BarryGruff Albums of the Year (2015)

BGs Albums of the year 2015So it is that time of year again, lists, lists and more lists. Well, not be out done, here are my 41 (yes 41, and yes it’s a weird number) albums of 2015.

It has been such a good year for new albums, probably the best since I started the blog back in 2010. So much so that there is very little difference between the top 5, top 10, top 15 and so on. So without further ado, here are my favourite records from 2015:

There is also a Spotify playlist of the Top 20 albums, to save you time and hassle (it’s here).

41. Only Real – Jerk At The End of the Line’

40. Rozi Plain – ‘Friend’

39. Wildling – ‘Molecules To Moon’

38. The School – ‘Wasting Away And Wondering’

37. Sweet Baboo – ‘Boombox Ballads’

36. The Stammer – ‘Days In Between’

35. SexWitch – Sex Witch’

34. Faith Healer – ‘Cosmic Troubles’

33. Girl Band – ‘Holding Hands With Jamie’

32. Joanna Gruesome – ‘Peanut Butter’

31. Fort Romeau – ‘Insides

30. Soft Serve – ‘S/t’

29. Applescal – ‘For’

28. Zefur Wolves – ‘Zefur Wolves’

27. Hot Chip – ‘Why Make Sense?’

26. Drenge – ‘Undertow’

25. The Charlatans – ‘Modern Nature’

24. Gaz Coombes – ‘Matador’

23. Bill Ryder-Jones – ‘West Kirby County Primary’

22. Drinks – ‘Hermits on Holiday’

21. The Expert – Dynamic Drift

20. Boxed In – ‘Boxed In’

19. Courtney Barnett – ‘Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit’

18. The Chemical Brothers – ‘Born In The Echoes’

17. Stealing Sheep – ‘Not Real’

16. Slaves – ‘Are You Satisfied’

15. Hooton Tennis Club – ‘Highest Point In Cliff Town’

Languid, scrappy lo-fi guitar pop brilliance from The Wirral. Its jam-packed with ramshackle, endearing alt-rock tunes with cryptic lyrics and supremely sing-a-long choruses. Pavement comparisons abound but there’s an unquestionable and quintessentially British indie pop flavour to their sound.

14. Tame Impala – ‘Currents’

Everyone’s favourite Australian psychedelic band, Tame Impala returned with new album Currents, trading guitars for synths somewhat, they delivered a delicious result. A spellbinding, synth heavy, psych master class.

13. Blur – ‘The Magic Whip’

Who was expecting a new album from Blur in 2015? Not I. Their first album for 12 years was a very nice surprise with plenty of the familiar blur sound and more. They just need to be more sound and pay a visit to Vancouver.

12. Girlpool – ‘The World Was Big’

Armed with nothing but guitar, bass and two perfectly matched voices, the sparse, dissonant guitar crash into the Philadelphia duo’s sweet, yet angst-ridden vocal harmonies, for a full-on, fresh and raw assault. They provide proof, if proof be needed, great music doesn’t have to be complicated.

11. Public Service Broadcasting – ‘The Race For Space’

Album number two for PSB is a rocket-fueled triumph, spectacularly relaying the wonder, awe, glamour and the tragedy of the space race.

10. H. Hawkline – ‘In The Pink Of Condition’

H. Hawkline has been sharing his distinctly unique pop gems since 2010, but this year’s In The Pink Of Condition, produced by Cate Le Bon, is his finest output to date. Classic songwriting and earworm hooks intertwined with gently groovy sounds, charming oddity and fused with experimental whims. A marvellous collection of mildly psychedelic, wonky pop songs.

09. Villagers – ‘Darling Arithmetic’

A stunning third album, Darling Arithmetic is a more stripped back folky acoustic affair to the two previous records, it is Villagers’ most personal album yet. Recorded over eight months last year at a barn by his home in Dublin, it is an intimate experience as O’Brien bares his soul on its nine songs. Amid the softest of musical touches, we’re treated to a delicate and tender, universal album of love and humanity.

08. Fold – ‘Fold’

Leeds based Trip Hop / Breakbeat / Hip-Hop outfit Fold have the propensity for producing the magnificent, and needless to say, the fact their debut LP is a stunning success, shouldn’t comes as a surprise. The inventive and experimental quartet pride themselves on live production, creating incredible and carefully weaved musical journeys. Combining lots of genres and styles, they produce lavish works of smooth and funky coolness, grooves and stellar beats and their enviable creativity is matched by a powerful social consciousness. Powerful, thought provoking and sometimes dangerous, Fold dare to believe in a better, fairer and more equal world; are all the better for it. One of the most unique and exciting acts around.

07. Django Django – ‘Born Under Saturn’

No sign of the dreaded ‘tough second album’ syndrome for Django Django, as they follow up their superb 2012 self-titled debut with an LP of similarly lofty stature. Very much a grower, Born Under Saturn subtly pushes on the distinctive sound its predecessor achieved so effortlessly. There is the familiar infectiousness, electronics, stuttering synths, unique surf-rock guitars and layered harmonies and psychedelia. While it’s not as a big surprise on the second time of asking, still, Born Under Saturn doesn’t fall short in style or standard.

06. Sleaford Mods – ‘Key Markets’

Nottingham duo Sleaford Mods have been grunting through gritted teeth since ’08 but it was last year’s excellent Divide & Exit, saw them shoot prominence. Follow up, Key Markets finds the pair as raw, vitriolic and gobby as ever before. Their M.O. remains consistent; clever, often funny, foul mouthed and angry record, overloaded with attitude, vitriolic anger and righteous and infectious rantings set to filthy beats and dark post-punk guitars. Their M.O. may appear simple but the execution is mesmeric. A fine, fine record

05. Anderson – ‘Patterns’

Patterns is the debut solo album of Dubliner Daniel Anderson aka Anderson. Taking his time to meticulously craft it, three years in fact, the result is a thing of sheer excellence. Immersed in an irresistible lush, sweeping and classic orchestral sound, and nods to late ’60s/’70s pop and singer-songwriters, and draped in Anderson’s prowess for intuitive song-writing and storytelling; Patterns is one of the finest records of 2015 – from Ireland or anywhere else.

04. Gwenno – ‘Y Dydd Olaf’

Y Dydd Olaf is the debut solo album from Gwenno, former Pipettes front-woman, Gwenno Saunders. Sung predominately in Saunders’ native Welsh and inspired by a 1970s Welsh sci-fi novel of the same name. Y Dydd Olaf is a revelation. A subtle and spellbinding record, intricately weaved mixture of moods and textures, soft-edged synths, blissed out Krautrock and Motorik rhythms; of which, her gorgeously hushed vocal sits atop of.  With its cosmic cascading sequence of crackling, frazzled electronic tones, combining with an undeniable groove that bubbles away amid an alluring mix of kraut-tinged synth pop; ‘Patriarchaeth’ below, spectacularly demonstrates the virtues of this one.

03. CZARFACE – ‘Every Hero Needs A Villain’

Wu-Tang Clan’s Inspectah Deck and 7L & Esoteric returned to reconvene their excellent collaboration CZARFACE, with the sublime Every Hero Needs A Villain. Recruiting the likes Method Man, Meyhem Lauren, GZA, Large Professor, JuJu of The Beatnuts, RA The Rugged Man and MF Doom in on the action, they served us up a record every bit as good as their stellar self-titled debut. Banging hip-hop with plenty of bounce, slick lyricisms and rhymes, and superb production cut with all manner of superhero-sampling. Inspired stuff.

02. Ghost Culture – Ghost Culture’

With one foot on the dancefloor and one foot elsewhere, this self-titled debut LP from Ghost Culture (aka James Greenwood), is a simply stunning distillation of all that is great about electronic (and dance) music. Inhabited a space somewhere between label mate Daniel Avery and The Chemical Brothers, Greenwood strikes a perfect balance between muscular grooves and whispered intimacy, stitching together with clinical precision an intricate blend of bleeps, burbling synthesizers, acid squelches and a delicious crispness and touch melancholy. Released through Erol Alkan’s Phantasy label, this an absolute treasure.

01. Hippies Vs Ghosts – ‘Droogs’

Droogs is album number two from North Wales’ Hippies Vs Ghosts (aka We Are Animal guitarist & vocalist, Owain Ginsberg) and it takes everything nurtured on his 2014 debut, and smashes it beyond the stratosphere. An inspired kaleidoscopic blend of Morricone meets krautrock, meets The Stooges, that feels wholly organic, exhilarating and entirely unusual, in the best way possible. The entire record is permeated with an irresistible groove, interspersed with bright shades indebted to psychedelia and carved up with some ferocious saw-tooth guitars, chugging bass and relentless percussion. Hands down, 2015’s most unique and imaginative record.

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