2015 has been a great year for music, with various albums released by artists in several genres catching our ears, so we’ve decided to expand on the ‘What We’ve Loved So Far’ Feature that we did half way through the year! For this series of articles, some of the plasticmag staff have compiled their respective lists of ‘Top 5′ albums that have been released in the second half of 2015 and listed them with their reasons as to why.
Part 1: Laura Dean – Reviews Editor
Laura’s ‘Top 5’ list of albums released within the first half of the year consisted of the following:
1. Noel Gallagher – ‘Chasing Yesterday’
2. Modest Mouse – ‘Strangers To Ourselves’
3. The Cribs – ‘For All My Sisters’
4. The Maine – ‘American Candy’
5. Peace – ‘Happy People’
Laura’s List below consists of the albums she’s enjoyed in rock, indie and alternative music during the second half of 2015.
5. Stereophonics – ‘Keep The Village Alive’
Stereophonics returned this year with the vibrant ‘C’est La Vie’ followed by another strong single ‘I Wanna Get Lost With You’, filling me with high hopes that their ninth album would be a good one, and it’s exactly that! It’s a strong album that showcases Kelly Jones’ distinctive voice perfectly. Upbeat track ‘Mr & Mrs Smith’ sounds like it’s been in the Stereophonics back catalogue for a decade and is sure to be a live crowd favourite, as well as ‘Sunny’ which features one of Kelly’s best guitar hooks to date. One of my highlights is the beautifully orchestrated and atmospheric ‘Fight Or Flight’ with its continuous piano riff. Stereophonics are one of my favourite bands and this album definitely didn’t disappoint, it definitely screams ‘career progression’.
Recommended Tracks: ‘I Wanna Get Lost With You’, ‘Sunny’ & ‘Fight Or Flight’
‘Adrenalin Adrenalin Adrenalin’ chants Johnny Marr in the introductory build up to his ‘I Fought The Law’ cover. ‘Adrenalin Baby’ is the live album that Johnny Marr fans have been waiting for, with a track list that covers his two solo albums, as well as his time in The Smiths and Electronic. My favourite thing about the album is that it’s captured the atmosphere and the vibes of one of Johnny’s shows perfectly, using some of his dialogue in between tracks to make you feel that you’re really reliving one of his shows. ‘Dynamo’ and ‘New Town Velocity’ sound sublime, the explosive riff of ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again’ is exhilarating and it seems like a present from the heavens to have a copy of Johnny’s live version of ‘Getting Away With It’, complete with his glorious guitar breakdown. There’s too many peak moments of the album, but it’d be mad to not mention Smiths track ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’ – recorded in Manchester, it was always going to sound extraordinary, but the extended outro and Johnny’s duet with the crowd is really something special.
Recommended Tracks: ’New Town Velocity’, ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’ & ‘Boys Get Straight’
3. New Order – ‘Music Complete’
New Order’s tenth studio album ‘Music Complete’ was highly anticipated not just because it’s the first thing that the band have recorded since ‘Waiting For The Sirens Call’ in 2005, but it’s also the first album since the departure of bassist Peter Hook and the reintroduction of Gillian Gilbert, the original keyboardist. Though basic, the artwork is visually stunning and I love the clear limited edition vinyl – it’s all very aesthetically pleasing! The best way to describe the album other than ‘amazing’ is ‘addictive’; I listened to it obsessively during the week of its release. ‘Plastic’ is one of my highlights as it treats your ears with 7 minutes of jangly guitar and effortless vocals from Bernard Sumner, as well as ‘Tutti Frutti’ which is a flawless disco tune. The band definitely live up to their dance-rock legacy despite taking an expected and darker approach during the spoken word style track ‘Stray Dog’ which features Iggy Pop – it’s intriguing, it’s exciting and most of all it’s bloody brilliant.
Recommended Tracks: ‘Academic’, ‘Plastic’ & ‘Tutti Frutti’
2. Frank Turner – ‘Positive Songs For Negative People’
August saw the release of Frank Turner’s sixth album ‘Positive Songs for Negative People’; an album self described by Frank to be about picking yourself up when you’re down, with the title reflecting exactly that. ‘Positive Songs For Negative People’ feels like a journey and every song is like a story. I love that the album starts with the beautifully acoustic ‘Angel Islington’ before shooting in to the full of angst track ‘Get Better’, mellowing once again for the emotive final track ‘Song For Josh’; a touching tribute to Frank’s friend Josh Burdette, who worked at Washington DC’s 9:30 Club and sadly took his own life.
Recommended Tracks: ‘Get Better’, ‘Mittens’ & ‘Glorious You’
1. FFS – ‘FFS’
Los Angeles cult band Sparks and Glasgow’s own indie rockers Franz Ferdinand came together recently to form super group FFS, with all of the tracks from the self titled album containing elements of previous work from both bands. From the quirky ‘Police Encounters’ and the heavy on the keyboard ‘So Desu Ne’ which both place Sparks in the spotlight, to the lyrically humorous ‘Things I Won’t Get’ and the almost ballad like ‘Little Guy From The Suburbs’ which wouldn’t be out of place on a Franz Ferdinand album, it’s an absolutely exceptional album. It’s pleasing to see just how well Alex Kapranos and Russell Mael compliment each other vocally, particularly in the instrumentally sound ‘Johnny Delusional’. I for one sincerely hope that FFS is far from a one off collaboration, as in their case, collaborations most certainly do work.
Recommended Tracks: ‘Police Encounters’, ‘Johnny Delusional’ & ‘Piss Off’