Albums of 2015

I’m not really a fan of list blogs, and never agree with any of the end of year lists for anything. I was reluctant to post my own ‘albums of the year’ because, well, frankly, who gives a crap?

Because I haven’t heard every album released, or even all of the big’ albums of the year because I’ve been busy discovering new and emerging acts independently, my list doesn’t feature our favourite band or album, and I make no apologies for this. During 2015, I penned some 622 music reviews, which probably accounted for a third to a quarter of the material I was sent. I attended some 40 live shows (and invariably saw all of the support acts), including two all-day cosmopolitan festivals: at each of these I packed in some 13 bands on each day. I covered most of them, however briefly. I can’t remember a fraction of the artists I’ve heard or seen, but I’d like to think my commitment to supporting live music and new artists is self-apparent.

Anyone who says there’s no good new music is wrong. The chances are that they’re locked in a previous era (usually the years between the age of 16 and 30) and are looking in the wrong place. Take it from me: there’s never been more exciting new music than now. Sometimes you have to wade through endless dreck to discover it, but that’s a key part of my ‘job’.

The albums listed here aren’t necessarily the ‘best’ albums of the year, or the ones fans or critics have unanimously frothed over, but they’re the ones which have had the greatest impact and stuck with me over the course of the year. They’re presented in in more or less chronological order or release. Enjoy.

Special thanks got to Lauren Barley (Rarely Unable), Ed Bendorff (Dense Promotions), Simon Glacken (I Like Press) and Andy at Riot Season for providing me with disproportionate quantities of great music over the last 12 months. Here’s looking to another marvellous year for music in 2016.

 

Disappears – Irreal

Disappears truly cast off the last vestiges of their garage rock beginnings with Irreal, dismantling the very structures of rock ‘n’ roll with this sparse art-rock offering. Challenging, but rewarding.

The Twilight Sad – Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave

Almost universally acclaimed, and deservedly so, The Twilight Sad’s fourth album isn’t my favourite by any stretch. But it deservedly provided the band with their commercial and critical breakthrough and scored them a US tour with The Cure. Perhaps more importantly, it’s an album that’s aching with pained emotion and draws together all of the elements of their previous work to powerful effect.

Henry Blacker – Summer Tombs

Released on vinyl for record store day, hey Colossus offshoot power trio Henry Blacker really excelled with Summer Tombs, a grimy, sweaty, grunged-out psychedelic take on the classic rock template. The CD release which followed is doubly cool by virtue of the fact it features debut album Hungry Dogs Will Eat Dirty Puddings as its bonus tracks, and thus features the gnarly masterpiece that is ‘Pullin’ Like a Dray’ and means I can also shoehorn this album into my list for the year.

A Place To Bury Strangers – Transfixiation

New York purveyors of feedback-strewn demolition indie rock certainly didn’t sell out with their eardrum-shredding, tinnitus-inducing fourth album.

Slow Readers Club – Cavalcade

Dark, brooding post-punk / new-wave / electro-infused indie par excellence:Cavalcade is bursting with songs of a rare quality.

New Politicians – Remission

The best Interpol album not recorded by Interpol. Chilling, atmospheric, brilliant.

Prurient – Frozen Niagara Falls

Every element of Prurient’s previous output distilled into a double album of pain and beauty. Perseverance essential.

Sleaford Mods – Key Markets

This is no bandwagon-hopping throw-in: Sleaford Mods are without question one of, if not THE most significant acts going. Key Markets encapsulates everything that makes the Mods ace, and despite their rising popularity, they’ve done nothing to pander to critical or commercial demands on their latest offering, while expanding their scope with tracks like ‘Tarantula Deadly Cargo’.

Chelsea Wolfe – Abyss

Immensely powerful stuff.

 

Primitive Race – Primitive Race

Industrial / goth / 80s crossover mega-collaboration featuring Josh Bradford (Revolting Cocks, Stayte, Simple Shelter), Mark Brooks (Warlock Pinchers, Foreskin 500, Night Club), Mark Gemini Thwaite (Peter Murphy, The Mission UK, Tricky), Dave Ogilvie (Skinny Puppy, Jakalope), and Chris Kniker. Off the back of an EP with PIG (aka Raymond Watts), the debut album proved to be diverse and really rather good.

Blacklisters – Adult

Leeds’ premier purveyors of nasty noise returned with a killer second album. Still making a nod to The Jesus Lizard and Shellac, with gritty riffs in abundance, but with denser production than its predecessor. I’m not messing around here…

Post War Glamour Girls – Feeling Strange

Following swiftly on from their storming debut, Leeds’ Post War Glamour Girls delivered an equally storming second album. At times bleak, at times angry, it proved to be adventurous, daring and accomplished.

Swans – The Gate

No need to explain or justify this one. Swan have been going from strength to strength, and while the Filth reissue was also a contender, this collection of live recordings and demos for the next album is all about looking forward. It also captures the immense power of the band’s current incarnation live with remarkable accuracy, although it’s fair to say nothing can fully convey the force of their unassailable volume. You don’t know loud until you’ve experienced Swans. There really is no other band who have ever, or will ever, touch Swans. Yes, I’m a total fanboy.

Killing Joke – Pylon

Killing Joke were always the band of the apocalypse, the angry but articulate voice of dissent to political corruption and cultural greed. Pylon is perfectly timed and absolutely on the money, with some cracking – not to mention fittingly heavy – tunes to boot. With punishing riffs galore, the original lineup are on fine form here.

Kowloon Walled City – Grievances

Post-metal par excellence. By turns delicate and punishing, Kowloon Walled City’s Grievances is the sound of pain, conveyed in a way that resonates to the very core of the soul.

Sunn O))) – Kannon

Krushing.

 

You want more? Auralaggravation.com is a good place to start….

20 Albums of 2014

Getting to listen to and review and insane number of new releases is something of a double-edged sword. Time was when I’d have to go out and buy music if I wanted to hear it and I’d play it to death, and then play it some more. Now I’m exposed to more music than I can even begin to assimilate. Thankfully, I get the majority of albums I want to hear sent to me in the name of work, and better still, I discover incredible bands I would have never otherwise encountered. It does mean that I forget a lot of what I’ve heard, even when it’s really good.

So, what this list represents more than anything is the albums that stuck. That I played on throughout the year, and that I’ll be playing into 2015 and probably beyond. It could have been much longer, because despite what you’ve probably read each year for the last decade about the decline of music, there’s still an awful lot of fantastic and extremely exciting, moving music being released. You just need to know where to look, and won’t hear it in the charts or on mainstream radio.

Having penned some 450 reviews this year, I’ve kept the list down to 20 releases because any more would be daft. They’re not in rank order, but a vaguely chronological order of release, and yes, it’s entirely subjective. It’s my list . I make no apologies for it, for any bias towards Leeds bands or guitar-based music, and I’m not going to bicker over inclusions / exclusions because it’s my list. And here it is.

PWGG

Brace/Choir – Turning On Your Double

Arrows of Love – Everything’s Fucked

Swans – To Be Kind

OFF! – Wasted Years

Post War Glamour Girls – Pink Fur

Her Name is Calla – Navigator

Xiu Xiu – Angel Guts: Red Classroom

Space Siren – If You Scream…

Astronauts – Hollow Ponds

VANIISH – Memory Work

Lawrence English – The Wilderness of Mirrors

DZ Deathrays Black Rat

Esben & the Witch – A New Nature

Black Moth – Condemned to Hope

Earth – Primitive & Deadly

Amplifier – Mystoria

Godflesh – A World Lit Only by Fire

The Twilight Sad – Nobody Wants to be Here, Nobody Wants to Leave

Interpol – El Pintor

Scott Walker & Sunn O))) – Soused

 

And if you’re loving my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at Christophernosnibor.co.uk

Lost in Music: Christopher Nosnibor’s Picks of 2011

I could wax lyrical about what an exciting year it’s been for music (if you look in the right places), or ramble on about how, having been exposed to so much new music and having attended an insane number of live shows in the last 12 months, that it’s hard to remember it all, and it would all be true. But it’s also rather redundant.

Similarly, I could give a brief two-line summary of each of the items in these lists, but I’d only be repeating myself, given that I’ve posted reviews for everything here. In fact,. I’ve posted in excess of 400 reviews since the year started. Most of them can be found at Whisperin’ and Hollerin’, but there are others scattered here an there across the Internet, notably at Music Emissions and here on my blog.

Suffice it to say that rather than being designed to impress with my ultra-cool or right-on selections, these lists are entirely personal based on what’s stuck with me or impressed or excited me during 2011 – which is why the albums that will make all of the other lists, such as those by Wild Beasts and Kasabian, both of which I panned, aren’t here.

Gigs are listed in chronological order; albums are in no order whatsoever. I couldn’t really pick a favourite, and they’re all great.

 

Gigs of the Year

Tears of Ishtar / The Falling Spikes – Fibbers, York, 19th February 2011

British Wildlife Festival VI – Brudenell Social Club / Royal Park Cellars, Leeds, 5th March 2011

Interpol – O2 Academy, Leeds, 22nd March 2011

TV Smith & the Valentines – The Duchess, York, 23rd March 2011

Earth – The Well, Leeds, 1st April 2011

Hawk Eyes / Castrovalva / Blacklisters / Dolphins – The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, 22nd April

Rolo Tomassi – The Well, Leeds – 11th May 2011

Unsane – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, 11th July 2011

Melvins – Leeds Irish Centre – 2nd November 2011

The Twilight Sad – The Duchess, York, 20th November 2011

 

Bubbling under: The Primitives / The Duke Spirit / Club Smith / Alvin Purple / Honeytone Cody / Viewer / Her Name is Calla

 

 

Albums of the Year

Amplifier – The Octopus

Cold in Berlin – Give Me Walls

Take a Worm for a Walk Week – TAWFAWW

Earth – Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light 1

Gay For Johnny Depp – What Doesn’t Kill You, Eventually Will Kill You

Scumbag Philosopher – It Means Nothing So It Means Nothing

We Are Enfant Terrible – Explicit Pictures

OvO – Cor Cordium

Dark Captain – Dead Legs and Alibis

Mika Vainio – Life (… It Eats You Up)

 

Bubbling Under: far too many to mention!

 

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And if you’re loving my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at Christophernosnibor.co.uk