Hey fellow readers and music listeners! It’s that time of the year again, and I’m back to give you my top album list of 2015. After spending much of the early part of this year travelling, and being tied-up with school for much of the later part, it hasn’t been easy to dig deep into the vast pool of music. (Yeah, I know. First world problems.) I’d usually have around 40 different albums listened to in the span of a year, and I’m usually able to pick around 10 to throw on the year-end list. This year, I managed to get my hands on a fewer amount of albums, going with the go-with-what-you-know-approach. The result is that you’ll find many bands that I have previously reviewed in the past show up here on this list.
Now, you might be wondering: “how does this album list hold up to previous lists?” I think this list holds up pretty well. There have been some albums on my travels that I have listened to non-stop, only to move onto another album that has been able to keep my attention for months at a time. There are also a few albums that I believe the music critics have overlooked, that may fall by the wayside of other year-end lists. If you are also someone who doesn’t wish to dig deep into the vast music pool, you might find some hidden gems here. So, let’s get on with my top albums of 2015…
Braids, Deep In The Iris
One of the most under-rated albums of the year. When it first came out, there was much praise for the leading single, “Miniskirt”, for its personal, close to the heart lyrics. It had many positive reviews, but unfortunately it’s a release that didn’t quite catch on with the masses. While their previous album “Native Speaker” was a colorful and fresh listen, and “Flourish // Perish” was a very dark and mellow release, “Deep In The Iris” comes off as a spiritual successor this time around, in the realm of electronic indie music.
Lyrically, this is their strongest release so far. It’s one that really pulls on your strings, and gets you emotionally involved, especially from the openers “Letting Go” and “Taste”. It doesn’t even matter if you relate to the lyrics, or not, about love and relationships, the music itself as a whole is simply beautiful enough to keep the listener intrigued.
There’s a general theme that follows the album, but the overall tone of it does go off the tracks at times, which is why this makes for an interesting listen. A song like the upbeat “Blondie” takes the band into new territory with a very deep, electronic glow, but then there are songs like “Getting Tired”, which really slow the pace but are thoughtful and reflective. There’s just so much to like about this album. If you are looking for an album for quick, cheap thrills, look elsewhere, but if you are willing to invest some time, I think you will really fall in love with this release.
Must-hear tracks: Taste, Blondie, & Getting Tired
The Go! Team, The Scene Between
When I look for fun, when I look for an album that is cheerful, optimistic, that just wants to be itself at heart sometimes, like myself, this is the album that I turn to. This is the kind of listen that will make you feel like a kid again, eating cotton candy and enjoying the rides at your local carnival. UK band The Go! Team have always released great singles, but haven’t ever caught my attention up until this latest release, “The Scene Between”.
Right from the soda pop opener, “What D’You Say?”, you’ll find that the album has its quirks here and there. I figured that if something sounded fun, was straight-out ear candy, they’d throw it in for kicks, adding to the overall enjoyment. But the heart and soul of the album comes from the melodies, and vocals that really get you lost in its charm such as songs like “The Scene Between” and “Did You Know?”
And also, as opposed to their previous albums that were all about the shock factor, as if they were trying really hard to impress, I think this time around they kept things quite simple with a formula that works. This release is pretty much a straight up, bubblegum-rock record that sounds so good.
Must-hear tracks: The Scene Between, Waking The Jetstream, & Her Last Wave
Beach House, Depression Cherry
This is the long awaited successor to Beach House‘s previous album, “Bloom”, which I believe was a musically powerful album for a band that really asserted itself as becoming one of the best of this decade. I really wanted to see if they could top that album; but if they did, would it be more of the same?
“Depression Cherry” is not a better album, and it’s more or less the same when it comes to sound. But the difference comes when you hear the tone of it. Where “Bloom” was more uplifting at times, “Depression Cherry” is the kind of album that catches you when you are feeling down, and supports you with a big comfy pillow. The vocals from the opening track “Levitation” are calm and inviting. It’s also quite comforting when listening to slower tracks like “Wildflower” and “Bluebird”. If the band used the title of their album to express the ongoing theme, they really succeeded.
Some of the stand-out songs on the album would have to be “Beyond Love”, which is very melodic, the kind of song that you’d listen to at your lover’s funeral. More so beautiful than morbid. “Days Of Candy”, which feels like it was pulled from the “Clockwork Orange” soundtrack, very mysterious and strange. And “PPP”, which I find is a very thoughtful song, kind of like meeting a love interest, that you are distances apart from. If you find yourself alone, or want to be alone on a Saturday night, pop this album onto your player.
Must-hear tracks: Beyond Love, PPP, & Days Of Candy
Grimes, Art Angels
When I first started building this list, I had just gotten into listening to this album, and never thought it would find its way on the list. But after a few listens, I can honestly say that I’m hooked. While Grimes was touring in Asia, she must have flirted with the music scene; as her musical style has become quite colourful and glossy with over-the-top tracks such as “Kill v Maim” & “Butterfly”, mimicking musical influences from the J-Pop music genre.
A good example of growth in Grimes’ music can be found with the track “Realiti”, which was released as a demo earlier this year. The demo, which felt like a bare-bones track from the Grimes “Visions” era, got a touch up, highlighting her range of vocals, and urging her to spice things up, making the song feel much more charismatic. It’s the new brand of style that you will find from many tracks on her latest album, “Art Angels”.
Despite the change in her music, you’ll find that trademark catchiness is still intact, especially with a track like “World Princess II”, which proves to highlight as her best work to date. The chorus on this track is so so good. And the upbeat track “Pin”, which I would personally use if I ever needed a song to showcase in a commercial or theme music for a television series. Pretty sweet all-around listen this album is, check it out.
Must-hear tracks: Kill v Maim, Realiti (demo + album version), & World Princess II
Purity Ring, Another Eternity
Rounding out my top albums of the year is Purity Ring‘s “Another Eternity”. Sometimes when you listen to a band’s sophomore album, in which their first release is just so damn good, your expectations can get very high. And sometimes you just gotta take a step back, and see the album for what it is alone. I couldn’t figure out why the band ditched their signature deep and heavy bass sound for a more popish, fairy tale feel. But after many listens, it occurred to me that this album makes for a very good stand-alone, with a pretty solid track list.
One of my favorite tracks off of the album, “Stranger Than Earth”, is a very catchy dub step that really picks up in the tempo until it hits an electronica-like chorus. It’s quite awesome. Another great track, “Repetition”, sucks you in with its charming vocals. I’m also gonna say that the singles “Push Pull” and “Begin Again” are the weakest on the album for their generic made-for-radio nature; but by saying this, the rest of the album proves to be above par from the other albums I listen to in this genre, by giving us lots of variety and ear-candy. Within the collabration of lead singer Megan Jamesband and instrumentalist Corin Roddick, the magic that this band creates is still there.
Must-hear tracks: Bodyache, Repetition, & Stranger Than Earth
And that’s it for my top albums of the year. Seeing how I don’t have any rock albums on the list, I’ll be making a special list for all my favourites (cause there were quite a few good ones released this year).
Stay tuned to Hafilax dot com for all your album reviews, concert reviews, and on-going music happenings!