The final part of my Top 25 Albums of 2015 neatly provides my first Top 5 summary of 2015. All five of these albums were contenders for the number one spot at some point in the year. The fact that Sleater-Kinney, one of my very favourite bands returning after a ten year hiatus, only come fifth underlines this.
5. Sleater-Kinney "No Cities To Love" - Pitchfork review - No Cities to Love is a disarming, liberationist force befitting the Sleater-Kinney canon. Fervent political leftism has been implicit to this Olympia-born trio since they first inverted Boston's "More Than a Feeling" on a 1994 comp and that goes on here as well; we desperately need it. It is astonishing that a radical DIY punk band could grow up and keep going with this much dignity and this many impossibly chiseled choruses. No Pistol, Ramone, or unfortunate mutation of Black Flag could have done this.
4. Thee Oh Sees "Mutilator Defeated At Last" - Pitchfork review - Thee Oh Sees have one type of song that is consistently great. It’s the fast and heavy track that combines the creepy and ugly sensibility of the Cramps with krautrock's streamlined sense of repetition. Mutilator delivers plenty of these songs. "Withered Hand", "Lupine Ossuary", and "Rogue Planet" each strikes that perfect balance of druggy alienation and soothing forward motion, of sublime rhythmic focus and freaked-out guitar violence.
3. Ezra Furman "Perpetual Motion People" - Guardian review - It rages along at a cathartic intensity that perfectly matches the lyrics. Haunted Head evokes the tumult of a bipolar mind in manic mode, the opening Restless Year and Lousy Connection are part painful self-examination, part triumphant Rebel Rebelish rallying cries.
2. B.C. Camplight "How To Die In The North" - The 405 review - This will be a lot of people's first encounter with BC, so let's get one important thing out of the way: he sounds a lot like Brian Wilson. Not just in voice, but in tone, delivery and arrangement too. It's a little disconcerting at first, but go with it: there is treasure in abundance on this record. The theatrical influence is undeniable, from the torch-song opening of 'Good Morning Headache' to the deliciously overwrought chorus of closer 'Why Doesn't Anybody Fall In Love'. It is light years ahead of his previous two albums.
1. LoneLady "Hinterland" - The Quietus review - Hinterland is playful – a vibrant and urgent combination of genealogy and vision – and it is this that truly makes it a masterpiece. Not only does Julie Campbell have the creative chops to create such richly evocative music, but she does it with a wink and a smile. Hinterland feels like a thesis on Manchester and its musical lore. By simply adding the rhythm of her shoes hitting the pavement, she's transformed a nostalgic archive into tightly executed, profoundly new, dance music.