There it is folks. Another year down the pan.
There have been some incredible releases this year, with brilliant records from the likes of USA Nails, Turbowolf, WOAHNOWS, Dinosaur Pile-Up, Bearfoot Beware, And So I Watch You From Afar, Everything Everything, Kagoule and a host of others. Singles, EP’s and bits and bobs here and there were also enough to keep me busy throughout the twelve months, with tremendous stuff from the likes of JOHN, Tigercub, Milk Teeth, JANK, Gulfer, FLESH and many more.
It’s a shame then that I struggle putting together ‘End of Year’ lists. It’s a task trying to remember what came out last week, let alone January. It also doesn’t help that a good few months of my year have been taken up by listening to that terrific Dexy’s Midnight Runners album ‘Too-Rye-Ay’, which came out in 1982…
With that in mind, I decided to do something a little bit different. Reaching out to a bunch of folks who have had some involvement with Birthday Cake For Breakfast over the past year, I set about gathering a range of opinions on what have been the top releases of 2015.
Consider it the equivalent of one of those talking head Christmas shows, where people you recognise off the telly talk shite about wrapping paper and the crippling social anxiety that this time of year so often brings. Except in this case, the opinions are from a bunch of lovely people worth listening to, rather than whoever’s just eaten a kangaroo’s arsehole in the middle of nowhere or Danny Dyer.
So get comfortable, pour yourself another alcoholic beverage, have yourself a mince pie and discover some of the best 2015 had to offer.
Ben Forrester – Peaks
My album of the year is ‘Exercise’ by Claw The Thin Ice, which I’ve not stopped listening to since the very start of the year. It’s just a lovely sounding indie rock record full of luscious, intertwining guitar melodies and heartfelt vocals which has been warming my heart all year long!
I think it’s been a strong year for fuzzy, riffy guitar records with the likes of False Advertising, USA Nails, Turbowolf and Dinosaur Pile-Up absolutely knocking my socks off with some pure power full lengths!
I’ve also really enjoyed the output from the more mathy, instrumental side of things too. And So I Watch You From Afar, Cousin, Waking Aida and Delta Sleep have made really intricate yet extravagant pieces of work. The Waking Aida album ‘Full Heal‘ has been really soothing me into the day on the harsh, chilly commutes to work recently.
Finally, there’s been lots of weird and wonderful pop records out in 2015! Manchester heroes Everything Everything and Dutch Uncles really stepped things up with new albums this year and I have not been able to get the hooks out of my head for months. ‘Distant Past’ by Everything Everything is contender for tune of the year; it’s just so wonderfully euphoric! There’s been some real nice indie-pop records too, with the likes of Trust Fund and Horsebeach quickly following up their debuts with stellar sophomore efforts!
In short, great year, lots of ace records, stoked for 2016!
Chris Webb – Milk Teeth
There’s no real order to this, so I couldn’t tell you what my favourite record of 2015 has been as there has been so much good stuff!
Start of the year, Hindsights released one of my favourite debut albums ever – ‘Cold Walls/Cloudy Eyes’. It’s rammed back with raw emotion in such a classic alt-rock, emo song writing style. So many hooks, and the melodies blow my mind.
Again, at the start of the year, one of my favourite rappers Drake released his mixtape ‘If you’re reading this it’s too late’. I have no idea what makes this a mixtape and not an album but never mind, the whole thing is banging. Drakes’ usual sing-rap style, but with more aggressive lyrics and top notch instrumentals. He’s my boi.
I recently saw Bully support FIDLAR on their UK tour and loved every second of it. Their album ‘Feels Like‘ reminds me of early garage rock bands from the 90’s, but with a modern twist. Singer Alicia Bognanno has almost Cobain twang to her voice, which is never a bad thing. Despite being on a massive record label, the band still feels very real, which I love too
I hope I spell this right – another record I loved this year was ‘M3LL155X’ by FKA Twigs. Been a huge fan of hers since I first heard her music way back when. It’s a really dark and haunting record. Real honest, and the instrumentals remind me almost of NIN.
Matthew Boycott-Garnett – Carefully Planned Festival
I recently put together a ‘Top 26 albums of 2016’ list. Once I made it public/shared it, it quickly became a ‘Top 28 albums’ list as people reminded me of a couple I’d forgotten about. To be honest, it’s a bit weird making the list these days. I find it quite difficult. My lists from ‘05/‘06/‘07/08 are great, because I used to listen to albums then and the lists were always in my mind all year. They’re undoubtedly ‘correct’. Not so much anymore.
In fact, I know a lot of people who feel similarly. It perhaps makes more sense now – and it seems to be increasingly common – to make a list of the top 50 songs. That list would probably be more aligned with what I’ve actually listened to, and what I’ve appreciated for being itself.
I’m not ready for that yet though, because the ‘album’ still holds a special place in my heart. It is with that in mind that I present my albums of the year this year, which frankly, decide themselves as such. Songs that support and encourage each other as individuals and as a collection.
Feel free to get in touch about the other 23 in my list.
Thom Egerton – God Damn
I generally think these lists are annoying and putting music into a competition or an order is rather pointless. However, here are my top albums of 2015:
Steven Hodson – USA Nails
Here are my favourite albums from this year. I have limited my selection to five as I have mostly been listening to older records like the B52s debut and the Germs record. Ok, here we go.
Simple songs are the best, it is a fact. I don’t mean simple in a bad way, I mean songs that stick in your head. You know, like The Ramones. Sauna Youth set out with the aim to fuse Punk and the ideas of modern composers such as Reich. I hear more punk to be honest, but I appreciate the experimental textures they add. It’s catchy and texturally and aurally pleasing. My top song has to be ‘Monotony’
Yes they are my friends, but does that mean I can’t lick their backsides? Adult is a cracking record. The riff at the start of ‘Shirts’ makes me want to stand around in jeans and cowboy boots with a can of cheap polish larger pouring over my head. ‘The Sadness of Axl Rose’ is my top choice. Appreciate Stobb’s beats, they are fantastic.
I’ve known Jon Lee can write amazing songs for years and it is so nice to hear his songs played with an airtight band behind him. Then Thickens write songs that make you smile, but when you listen to the lyrics you want to cry. Colic is a tongue in cheek heartbreaker of a record. The best song is ‘Cum Summer’. Listen to that filth.
Ok, the vocals might grate initially if you aren’t already a fan. In the van I got the reaction “What’s this? Skunk Anansie?” which was followed by laughs. This record sounds booming. Janet Weiss is a thumper on the skins and I love Corin’s voice and lyrics. Best song is ‘A New Wave’.
I saw them play at Field Day and loved the syncopated rhythms and noise they produced. I am a fan of ‘Post-Punk’ and I guess this lot are too. ‘Bunker Buster’ is a banger. Reminds me of ‘Chairs Missing’ era Wire and to me that is the highest compliment anyone could ever give.
In a year where Adele released her much anticipated album ’25’, Drake did a dance and Bring Me The Horizon’s new album had enough press coverage to rival Star Wars: The Force Awakens, you’d be forgiven for thinking that no other albums were released this year. However, you’d be thankfully mistaken! Plenty of excellent albums and EP’s were released by indie labels and band’s self-releasing their own material. Most notably, for me, was the release of Press To Meco’s ‘Good Intent’.
After touring the UK relentlessly over the last few years, bringing their infectious brand of prog-pop to many a tiny venue, Best Before Records helped give them the break into the UK press, en masse, that their music massively deserved, selling out shows on the albums debut release tour and gaining many 9/10’s and 4/5’s from top rock and pop mags.
‘Good Intent’ is a perfect mix of mathy/proggy riffs and time signatures with stunning vocal harmonies and chorus hooks, making the album stand out head and shoulders above any pop rock album released in the last few years that they have been compared to. Tracks like ‘Honestly‘ and ‘Means To An End‘ highlight the band’s talent for writing massive choruses and vocal harmonies to make your heart swell, while the brilliant ‘Affinity‘ shows the bands heavier side, crafting one of the most god damn bouncy riffs since Limp Bizkit were at their career peak. Never compromising on their ideas, this album will keep you coming back for listen after listen and you’ll have that chorus for ‘Means to an End’ stuck in your head for weeks!
The Lazy Music Math For Press To Meco – ‘Good Intent’
Fall of Troy + Everything Everything + Don Broco = ‘Good Intent’
Speaking of bands not compromising on ideas, Let’s Talk Daggers and Down I Go both released albums full of more ideas than you could shake a stick at. Let’s Talk Daggers’ ‘A Beautiful Life‘ is bursting to the brim with frenetic guitar work and intricately arranged saxophone, organ and percussion sections. Recorded with good friend and former The JCQ member, Martin Ruffin, the album is very much a collaborative effort of ideas, with Matt Neesam formerly of The JCQ also throwing his talents into the mix.
The Lazy Music Math For Let’s Talk Daggers – ‘A Beautiful Life’
The Mars Volta + Every Time I Die + The Dillinger Escape Plan = ‘A Beautiful Life‘
Down I Go’s ‘You’re Lucky God, That I Cannot Reach You‘, was born from a message from an Icelandic fan of the band who asked them to record an album in Iceland at his farm. The band had been apart for five years, but reformed to put together ideas for the album in isolation in rural Iceland, coupled with tales of Icelandic folk lore. The result again is an incredible collaborative effort, with swelling choral vocals perfectly blending with throat exploding screams (including a guest vocal from Jamie Lenman) and hardcore punk riffs sitting on top of stabbing horn sections.
The Lazy Music Math For Down I Go – ‘You’re Lucky God, That I Cannot Reach You’
Mastodon + Jamie Lenman (solo) + Deftones = ‘You’re Lucky God, That I Cannot Reach You’
A couple of bands I’ve been following for a while released debut EPs this year and both managed to capture the elements of all my favourite bands. Canal Capitale’s ‘Stunner of the Month‘ is a heady mix of math-pop/art-rock, harking back to some of the finest math-rock albums released on Big Scary Monsters. Birmingham’s Cal Banda released ‘Another Minute Made Fiasco‘, four tracks of gnarly riffs and wickedly observational lyrics, akin to fellow hometown heroes Blakfish.
The Lazy Music Math For Canal Capitale – ‘Stunner of the Month’
Tubelord + Hot Club De Paris + Meet Me In St Louis = ‘Stunner of the Month’
The Lazy Music Math For Cal Banda – ‘Another Minute Made Fiasco’
Blakfish + Every Time I Die + Blacklisters = ‘Another Minute Made Fiasco’
Matt Bigland – Dinosaur Pile-Up
I was really stoked on Dead Sara’s (US) record this year; they’re a really great band of people who can clearly REALLY play. Turbowolf’s record ruled also. ‘American Mirrors‘ is my favourite tune.
Bring Me The Horizon’s new record took me by surprise – I’d never listened to those dudes before but ‘Doomed’ is probably my favourite song of the year. Really killer.
Tigercub and Demob Happy were throwing out some awesome stuff as per usual… And I don’t even care if the Deftones‘ latest record was this year or last year – it’s the Deftones, and you should all bow down and worship the Godfathers of shred. They are still making EVERYBODY else look like a toddler that just shit their pants in comparison.
Thank you almighty alien overlord for Stephen Carpenter. Anybody out there that thinks they’re even close to being that good can suck a dick. MB out (drops mic).
William Covert – Space Blood
The album that literally left the biggest mark on me this year was Lightning Bolt’s ‘Fantasy Empire’. From the opening moments of ‘The Metal East’ to the closing of ‘Snow White (& The 7 Dwarves Fans)’ it’s a non-stop listening experience and is everything a Lightning Bolt album should be, and contains the one element missing from their previous albums which is top notch sound production! It’s also the album I’ve listened to the most in 2015, and had direct impact on my drumming and writing with the best example being the end of the Space Blood track ‘Unintentional Manscaping’ which was heavily influenced by me constantly listening to Fantasy Empire while writing and recording the song.
A close second behind Fantasy Empire for me would be ‘La Di Da Di’ by Battles. The band returned in a big way with this album and the band deciding for it to be instrumental while incorporating new and different sounds not found on ‘Gloss Drop’ or ‘Mirrored’ allows the band to echo back to their early EPs while also making an album that sounds and new and fresh and I just love everything about La Di Da Di.
There were a lot of great heavy albums this year, with some of favourites being Mutoid Man’s ‘Bleeder‘, Liturgy’s ‘The Ark Work‘, and KEN Mode’s ‘Success ‘which featured some of my favourite sound production of the year from the likes of Steve Albini. I also need to mention a few albums that at first listen I didn’t think I would care for, but ended up blowing me away with the top of that list going to Adventures who put out my favourite pop album of the year with ‘Supersonic Home‘. It’s just a super catchy album while also containing some really cool musical interplay and well-crafted song writing. Pile from Boston, MA, put out a super solid release with ‘You’re Better Than This‘ and their unique mix of avant-folk with indie rock and post-punk stylings may sound weird in concept, but was one of my favourite sleeper albums of the year.
To hear more from the above and a host of others, why not check out this Spotfiy playlist below: