We’ve almost reached the end of the year and therefore the end of our feature. So, to finish off our ‘Top 5 Albums Of The Year’, here is our Head of Live Music, Lillie Esmé Bellamy on those albums that made her 2015:
Gengahr – A Dream Outside
If any one album released this year could be described as heavenly then it’s this debut. And if any one band could top my true loves, Tame Impala this year, than it’s North London quartet Gengahr. Released fairly on the low key and at a similar time to the release of Wolf Alice’s My Love Is Cool it became somewhat overshadowed. However, its delightful psych, guitar-pop made it one of the best debut albums I, at least, had heard in years. It’s been on constant replay since it was released and there isn’t a single track that I have become bored of, meaning that it’s literally impossible to overplay. Opening with the airy, escapist ‘Dizzy Ghosts’ and exploding through singles like ‘She’s A Witch’, ‘Heroine’ and ‘Powder’, amongst all their B-sides and plenty of new tracks. It’s track listed perfectly with every track flowing without fault into the next before beginning to tail off into a wonderfully executed closure, with ‘Lonely As A Shark’ and ‘Trampoline.’
Whilst it is painfully hard to pick the album’s best tracks, initial B-side ’Bathed in Light’ is up there. It’s brooding and lyrically a lot darker than some of its fellow tracks, but over the moody bass lines and with Bushe’s eerie falsetto, it’s definitely Gengahr at their best. As is, single ‘She’s A Witch’ which is equally as gloomy, as Bushe sings ‘maybe she’ll sink, maybe she’ll fly, I caught a witch that cries all the time’, over sparkly and layered guitars, pulsing bass riffs and rhythmic drumming. ‘Where I Lie’ was new to the album, but with its building memento, from a delicate opening, to a bouncy chorus, to heavy guitar sections by John Victor, before whirling of in a psych-pop ending, it’s been crafted into one of the album’s highlights. From the sunny melodies, to the creepy lyrics, to the harmonious vocals and the overall format of the album, its just honestly one of the most beautiful albums I have ever owned, let alone being one of the most impressive debuts, (also not to forget the gorgeous artwork made by bassist, Hugh Schulte himself.)
If you only prioritise doing a few things in the New Year make sure it’s GOING TO BUY A DREAM OUTSIDE AND GOING TO SEE GENGAHR LIVE.
Best tracks: Where I Lie, She’s A Witch, Bathed In Light
Tame Impala – Currents
I am self proclaimed to being one of Tame Impala’s biggest fans and in particular, frontman/lyrical genius/impressive producer/all round babe, Kevin Parker’s one true love, even though he doesn’t know anything about me… yet. So bearing this in mind, I was always going to be inevitably biased when the Aussie four-piece dropped Currents in the summer.
Since its release I listen to ‘The Less I Know The Better’ on average about 9 times a day due to the single, funkiest opening guitar riff of all time. ‘Eventually’ is one of the more emotional tracks on the album, with Parker gloomily singing lines like ‘wish I could turn you back into a stranger, cause if I was never in your life, you wouldn’t have to change this’ and chorus line ‘I know that I’ll be happier and I know that you will too, eventually,’ which is layered over plenty of ‘aaahs.’ It’s the one song all year, that emotionally caught me, so much so that the two times I saw it played live this summer I sobbed my eyes out to a completely new level. ‘Let It Happen’ is up there with the old and lengthly tracks like ‘Half Full Glass of Wine’, as it pushes you into its euphoric trance and ‘Cause I’m A Man’, ‘Love/Paranoia’ and ‘Yes I’m Changing’ deliver the more dazed and chilled tracks of the album. Whilst the whole album is covered and smothered in synths and psychedelic whirls, ’Disciples’, ‘The Moment’ and ‘Reality In Motion’, are all as bouncy and summery as old tracks, but a little less heavy.
Despite the turn away from the more obviously psychedelic past two albums, Innerspeaker and Lonerism, to this electronic disco vibe, initially was one I was apprehensive about the band making, as always it was just another experiment of theirs that unsurprisingly worked once again. With lyrics as lot less ambiguous than past tracks too, the album was easier to connect with, with Parker placing particular emphasis on the emotional ups and downs of relationships and break ups, something personal to him at the time of his writing. Effectively it’s a break up album, but in true Tame Impala fashion, it steers away from the clichés to become just another classic in their growing catalogue of tunes.
Best tracks: The Less I Know The Better, Love/Paranoia, Eventually
Justin Bieber – Purpose (Deluxe)
If it was any musician’s comeback year, then it was Bieber’s. From conquering the ears (and hearts) of every young girl in the early stages of his career, Biebz, then became the bad boy of pop and took a break from music. Back, now the whole world are Beliebers and even those who would never have admitted such a thing, now feel no guilt in owning up to such things. After dropping absolute bangers such as the Skrillex and Diplo collaboration on ‘Where Are Ü Now?’ and the brooding dance track ‘What Do You Mean?’ he grabbed the whole world’s attention, but what followed next was the dream that came in the form of the 19 track deluxe album of Purpose.
Despite some of the tracks getting a bit lost in the length of the record, as it stands every track is impressive, because lets be honest even those that don’t seem as important would still be great if they were by any other pop artist and weren’t lined up against the likes of the electrifying #1 ’Sorry’, and the smooth-as-silk, ‘Love Yourself.’ It turns out that Bieber’s comeback could have been a complete tragedy, but despite the album only being released in November, the year in music will undoubtedly be remembered as the time Bieber took the world by storm (sorry Adele).
Best tracks: Sorry, Company, Mark My Words
Spector – Moth Boys
After releasing their debut Enjoy It While It Lasts back in 2012, Spector gathered a group of extreme devotees, but also remained fairly underrated and unheard of. After conjuring up sing-along party anthems like ‘Celestine’ and ‘Chevy Thunder’, it was clear that their tracks would be perfect for both sold out shows and drunken karaoke, the winning combo, right? Back with Moth Boys, the band have once again delivered an album full of 80s power-rock ballads. Its all synths and disco melodies,whilst Fred Macpherson still remains undoubtedly one of the best frontmen and witty lyricists out there and the only way that I can tell you how great this album is, is by simply listing some of my favourite lines from the album for you to comprehend:
‘I’m a good listener, when its just me talking’ (Bad Boyfriend)
‘These emails i draft but never send, are works of art you couldn’t comprehend.’ // ‘your flat is only half a mile away, i meant every single word i didn’t say.’ (Don’t Make Me Try)
‘Those American kids and vegan smack heads you call your friends, they’re not your friends.’ (West End)
‘I’m a mess and there’s not much to me, you’re a goddess but there’s even less to you.’ (Lately It’s You)
‘One socket left I let you charge your phone, these are the ways that we show our love.’ (Stay High)
‘Its so hard to find real talk in a taxi i’m sorry.’ (Believe)
Their lyrics always so frank, up to date, and sarcastically funny, yet melancholy. With the added groovy, pop rhythms they create, their songs are constantly catchy and infectious, and have a sense of timelessness about them.
Best tracks: All The Sad Young Men, Stay High, Lately It’s You
Slaves – Are You Satisfied? (Deluxe)
For the Tunbridge Wells duo that is Slaves, it has been an unstoppable year. Not the most brutal of punks, but surely the wittiest, they’ve channeled their disappointment at the state of the country into some of 2015’s biggest tracks to show just how displeased they are. ‘You are not stuck in traffic, you are traffic, move!’ booms frontman Isaac Holman on ‘Do Something’, ‘don’t trust the flies they are government spies’ he grumbles on ‘Sugar Coated Bitter Truth’ and ‘cheer up London, you’re already dead and it’s not that bad’ he smirks on ‘Cheer Up London.’ They’re punk at its funnest and the punk band taking the mainstream by storm. Having gained a great but surprising amount of support from Radio 1, they have headed into the BBC Live Lounge many a time now, most recently covering Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’, but this deluxe album includes their infamous live lounge cover of Skepta’s ‘Shutdown.’ As if they weren’t already loved enough, they then went and covered one of the most known grime tracks of the year, a dangerous task to take on. In their gritty and care-free fashion, it was so good that they even went and played it live with Skepta himself at Radio 1’s Big Weekend.
With the added deluxe, you also get extra tracks like ‘Feed The Mantaray’’s B-sides ’Ok’ and ‘I Shine My Shoes With A Dirty Vest’, as well as old favourites like ‘Beauty Quest’ and ‘White Knuckle Ride.’ It’s a heavy, minimalist, loud and dynamic album and with guitarist Laurie Vincent taking the best new guitarist award by Total Guitar, you can be sure that it is full of filthy guitar riffs.
Another album, much like Gengahr’s mentioned earlier, that is hard to believe is their first. Continuing their domination with epic live shows, the only way is up for this two-piece.
Best tracks: Sockets, Live Like An Animal, Sugar Coated Bitter Truth
With so much good music out this year, I would also like to shoutout some other bands who dropped some of my other fave records of the year:
Charli XCX, Courtney Barnett, Disclosure, Drenge, Foals, Grimes, Jamie xx, Mac Demarco, Menace Beach, One Direction, Peace, Pond, The Cribs, The Libertines, The Maccabees, The Weekend, Wolf Alice… amongst many others!