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Stereoboard's Albums Of 2015: Part Three

Tuesday, 15 December 2015 Written by Stereoboard

It’s the most wonderful time of the year...list time. It might seem like a lot to take in, but here are some solid gold picks from 12 months of reviews at Stereoboard. They’re not in any order, so think of this as a digital vinyl bin. Happy discovering/reminiscing/listening. Make a note to check out parts one and two and stay tuned later this week as we go full Rob Gordon for our shiny top five albums of 2015 features.

Courtney Barnett - Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit

“No growing pains here. ‘Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit’ is Courtney Barnett’s first LP, following up ‘The Double EP: A Sea Of Split Peas’, but there’s precious little evidence of inexperience. If anything, Barnett is, despite the lyric sheet’s claims to the contrary, supremely confident and in command of her voice. Throughout she paints vivid, often hilarious, pictures, flitting effortlessly between arch storyteller and moments of introspective reflection. ‘Hair pulled so tight you can see her skeleton,’ goes album opener Elevator Operator. ‘She looks him up and down with her botox frown.’” - Laura Johnson

Full Review

Young Fathers - White Men Are Black Men Too

“‘Been all around, tasted pleasure,’ runs the glorious Nest. ‘Took a little something from nothing. Made it into something for someone.’ There is anger here too. Still Runnin’ collates imagery that could represent any one of the world’s conflicts, while looking back at some of Alloysious Massaquoi’s earliest memories of Liberia: ‘You’re gonna die in my arms. Hiding from the torture. Fire’s what you’re under.” The words, though, are held aloft by the first of many euphoric melodies. You can keep your Mercury curse. This band isn’t going anywhere.’” - Huw Baines

Full Review

The Dead Weather - Dodge & Burn

“Impossible Winner is as odd as it is brilliant. An anthemic ballad that sounds like it’s been plucked right out of the West End, it’s the sort of song we always knew Mosshart was capable of delivering but never in a million years thought we would hear. Her vocals, coupled with strings, deliver for an epic ending to a meticulous, brilliant album.” - Laura Johnson

Full Review

Ought - Sun Coming Down

“Then there’s the unpredictability, where memorable choruses sit alongside splurges such as the frantic questioning of Beautiful Blue Sky. Everything hangs neatly together, but Ought constantly feel like they are ready to burst into something frenetic and chaotic. When they do, however, it is with a steadily controlled ease. On one hand it sounds almost lackadaisical. On the other it fits the band’s increasing embrace of post-punk’s lack of musical etiquette. At the same time, the production prevents it feeling out of date. This is a contemporary record, in touch with the alienation of the times, but one played with the same verve utilised by the legendary groups that went before Ought.” - Ben Bland

Full Review

Bring Me The Horizon - That’s The Spirit

“[Oli] Sykes doesn't need to bellow like a Jurassic Park reject. There are still hints of his scream – True Friends, Throne and Happy Song all benefit from servings of tight-throated rage – but he can sing, and he can sing bloody well. The bloke's not got the broadest range but he can pen a chorus that would sit perfectly in a stadium, a sweaty club or on an iPhone advert. It's atmospheric. It's anthemic. It's got a saxophone on it. This album will see Bring Me The Horizon headlining festivals. It will shape the landscape of rock music for years to come and, fittingly, it will stop the buzz around Bring Me The Horizon being labelled as hyperbole. 'That's The Spirit' is the one album you must buy in 2015.” - Alec Chillingworth

Full Review

Four Tet - Morning/Evening

“No previous experience of Four Tet’s ambitious work is required to really ‘get’ what ‘Morning/Evening’ succeeds in achieving, with the beauty of Hebden’s production capabilities and his inherent compositional understanding resulting in an ocean of pleasure. Combined, the record’s two sides confidently demonstrate how ambient and techno vibes can live harmoniously, side by side. Four Tet opens the album with melodically mixed female vocals, paced quickly alongside his own own shuffling basslines. ‘Evening’ may be darker, but Hebden encourages his audience to see the beauty on both sides. A sometimes astonishing album that defies categorisation and asks to be heard, but not judged, this is designed to be consumed on loop.” - Milly McMahon

Full Review

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes - Blossom

“The melodic tint present in his former band has subsequently morphed into something quite different. Carter's snarls during Primary Explosive and Trouble's verses are static-laden and drawled, like Johnny Rotten in his prime shouting down a dodgy landline from a warzone. Carter largely gets nothing close to the credit he deserves. He's released, under different guises, four full-lengths and Gallows' 'Grey Britain' is not just a certified classic in the punk genre, but scathing social commentary that's only becoming more poignant as the years tiptoe by. 'Blossom' is by no means a genre-buster, but it's a damn fine comeback for one of 21st century punk's genuine icons.” - Alec Chillingworth

Full Review

White Reaper - White Reaper Does It Again

“At surface level, White Reaper appear to be as straightforward as many of their retro-aping contemporaries, but their punchy missives are built on a rigid desire to see each song stand on its own feet. In that sense of attention to detail, they have the smarts of modern greats like the Marked Men, or much of the Dirtnap roster for that matter. ‘White Reaper Does It Again’ is a piece of precision pop engineering delivered by four kids with dirt under their fingernails; a killer box of singles corralled into a breakneck whole.” - Huw Baines

Full Review

Sleater-Kinney - No Cities To Love

“Sleater-Kinney’s return has made it it all too easy to grasp at low hanging fruit. They are ‘comeback queens’, this is the ‘return of riot grrl’. But, despite that, the truth is that the trio have completely blown all expectations out of the water with ‘No Cities To Love’. And they’ve done it, as usual, completely on their own terms. Forever square pegs, they continue to shape their own mould two decades on from the arrival of their self-titled debut. Here, on A New Wave, they hit the nail on the head: ‘No outline will ever hold us. It’s not a new wave it’s just you and me…invent our own kind of obscurity.’” - Laura Johnson

Full Review

Rolo Tomassi - Grievances

“When a band becomes part of the furniture, it can mean a couple of things. They might deal in chart-topping, multi purpose wallpaper, or they might be the sort of collective that has inspired devotion for such a period of time that their presence feels necessary. With ‘Grievances’, Rolo Tomassi turn 10. They’ve never sounded more alive. It’s perhaps strange to describe an album so fraught with violence, dynamic tonal shifts and melancholy as smooth, but the quintet are so locked in here that it’s really the only word that will do. 'Grievances' is delivered with unfussy style even as their palette has broadened, suggesting that its pain-free recording, following protracted sessions for 'Astraea', was both necessary and perhaps on the cards from some way back.” - Huw Baines

Full Review

Speedy Ortiz - Foil Deer

“Dot X, the song from which the album takes its name, reeks of a ‘90s influence and Dupuis seems to channel the women that paved the way for bands like hers. Homonovus packs an equally powerful punch and showcases how her dynamic vocals are able to match the accomplished musicians she plays with. The shift from Puffer, with Darl Ferm’s trundling dance-like bass line, to Swell Content is not slick. But that’s kind of the point. It makes you take a step back and say “what the fuck just happened?”. Though Speedy Ortiz have matured, they are still as brilliantly erratic as ever.” - Laura Johnson

Full Review

The Prodigy - The Day Is My Enemy

“The Prodigy are still the shit. They are electronic punks, they are outcasts from the rave scene and perverts of rock 'n' roll. If you thought their 2009 comeback, 'Invaders Must Die', was the Essex trio getting back on the horse, you'd better strap yourself in, cup your balls and pray to god that 'The Day Is My Enemy' leaves your face still attached to your skull. The Prodigy have always been innovators. That's what made them such a beast back in their heyday. They're still at it and nobody sounds quite like them. Liam Howlett's machine crushes dance, rock and all sorts of oddities into a sadistic smoothie.” - Alec Chillingworth

Full Review

Joanna Gruesome - Peanut Butter

“‘Let’s settle for doing one thing well,’ said the band, followed by nods of agreement. Across town, Joanna Gruesome made their own minds up: ‘Let’s do a bunch of things, mash them together, laugh about it and keep every song around the two minute mark.’ Much like its predecessor, the Welsh Music Prize-winning ‘Weird Sister’, ‘Peanut Butter’ finds Joanna Gruesome bouncing their squalls of guitar noise off nuanced, often impeccable, melodies. But, by shaving just under 10 minutes off the running time, album two represents a refinement of that template. The sheer number of memorable hooks packed into its 22 minutes is remarkable.” - Huw Baines

Full Review

Sleaford Mods - Key Markets

“Politicians are branded ‘fucking pisstakers’ during Face To Faces, toilet venue owners receive a grilling on Live Tonight and everyone else is taken down a peg or 12 across the span of 'Key Markets'. This isn’t an album for everyone. It's a raw, unhinged take on Britain from the perspective of one very angry man from the midlands, who scatters a flurry of insults and insight over a sea of profanity and seemingly random titbits. As [Jason] Williamson summarises on In Quiet Streets: ‘We don't want radio play, we're not fucking Cannon and Ball.’ No, you're not. But people are listening and big things are afoot. This band is not going away.” - Alec Chillingworth

Full Review

Toto - XIV

“Due to past line-up changes and experimentation, Toto have never made an album that perfectly balances all their traits. 'XIV' puts that right by bringing their blend of rock, pop, soul, prog, folk and world music into 2015, with lyrics rooted in an angry post-9/11 world where big issues are challenged and hope craved. Nothing epitomises that like uplifting finale, Great Expectations, a cinematic masterpiece that pivots around a spine-tingling hook and technical sorcery. To the general public Toto may always be 'that Africa band', but to those in the know they are one of the most gifted, versatile and special acts of all time. This may be their last album and, if so, it's the perfect goodbye. 'XIV' is masterful.” - Simon Ramsay

Full Review


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