Findlay’s Top Albums and EPs of 2015

Posted: by Findlay

15. Faith No More – Sol Invictus

I’m always a big loser for reunion albums. I always get excited and I’m always basically (except for Soundgarden) constantly let down. Faith No More didn’t continue this trend. Sol Invictus is a band who know who they are and what makes them work. The most perfect example of a sum of their parts. This isn’t your dad and his pals getting their ears pierced and dusting off the fucked old strats. This is REAL. It sounds, not like a follow-up to 1997’s poor Album of the Year, but more a mash of Angel Dust’s gonzo power and King for a Day’s weird and jazzily angry melodies. Stripped back of all the daft and dated sounds, these songs are fun, heavy and some of FNM’s most sing-along stuff. Patton still manages to sneak in some cracking lyrics aswell (“Ill be your Leprechaun/ Shamrocks and Lucky Charms”). Best comeback album ever possibly?

14. John Carpenter – Lost Themes

Who the fuck ever thought this was going to happen? The Master of Horror making an album of original songs that totally fucking rip. Carpenter’s ear for driving and haunted synths and wailing guitar lines hasn’t deteriorated one bit. The songs ooze atmosphere, dread and sheer COOL. Each song could easily fit into one of his soundtracks but because they aren’t meant to, you can enjoy them on their own just the same. While his filmmaking hasn’t been doing much lately, Carpenters music is THRIVING. He sounds invigorated and because of who he is and how little pressure he had making the album, you can tell he’s been exploring his own mind aswell as his own musical landscapes, refining himself with each song. Brilliant. What a fucking guy.

13. Marilyn Manson – The Pale Emperor

Hahah no, YOU SHUT UP. Honestly wait, where are you going?! Its fine come back, look, it’s fine. The God of Fuck is back on form baby! Shedding the baggage of years of just embarrassing rock pish and pandering to teens that really didn’t give a fuck about him, Manson has come back with not only a good album, but a GREAT album and a perfect follow-up to Holy Wood (his last good album.) Getting rid of a full band and bringing on film composer Tyler Bates might’ve been the smartest move he’s ever had. Songs retain the snarl and industrial edge, but now there’s blues. There’s swamp rock. There’s pagan drums. It’s a bit of everything but keeps its consistency and sounds so fucking impressive. I would genuinely say it’s the years biggest surprise. THERES EVEN A SONG THAT SOUNDS LIKE BLACK VELVET. So I mean, you’re sold right? Good.

12. Colleen Green – I Want to Grow Up

Ever feel like sometimes everyone around you has themselves and their lives figured out and you just feel lost about how to be like that? Ever feel like the future isn’t scary but just a confusion of what you’re supposed to be? Colleen Green has you covered. An album for disillusion in your late 20’s/ early 30’s and its comforting to hear someone sing about it over luscious as FUCK guitar driven indie. These are absolutely 90’s MTV slacker jams but not in a forced retro grunge way. Its naturally Colleen’s sound and you can hear the authenticity sizzling out of it. On the surface, the soundtrack to Clueless, but go deeper and you’ll find someone telling you its okay to feel lost and like you’ve achieved nothing. We’re all in it together.

11. Clarence Clarity – No Now

With an album title that sounds like yer annoying yer dad during the football, Clarence Clarity has made one of the most interesting listens of 2015. Futuristic, cyber R&B mixed with Middle Eastern instrumentation, it’s truly a mad gift and one you’ll get ADDICTED to. The songs sound like weird space-dance beats but being grinded through a bunch of snapped crystals, with Clarence’s mid-late 90’s R&B vocal melodies confidently hung over them. The vocals speed up and slow down to give off strange melodies akin to Prince in “Erotic City” or “If I Was Your Girlfriend”. It’s a bit of a bloated listen with alot of wee instrumental tracks but the actual songs are BANGERS and if you get a load of weird looks when you end up singing “A LIFE WITHOUT SEX, IS A LIFE WITHOUT SIN”, don’t worry. I’ve been doing it too.

10. Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment – SURF

Chance the Rapper is probably one of the most underappreciated rappers kicking around the now. Acid Rain being one of the best hip hop albums ever and it was just a MIXTAPE, he’s back with friends to give you an album of pure positivity and love. Casual and chilled, fun and care-free, this album would soothe even the WORST Nam flashback. The instrumentation is so relaxed and easy, you feel like it was made on a beach inside a mermaids dreams. Waves crash, children cheer, warm keys warble, guitars noodle in the background. Every element just begs for you to lie down and be still. Oh, and there’s a wee song with Janelle Monae & Busta Rhymes and the music sounds like its being played by a high school marching band and it’s just the most joyous thing ever. Absolutely the sound of summer.

09. Cousin Brian – Closer to Dog

Is that a NIN reference? I dunno. COUSIN BRIAN ARE AMAZING. Most emo/indie releases of the year have been crushing disappointments, which is where Cousin Brian should provide some comfort. Closer to Dog is 10 bursts of pure youthful expression mixing emo with Johnny Marr-esque guitars. There’s also hints of that surfy edge of Real Estate but nowhere near as po-faced or gruesomely boring. The vocals aren’t the strongest but who gives a fuck? Everyone’s singing and shouting and having a great time. There’s something in the production of everything that reminds me of underground 80’s punk/pop aswell. They sound like a band that would show up in an 80’s John Cusack film, but from a looking glass into the 2010’s emo scene. Look, I don’t even know what the fuck I’m talking about, just listen to this or ill keep typing man.

08. Chelsea Wolfe – Abyss

I already gushed earlier in the year about how good this album is but I’ll give you the abridged version. Thick curtains of haunting electronic ambient darkness totally meshed with powerful synthesized industrial beats and Wolfe’s crooning howls make this album sounds like its coming out a lake of oil at midnight. Previous album Pain Is Beauty was a bit of a cobbled mess, but Abyss is focussed, confident, heavy as fuck and still manages to retain a delicate side that flirts constantly with a folky black metal mythos. Jesus, it’s fucking good. No one else could pull this off. No one at all.

07. Yowler – The Offer

Paper thin and fragile vocals soothing their way across guitar lines that sound like they’re being played as the tides going out, Yowler is a super fucking evocative album. This isn’t for parties or big roaring car journeys, these are personal wee songs, just for you. Introspective and fluid, Maryn Jones’ vocal/guitar style is tippy-toe gentle and well produced with only a few other instruments showing up for atmosphere. The whole thing coalesces into emotional and opulent vignettes of the complexities of hope, death and beauty.

06. Black Wing – ….is Doomed

Have a Nice Life’s album “The Unnatural World” was my favourite album of last year (and probably the past 5 years) and now Dan Barrett has put out a solo album, and, well, it’s amazing. A more poppy, and electronic album but still retaining that dense and ethereal industrial vibe, this thing is like having really fucked up but cool as hell out-of-body experiences. The songs are tighter and more concise sounding, with pounding electronic drums and rising & falling sequencers giving a gravelled path for Dan’s haunting, multi-layered vocals to hang all over. There’s not been one thing more satisfying this year to do than sing “IF I FEEL SOMETHING, MY BODY BETRAYED ME” insanely loud out the window, into a cup of tea, in your dogs face, at the bin men. Just do it.

05. Marriages – Salome

I’ve got a wee bit of a crush on Emma Ruth Rundle. Her atmospheric and dreamy vocals sound a bit like Dolores O’Riordan from The Cranberries and the way they’re produced sound like she’s singing to you across a rainy night. Now backed with a full band, her songwriting is fully fleshed out and the songs are big luscious moments of glistening beauty that I would honestly see being on the Reality Bites soundtrack. The pristine guitars and shimmering drum cymbals are incredible and totally totally romantic sounding. Basically the soundtrack to the best makeout session of your LIFE.

04. The Soft Moon – Deeper

2015’s best, and maybe only, cyberpunk release. This is the sound of shooting skyscrapers in the middle of the fucking matrix. Hyper-synths and pounding drums mixed with rad as fuck vocals make this thing a big pulsating entity you’d shite yourself at if it was an endboss. The album also experiments with tribal drums and new wave goth which gives it so many more dimensions that you can come at it from any angle and still find it unfolding in new ways. The song “Wrong” tinkers with steel drums and cheap sounding phaser effects and it basically sounds like a riot at laserquest. Which is the best summation of the album I could ever give you.

03. Turnstile – Nonstop Feeling

Have you ever fallen in love with an album because of something really fucking SPECIFIC? For me, it’s the snare drum in Nonstop Feeling. I don’t know why. I became obsessed with it for a month solid. It’s a thing of beauty and encapsulates everything the album stands for. Unpretentious, swaggering, 90’s influenced hardcore and 2-step. The album is short, intense and so unbelievably impressive, drawing on all the good elements of that golden era of hardcore and shaping it into something new and retro at the same time. The chorus to “Out of Rage” is one of the most intense things I’ve heard all year. And that snare drum man. It’s so fucking DRY and HEINOUS, I’m sure the drummer from Snapcase heard that snare and went to check his hut to see if his drum kit had been nicked. What an album.

02. Grimes – Art Angels

Ahhhhhh the power of the relisten. First listen to this album I thought to myself “god this isn’t great, you can tell this is an album made after all the other stuff got scrapped”. What an IDIOT. What an actual chump. Grimes new album is a masterpiece. Progressing completely from the garageband production and sound of previous album Visions, this is the perfect sound of crystal balls smashing. I have a theory about this album (bear with me). Right, remember that full album of scrapped material? I reckon Grimes actually went back in time and released it in 1998, THEN, after the impact it made in the pop world back then, took all the resulting influences and made Art Angels in 2000 and then came back to 2015 and released it. It’s a cyber-pop album of pre-millennium sugar pop but filtered through the Hackers soundtrack. Its impossibly catchy and a time-travelling essential.

01. Creepoid – Cemetery Highrise Slum

I’m full blown obsessed with this album. There are days I wonder if I’ll ever stop listening to it but those days are fucking far into the future. The only way I can describe this album is FREEZING COLD. Saying its grunge-indie-shoegaze is a shoddily easy (and totally off-putting) way to describe this album. It’s an album that breaks its own rules with every song. Swooning but sturdy. Basic but intricate. Dreamy but grounded. Vocalist Sean Miller’s drawl hangs over these songs like a tears for fears t-shirt, always nearly threatening to go into a full blown snarl, while bassist Anna Troxell’s vocals are so dreamy and enveloping you’d swear you just lost 3 hours in a 4 minute song. The guitars are ice cold and the albums production is pristine, like it’s been recorded on a frozen lake. This fucking thing just hit me like a crossbow bolt to the head and I can’t shake it. Album of the year, baby!


Findlays Top EPs/Demos/7″s

1) Wild Ones – Heatwave EP


3) Leatherneck – Keep Me Awake/Spun Out – Tape

4) Dikembe – Ledge

5) Eilen – F E V E R M A G