Ladies and gentlemen it’s that time again, the year is coming to a close and so it’s time to hand out the “best of” 2015 awards. This year we start with the best music of the past 12 months, Links to buy all the music mentioned here will be posted in the comments below, but first off a few special mentions.
Marilyn Manson – The Pale Emperor
The Pale emperor is defiantly a slow burn, it sounds like Eat Me, Drink Me (Manson’s 2007 release) with a hangover and a bad cold, it’s full of self deprecating lyrics and excellent instrumental work, Manson’s collaborators really make this album. The only shame being his vocals somewhat struggling to keep up.
George Gadd – Sweet Tea EP
Sweet Tea can be summed up by one word: intimate. Its lyrics are intensely personal and are matched by delicate, almost ghostly instrumental work. All of this is improved by Gadd’s strong vocal performance, his best to date. On a personal note I’ve known George for a few years and have a lot of respect for his music, but I was struck by Sweet Tea and believe it definitely deserves a special mention here.
- Daemon Hatfield: Black Cloud.
Black Cloud is a project which Hatfield has been working on for some time. The album revolves around the unifying theme of technology and its, often poignant, lyrics consistently reflect this theme. The album’s use of guitar and vibrant layered synth work give the album a smooth, relaxing vibe but a strong, varied track list keep the album from ever being predictable. Each track feels individual, whilst the album as a whole feels concise and leaves the listener wanting more. To top this all off Hatfield’s vocal performance on the album is easily his best yet, as is the quality of the albums production.
Black cloud is a vibrant, chilled out but thought provoking piece of work from an equally vibrant independent artist. The album is focused but never dull and the track list is paced well from start to end. Black Cloud is Daemon Hatfield raising the bar of his work.
- Fall Out Boy – American Beauty/American Psycho
Fall Out Boy are, undoubtedly, one of the best bands on the scene right now. Patrick Stumps vocals are still as drop dead charismatic as they’ve ever been, instrumentally they are going from strength to strength and, with the band writing much more collaboratively, the music they produce is of a very high quality indeed. American Beauty/American Psycho continues this trend. The album features more frequent use of sampling than Fall Out Boy are used to. In fact all across the board the album is the most experimental the band have been in a while.
But fundamentally the album still sounds like Fall Out Boy, the lyrics tell personal, witty stories. The music is structured well, with catchy hooks and riffs running throughout the record. The vocals are still on point and the music is a pleasure to hear. Whilst it doesn’t quite match up to the extremely high bar set by Save Rock And Roll, this album is still a very strong release.
- No Devotion – Permanence
Permanence is easily the darkest album on this list, but dark doesn’t mean dreary. And, whilst No Devotion’s first record is not afraid to delve into extremely deep, personal places, it’s also not afraid to sound bold and daring as it does so. The album clearly draws from a large list of inspirations evoking bands like the cure and joy division whilst also incorporating occasional trip hop beats and much more. The lyrics often feel like a window into a private place where the listener almost feels like a welcome intruder. Throughout the album Strong Synths abound, underpinned by exceptional guitar work and pulsing drums. Couple this with lyrics that pull no punches and you have a band who have jumped out of the starting gate with an album that clearly states who they are, what they’re here to do, and proves they are exceptionally talented at doing it.
No Devotion are not even two years old and yet they deserve huge amount of respect, their first album is utterly stellar whilst being totally honest. It may be too early to think of the bands future, but an album this good can’t help but get the excitement flowing for this groups work to come.
- Enter Shikari – The Mindsweep.
Enter Shikari are a band known for being unique in their sound. They acknowledge genres in the same way that a wrecking ball acknowledges a derelict building and The Mindsweep continues to prove this. Mixing sounds from metal, punk, rap, trance, drum and bass, and much more, this album is as distinctive as its long list of influences. One of the best aspects of The Mindsweep is the Incredibly strong social conscious of its lyrics, covering everything from healthcare, to the class system, to equality. The lyrics are strong, impassioned, driven and extremely relevant. Overall this album feels like a much more mature record, a real step up from the already excellent A Flash Flood Of Colour. The only thing its missing is the standard Shikari echo used to start and/or end all their previous albums.
The Mindsweep is a beautiful, polished and pertinent piece of work from one of the UK’s most talented bands. In any other year an album this masterful would have easily taken the top spot in this list.
- Fightstar – Behind The Devils Back.
Fightstar have made a comeback, and they have done it with one of their heaviest and one of their strongest albums yet. Behind The Devils Back continues Fightstar’s brand of extremely harmonic, yet extremely aggressive metal. There aren’t many bands that could do this but Fightstar have once again managed to strike the perfect balance. The band mixes forceful guitar, pounding drums and rough metal screams with subtle two part harmonies and alternating tempos and tones to create some of the most beautiful and meaty music this year. This time round the album makes use of light sprinklings of synth work. Fightstar have always been influenced by Blade Runner and here that influence is at the forefront of the record. The new synth elements help to strengthen the sci-fi imagery of the records lyrics. Fightstar’s fourth album sounds fresh and new, but it also sounds fundamentally like Fightstar and four albums in, they have proved that this is a good thing.
To say this is a return to form would be to suggest that Fightstar have ever dipped below that quality, but they just haven’t. It’s very rare that you see a band who can capture something as unique as Fightstar and keep that spark alive. Fightstar have now done it across four albums, and their fourth is easily the highest release of 2015 as well as one of the strongest release of their career.
Well there you go ladies and gentleman, Fightstar have been crowned the best of 2015, coming up next in this series we crown the best movie of 2015.