HOW MANY GREAT ALBUMS HAVE BEEN RELEASED OVER THE LAST TWELVE MONTHS? LOADS. THAT’S HOW MANY. OODLES OF THEM. IF YOU’RE INTO DAY-GLO POP PUNK OR UNDERGROUND COLLEGE ROCK, THERE HAVE BEEN SO MANY GEMS IT’S VIRTUALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO REMEMBER THEM ALL. GOOD JOB WE’RE HERE TO DO IT FOR YOU, THEN.
HERE’S THE THIRD BATCH OF RECORDS. OUR LIST IS UNORDERED (MUSIC ISN’T A COMPETITION, GUYS) – WE LOVE THEM ALL IN DIFFERENT WAYS. find part one HERE, PART TWO HERE, and CHECK BACK ON MONDAY FOR PART FOUR.
The Wonder Years have always asked questions with their music. Pushing the boundaries of what their genre is capable of, ‘No Closer To Heaven’ sees the band continue their musical assault. There’s talk of guilt, feeling helpless and wanting to change the world but delivered with a charming weight, it’s never overbearing. In fact, it’s wonderfully powerful. Moments of poignant beauty stand next to crushing hunks of grit as the band once again raise the bar to dizzying new heights.
One of the most underrated releases of the year. Adult Mom’s super chilled approach to emotive songwriting came as a breath of fresh air when it was released back in May. Lyrically exploring concepts as basic as love and relationships, and complex as self-identification and sexuality, all with a ‘dear diary’ level of honesty. Few albums came out this year that will make you feel more like you’re sharing something truly intimate with the artist than this.
‘I Want To Grow Up’ stomps with the same bratty charm that the title implies. Demand or plea, Colleen Green is trying to escape. It’s a theme that sits at the rapidly beating heart of this record. First contact is sickly sweet but don’t let the bubblegum delivery fool you, there’s an existential crisis raging below. Pitching her vocals just under the pendulum swing of the percussion makes it difficult to pull apart every motive but when they tumble through, they cause moments of disbelief. It’s these brief cracks in the glistening surface that exposes the grinning beast that Colleen Green is trying to get away from.
Playing to their strengths, ‘A Different Space Of Mind’ sees the vocal back and forth between Kate and Rob Flynn pushed to the forefront. There’s friction, trust and admiration underpinning every chemistry-laced exchange. It’s that playful rivalry that pushes the band down unexpected paths.
Two albums in two years, Cheatahs are churning out brilliance. ‘Mythologies’ is still big on the fuzz but cut with a sense of daring, it sees their gaze lifted from the floor. This expansion has flooded their sound with glowing warmth.
In order to enjoy this brilliant and at times unpredictable offering from Donovan Wolfington, you’ll have to put aside expectations of what an album should sound like. That’s not a comment on the quality, that’s never in doubt, but rather on the fact that this is a record that goes from melodic slacker-punk songs about getting high, to a straight up hardcore track, to a weird interlude about locusts, without a moment’s notice.
Run For Cover
There’s a distortion hanging over Turnover’s second album that gives it a sense of sage wisdom and age. A musical Polaroid instead of the pristine clarity of digital, if you will. This reflective insight is threaded through the lyrical confession, watching the band look at lost love with guilt, regret and acceptance. Sure, the end result is one of health but the journey there is soaked in painful confrontation. Sticking in your throat, ‘Peripheral Vision’ is an album that captures the struggle of moving on as it twists itself around your gut. It may sound unpleasant but the dawning realisations that litter the album shine brighter with a touch of gore beneath them.
It might be dark, messy, scathing and raw, but somehow ‘Sore’ is still up there with the greats. All it takes is a shiver-inducing snarl from frontwoman Katie Monks and the spell is cast. Condensing everything from blind rage to utter devotion into a half hour record, Dilly Dally drag their emotions kicking and screeching through the dirt. It’s a thrill that continues to sting, but be damned if we want the sensation to end.
Occasionally, a record will demand attention. That’s what Aussie borderline-genius Courtney Barnett’s album insists upon. From the word go it’s solid gold banger after solid gold banger. Storytelling at its best, with the kind of sunny, life’s-alright-actually, effortless joy that comes with having your Xmas dinner on the beach – infectious doesn’t begin to cover it. From confirmed classic ‘Pedestrian At Best’ to ‘Aqua Profunda!’, it’s ‘Depreston’ that really hits the mark. It makes you think.
Oceansize have grown in reverence since their somewhat messy end in 2011. They were a wild, fearsome and uncompromising beast and that spirit finds a home on Mike Vennart’s debut album. ‘The Demon Joke’ isn’t a rehashed attempt to recreate his former band though. It spins wildly with its own style and attitude. From the popping introduction of ‘255’ through the off-kilter arena smash of ‘Infatuate’ until the soul-searching curtain drop of ‘Amends’, Vennart not only wields technical proficiency but cleansing emotion. The starkest thing about ‘The Demon Joke’ is how Vennart manages to inject personality into the inanimate. The flourish of guitar and the thunder of drums all roll with their own charming voice, giving ‘The Demon Joke’ a playful orchestra to toy with. Oceanwho?
Brawlers’ debut is a party album. It’s designed to get you up and amped. From the clattering introduction of ‘Annabel’ to the arms aloft conclusion of the title track, every moment of ‘Romantic Errors Of Our Youth’ screams “let’s go!” It’s this charging pace that’s defined Brawlers short but sweet career to date. With meaningful tales of lost love and honest regret at their core, it’s a record that still offers something the morning after the night before.
Pouring all the bile of the past into a gloomy wasteland, no one saw No Devotion’s debut album coming. Decadent, vibrant and glorious, there’s not a single moment on ‘Permanence’ that wallows. Instead, we’re treated to a forward march of assured style and necessary catharsis. From the cloudburst of ‘Break’ until the downpour of ‘Grand Central’, No Devotion is focused on new horizons. In amongst all that cinematic wonder, there are arena-ready anthems and the promise to continue.
They’ve been our tour guides for the last decade or so as we travelled to galaxies unknown, unfurling wild and wonderful stories across the universe. But in 2015, Coheed came home. The songs were bursting with Claudio’s own life and stories, but while it was more intimate in that sense, it was another epic adventure that showed the band at their finest.
Pure Noise Records
This year saw Four Year Strong shrug off the shackles of their pseudo serious endeavour, ‘In Some Way, Shape Or Form’ and head back to the laughs that were had on ‘Enemy Of The World’. The bearded band’s eponymous effort wiped the slate clean and plays host to a rejuvenated sense of humour, as well as some of the more trippy artwork you’re likely to have seen this side of the noughties.
Side One Dummy
Following up on 2013’s ‘Jar’ was never going to be an easy task, but Doylestown, PA’s Superheaven (FKA Daylight) weren’t fazed. Taking their now trademark chunky, 90s-influenced sound and pulling it in a slightly more considered direction, ‘Ours Is Chrome’ is the sound of a band who’ve grown comfortable with the weight of expectation. Oh, and opening track, ‘I’ve Been Bored’ has one of the best choruses of the year, too.
Fueled By Ramen
With ‘Blurryface’, or Fight Club: The Musical, Twenty One Pilots take their quirky, small-town wonderings to the big city. This genre wobbling opus sees the two-piece expand their clique, confronts the darkness within and offers hope of victorious cohabitation. All of that while channeling arena-sized choruses, TOP have taken a massive leap forward while forgetting none of their past. The first rule is, this rules.
Virgin EMI / Goodbye
Inventive, catchy electro-pop signalling a huge climb to the top for CHVRCHES, ‘Every Open Eye’ would see the most miserable of rock fans singing into their hairbrush. Comfortable in showing off its 80s influences, but with a vibrancy which undoubtedly places it as a pop record for 2015.
If a week is a long time in politics then 13 years – the time since Conor Oberst’s post-hardcore project Desaparecidos’ last album, cult classic ‘Read Music/Speak Spanish’ – certainly leaves ‘Payola’ with a lot to cover. Set to the backdrop of post-9/11 America amid financial crisis, increasing inequality, and the rise of the Occupy movement, ‘Payola’ is the fightback. A pissed off but playful ode to the 99%, like a scrap from your A-level politics coursework set to fuzzy guitars, with ‘City on the Hill’ proving that no political commentary can ever be so scathing as to not enjoy a pop punk “oh-oh!”.
Fueled By Ramen
Their first release on hit-factory Fueled By Ramen sees The Front Bottoms taking all the charm and wit they’ve become known and loved for and turning it up a notch. Equal parts sarcastic and heartfelt, ‘Back On Top’ is a logical progression for the band as they build on their previous work with some of the most festival-ready songs of their career, without ever losing what’s got them this far. There are some truly huge moments on this record that’ll be a highlight of their setlists for years to come.
International Death Cult
Gruff, unapologetic and fucking furious, Frank Carter is back. Age hasn’t mellowed that venom. Spitting lyrics and beating himself up to song, ‘Blossom’ is an album that expunges personal demons. More than a vanity project though, it captures the spirit of a frustrated generation and gives them a voice. Every track hits like a juggernaut, whether the vicious hammer of ‘Trouble’ or the quiet choke of ‘Beautiful Death’, Frank Carter’s learnt to really flex that muscle.