowell
The seventh album from Sufjan Stevens delivers the exquisite wintry indie folk for which the singer-songwriter is famed. Capo fixed on the seventh fret, Stevens delivers emotional warmth that is painful and beautiful in equal measure. A heartfelt account of his torrid relationship with his mother (Carrie) coupled with humbling praise of his step father (Lowell), the album is both remarkably personal and refreshingly open. Jack.
Tame Impala – Currents
By Jove, Tame Impala have returned. The psychedelia of previous releases has been removed but the same spaced-out awesome shit remains, just with a fresh creative vibe. The Less I Know The Better features a superb snaking bass, while Parker’s trippy vocals lead the listener on their own mystical adventure in Let It Happen. ‘Currents’’ biggest strength is variety, with hip-hop jukebox ‘Eventually’ and ‘Disciples’ providing a final glimpse of their psyche era. Buckle up folks, Parker’s flight to his dance kingdom in the Milky Way departs shortly. Declan.
THEESatisfaction – EarthEE
‘Difficult second album’ is a phrase THEESatisfaction refuses to acknowledge, despite setting a high bar with ‘awE naturalE’ in 2012 and creating feverish anticipation for its successor. Vibrating from a higher level than everyone else on this list, THEESatisfaction just does it better on ‘EarthEE’: production, artwork, lyrics, composition, drum programming, spirituality, divinity, the message – it’s all there. Probably Sub Pop’s most significant signing. Ever. Dan.
The Vaccines – English Graffiti
‘English Graffiti’ defies genre expectations, meddling in some serious experimentation that, dare I say, even Bowie would be proud to call his own. It’s a crafted work, honed to grip the listener in its manic-to-mellow dynamics. Minimal Affection and (All Afternoon) In Love sandwiches the raging bull of 20/20 in an ever-shifting force of wills. It’s one to keep you on your toes. Declan.
Waxahatchee – Ivy Tripp
There’s nothing better than seeing a band take a risk and succeed – which is exactly what ‘Ivy Tripp’ is. Packed with instrumental experimentation, there is still the consistently intimate, unaltered vocal, the harsher tones of the instrumentation making Katie Crutchfield’s performance all the more endearing. The album name itself was chosen to evoke a sense of ‘directionless-ness’, and this is showcased in the unsettling drone of Breathless. The album itself feels unhurried with a real sense of space, Katie only ever feathering the accelerator. Eleanor.
Wolf Alice – My Love Is Cool
This year’s buzz band have had one hell of a time bothering the (near) top of the charts (damn you Florence!) and triumphing in the heaving tents of Glasto. Wolf Alice’s ‘My Love Is Cool’ is a standout record for many reasons, but it’s the vast nature of their songwriting that holds the experience together. You’ve got acoustic ballads (Bros, Soapy Water), grunge blasts (You’re A Germ, Fluffy) and shoegaze swathes (Your Loves Whore, Silk). Prediction: Wolf Alice will top most album of the year lists come fall. Declan.
Years and Years – Communion
There’s been exceptional buzz around Years and Years, and with good reason too. Take Shelter and King have seen heavy radio play and brought the London trio into the public consciousness. Described as ‘electropop’, it’s impossible not to go away without these songs happily stuck in your head. The music is upbeat and bursting with vitality, with darker lyrics that penetrate much later on. Slower tracks like Eyes Shut and Without do wonders to showcase their songwriting skills. Eleanor.