In only approximate order of favoriteness -- and for the thirteenth year in a row -- here is my year-end wrap-up. As usual, a few of the entries on the following list were released earlier than 2015, but that is when I discovered them, so I'm allowing some slack. Though most were actually released in 2015.
This year I acquired around 80% as much new music as last year: roughly 60 new releases, almost all released within the last 3 years, more than half released in 2015. That's down 50% from 2013.
Number of those bands that I saw perform this year: 15.
Number of those bands that performed at DNA Lounge this year: 5.
Go Team. Both of those numbers are down too.
So I am officially in a rut.
I haven't commented on all of these because I still find it really hard. Don't hold it against them. Listen to the mixtape!
I like these things. You should like them too. Here's your shopping list:
Veruca Salt - "Ghost Notes"
This album sounds like they could have made it in 1998 -- which is totally fine by me. It's really, really great: Triage and The Museum of Broken Relationships are as good as anything they've ever done. In case you haven't heard, this is the band's original lineup, producer and all. They broke up in 1998, and Louise released two and a half albums on her own, but now everybody's happy so they can get back to writing angry songs about miserable relationships!
I think it's kind of weird that most of the reviews I've read of it have pretty much pretended that Louise's "solo" Veruca Salt albums don't even exist. I think Resolver is very nearly as good an album as Eight Arms To Hold You was -- I love every track. And the later releases were also pretty good: maybe not up to that standard as whole albums, but they contained some great stuff: Damage Done, Officially Dead, Closer, Save You...
- Meg Myers - "Sorry"
More angry songs about terrible relationships! Yay!
- Chvrches - "Every Open Eye"
I'd say that overall the tracks on this album are consistently better than on The Bones of What You Believe, but that one had some better stand-out tracks. By the way, if you haven't heard their covers of I Would Die 4 V and Bela Lugosi's Dead, you really should.
- Health - "Death Magic"
This album has a very unusual style: the music is heavy as fuck, sometimes sounding a bit metal, sometimes a bit industrial, but just so heavy, and then the vocals come in and he's singing in this airy synthpoppy style. It sounds like that would be a complete mess, but it's not! Also this was probably the second best show I saw all year -- and they only came in second to Lydia Lunch, and she's hard to top.
- Metric - "Pagans in Vegas"
This is a really good album, but I keep wanting them to release Fantasies again... and it's not quite Fantasies. But, I felt the same way about Synthetica too, and that grew on me eventually.
- Vanbot - "Perfect Storm"
This album makes me feel sad, and cold, and sad. Ok, I'm really cold right now. But that's not why.
- The Chemical Brothers - "Born in The Echoes"
Better than Further, definitely, but they are kind of repeating themselves. Go is probably the best track, and its awesome, but it's basically the same as Galvanize (which to me I will always hear as the Galvanize the Empire mash-up, dammit). Taste of Honey could be a Recoil song.
- Shriekback - "Without Real String or Fish"
The first Shriekback album in five years! Three quarters of the original lineup. It's definitely a return to their 80s form, much more in the Oil and Gold vein than Sacred City or Naked Apes. Of the recent albums, I would still rate Glory Bumps slightly above this, but it's very good. I got the special edition that came with a 3d-printed fish and little bits of string. Their merch game is very strong.
- Happy Fangs - "Capricorn"
"Excuse me Sir, do you have a minute to talk about rock and roll?" They are awesome, and I'm glad we have booked them as often as we have. Though it has been a while.
- Fight Like Apes - "Fight Like Apes"
Even though it's self-titled, it's their third or fourth album, depending on how you count. It's great, though not as funny as previous releases. But it's hard to top song titles like Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues, Come On Let's Talk About Our Feelings, Pull Off Your Arms and Let's Play In Your Blood (from "The Body of Christ and the Legs of Tina Turner").
- Five Knives - "Savages"
Like I said when reviewing their first album, this band is what Shiny Toy Guns should have been but weren't. Their lyrics are like, the brattiest stuff I've ever heard.
- Wolf Alice - "My Love Is Cool"
A little shoegazey, a little grungey. Bellly meets L7?
- Public Service Broadcasting - "The Race For Space"
All of their albums are built around newsreels and old radio broadcasts. This one is about the space race, obviously. The songs are not as gimicky as that sounds.
- Meet Me In Orbit - "Traveller"
Synthy, mostly instrumental, and possibly from the 19A0s.
- Jesika von Rabbit - "Journey Mitchell"
A more electronic album by the singer of Gram Rabbit, a longtime favorite. It's goofy. She's a wonderful goofball.
- Speedy Ortiz - "Foil Deer"
This sounds so much like if Liz Phair made records that I actually like! Wait, that didn't come out quite right. No, actually, it did. The Phair is strong in this one, but better. "Sorry I made out with your friends. I'm not that sorry, I'm never that sorry."
- Barry Andrews - "Haunted Box of Switches, Vol. 2"
The singer of Shriekback does his "crooning with a piano" bit. Volume 1 was superior, but this makes a good counterpoint to that copy of "Without Real String or Fish" you were gonna pick up.
- Say Hi - "Bleeder's Digest"
More sad songs about vampires! That's right, it's the sequel to Impeccable Blahs.
- Sleep Thieves - "You Want The Night"
- Priest - "Priest"
- Ume - "Too Big World"
- Vela Eyes - "Sparks"
- 2:54 - "The Other I"
- Voltaire Twins - "Milky Waves"
- Sleater-Kinney - "No Cities To Love"
If you were looking for an album that sounds exactly like a Sleater-Kinney album, this is that.
- Chromatics - "Running From The Sun"
If you were looking for an album that sounds exactly like a Chromatics album...
- Purity Ring - "Another Eternity"
If you were...
And finally, here's mixtape 161, which includes one track by each of the above artists.
Thanks again for another year end music wrap up. As always, I'm sure I'll find a couple new favorites out of this list.
For anyone subscribing to Google Play Music's streaming service, here's a playlist of all but 2* of the albums mentioned: https://goo.gl/lVVP8K
* Barry Andrews, and The Chromatics
Here's everything from this list except the Barry Andrews and Meet Me in Orbit albums on Spotify:
And to round out the trifecta, one on Apple Music:
Missing Vela Eyes, Jesika von Rabbit, and Barry Andrews.
"Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues" is actually a McLusky cover - some of McLusky's other titles are good too, including an album called The Difference Between Me and You Is that I'm Not on Fire.
I'm still blown away by how much I liked "Ghost Notes" and how awesome they were in concert. Reunion acts by pop bands of my misspent youth aren't supposed to be this good?
Wow, new Shriekback? I had no idea. I'll have to check it out.
Meanwhile, I'd like to draw attention to the glorious, minimalist, unfinished set of demos that was released without the band's approval by Y Records as Jam Science in 1984. It beats the pants of the "official" Arista release of the same album.
I was in a rut until you came along!
Man, that PSB album is gripping.
After a few recent misfires, New Order were back on form last year with their new album. You listen to it?
I haven't. I kinda just pretend they broke up after Brotherhood in 1986.
Thank you so much for publishing these. Your mixtapes constitute a public service. ♥