On this merry Christmas Eve Day, music team member, Pablo Doyle looks back at his 5 favourite albums from 2015.
Tame Impala – Currents
I must first admit – I am currently at the very peak of my Tame Impala fan girl stage, but I can assure you that there is by no means any bias when I say that this is an amazing album. There is no band out there at the moment that comes close to doing anything near as good as what Kevin Parker and co. have achieved.
The move from their 2 previous heavier, guitar and distortion packed albums might have come as a surprise for most of us, but it was a move that was needed. Parker explained that he wanted to make an album which people could listen to on the dancefloor and also that he was much more open now to genres of music which he might have made fun of in the past. The result was an album which seems very sincere, emotional (yet not cringey) and incredibly musically inspiring.
The focus and joy of the album was all in the melody (as well as about Melody – Parker’s ex-girlfriend) and the lyrical content. The meanings of the songs stand out incredibly well and they manage to create specific moods at any time you listen to them. It really does create an amazing listening experience.
What’s also so specifically great about the album is the broad range of weird sounds and the nailing of every instrument. The bass riff on The Less I Know The Better is sensational; the drum on Reality In Motion are the first sequences that have ever stood out for me so much in a song; the synth on Nangs is just so captivating; this list goes on… every song is incredibly unique and they all come together to create a masterpiece. Thanks Kev.
Best Tracks (although an impossible task) I will with much difficulty narrow it down to: The less I Know the Better / Yes I’m Changing / Disciples.
Mark Ronson – Uptown Special
Yes yes, some of us might be sick and tired of hearing the hottest song of the year Uptown Funk (I’m still actually not), but let’s not forget the other 10 songs revolving around it on the album. I actually feel like Ronson shot himself in the foot a bit by creating such a great hit, simply because it overshadowed all the other amazing songs which deserves so much more recognition that they actually got.
The definitive feature that makes this album so undoubtedly musically genius and worthy are its collaborations. The fact that Jeff Bhasker, Kevin Parker and even a Stevie Wonder harmonica solo feature on the album are enough to deem it at the very least eye catching. That’s like having Leonardo DiCaprio, Morgan Freeman and Johnny Depp in the same film! A special mention has to be said about Kevin Parkers contribution of 3 amazing tracks on the album; they seem to have worked incredibly well together and it was a very smart move from Ronson to approach him based on the uprising success of Tame Impala.
All the songs are incredibly catchy, feel good and bring back a sense of funk/dance/disco vibe to the music scene which hasn’t been done in the same fashion in a very long time. Ronson always manages to create iconic tracks and he definitely did it in style this time.
Best Tracks: Daffodils / Heavy and Rolling.
Wolf Alice – My Love Is Cool
For a debut album, this is a belter. And although they didn’t win the Mercury Prize, a nomination is enough to prove that there is something special there. For the whole of 2015 there was probably more hype around them than anyone else in the indie-rock scene, and when the album was released in June it managed to reach no.2 in the UK albums chart.
What makes this album so important is how front-girl Ellie Rowsell shows off how being in a rock band is seriously cool and encourages an exciting new era of rock. I quote from an interview I had earlier in the year when she said that “girls should try to pick up the guitar or drums rather than just the flute at school”. Her voice and lyrical style manages to bring something fresh to the table and definitely stands out from all the other clutter out there.
The variation of style and tempo in the album is also something that they do so well too. One minute you can be listening to a calm, emotional, soft-voiced song and the next moment you could be screaming “You’re a dodgy fucker as well!” to You’re a Germ. In this sense, they really don’t hold back and it makes for a really fresh and exciting record; it will make you turn up your stereo, start your own rock band and rebel against everyone in your way– what a good album should really do.
Best Tracks: Your Loves Whore / Freazy.
Blur – Magic Whip
The first thing that made this album so amazing from the very start was its spontaneity and the incredible fact that it was managed to stay secret for so long until the release of its first single “Go Out”. Many people thought that Blur had definitely packed it in for good – especially after not releasing an album since 2003 – but luckily it was not to be. The album came about initially from a few days the band had jamming and recording ideas in a tiny Japanese studio because they simply didn’t have anything else to do. The demos and ideas were then filtered and structured by guitarist Graham Coxon and so was the birth of an incredibly natural and fresh sound to blur… not to mention the limited edition fluorescent blue ice cream they released along with it.
The songs themselves are full of quirky sounds, happy melodies and certainly a very unique lyric style. Damon Albarn actually went out to Japan for a second time simply to get some inspiration to write the lyrics for the album which he obviously managed to do quite well. It seems that even after completing his solo work and embarking on his many other side projects, he still had time and the creative juices to create what I believe to be one of the best blur albums to date.
Best Tracks: Ong Ong / Thought I Was a Spaceman.
Foals – What Went Down
In similar to fashion to their previous album Holly Fire, the build up to What Went Down was as intense and exciting as ever. It was clear that lead singer Yannis Philippakis had a lot of energy and ideas to unleash, ultimately encompassing a mix of their heaviest, popiest and most stripped back songs to date. Even though their popularity has grown immensely over the past years, it seems like they still don’t care what people think and just go out to make music to cause some havoc in the live shows. Even during a small Maida Vale session, Yannis went crazy and jumped down onto the stage from the balcony during the outro of the single “What Went Down”.
Every Foals album so far has been exciting and this one doesn’t fail to deliver either. While the focus on the earlier albums may have been more on the instrumental side, the lyrical content and vocal melodies on this album are outstanding. It makes it particularly captivating and relatable; especially in the popier songs such as “Mountain at My Gates” and “Birch Tree” even sounding like something out of Bastille during the bridge. While some fans may prefer their older, more metaphorical and abrupt side, What Went Down simply provides a great perspective of another side the band can express, while still holding on to the unique features that makes Foals recognisable – namely their unique guitar riffs and the fact that no other band out there really sounds like them.
The band still has a lot ahead of them despite their already popular career, and this albums simply allows them to go into whatever they went for the next one. Whatever they do, they never really disappoint.
Best Tracks: Snake Oil / Knife in the Ocean.