My favourites of 2015
While it's close enough to the new year's that these kind of lists can be remotely relevant, I wanted to do a little rundown of the best things I listened to throughout 2015. This is a mix of full records and individual songs in no order whatsoever; just about anything that ended up in rotation at some point during the year!
Múm - Finally We Are No one
My friend Stuart told me to listen to this album back in... 2011? And I did, I think. I don't really remember (sorry Stuart). But last year I revisited it on a whim and stumbled across the amazing song Green Grass of Tunnel, and after spending a week with that on repeat one I eventually unlocked the rest of this beautiful record. That song is still a standout but I'd have to say my personal favourite is i can't feel my hand anymore, it's alright, sleep still. This album is a must if you're a fan of Sigur Ros, Efterklang, or post-rock in general.
DJ Richard - Vampire Dub
I don't really listen to techno so DJ Richard's Grind was a pretty left-field record for me. It's well worth a listen (it makes great commuting music if you live in a city), but for me the standout track is Vampire Dub. It's nostalgic in the 'aching' sense of the word, with bright, crisp synths that mean it could just as easily find its home on my list of January songs.
Jessica Pratt - On Your Own Love Again
I had the pleasure of seeing Jessica Pratt perform live last year, in a church in Bethnal Green of all places. A gimmicky venue, but it was actually ideal for her gorgeous, atmospheric folk. The audience was, if you'll excuse the pun, enraptured.
Mac DeMarco - Another One
Mac Demarco has put out three LPs of music in the past three years, and Another One is probably my favourite of the lot. There isn't exactly much to say, it's his brand of chilled out, jangly guitar music and I love it.
Kurt Vile - b'lieve i'm goin down
Between this, Mac Demarco and the Unknown Mortal Orchestra record, 2015 was a great year for chilled guitar music. Kind of like the above, I'm not entirely sure what to say about b'lieve i'm going down; like his last record Walkin on a Pretty Daze, the tracks here are all 5 minutes or more, the rhythmic melodies turning meditative.
Laurie Holiday - Gino
I don't follow them closely enough, but I'm grateful my friend introduced me to record label Tasty Morsels, and that she nudged me to check out Dusted, an album of 'pool party jams' by Laurie Holiday. I have no idea who that's an alias for, but this is a great album of beats (including a sweet remix of The Books's 'Lemon of Pink'), but I want to single out Gino because I just love everything about it; the synth tones, the beat, the chirping bird samples. Gorgeous!
Joanna Newsom - Divers
Divers is a phenomenal record; it was 5 years in the making, and it shows in how rich and intricate single track is. I've listened to it over and over and each time there's some new musical element, some new motif or lyrical connection to spot.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Multi-Love
Multi-Love is a brilliant album from start to finish; it takes the more playful song writing of early tracks like Ffunny Friends or How Can U Love Me, and mixes it with the warm guitar tones from the album 'II' to make my favourite record of theirs yet.
Romare - Jimmy's Lament / La Petite Mort
Romare makes sleek electronica laced through with really excellent sampling. On the tracks I want to highlight, this sampling deftly deployed, more as individual little bits of instrumentation than for vocal lines.
Toro y Moi - What For
I've had a soft spot for Chaz Bundick since I first listened to Causers of This and it single-handedly kicked me on a chillwave phase that lasted the best part of a year, and his 2015 record What For was no exception. It's a sweet little record, in the style of the early demoes he released on the record July 2009, and makes for excellent summer jams.
Courtney Barnett - Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit
I'd say that Sometimes I Sit and Think is easily tied with Divers for cleverest album of the year. Courtney Barnett's debut album is hilarious, cynical, profound... A bunch of other good adjectives, I don't know, just listen to it!
Four Tet - Morning Side
Morning/Evening was a lovely surprise release from Kieran Hebden last year, dropping earlier than planned on the summer solstice because he felt like releasing it that day. I'm a huge Four Tet fan but I've found his recent releases to be lacking in a certain... warmth that overflowed in albums like Rounds and Everything Ecstatic. Whatever tone or timbre was missing, I found it again on Morning Side.
Paul de Jong - This Is Who I Am
Every now and again I listen to a record by The Books and remember why I like them so much; their blend of found sound, strings and beats feels deeply... human? It's raw and emotional; sometimes euphoric, sometimes melancholic, sometimes just plain dark.
Since they broke up, only one half of the duo has been releasing records, and while I enjoy them there's an itch they just don't quite scratch. It was only when the 2nd member, Paul de Jong, put out his solo album last year that I found it again. This Is Who I Am is a perfect example of The Books's dark side.
Also, it's kind of fascinating to be able to peel apart a band and see how the artists' respective creative styles were blended together.