Dom Gourlay picks out his top ten albums of 2015
10. Girl Band - Holding Hands With Jamie
Possibly the most eagerly anticipated debut from an underground band in recent times. The Dublin foursome's first offering did not disappoint, if not quite matching the intensity of their live shows. Bristling with visceral brutality somewhere between the polemic racket of Whitehouse and awkward disdain of The Fall, 'Holding Hands With Jamie' is an uneasy yet rewarding listen.
9. Surf City - Jekyll Island
Despite having formed over a decade ago, this New Zealand outfit have been more about quality than quantity when it comes to releases. So it should come as no surprise that 'Jekyll Island', their third long player, represents arguably their finest body of work to date.
8. Mew - +-
With former bass player Johan Wohlert back in the fold after a seven-year absence, the newly revitalised Mew delivered their finest record in over a decade. Bloc Party's Russell Lissack also features but it's the familiar tones of Jonas Bjerre that elevate '+-' to another level. Atmospheric in parts and anthemic in others, this is the sound of Mew doing what they do best, and thoroughly enjoying themselves in the process.
7. Sonic Jesus - Neither Virtue Nor Anger
Another band whose debut has been a long time coming, but well worth the wait. When it did arrive, the Italian psych rockers - essentially core duo Tiziano Veronese and Marco Baldassari - bestowed upon us a record celebrating fifty years of music. Encompassing a variety of styles from industrial noise and krautrock to folk and shoegaze, 'Neither Virtue Nor Anger' is a heady concoction that highlights their sonic palette impeccably.
6. Braids - Deep In The Iris
Canadian trio Braids finally went and created the record they've been threatening to make for years. Their smooth blend of richly textured electronica and organic semi-acoustics rounded off by Raphaele Standell-Preston's unmistakeably soothing voice made 'Deep In The Iris' their most complete body of work to date.
5. The Lucid Dream - The Lucid Dream
Having established themselves as one of the finest live bands on the psychedelic rock circuit, this Carlisle based four-piece finally conjured up an album of distinction to boot. Uncompromising in nature yet consistent in flow and sophisticatedly executed, 'The Lucid Dream' not only raised the benchmark for its creators, but also the entire genre from which it was spawned.
4. Haiku Salut - Etch And Etch Deep
Sometimes, music works so much better without words, and Haiku Salut are masters when it comes to creating such pieces. 2013's debut 'Tricolor' set out their stall in timely fashion and 'Etch And Etch Deep' ventures even further into their compellingly experimental universe. Traversing numerous styles and genres from krautrock to classical with even the odd house music reference thrown in for good measure. 'Etch And Etch Deep' might be something of an anomaly but it's one that becomes more enriching with every subsequent listen.
3. Cheatahs - Mythologies
With two albums in eighteen months, Cheatahs clearly mean business and if 'Mythologies' is anything to go by, business is ticking over just fine. Moving on considerably from last year's debut, 'Mythologies' is more enigmatic and ultimately dynamic than its predecessor. Songs like 'In Flux' and 'Signs To Lorelei' embark on new sonic territories while gorgeous closer 'Reverie Bravo' is possibly their most grandiose statement yet.
2. Wolf Alice - My Love Is Cool
If ever a band's work ethic deserved the rewards of success it has to be Wolf Alice. Having spent the majority of the past two years on the road, that they even managed to find time to make an album ranks as something of an achievement. Never mind that it was so near perfect as 'My Love Is Cool'. Ambitiously diverse in content - not to mention boldly leaving two of their biggest songs 'Blush' and 'Moaning Lisa Smile' off the final tracklisting. 'My Love Is Cool' is the sound of now. Exciting and brash from start to finish, it's the work of a band at the top of the game yet with so much more to give in the future.
1. Pinkshinyultrablast - Everything Else Matters
Six years ago, an incredible EP entitled 'Happy Songs For Happy Zombies' landed unsuspectingly on the doormat. It was by a band called Pinkshinyultrablast from St Petersburg in Russia. Fusing elements of shoegaze, electronica and white noise, it sounded like nothing else on earth. And then everything went quiet. Until February of this year when their long-awaited debut finally landed. Thankfully, 'Everything Else Matters' was everything we'd hoped it would be and more. A delicious concoction of sonic belligerence rounded off by Lyubov Soloveva's soothing vocal. It's lasting proof that all good things come to those who wait, and with album number two ready to go early next year, who's to say Pinkshinyultrablast won't dominate 2016 as well?
What's new in the music world this week?
'Sounds of Silence' was released on this day (January 17th) in 1966.
Listen to Alex Bayly performing 'Animal'.
Two weeks ahead of Independent Venue Week, Dry Cleaning made 'Britain's Best Small Venue 2015' (NME) the second port of call on their 2020 tour.
'Leave Home' was released on this day (January 10th) in 1977.
For their last gig of the year, The Libertines came back to their adopted hometown of Margate to finish off their latest tour.
Celebrating the birthday of David Bowie with his most legendary songs.