Looking over the following list as a whole, it’s striking how much of my 2015 Top 10 has been created by experienced musicians. There’s definitely a mature look to this year’s list but that’s not to say that there’s no younger guns getting a look-in. Nevertheless it’s still an interesting observation on an unconscious selection process.
Nevertheless I’m very happy with the list. I’ve stated over the last few days that my top 10 stretched (at least) as far as 16 in my list, but I’m confident that the following records represent my favourites of 2015.
Having got as far as a top 10 it was then a question of sorting out which album was going to top the pile and, with two prime contenders that was a decision that I agonised for weeks over.
We’ll get to that shortly but first …
Having placed this at number 2 in last year’s list I can’t, in all conscience, give it an official placing in the 2015 list. But with a wider release secured on Occultation during this year I certainly think it’s worth drawing to your attention again, not least because it would without question secure a similar ranking again this year. Cosmic rock’n’roll infused with a bewildering range of influences.
Top 10 Albums of 2015
- Sleater-Kinney – No Cities to Love (Sub Pop)
As someone who more or less missed out on S/K first time around, their reformation was a matter of some pleasure. Not least because ‘No Cities to Love’ was more or less sneaked out without much in the way of advance publicity yet effortlessly managed to live up to the hype. Scalding.
- Waxahatchee – Ivy Tripp (Wichita/PiaS)
There may be a pattern emerging here as I was late to the Waxahatchee party as well. But ‘Ivy Trip’ was a stunning follow-up to 2013’s excellent ‘Cerulean Salt’. Often deceptively simple musically ‘Ivy Trip’ was nevertheless complex and emotional, the latest in a long tradition of American independent musicians who owe a lot to Kim Deal.
- Nap Eyes – Whine of the Mystic (Paradise of Batchelors) (review)
An absolute joy of a record from the garage pop of ‘The Night of the First Show’ and ‘No Man Needs to Care’ via the countrified ‘Make Something’ to the circular grind of the brilliant ‘Delirium and Persecution Paranoia’. ‘Whine of the Mystic’ may in some ways appear dishevelled and scruffy, but at its heart is uplifting pop music. A cracker.
- St Christopher Medal – Sunny Day Machine (Stereogram) (review)
Unheralded except in a few privileged quarters, St Christopher’s Medal is one of the year’s best kept secrets. Yet this mature pop record draws on all sorts of classic influences and has a depth and emotional punch that most bands of any generation would envy. Packed with quality tunes too.
- Robert Forster – Songs To Play (Tapete)
Whilst I’ve been a fan of all eras of the Go-Betweens, I’ve been something of an agnostic when it comes to the solo works. ‘Songs To Play’ shows up that ignorance to great effect. Lovely melodies and cracking guitars Forster heads off in various directions (Television vs mariachi , anyone?) to magnificent effect.
- Wire – Wire (Pink Flag)
There’s a paradox about Wire. Whilst they undoubtedly sound like no-one other than themselves these days, after nearly 40 years they still seem driven to explore every aspect of what being Wire means. ‘Wire’ therefore has its own distinctive identity and in closing track ‘Harpooned’ the year’s ultimate showstopper. As vital as ever.
The title suggests that STOOR have been around for nearly 30 years yet ‘Chronicles …’ is their remarkable, accomplished debut. Taking post-punk as a starting point and grafting on some Flying Nun STOOR have crafted a memorable album that is crammed with nagging, pop hooks. It’s criminal the lack of attention that they’d had for this.
More post punk influences albeit in a slightly more conventional package, The Cathode Ray’s second album is a triumph. Jeremy Thoms manages to marry his knack for memorable melodies with exciting guitar music to create an album which thrills from start to finish.
- Low – Ones and Sixes (Sub Pop)
Low may reasonably be regarded as veterans after 11 albums but ‘Ones and Sixes’ demonstrates that they retain the ability to soar not least on a sublime run of songs in the middle of the record. Aidan Moffat reckons that ‘Lies’ is the song of the year but I’d argue instead for ‘The Innocents’ whilst pointing out that several other tunes on here would be strong contenders. Brilliant in its simplicity and it’s only ended up missing out on the number 1 spot by little more than a toss of a coin.
- The Chills – Silver Bullets (Fire) (review)
Since starting this blog I don’t think I ever once entertained the thought that the Chills might ever top any of my end of year lists. Yet here we are in 2015.
A wonder that it exists at all, Martin Phillips and co have produced a stunning record of infectious pop tunes which manages both to capture the essence of the Chills as well as updating their sound for the 21st century. Miraculous just about covers ‘Silver Bullets’ and it’s a worthy winner.
Last year for the first time, I included a short list of albums prepared by MPK2. This year I’m repeating the exercise and also adding Mrs MPT’s favourites of the year:
1 Idlewild – Everything Ever Written
2 C Duncan – Architect
3 The Phantom Band – Fears Trending
4 Randolph’s Leap – Most Clunky
5 Ash – Kablammo!
6 FOUND – Cloning
1 The Phantom Band – Fears Trending
2 The Chills – Silver Bullets
3 Idlewild – Everything Ever Written
4 Mercury Rev – The Light In You
5 Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat – The Most Important Place In The World