Tiffany’s Albums of the Year 2015

Albums of 2015The Best Albums of 2015, so selected by Editor Tiffany Daniels.

All year long, I’ve found myself consciously bookmarking albums, determined each time that I’ve found ‘the one’. I’ve convinced myself there’s no possible way anyone can beat what’s in front of me, until another artist comes careering down the hill with something equally profound, intelligent, and ultimately unexpected.

Unlike last year, the ever-growing short list does not predominantly boast a certain type of musician. In 2015, major labels have pulled their weight, signing decent musicians who are independent in style, if not in business. That much debated genre of pop has also become far more dominant in general, with the marginally different sounding (though admittedly less corporate) alt pop dwarfing traditionally 'indie' genres such as rock and metal. Yet at the same time, alternative bands have begun to influence the otherwise tired 90s revival, and guitar music has arguably become interesting once again. The end result? A hodge podge of musicians, and none of them with a strong ethos discernible through their sound.

Because of above I’ve had to literally wring my hands and wrack my knuckles over the order of my selection. The difference between those in the top three slots is particularly slim, yet at the same time very large. At the end of the day, if my rambling below gets you to listen to just one of my favourite albums of 2015, I’ll be happy.

10// Esme Patterson – Woman to Woman (Xtra Mile)

Despite being signed to a reputable label, Denver-based singer songwriter Esme Patterson passed the UK by relatively unnoticed when Woman to Woman was release in February 2015. Nevertheless an outstanding album with an interesting concept; on her debut, the part-country, part-Americana musician addresses women made famous by other people’s work. The result is a highly intelligent, well considered feminist proposition, and the clear influence of other musicians doesn’t cloud Patterson’s unique talent.

9// Jemima Surrender – The Uninabited World (Self-release)

A Bristol-based self-releasing band who genuinely deserve a spot on any self-respecting music blogger's top 10: the only thing preventing Jemima Surrender from dominating the year is their lack of exposure. The Uninhabited World is a glorious concoction, with tales of anti-heroes and murderesses alongside an alt rock and progressive sound that doesn’t dive too deeply into experimental dirge. A very well balanced effort from a band we look forward to championing in 2016.

8// Du Blonde – Welcome Back to Milk (Mute)

Another musician to take on guitar music, this time by way of Los Angeles’ garage and glam rock scene; Beth Jeans Houghton performs here under her new pseudonym of Du Blonde. Having artists such as Future Islands’ Samuel Herring contribute guest vocals helps to cement an almost Rocky Horror style aesthetic, alongside frankly banging tunes from a genre too often assigned to men. On Welcome Back to Milk, gender doesn’t even come into it.

7// Foxtrott – A Taller Us (One Little Indian)

A late contender but extremely deserving of a last minute revision, Montreal based artist Foxtrott aka Marie-Helene Delorme explores rhythmic dimensions on her debut album A Taller Us. Unarguably underground, Delorme very successfully maintains an intelligent, coherent stronghold over her experiment throughout the album, despite its ultimately catch-y, electro pop sound. This is an extraordinary effort and I’m sure given the time to cement I’ll regret not awarding the album a higher spot.

6// Dilly Dally - Sore (Partisan Records)

Another Canadian act to bag a place on this list, Dilly Dally blew away cobwebs and misconceptions this year with a grunge album that puts their peers to bed. Sore is emotionally fraught, artistically astute and instrumentally perceptive; but best of all, front woman Katie Monks knows how to let out a gut-wrenching howl. It justifiably saw heads turn upon its release this summer, and we doubt ours will have been the only list to feature the full length by the end of the year.

5// CHAMPS - Vamala (Play It Again Sam)

I have to question the lack of all-male projects on my list this year, but that shouldn’t demean CHAMPS’ inclusion– they’re here for good reason. The Isle of Wight brothers had already impressed with their 2014 debut Down Like Gold, but less than a year later they returned with the decidedly vamped Vamala. Leaning away from CHAMPS’ original folk genre and towards electronica, it offers a refreshing example of musicians growing out of their boots into something far more impressive.

4// Marika Hackman – We Slept At Last (Dirty Hit)

Marika Hackman also appeared unafraid to develop away from her original sound on her debut album We Slept At Last. Initially presenting as a psych-folk artist, her professional partnership with Alt-J producer Charlie Andrew added new layers of indie pop to her sound and on her album, her sound flourished as a consequence. Some of our favourite tracks are still her most understated, but you could put this on random and be delighted whatever the result.

3// Laura Stevenson – Cocksure (Don Giovanni)

Ah, Laura Stevenson. Cocksure is profound; comfortable in its own skin and extremely confident, yet perfectly balancing the musician’s penchant for bluegrass, punk and indie pop. Her fourth studio album, Cocksure is the first to rank lower than #1, but that’s not to say it’s any less deserving of praise – there was simply stiffer competition, this year.

2// HOLYCHILD – The Shape of BratPop to Come (Glassnote)

Having to downgrade The Shape of BratPop to Come from #1 to #2 was heart-breaking. With their debut album, Los Angeles based duo and Hollywood-turned-pop act HOLYCHILD address all that is wrong with the world they live in: the cheap tricks, the nasty comments, the unreasonable demands. Empowering, sharp and clearly well versed in sociology and culture, HOLYCHILD have something to say – but they’re not afraid to match their lyrics with pitch perfect pop tunes. They are basically the reason I liked 2015.

1// Hop Along – Painted Shut (Saddle Creek)

Of course when I’ve found myself doubting the prowess of the year, my #1 album has been there to rescue me. Philadelphia band Hop Along initially came to the UK’s attention with the release of their debut album Get Disowned, but I personally found them through this, their sophomore, Painted Shut. Like Dilly Dally’s Monks, Hop Along front woman Frances Quinlan knows how to pull on your heart strings while making a racket – and on Painted Shut she milks the tactic for all it’s worth. With a loud/quiet dynamic and progressive noodling to boot, the post-punk band had me from the word go.

This Albums of 2015 list was compiled by Editor Tiffany Daniels. For the writer's poll, head over here.


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