I’ve been to a fair few great gigs this year, seen some of my favourite artists and some great new ones too. I wasn’t so sure how much I’d kept up with new albums though. Then I made a list, seems I did have a lot of great albums to consider. There were a few I almost missed too. I just discovered that Rachel Grimes had a new solo album out, I’ve heard some of it and it’s as austerely brilliant as ever but too late to make the list. Despite dancing to their live set two weekends running at different festivals I didn’t really listen to The Wave Pictures record enough to place it higher. Then there’s the raw intense hit of Sleaford Mods on a single track basis that didn’t quite vary enough over a fuller length for me. And despite all the acclaim I felt the same about Courtney Barnett.
So what did I rank in the Top 20 Albums of 2015 ?
20= Songhoy Blues – s/t
20= Samba Touré – Gandadiko
I really couldn’t choose between these two great examples of contemporary Malian blues rock. Songhoy Blues got the airplay and the acclaim, but Touré’s fourth album was powerful and atmospheric too.
19 Grimes – Art Angel
I’m late to the Grimes (no relation to the aforementioned Rachel) party but this is growing on me. Big beats, grandiose layers of multitracked vocals, glorious pop with a dark twist.
18 Fever Dream – Moyamoya
Saw this trio at Fell Foot Sound and really liked their big but subtle heavy shoegaze sound.
Fever Dream at Fell Foot Sound (photo by me)
17 Chantal Acda – The Sparkle In Our Flaws
Acda’s fragile, spare folk voice is pastel where Grimes is day-glo, and her arrangements minimal. But listening at night, in the dark, her melancholy is impressively nuanced.
16 Benjamin Clementine
Talking of nuanced, the first time I heard Clementine I puzzled over whether it was Nick Cave covering Rufus Wainwright or vice versa. Neither are really accurate comparison other than to imply some of the range & tone of his soul-drenched voice.
15 Haiku Salut – Etch & Etch Deep
I don’t know where to start with this. Multi instrument post-rock folktronica something from Derbyshire? Best use of ukulele and glockenspiel on this list for sure.
14 Bixiga 70 – III
Brazilian cumbia afrobeat jams ok? One of the most upbeat and uplifting albums around.
13 2:54 – The Other I
Chiming, shimmering goth-pop guitars, harmonising voice and keyboard melodies and driving, occasionally blunt drums are they hallmark of 2:54’s dark but not as introspective as it first seems second album.
12 Shopping – Why Choose
“Consumerist critiques you can dance to” according to one review. A syncopated, updated The Slits, Gang of Four with three part vocals contrasted with staccato riffs and judicious use of cowbell.
11 Rozi Plain – Friends
Bought off Rozi after her set in the sunshine at Cloudspotting. This is another gentle-seeming album that rocks emotionally rather than in terms of riff. Folk psychedelia glows through this with Rozi’s voice being both a layer of that and above it.
Rozi Plain at Cloudspotting (photo by me)
That’s 20-11 I’ll run down the Top 10 soon.