Wrapping up my review of 2015 with a repeat of my Top 5 Albums of the year. I got a bit carried away with the Songs & Albums run down before Christmas and ran out of time to write my own words so here are my favourite albums from a remarkable year in music. The top three here were all contenders for number one and the other two entries snuck ahead of at least ten contenders for a top 5 spot.
5. Sleater-Kinney "No Cities To Love" - The first album in 10 years for one of my favourite bands was bound to strike a chord with me and this was no disappointment. It's a little difficult to be objective so soon after release but I think No Cities To Love compares really well with Sleater-Kinney's best albums. A clear successor to their last LP, and the album that really got me into the band, 2005's The Woods. There are 10 songs on here and they all sound fantastic. I really love Sleater-Kinney and if you've not heard them this is a good a place as any to start.
4. Thee Oh Sees "Mutilator Defeated At Last" - Thee Oh Sees have been on the periphery of my music radar for quite a few years. They sounded like the sort of band I ought to like but for whatever reason I'd not managed to go and investigate further. When 6music started playing The Web, the first single from this album (at least I think it was a single, are they still a thing or do we just have playlist tracks now?), I wasn't blown away. But, Marc Riley in particular kept playing it and it began to seep into my consciousness. By the time I bought the album I was very much on-side but that still didn't prepare me for how preposterously great the album would be. I've started working backwards through their catalogue now and it's not a one off. Another amazing band to add to my collection.
3. Ezra Furman "Perpetual Motion People" - Ezra came to my attention in 2013 with the Day of the Dog album. That blew me away and led to me catching him live early the following year. The songs on Perpetual Motion People took a while to win me over. Perhaps they're not quite as raucous as the previous LP (and I'm a big fan of raucous) but they grew on me pretty quick and show a real maturity in Ezra's songwriting. Though the musical vibe is very upbeat some of the lyrical themes are both personal and soul baring. In particular Body Was Made which hints at the Ezra's non-binary status and, my favourite tune on the record, Ordinary Life which gives clear indications about coping with depression. Ezra deserves to be a huge star and if you ever get the chance to see him live I guarantee you'll leave with a massive smile on your face.
2. BC Camplight "How To Die In The North" - This was my record of the year for so long, in many ways it's still first equal. Brian Christinzio has been around for some time but relocated to Manchester in 2011 after a period of health issues. Having nearly quit music he rediscovered his passion in the UK and the songs that make up this album began to take shape. I'd heard some of these tunes as far back as 2013. You only need one listen to work out why the album took so long to arrive. It's immaculate, hints of Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys in both vocal style and instrumentation but still very much a work that speaks volumes of its creator.
1. LoneLady "Hinterland" - Although I'm sure the influences might be there, to my ears this sounded like something new and fresh. LoneLady is another solo project, Julie Campbell originally performing genuinely solo with just a drum machine for company. For this album she has added a full band and the songs sound all the better for it. Julie's spiky, angular guitar lines are the seam that run through the whole album but there's a real groove to the sound. It's not dance music but it's music you can dance to. I'm not sure I've found the words to explain why this is number one but throughout the year this has been the one album to remain a constant on my playlist.