Category Archives: top albums of 2015

Our favorite albums of 2015 — The complete list

I’ve finally reached the end of the countdown, and I encourage you to revisit the posts from the last two weeks. Today, we’ll just present the whole list, including the honorable mentions. Go back to the previous posts for details.

After the list, there’s a tiny bit of statistical data. Maybe I’ll do more of that stuff later. But now, the lists.

The honorable mentions (in alphabetical order):

All Dogs — Kicking Every Day
Beliefs — Leaper
Caspian — Dust and Disquiet
Cemeteries — Barrow
Des Ark — Everything Dies
Distortion Girls — Party
Dråpe — Relax/Relapse
Echo Lake — Era
Echodrone — Five
Evans The Death — Expect Delays
Girls Names — Arms Around a Vision
Grave Pool — Mnemonics
Guts Club — The Arm Wrestling Tournament
Hayden — Hey Love
Helen — The Original Faces
J Francis — to adore
Jenny Hval — Apocalypse, Girl
Joanna Gruesome — Peanut Butter
Julien Baker — Sprained Ankle
Novella — Land
Takaakira (“Taka”) Goto — Classical Punk and Echoes Under The Beauty
Tamaryn — Cranekiss
Waving — Waving
Wickerbird — The Leaf Maker
Widowspeak — All Yours

And the big countdown:

50)Lower Dens — Escape From Evil
49)Girl Band — Holding Hands With Jamie
48)Creepoid — Cemetery Highrise Slum
47)Thayer Sarrano — Shaky
46)Rachel Grimes — The Clearing
45)Stolen Jars — Kept
44)Hey Anna — Run Koko
43)Speedy Ortiz — Foil Deer
42)Marriages — Salome
41)Haiku Salut — Etch and Etch Deep
40)The Harrow — Silhouettes
39)Casket Girls — The Piano Album
38)Spectres — Dying
37)Eternal Summers — Gold and Stone
36)Esmerine — Lost Voices
35)Diverting Duo — Desire
34)Viet Cong — Viet Cong
33)astrobrite — Deluxer
32)Noveller — Fantastic Planet
31)Godspeed You! Black Emperor — Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress
30)Long Beard — Sleepwalker
29)Hamsas XIII — Encompass
28)Westkust — Last Forever
27)Hop Along — Painted Shut
26)Lanterns On The Lake — Beings
25)Violent Mae — Kid
24)The Black Ryder — The Door Behind The Door
23)Moon King — Secret Life
22)The Soft Moon — Deeper
21)Trementina — Almost Reach the Sun
20)Beach House — Thank Your Lucky Stars
19)No Joy — More Faithful
18)Torres — Sprinter
17)Mount Eerie — Sauna
16)Shana Falana — Set Your Lightning Fire Free
15)Eskimeaux — O.K.
14)Ringo Deathstarr — Pure Mood
13)Pinkshinyultrablast — Everything Else Matters
12)SOAK — Before We Forgot How To Dream
11)Thrushes — Exposing Seas
10)A Place to Bury Strangers — Transfixiation
9)Briana Marela — All Around Us
8)Beach House — Depression Cherry
7)Bully — Feels Like
6)93MillionMilesFromTheSun — Fall Into Nothing
5)Courtney Barnett — Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
4)Wildhoney — Sleep Through It
3)Waxahatchee — Ivy Tripp
2)Grawl!x — Good Grief
1)Low — Ones and Sixes

In the list that includes the honorable mentions, there are 23 debut albums. 14 different countries, and five continents are represented. There are 43 American bands, 8 English, 7 Canadian, 4 Australian, 2 Italian, 2 Northern Irish, 2 Norwegian, 1 Chilean, 1 Danish, 1 Irish, 1 Japanese, 1 Russian, 1 Swedish, and 1 Welsh. I was surprised that there weren’t more Canadians. There usually are. While there’s usually a couple of Scottish bands, there are none this year.


Our favorite albums of 2015 — the top two

For the last two weeks, I’ve been counting down my favorite albums of 2015. It was a banner year for new releases, and I even had to include a list of 25 honorable mentions before I started counting down.

The honorable mentions are here
And the countdown from 50 down to 3 went like this:

50)Lower Dens — Escape From Evil
49)Girl Band — Holding Hands With Jamie
48)Creepoid — Cemetery Highrise Slum
47)Thayer Sarrano — Shaky
46)Rachel Grimes — The Clearing
45)Stolen Jars — Kept
44)Hey Anna — Run Koko
43)Speedy Ortiz — Foil Deer
42)Marriages — Salome
41)Haiku Salut — Etch and Etch Deep
40)The Harrow — Silhouettes
39)Casket Girls — The Piano Album
38)Spectres — Dying
37)Eternal Summers — Gold and Stone
36)Esmerine — Lost Voices
35)Diverting Duo — Desire
34)Viet Cong — Viet Cong
33)astrobrite — Deluxer
32)Noveller — Fantastic Planet
31)Godspeed You! Black Emperor — Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress
30)Long Beard — Sleepwalker
29)Hamsas XIII — Encompass
28)Westkust — Last Forever
27)Hop Along — Painted Shut
26)Lanterns On The Lake — Beings
25)Violent Mae — Kid
24)The Black Ryder — The Door Behind The Door
23)Moon King — Secret Life
22)The Soft Moon — Deeper
21)Trementina — Almost Reach the Sun
20)Beach House — Thank Your Lucky Stars
19)No Joy — More Faithful
18)Torres — Sprinter
17)Mount Eerie — Sauna
16)Shana Falana — Set Your Lightning Fire Free
15)Eskimeaux — O.K.
14)Ringo Deathstarr — Pure Mood
13)Pinkshinyultrablast — Everything Else Matters
12)SOAK — Before We Forgot How To Dream
11)Thrushes — Exposing Seas
10)A Place to Bury Strangers — Transfixiation
9)Briana Marela — All Around Us
8)Beach House — Depression Cherry
7)Bully — Feels Like
6)93MillionMilesFromTheSun — Fall Into Nothing
5)Courtney Barnett — Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
4)Wildhoney — Sleep Through It
3)Waxahatchee — Ivy Tripp

We’re finally down to the top two. One is a total surprise, and the other won’t be a surprise at all. Click on the album art to go to where you can buy the album.

Grawl!x — Good Grief

2)Grawl!x — Good Grief
This is the debut record by the ambient dream folk/dream pop one-man recording project. Grawl!x is James Machin, who is from Derby, England. He used to be in a shoegaze band called My Psychoanalyst, and he worked on the stuff for this album over a span of a couple of years. On Valentine’s Day, the album was released via the tiny label Time Travel Opps. Before the album’s release, I got a review copy in the mail bag promising that it was reminiscent of Julianna Barwick and Bon Iver. I totally understand those comparisons, and as soon as I listened to the album once, I knew that it was going to be in my year-end top five. And for about a month, it was just about the only thing I could listen to.
The piano and the guitar and the loops and effects — those are all excellent, but Machin’s vocals really shine, and the biggest star of the show is the structure. There’s a lot of space in this album. It’s almost overwhelming how much space there is. Listening to this album on headphones, I feel like I’m the only person in a fifty mile radius. I get the same feeling that I’ve gotten driving across Wyoming. At one point, I pulled over to the side of the interstate to admire the vastness of it all. It had been half an hour since I passed the last town, and that town had an advertised population of 2. There weren’t even very many other cars on the road. It was really awe-inspiring. It’s that same breathtaking vastness that I feel when listening to Good Grief.

Low — Ones and Sixes

1)Low — Ones And Sixes
This is the eleventh album by the slowcore trio from Duluth, Minnesota. The core of the band is the married couple of Alan Sparhawk (guitar/vocals) and Mimi Parker (drums/vocals), who have been making Low records since 1993. The songs are almost always slow and sad and minimal. That’s part of what Low is. Really, though, it’s about the harmonies. Although there are some songs that Mimi does all of the vocals, most songs feature some amazing vocal harmonies. Although the style of music isn’t similar at all, a lot of people say that Sparhawk and Parker’s harmonies are like those of Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris.

Every album by Low ends up at the top of my year-end list, and it should come as no surprise to anyone that the new one is my favorite record of the year. Their album C’Mon was my fifth favorite non-Canadian album of 2011, and their album The Invisible Way came in at #9 on my 2013 year-end list. No matter what, they just keep making better records every time I think they can’t do it again.
There’s something a little bit different about this one. The low-end stuff is really low on this album, and some of those low lows are deliberately fuzzy and distorted. If you listen on cruddy speakers, it’s going to sound messy, or even bad. Through good speakers, or especially through good headphones, that stuff sounds amazing. And as always, it’s really about the harmonies. And Mimi’s intoxicating tremolo on her vocals.
Low came to Hopscotch back in 2013, and their set was my second favorite of the whole festival. You can read a bit about that here. That was my first time seeing them, and it came at just the right time. I’ll be seeing them in February when they come through on the big tour, and I can’t wait.

That’s it. Tomorrow, I’ll post a complete list that might or might not come with statistics and fun trivia.

Here’s to hoping that 2016 is as good for new releases as 2015 was.


Our favorite albums of 2015 (part 10)

Last week, I started counting down my favorite albums of 2015. There were a lot of brilliant records. Too many, even, to fit into a top 50. Before I started the countdown, I also named 25 honorable mentions. You can see that list here.

I broke the top 50 into chunks of five, and I encourage you to read what I wrote about all of the albums, but here’s the big list:

50)Lower Dens — Escape From Evil
49)Girl Band — Holding Hands With Jamie
48)Creepoid — Cemetery Highrise Slum
47)Thayer Sarrano — Shaky
46)Rachel Grimes — The Clearing
45)Stolen Jars — Kept
44)Hey Anna — Run Koko
43)Speedy Ortiz — Foil Deer
42)Marriages — Salome
41)Haiku Salut — Etch and Etch Deep
40)The Harrow — Silhouettes
39)Casket Girls — The Piano Album
38)Spectres — Dying
37)Eternal Summers — Gold and Stone
36)Esmerine — Lost Voices
35)Diverting Duo — Desire
34)Viet Cong — Viet Cong
33)astrobrite — Deluxer
32)Noveller — Fantastic Planet
31)Godspeed You! Black Emperor — Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress
30)Long Beard — Sleepwalker
29)Hamsas XIII — Encompass
28)Westkust — Last Forever
27)Hop Along — Painted Shut
26)Lanterns On The Lake — Beings
25)Violent Mae — Kid
24)The Black Ryder — The Door Behind The Door
23)Moon King — Secret Life
22)The Soft Moon — Deeper
21)Trementina — Almost Reach the Sun
20)Beach House — Thank Your Lucky Stars
19)No Joy — More Faithful
18)Torres — Sprinter
17)Mount Eerie — Sauna
16)Shana Falana — Set Your Lightning Fire Free
15)Eskimeaux — O.K.
14)Ringo Deathstarr — Pure Mood
13)Pinkshinyultrablast — Everything Else Matters
12)SOAK — Before We Forgot How To Dream
11)Thrushes — Exposing Seas
10)A Place to Bury Strangers — Transfixiation
9)Briana Marela — All Around Us
8)Beach House — Depression Cherry
7)Bully — Feels Like
6)93MillionMilesFromTheSun — Fall Into Nothing

And now, the final countdown will get us down from 5 to 3. I had planned on doing the entire top 5 this morning, but I’m short on time, so I’ll do the top two later today.

Remember to click on album art to go to where you can buy the album.

Courtney Barnett — Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

5)Courtney Barnett — Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
This is the debut album by the indie-folk/punk/twee singer/songwriter from Melbourne. She self-released a couple of EPs which were compiled and rereleased as the 2013 double EP A Sea of Split Peas. That really put her on the map and had everyone eagerly anticipating the debut album. Everyone hoped that it would arrive in 2014, and it finally came out on March 23 to unanimous accolades. She was nominated for eight ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) awards, and she took home four of those tall, pointy, triangular pyramids. She has also been nominated for a 2016 Grammy award in the “best new artist” category.
Courtney Barnett is known as much for the clever wordplay in her lyrics as she is for her brilliantly crafted songs. She lists Lou Reed, Neil Young, Paul Kelly, and Nirvana among her influences, and you can hear those and many more in her songs.
She’s done a bunch of amazing covers, including a great interpretation of the entire Kick album by INXS (here), and a cover of The Lemonheads’ song “Being Around” (here), but her own songs are absolutely brilliant. Like most of the others in this final countdown, the first time I heard this album, I immediately locked it in as a top five album. Making light of the odd combination of all of these things, all year long, I kept saying “This is my favorite debut record by a left-handed Australian lesbian”.

Wildhoney — Sleep Through It

4)Wildhoney — Sleep Through It
This is the debut album by the shoegaze/noise pop quintet from Baltimore. They released a couple of EPs that set expectations very high for the debut, and I don’t think anybody was disappointed. The album came out in January, and after I had only listened to about five seconds of it, I had it locked in to a top ten position. By the time summer rolled around, I had bumped it into the top five. Definitely among my favorite of the shoegaze revivalists.
I knew nothing at all about the band when I stumbled upon their album way back in January. I still know almost nothing about them. I just know that I love this record, which is a bit reminiscent of a much noisier Velocity Girl.
Wildhoney played at Hopscotch this year, and I was very excited about that. More excited, actually, than I was about any of the headliners. I put their set very high on my “can’t miss” list, and although I ended up being shut out of a couple of those, I did get to see the Wildhoney set. Read about that here
When you play this record, you play it very loud, and you bounce around like a college kid who’s hopped up on adderall and Red Bull.

Waxahatchee — Ivy Tripp

3)Waxahatchee — Ivy Tripp
This is the third full-length album by the indie-folk/rock/punk recording project based in Brooklyn. It’s mostly the work of Katie Crutchfield (vocals/guitar), but on this album and the previous one, she’s had help from Kyle Gilbride (guitar/keys/synth) and Keith Spencer (guitar/bass/keys/drums/), and her twin sister Allison. By the way, the 2013 album Cerulean Salt came in at my #15 album of that year. Waxahatchee played at Hopscotch back in 2013, and I got delayed going to that set. I only saw two songs, but those songs were great. Read about that here.
I have to admit that Ivy Tripp isn’t one of the albums that was immediately locked in to a top five position after first listen. It took a lot of repeat listens to bump it up and up the list. And then, I saw Katie Crutchfield play a solo set that secured this album its top five position. She was actually a last-minute substitution at Hopscotch this year. Owen Pallett was supposed to be there all weekend as the “improviser in residence” and he was supposed to play a show in Fletcher on Saturday night. He had a family emergency and had to cancel his appearance. Greg Fox out of Liturgy took over the role of “improviser in residence”, and Katie Crutchfield took his spot at Fletcher. That wasn’t announced until the festival had already started, and for a lot of people, it might have gone unnoticed. I sure noticed, and I made it a top priority, even while there were a couple of other sets happening at the same time that I’d also like to have seen.
I was absolutely blown away by her set. Just Katie and an acoustic guitar. Included in the set was a spectacular cover of the Lucinda Williams tune “Greenville”. She played songs from all three albums, and made them all sound deeper and more real. I was completely awestruck, and I could have been knocked over with a feather after that. I went in expecting to see a good set, but what I saw was one of the best things I’ve ever seen. Maybe it was exactly the right time and place and maybe things were aligned just right for it to hit me the way it did, but I’ve seriously never been as moved by a show as I was by that. You can read up a bit about that here.

That’s it for now. I should finish the countdown tonight, then do a recap tomorrow.


Our favorite albums of 2015 (part 9)

Today, we’ll continue the countdown of my favorite albums of 2015. It was a ridiculously good year for new releases, and before I could even start the countdown, I named 25 honorable mentions. So far, we’ve counted down from 50 to 11, and today we’ll go from 10 down to 6.

Just to recap, the list of honorable mentions is here.

So far, the list from 50 down to 11 looks like so:
50)Lower Dens — Escape From Evil
49)Girl Band — Holding Hands With Jamie
48)Creepoid — Cemetery Highrise Slum
47)Thayer Sarrano — Shaky
46)Rachel Grimes — The Clearing
45)Stolen Jars — Kept
44)Hey Anna — Run Koko
43)Speedy Ortiz — Foil Deer
42)Marriages — Salome
41)Haiku Salut — Etch and Etch Deep
40)The Harrow — Silhouettes
39)Casket Girls — The Piano Album
38)Spectres — Dying
37)Eternal Summers — Gold and Stone
36)Esmerine — Lost Voices
35)Diverting Duo — Desire
34)Viet Cong — Viet Cong
33)astrobrite — Deluxer
32)Noveller — Fantastic Planet
31)Godspeed You! Black Emperor — Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress
30)Long Beard — Sleepwalker
29)Hamsas XIII — Encompass
28)Westkust — Last Forever
27)Hop Along — Painted Shut
26)Lanterns On The Lake — Beings
25)Violent Mae — Kid
24)The Black Ryder — The Door Behind The Door
23)Moon King — Secret Life
22)The Soft Moon — Deeper
21)Trementina — Almost Reach the Sun
20)Beach House — Thank Your Lucky Stars
19)No Joy — More Faithful
18)Torres — Sprinter
17)Mount Eerie — Sauna
16)Shana Falana — Set Your Lightning Fire Free
15)Eskimeaux — O.K.
14)Ringo Deathstarr — Pure Mood
13)Pinkshinyultrablast — Everything Else Matters
12)SOAK — Before We Forgot How To Dream
11)Thrushes — Exposing Seas

As the countdown continues, remember to click on album art to go to where you can buy that album.

A Place to Bury Strangers — Transfixiation

10)A Place To Bury Strangers — Transfixiation
This is the fourth album from the Brooklyn noise rock/shoegaze/post-punk quartet who are often called “New York’s loudest band”. Indeed. When you see them live, you’ll need to reboot after the show. Maybe drive home in silence. Even when you listen to APTBS records, you’ll need a sensory break afterwards. This record is certainly no different. As the story goes, even the band themselves had to take a brief hiatus during the recording of this album. Yes, this is about noise and gadgetry. Yes, this is pitch dark. Yes, this is really difficult for a lot of people to digest. This is music that most people hate. The album has gotten mostly lukewarm or even unfavorable reviews, but Oliver Ackerman et al aren’t making music for Pitchfork’s benefit. They know who their fans are, and they know that Ian Cohen isn’t one of them.
If you’re not afraid of some noise and some darkness and some misery, this is a beautiful album that you will definitely need a break from after you’ve listened.

Briana Marela — All Around Us

9)Briana Marela — All Around Us
This is the third album by the Seattle experimental ambient pop singer/songwriter. Her first two albums were self-released, but she joined the Jagjaguwar family for this album. In a separate development, she joined forces with Alex Somers, who has produced records for Sigur Rós. So she’s got better production, she’s got label support, and she had a significant tour to support the new album, which came out on August 21. Because of her sweet voice of an angel-child, she’s compared to the late Trish Keenan out of Broadcast, and to Jessie Stein out of The Luyas. As much as I like both of those bands and both of those singers, I like this even more. Again, this was an album that wasn’t really all that well-received by critics, but I love it.

Beach House — Depression Cherry

8)Beach House — Depression Cherry
This is the fifth album from the Baltimore dream pop duo and the first of two albums they released in 2015. The songs from Depression Cherry and the songs from Thank Your Lucky Stars were recorded during the same sessions, but they promise that they aren’t companion albums and that Thank Your Lucky Stars isn’t a “b-side album”. They swear that Thank Your Lucky Stars isn’t the Amnesiac to Depression Cherry‘s Kid A, but despite their protestations, fans and critics will always refer to the two 2015 albums as companion albums or sister albums or whatever. I love this band, and I think that they can do no wrong. You’ll remember seeing Thank Your Lucky Stars at 20 on the countdown. I obviously like this one a little more.

Bully — Feels Like

7)Bully — Feels Like
This is the debut album by the Nashville post-grunge quartet. There’s a lot of reasons to like this band, and most of it has to do with frontwoman Alicia Bognanno. Her story, her charisma, her badass-ness. However, I always like to point out that the drummer in this band is named Stewart Copeland. A drummer named Stewart Copeland, but not that drummer named Stewart Copeland. As far as I know, that’s his real name. Aside from all the personal backstories, this is just a really good band who put out a remarkable debut. Bognanno won’t be able to do the things that she’s doing to her voice for very long (just ask Bob Mould), but for now, it sure is fun to hear her belt this shit out.
The band came to Hopscotch this year, and I had them very high on my list. Unfortunately, the venue they were in was over capacity, and since nobody was leaving, I wouldn’t have been able to get in even with a VIP band. Incidentally, even my “plan B” for that time slot got foiled for the same reason. They’re coming around next month, and I won’t miss it this time.

93MillionMilesFromTheSun — Fall Into Nothing

6)93MillionMilesFromTheSun — Fall Into Nothing
This is the fourth album by the melodic shoegaze trio from Doncaster, South Yorkshire, England. The album came out in May, but I didn’t get it until a few months later. As much as I liked their earlier stuff, this one really hit me hard. It was all I could listen to for about a month. It’s worth pointing out that they also released an EP of Ride covers this year, and it’s quite good. In a connected way, this album reminds me so much of that period of time when Ride was riding the wave of Nowhere and things were going really well for them. Before Britpop forced them and other UK shoegazers to adapt their sound to whatever it was that NME and Melody Maker would write favorable things about. Before even the label bosses made their shoegaze bands write Britpop stuff. This reminds me of the real Ride.

That’s it for today. Tomorrow, I should finish the countdown, and then do a recap on Thursday.


Our favorite albums of 2015 (part 8)

All week long, I’ve been counting down my favorite albums of 2015. I started with a list of 25 honorable mentions, and then got into the countdown. I encourage you to revisit my last seven posts for details on the countdown, which has gone like this:

50)Lower Dens — Escape From Evil
49)Girl Band — Holding Hands With Jamie
48)Creepoid — Cemetery Highrise Slum
47)Thayer Sarrano — Shaky
46)Rachel Grimes — The Clearing
45)Stolen Jars — Kept
44)Hey Anna — Run Koko
43)Speedy Ortiz — Foil Deer
42)Marriages — Salome
41)Haiku Salut — Etch and Etch Deep
40)The Harrow — Silhouettes
39)Casket Girls — The Piano Album
38)Spectres — Dying
37)Eternal Summers — Gold and Stone
36)Esmerine — Lost Voices
35)Diverting Duo — Desire
34)Viet Cong — Viet Cong
33)astrobrite — Deluxer
32)Noveller — Fantastic Planet
31)Godspeed You! Black Emperor — Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress
30)Long Beard — Sleepwalker
29)Hamsas XIII — Encompass
28)Westkust — Last Forever
27)Hop Along — Painted Shut
26)Lanterns On The Lake — Beings
25)Violent Mae — Kid
24)The Black Ryder — The Door Behind The Door
23)Moon King — Secret Life
22)The Soft Moon — Deeper
21)Trementina — Almost Reach the Sun
20)Beach House — Thank Your Lucky Stars
19)No Joy — More Faithful
18)Torres — Sprinter
17)Mount Eerie — Sauna
16)Shana Falana — Set Your Lightning Fire Free

Today, we’re counting down from 15 to 11. As always, you can click on the album art to go to where you can buy the album.

Eskimeaux — O.K.

15)Eskimeaux — O.K.
This is the latest in a long list of releases by the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter Gabrielle Smith, also known as Eskimeaux. She started using the moniker in 2007 and has released a slew of home-recorded EPs and albums. It’s difficult to put Eskimeaux into a tidy category, especially because each release has a slightly different flavor, but it’s pretty safe to say that it’s mostly indie-folk. There are elements of punk, twee, electronic, dream pop, and other things. However you want to classify it, it’s good stuff, and I’ve played the hell out of it. While the earlier stuff screams DIY, this has much better sound and much better craftsmanship behind it.

Ringo Deathstarr — Pure Mood

14)Ringo Deathstarr — Pure Mood
This is the third album by the shoegaze/noise rock trio from Austin, Texas. Elliott Frazier (guitar/vocals) started the band as a solo project in 2005, and they became a trio when Alex Gehring (bass/vocals) and Dan Coborn (drums) joined in 2008. They quickly became a very big name, and one of the darlings of the genre. Although it’s clear where they got some of their influence, people don’t say “they’re America’s answer to MBV”. They’ve etched their own name very firmly, and they’re the ones who new bands get compared to. They tour a lot, and it seems like they’ve been around longer than they have. If their 2013 EP God’s Dream had been classified as an album, it would have been in the top five of my list that year. This album got tons and tons of play around here, and I almost put it in the top five. The song in this video is really Lush-like, but it’s still got their distinct Ringo sound.

Pinkshinyultrablast — Everything Else Matters

13)Pinkshinyultrablast — Everything Else Matters

This is the long-awaited debut album by the shoegaze/dream pop band from St. Petersburg, Russia. They’ve been around for a few years, and they’ve put out a couple of excellent EPs, but this is their first album. There’s another on the way, scheduled for release in early 2016. They’re certainly influenced by MBV and Ride and stuff of that ilk, but more than anything else, they were inspired by astrobrite. This band is named after the 2005 album by astrobrite, and they say they’ve modeled their sound after the way that album sounds. Particularly the spaces. Make sure you catch astrobrite’s new album, which came in at 33 in my countdown this year. And look for the forthcoming pinkshinyultrablast album to be near the top of my 2016 list. This isn’t the highest ranking debut on my list, but a very good first outing.

SOAK — Before We Forgot How To Dream

12)SOAK — Before We Forgot How To Dream
This is the astonishing debut by 19-year old indie-folk singer/songwriter Bridie Monds-Watson, who comes from Derry, Northern Ireland. She quit school at the age of 16 to pursue a career as a musician, and so far it’s worked out really well. A lot of people compare her to Laura Marling, and that’s totally fine. However, the thing that really sticks with me is the similarity between her voice and that of Victoria Bergman out of The Concretes. I started hearing about SOAK a couple of months before the album came out, and when it finally did, I immediately locked it in to my top 20. If she’s this good at age 19, I can’t wait to see what she does when she’s in her mid-20s. Watch the video below, but also watch her KEXP performance, because it’s freaking brilliant

Thrushes — Exposing Seas

11)Thrushes — Exposing Seas
This is the third album by the Baltimore shoegaze/noise pop quartet. After their 2010 sophomore album Night Falls, they took a hiatus that I thought might be permanent. To my delight, they started to hint at the new album sometime late last year, and as we got into June and July of this year, we heard some of the teasers and previews. The album finally came out on September 18 via New Grenada Records, and I was quite pleased with it. It might not be as upfront with the noise, but I think it’s a much more well-polished record with better peaks and valleys. It’s still got plenty of noise, but somehow I like it better with the juxtaposition of noise with the quiet bits. Yes, they’ve adopted the quiet/loud/quiet thing, and it works beautifully for them. I’m very glad that they’re back.

I’ll be traveling all day tomorrow, and I’ll return on Tuesday with the penultimate chunk of albums.


Our favorite albums of 2015 (part 7)

Earlier this week, I started the countdown of my favorite albums of 2015. It’s been a fantastic year, with a lot of new and exciting stuff. A lot of debut records are on the list, and a lot of old favorites are on the list. Because it’s been such a quality year, I included 50 albums in the countdown, and I also included 25 honorable mentions.

You can see the list of honorable mentions here

So far, the countdown from 50 to 21 looks like this:

50)Lower Dens — Escape From Evil
49)Girl Band — Holding Hands With Jamie
48)Creepoid — Cemetery Highrise Slum
47)Thayer Sarrano — Shaky
46)Rachel Grimes — The Clearing
45)Stolen Jars — Kept
44)Hey Anna — Run Koko
43)Speedy Ortiz — Foil Deer
42)Marriages — Salome
41)Haiku Salut — Etch and Etch Deep
40)The Harrow — Silhouettes
39)Casket Girls — The Piano Album
38)Spectres — Dying
37)Eternal Summers — Gold and Stone
36)Esmerine — Lost Voices
35)Diverting Duo — Desire
34)Viet Cong — Viet Cong
33)astrobrite — Deluxer
32)Noveller — Fantastic Planet
31)Godspeed You! Black Emperor — Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress
30)Long Beard — Sleepwalker
29)Hamsas XIII — Encompass
28)Westkust — Last Forever
27)Hop Along — Painted Shut
26)Lanterns On The Lake — Beings
25)Violent Mae — Kid
24)The Black Ryder — The Door Behind The Door
23)Moon King — Secret Life
22)The Soft Moon — Deeper
21)Trementina — Almost Reach the Sun

Today, we’ll continue the countdown on from 20 to 16. Remember to click on album art to get to where you can buy that album.

Beach House — Thank Your Lucky Stars

20)Beach House — Thank Your Lucky Stars
This is the sixth album from the Baltimore dream pop duo and their second of two albums in 2015. This second album was a bit of a surprise, even to big fans. They announced its release via Twitter, then released it nine days later. It’s made up entirely of stuff that was written and recorded during the Depression Cherry sessions, but they insist that this is not a “companion album”. They also wanted to be clear that these are not b-sides or throwaways. And they’re certainly not. I love this album, but I love the stuff from Depression Cherry even more. You’ll see that later in the countdown.

No Joy — More Faithful

19)No Joy — More Faithful
This is the third album by the Montréal doomgaze/dream-punk quartet. I liked their 2013 sophomore album a lot, and I like this one even more. They’re a much more sophisticated, much more technically proficient, and much more focused on production values than they were even two years ago. As soon as More Faithful came out in June, I knew that it would end up in my top 20.

Torres — Sprinter

18)Torres — Sprinter
This is the second album by the indie folk/indie rock band that’s fronted by Mackenzie Scott. She spent most of her life in Georgia and in Tennessee, and now the band is set up in Brooklyn. You may remember that her debut album Torres was my second favorite album of 2013, behind only m b v. That year, I also saw Torres at the Hopscotch Music Festival, and was totally floored by her day party performance. Unfortunately, I had a conflict that prevented me from going to the nighttime show, but it was incredible. I had very high expectations for this album, and when I heard “New Skin” well in advance of the May album release, I was overwhelmed with excitement. The fact that this comes in at 18 doesn’t mean that I was disappointed. I was quite pleased, and it still plays a lot around my house. A lot of people say that Torres reminds them of Sharon Van Etten. I say that Torres has, in a short period of time, gotten better than Sharon Van Etten.

Mount Eerie — Sauna

17)Mount Eerie — Sauna
This is the seventh album by the Washington state based slowcore/indie folk/drone veteran Phil Elverum. He’s been recording as Mount Eerie since 2003, and by most accounts, this is the biggest and broadest thing he’s done. He says that the album was inspired by Vikings and zen and the national character of Finland. Right out of the gate, the album starts with a ten-minute song that’s really droney and open and peaceful. It sets the tone and the headspace for a great listening party. If you’re patient and calm, it’s a beautiful album from start to finish.

Shana Falana — Set Your Lightning Fire Free

16)Shana Falana — Set Your Lightning Fire Free
This is the debut album by the dream pop/shoegaze duo from Kingston, New York. The band is fronted by multi-instrumentalist Shana Falana. According to the story, she met this guy Michael Amari (drums) at a garden party, they started talking about Bauhaus, and they started this band together. The story also goes that this album was written in a very short span of time and recorded without studio equipment using the motto “do it once and don’t look back”. If this is true, I shudder to think how good their next record might be if they spend a lot of time in the studio. I’ve played this record a ton of times, but I unfortunately missed my chance to see them when they played near me.

That’s it for now. Tomorrow, I hope to get another post up, which will get us down to number 11, I’ll be taking Monday off so I can travel back home.


Our favorite albums of 2015 (part 6)

We’re still doing our countdown of our favorite albums of 2015. It was a sensational year for new releases, so I had to do a bigger list than I normally do, and I also had to list 25 Honorable Mentions. And there were still a ton of records that I liked, but couldn’t find room on the lists.

If you’ve missed it, here are the honorable mentions, and the list so far has looked like this:

50)Lower Dens — Escape From Evil
49)Girl Band — Holding Hands With Jamie
48)Creepoid — Cemetery Highrise Slum
47)Thayer Sarrano — Shaky
46)Rachel Grimes — The Clearing
45)Stolen Jars — Kept
44)Hey Anna — Run Koko
43)Speedy Ortiz — Foil Deer
42)Marriages — Salome
41)Haiku Salut — Etch and Etch Deep
40)The Harrow — Silhouettes
39)Casket Girls — The Piano Album
38)Spectres — Dying
37)Eternal Summers — Gold and Stone
36)Esmerine — Lost Voices
35)Diverting Duo — Desire
34)Viet Cong — Viet Cong
33)astrobrite — Deluxer
32)Noveller — Fantastic Planet
31)Godspeed You! Black Emperor — Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress
30)Long Beard — Sleepwalker
29)Hamsas XIII — Encompass
28)Westkust — Last Forever
27)Hop Along — Painted Shut
26)Lanterns On The Lake — Beings

I’ll keep counting down from 25 to 21 tonight, then take a couple of days off. Remember to click on album art to go to where you can buy the album.

Violent Mae — Kid

25)Violent Mae — Kid
This is the sophomore album by the Roxbury, Connecticut indie rock duo. Fans of Jeff Buckley, Cat Power, Leslie Fiest, and St. Vincent should like this album. This was never really meant to be a band in the first place. When Becky Kessler moved from the Outer Banks of North Carolina to a tiny town in the woods of Connecticut, she asked Floyd Kellogg to help her record a solo album. They hit it off and ended up making a record together in 2013, and now this new one, which came out on November 20.

The Black Ryder — The Door Behind The Door

24)The Black Ryder — The Door Behind The Door
This is the second album by the Los Angeles-based dream pop/shoegaze/folkgaze band. The two main members –Aimée Nash and Scot Van Ryper– are Australian, and they moved to LA sometime between their 2009 debut album and the new one. Although it’s mainly the two of them, they’ve carried some extra members who came from other bands like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Brian Jonestown Massacre, and Dum Dum Girls.
This is reminiscent of a lot of stuff that I really love from the early 1990s. Galaxie 500. Mazzy Star. Swallow.
This is another band that I’d never heard of, but whose album that I fell in love with after listening to just a few seconds of one song.

Moon King — Secret Life

23)Moon King — Secret Life
This is the debut album by the Toronto dream pop duo of Maddy Wilde and Daniel Benjamin. In 2013, they released two EPs — Obsession I and Obsession II— which were combined and released as a double EP called Obsession. They spent all of 2014 working on their debut album, and set the bar pretty high for what was expected from them. I don’t think anyone was disappointed when it finally came out on April 14. Fans of Cocteau Twins and Zola Jesus should especially like this album.

The Soft Moon — Deeper

22)The Soft Moon — Deeper
This is the third album by the post-punk/coldwave band that’s fronted by Luis Vasquez. He started the project in Oakland back in 2010. After his 2012 sophomore album, he said he was done with The Soft Moon. He moved to Italy and started spending a lot of time in the bustling Berlin music scene. He came out of “retirement” with this new record in March. It’s darker and colder than the other stuff, and I love it. You may need a flashlight, some climbing gear, and a rain jacket when you listen to this album, but it’s a really rewarding experience.

Trementina — Almost Reach The Sun

21)Trementina — Almost Reach The Sun
This is the debut album by the shoegaze quartet from Valdivia, Chile. Most of the songs on the album were previously released on an EP in 2013, but they’ve re-recorded them and cleaned them up a bit. There are also two completely new songs on the eight song album, so I think this counts as a “new release”.
The band’s name, by the way, is Spanish for “turpentine”, which is pretty awesome. Everyone who listens to them or watches one of their videos immediately says that it reminds them of Ringo Deathstarr, plus some stuff like Dinosaur Jr and Sonic Youth.

That’s it for today. I’m taking tomorrow and Friday off for the holiday, and I’ll be driving down to spend some time with my parents for a few days. I hope to pick back up on the 26th, but definitely by the 29th.

Happy holidays.


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