| FEATURE | WAX MUSIC’S FIFTY BEST ALBUMS OF 2015 |

We won’t mess around with some cliched monologue on how 2015 has been great – we’ve told you that already. Here are our fifty best records of the last year.

50. Ryan Sambol – ‘Now Ritual‘ (Punctum Records)

NOW RITUAL CD JACKET

The Strange Boys seemed to be maturing with age before they silently split in 2012. Since then we have had a long wait while Ryan Sambol and his crew worked on their new outfit Living Grateful (who have also subsequently split). What with so much uncertainty and elusiveness surrounding this songsmith, his debut solo effort was very much overlooked. Yet for those whose attention never wavered, it brings with it the reward of realising Sambol is more than capable of going it alone without losing any of his songwriting craft.

(JW)

49. Holly Golightly – ‘Slowtown Now!‘ (Damaged Goods)

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Having come out of the Medway sound, Holly Golightly is as prolific as her contemporaries in that garage scene. Yet with her new release she has created a masterfully crafted rhythm and blues album that is her best to date. It comes across like a big, bad, bluesy Nancy Sinatra, with big twangin’ guitars underpinning her luscious vocal lines.

(JW)

48. Living Grateful – ‘Peace Mob‘ (Punctum Records)

Living Grateful - Peace Mob

The sadly departed Living Grateful may have left us far too prematurely, but what they did leave us with was an idiosyncratic, moving pop record in ‘Peace Mob‘. Undeniably wise in it’s stance, Ryan Sambol takes his penchant for 70s drive-pop and country and places it within a modern climate, with hints of Jazzy Blues for good measure. A record of growing-up, maturation and change.

(RJ)

47. Thundercat – ‘The Beyond / Where Giants Roam‘ (Brain Feeder)

Thundercat

Thundercat – aka Stephen Bruner – has worked on some of this year’s stand-out records. Since his last release, ‘Apocalypse‘, he’s made significant contributions to Kamasi Washington’s three-hour odyssey and Kendrick Lamar’s magnum opus. But Thundercat, or rather his own introspective reflection, solely reigns here with another accomplished record. Lyrically, mortality and the after-life are running themes throughout, as Bruner grapples with the loss of close friend and fellow Brainfeeder collaborator, Austin Peralta. With its Isley Brothers drum sample and groove-heavy, syncopated bass-line, ‘Them Changes‘ works as a stand-alone smash hit. Yet even this cut fades out rather abruptly, like the EP or ‘mini album’ does as a whole – perhaps conversant with the theme of mortality itself.

(HY)

46. Institute‘Catharsis’ (Sacred Bones)

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The debut record from Austin Punks Institute plunges itself within it’s own self-depreciation. It’s unrelenting, almost trance-inducing Post-Punk meets Moses Brown’s strained, debauched catharsis for something surprisingly relatable – making for a record with a fulfilling sense of purpose.

(RJ)

45. Harley Alexander – ‘Gold Shirt‘ (Self-Released)

goldshirt

Unashamedly emotional, intriguingly expansive and full of effervescent surprises, Harley Alexander’s ‘Gold Shirt‘ is a DIY pop gem. Harley’s amorous croon is the symbolisation of a young man finding his feet – at a time where there is so much at your fingertips – yet it’s in his memories that he truly finds the most solace and a tender escape.

(RJ)

44. The Gnomes – ‘I Don’t Care About Anything‘ (Self-Released)

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The Gnomes are a new, slightly more pop minded, project of prolific punk rock musician Jaime Paul lamb. ‘I Don’t Care About Anything’ is some of the most engaging and surprising rock n roll we have heard in a while. There are shades of The Real Kids and other bands from around 1977 who weren’t quite died in the wool punk. In terms of the chords The Gnomes use, the songs quite often end up in different places than you would expect – the songwriting is consistently brilliant throughout and makes for a real hidden gem.

(CM)

43. Toro Y Moi – ‘What For?’ (Carpark)

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As a founder of the brilliantly named Chillwave genre, Chaz Bundick has since expanded his musical palette in many directions, constantly honing his sound. On his fourth album as Toro Y Moi this still rings true. Beatles-esque experimentation with production and structure can be heard through the hazy heat of his adopted home of California, but he never strays too far from the beautiful pop melodies that make this record so accessible.

(JW)

42. Travis Bretzer – ‘Waxing Romantic‘ (Mexican Summer)

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Travis Bretzer is a soft rock Canadian crooner – the self-proclaimed “off brand cola” to Mac’s Coke. With yearning, melancholic lyrics and woozy, easy-going grooves, he’ll have you slacking in no time. ‘Promises‘ has one of the hooks of the year – while ‘Lady Red‘ crystallises the office xmas party moment where you, tacky suit straining at the seams, lock eyes with girl you’ve been day-dreaming about all week. Lyrically, it’s all a little clichéd – but still, who could say no to a saccharine Steely Dan? Kick back with Travis and a cool pina colada and let his syrupy sweet guitar lines take you away to anywhere but here.

                                                                      (HY)

41. Penelope Isles – ‘Comfortably Swell‘ (Self-Released)

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Comfortably Swell‘ arrived in late September, a pleasant arrival that settled us into the fall months with melodic introspection and considered solitude. Both Jack & Lily Wolter’s dynamic ability to express subtle emotion over compelling atmospheric compositions made for a cohesive joy of a record – one that opens up that little bit more with each continued listen.

(RJ)

40. Sleater Kinney – ‘No Cities To Love‘ (Sub Pop)sleaterkinney

Intense, palpable and as vital as they come – ‘No Cities To Love‘ made Sleater Kinney’s return feel like an antithesis to the saturated list of reformations that have taken place in the last half a decade. The trio took their uncompromising energy and surrounded it within the grand space of their last album ‘The Woods‘ to express their definitive statement.

(RJ)

39. De Lux – ‘Generations‘ (Innovative Leisure)

delux

De Lux’s ‘Generations’ is a darker record than its predecessor ‘Voyage‘, Sean Guerin sounding more world weary. ‘Generations‘ – which takes its musical cues as much from LCD Soundsystem’s ‘All My Friends’ as ‘Oh Man the Future’s spoken word funk – channels Talking Heads on Remain In Light and, as with both of those bands, there is plenty of fun to be had amongst all the modern anxiety.

(JWH)

38. Jessica Pratt – ‘On Your Own Love Again‘ (Drag City)

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A stunning record, ‘On Your Own Love Again‘ combines composed guitar with Jessica’s ever-encompassing vocal and dense wordplay. Her ability to take you on such journeys within her mind simply with a guitar, sporadic synth and one of the most entrancing voices creates such encompassing space. A timeless atmosphere created by the most distinctive of sounds.

(RJ)

37. The Foetals – ‘Meet The Foetals‘ (PNKSLM)

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December’s ‘Meet The Foetals‘ channels frontman Jolan Lewis’ underrated early projects Temple Songs and The Pink Teens in a more concise way. The experimentalism of tunes like ‘Easter Island Head 2‘ and ‘Spray Ark‘ takes a backseat and, by the Mancunian’s own admission, certain tracks took less time to write than to listen to. It’s tempting to call it a brand of garage rock. But, more than anything, it’s a raw, hook-laden ode to the great pop records of the 60s. Lewis mentions early affinities with Captain Beefheart and Can – but there’s also distinctive echoes of Paul McCartney amid the DIY noise. It’s all distinctive vocals and jagged, chiming guitar from the punchy first few seconds of ‘I’m Down‘ right through to the yearning cries of ‘Move On‘.

(HY)

36. Elvis Depressedly – ‘New Alhambra‘ (Run For Cover)

newalhambra

Elvis Depressedly hit a real high this year with ‘New Alhambra‘. Mat Cothran and Delany Mills have cleaned up the sound but lost none of their charm, subtly bleeding samples, bubbling electronic percussion and synth into crafted indie pop highlights ‘Ease’, ‘New Heaven, New Earth’ and the albums title track.

(JWH)

35. Wreckless Eric – ‘amERICa‘ (Fire)

americawreckless

At 61, Eric Goulden remains one of the few cult names that have retained independence in their creativity, something that he has stood by steadfastly throughout his career. ‘amERICa’ is the definition of that stance, influenced by his move across the pond and the motivation to make his first record in eleven years. Proving he hasn’t lost any of his attitude, Wreckless Eric delivers with wit and an unattainable ability with an off-kilter melody.

(RJ)

34. Ryley Walker – ‘Primrose Green’ (Dead Oceans)

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Primrose Green’ is a beautiful, open-minded record that displays Ryley Walker’s intuitive approach to expansive progression. The Chicagoan makes music that seems effortless, creating a hazy feeling of nostalgia that creates more than enough to lose yourself in.

(RJ)

33. Kamasi Washington – ‘The Epic‘ (Brain Feeder)

theepic.jpeg

A different kind of Butterfly Effect”. Just as FlyLo’s Brainfeeder label has brought virtuosic, forward-thinking music to a mainstream audience, Kamasi Washington’s ‘The Epic‘ rides the Lost Angeles beat scene wave, post-Lamar. Figuring in a number of major publication top 10 lists – as well as obscure jazz compendiums – ‘The Epic‘ hits the people without sacrificing its stunning virtuosity. This holistic record doesn’t so much confirm Kamasi and his band as pioneers of a new kind of Jazz, but stewards of a boundlessly rich tradition. With the arrival of ‘The Epic‘, Kamasi Washington has contributed to not just a list of stellar LPs, but the storied history of jazz.

(HY)

32. Fuzz – ‘II‘ (In The Red)

fuzzII

Ty Segall’s continuous and relentless output throughout his career has somewhat put him on a podium as the anti-christ to writer’s block. Fuzz’s sophomore album, ‘II’ built upon a concept of collectively swooping up all what was left of the classic rock, stoner and doom era, throwing it all into a blender and then pouring out a sound that was both palatable and contemporary – with ferocious success. ‘II’ delivered a well-focused punch that many artists in the genre failed to achieve this year.

(DB)

31. Lucern Raze – ‘Stockholm One’ (PNKSLM)

Lucern Raze

As founder of PNKSLM, Luke Reilly knows what works – the catchy rock n roll of opener ‘Carena’ and lead single ‘Sunshine Blues’ on his own band Lucern Raze’ first record are just the beginning. On ‘Stockholm One‘ Swedish genre-hoppers Teddybears get a nod with a blistering cover of ‘Yours To Keep’, surf and Sabbath get the garage treatment on ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ and the yearning, slow burner ‘Someone Like You’ steals the show. 

(JWH)

30. The Coneheads ’14 Year Old High School PC-Fascist Hype Lords Rip Off Devo for the Sake of Extorting $$$ From Helpless Impressionable Midwestern Internet Peoplepunks L.P’  (Erste Theke Tontraeger)

theconeheads

All shit Dan Ackroyd jokes aside, Indiana trio The Coneheads deliver electric punk sent straight through the tinniest of valves and sound all the better for it. The Coneheads’ other-wise titled ‘LP.1’ is undoubtably weird, questionably sane and definitely compelling, they are a band that drive Hardcore Punk upside down. A record that is self-depreciating, pissed off and all the more intelligent for it.

(RJ)

29. Mild High Club – ‘Timeline‘ (Circle Star)

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L.A based Alexander Brettin keeps things chill with his debut release as Mild High Club, infusing his understated, wonky 60’s psych-pop with a haze of West-Coast cool. At times sounding like a kind of lo-fi Metronomy – this collection of tracks wears its musical pointers on its sleeve allowing the listener pure audio indulgence.

(JWH)

28. Sudakistan – ‘Caballo Negro‘ (PNKSLM)

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PNKSLM have always prided themselves on bringing the alternative offerings to the table in terms of artists that are just plain out there. Sudakistan became the label’s poster boys this year when they dropped ‘Caballo Negro’ – a beautifully ragged and tribal release. A coalesce of lo-fi mixed psych with the primal elements that you’d expect from the Swedish group, it all meant that the colour wheel of a record within ‘Caballo Negro‘ was one of the more enchanting releases of the year. 

(DB)

27. Dick Diver – ‘Melbourne, Florida‘ (Trouble In Mind)

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With their third record, Australia’s Dick Diver casually lifted the best qualities of 70s Pop and Glam – all uplifting melodic basslines, straight harmonies and soft-rock guitar – to create something affectionately timeless. A progressive step forward for a group that could have easily submerged themselves within their back catalogue, the four-piece proved themselves to be so much more than their original worth.

(RJ)

26. Spectres‘Dying’ (Sonic Cathedral)

SpectresDying

Violent, abrasive and utterly immersive, Bristol four-piece Spectres delivered an album that reach some dark and utterly confounding places, exactly where their brilliance lies. Droning noise captures moments of ethereal composure within fifty minutes that encapsulates you from the off. ‘Dying’ has cemented Spectres easily in the same league as the heavyweights in expansive noise composition.

(RJ)

25. Thee Mightees‘Smiling’ (Delicious Clam)

Thee Mightees - Smiling

Soft, Lo-Fi Pop that rallies off-beat harmonies and isolated rhythms to create rough and ready Doo-Wop. Unashamed in it’s romanticism, Thee Mightees fall in love with the wrong girl but can’t help themselves in doing so. With ‘Smiling‘ the Sheffield via Manchester quartet have created a lovable record that defines being drunk and in like with someone.

(RJ)

24. Primitive Parts – ‘Parts Primitive‘ (Trouble In Mind)

primitiveparts

Caustic, wire-thin pop that gave members of Sauna Youth and Male Bonding the opportunity to explore into their power-pop leanings, whilst retaining the Post-Punk vigour of their other bands. As catchy as it is confrontationally oddball, the band succeed in finding a balance between the two to create something wonky and abrasive.

(RJ)

23. Hot Chip – ‘Why Make Sense?’ (Domino)

hot-chip-why-make-sense

Few can claim to have achieved as much as Hot Chip in their career. Every album is a perfectly crafted pop record that has ecstatic release and melancholy in equal measure. Whereas most bands by this point in their career might have given in to the need to have bonafide chart success, Hot Chip have stayed true to their indie spirit. This shows most in the artwork for the album, in which every vinyl cover is slightly different and therefore unique to the buyer – the embodiment of Hot Chip’s innovative style. 

(JW)

22. LA Priest – Inji‘ (Domino)

inji

For some of us, the premature end of Late Of The Pier was just too much to take – spending the subsequent years musing on what might have been. But 2015 was the year that Sam Eastgate, the mastermind of the group, returned under the moniker LA Priest -just in time to fill 2015 with his unique spirit of invention. ‘Inji‘ bounces off the walls with the same dance urgency that could be heard in ‘Fantasy Black Channel‘, while simultaneously revealing a skewed soul side that sat perfectly within the year of the sheep.

(JW)

21. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – ‘Multi-Love‘ (Jagjaguwar)

multi

It just doesn’t sound like there’s a blanket over it” explained Ruban Nielson when talking about the production of the new Unknown Mortal Orchestra album, ‘Multi-Love’, way back in May this year. The inexorable talent that Ruban displays when it comes to writing slabs of psych-pop hits shines through again on ‘Multi-Love‘, just like it did on the previous two albums. Focusing on the gender boundaries and modern day social questions being asked by today’s millennials, alongside a production that signalled a shift from the lofi aesthetic to a more slicker exterior, the album proved to be one of the more forward thinking creative endeavours of the year.

(DB)

20. Father John Misty – ‘I Love You, Honeybear‘ (Sub Pop)

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I Love You, Honeybear’ played on it’s sweet-seeming heart and delivered something conflicted and downtrodden – which couldn’t of made it any more grounded and real. Joshua Tillman proved himself a poet, perhaps in a purposefully contrived way, but no less adept. Grandiose, emotional and intensely funny – Father John Misty leaves an indent on all emotions with intelligent compositions and incomparable vocal. An experienced piece from an ever so intriguing individual. 

(RJ)

19. Dead Ghosts – ‘Love and Death and All The Rest‘ (Burger)

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The jangle-psych unit that is Dead Ghosts did a massive favour for Burger Records this year – simply by giving it one of the best releases the label had seen in a long time. The guitars were torn and raw while the songwriting was still boyish and scrappy enough to fall in love with them all over again as they mature. An on point release for the year.

(DB)

18. Radioactivity – ‘Silent Kill‘ (Dirtnap)

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Radioactivity’s ‘Silent Kill‘ starts off with a holy fuck piece of brilliance and manages to keep that level throughout. The Marked Men were terrific and Radioactivity have continued there unique strain of modern punk. ‘Silent Kill‘ is more anxious and aggressive than their debut and is their best album yet.

(CM)

17. Protomartyr – ‘Agent Intellect‘ (Hardly Art)

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On the opening track from Protomartyr’s third album, frontman Joe Casey reveals the potential for every molly coddled, privileged adolescent to become the devil when they don’t get their own way. From this larger conceit Casey narrows his focus to a cast including children abandoned in cars for the gravitational pull of the bar, internet lurkers and false messiahs. Compelling and visceral, this is Protomartyr at their finest.

(JWH)

16. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – ‘Quarters‘ (Flightless)

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King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – relentlessly prolific in their continuous output of new music – are in many ways emblematic of the healthy state of Australian psych. On ‘Quarters‘, the first of two releases this year, they toss it all into the melting pot. Two drummers? Hell, why not. Hints of 60s beach pop licks, space rock, bit of warbling psych? – sure. A whole song eerily reminiscent of Brubeck’sTake Five‘? Damn, let’s do it. Even if the concept of quarters is a little contrived, it’s pretty tasty on the whole.

(HY)

15. Girlpool – ‘Before The World Was Big‘ (Wichita)

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Pop Punk has mainly been a male-dominated genre, but in 2015 this record proved that girls definitely do it better. Continuing the lineage of the all-girl Magic Marker bands (even naming a song ‘Dear Nora‘ after the Portland indie band), the duo employ a minimal guitar and bass set up with beautifully crafted vocal harmonies that are reminiscent of early Simon and Garfunkel. What this record really does best is achieve a highly original sound that is elucidative and touching.

(JW)

14. Ultimate Painting – ‘Green Lanes‘ (Trouble In Mind)

ultimate-painting

With ‘Green Lanes‘, Ultimate Painting once again created an impressively timeless record, transcending it’s own period of modern day UK and capturing the nostalgic due of 60s NY. Their songwriting retains all of it’s compelling qualities – the encompassing melodies and impassioned verses in particular – and distills it into an even more effecting voice. With each listen James Hoare and Jack Cooper’s relatable introspection unveils itself – giving the record it’s considered, thought-provoking theme.

(RJ)

13. TRAAMS – ‘Modern Dancing‘ (Fat Cat)

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The boisterous blast from ‘Modern Dancing‘ showed that TRAAMS had planned out, quite thoroughly, their next steps after debut album ‘Grin‘. Always being one of the more creative guitar bands to be gracing the scene at the moment, TRAAMS seemed to of struck the balance between sticking to their sound but creating within its boundaries, something new and refreshing for the listener. The post-punk flavour, added to the already fuzzed and grainy riff natured soundscape cemented this album as one of our favourites of the year.

(DB)

12. Drinks – ‘Hermits On Holiday’ (Heavenly)

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The pairing of these two modern-day guitar greats was enough to get most enthusiasts frothing at the mouth. This record delivered on that excitement with Tim Presley, purveyor of Freakbeat nostalgia, and Cate Le Bon, softly spoken Welsh siren, putting aside their idiosyncrasies to delve into a world of primitive guitar noise and offbeat rhythms.

(JW)

11. Floating Points – ‘Elaenia‘ (Luaka Bop)

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Over the past few years we have seen a shift in Dance music – where producers are proving that it is possible to create genuinely great albums. The likes of Todd Terje and Four Tet are bringing light to this overlooked format in a world of exclusive 12″s and one-off singles. So step forward Sam Shepherd, a.k.a Floating Points, one of the UK’s finest dance producers. In true Floating Points style he has once again gone above and beyond and has created something closer to high art with his debut album ‘Elaenia‘. This is an album that is in-step with every aspect of the modern world, and is a great accompaniment to life in 2015 and far into the future.

(JW)

10. 

ROYAL HEADACHE 

High’

(What’s Your Rupture?)

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Its a credit to Sydney’s Royal Headache that the inevitable comparisons to British punk royalty such as The Jam and The Buzzcocks has done nothing to lesson the appeal of ‘High‘. For the most part the band have slowed things down, allowing the soul that has always been present in Shogun’s vocals even more room to breath. ‘Love Her If I Tried’, Carolina’ and ‘Wouldn’t You Know’ are genuinely tender while ‘My Own Fantasy’, ‘Another World’ and ‘Need You’ are chartable paradigms of punk rock (desperately wanting to avoid cliche) with real heart.

(JWH)

9.

SLEAFORD MODS

Key Markets’

(Harbinger Sound)

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An unrelenting, foul-mouthed cacophony of straight-talking, working class honesty resonates from Sleaford Mods ‘Key Markets‘. The album, shooting straight out of a tower block in Nottingham, brought with it a message that was certainly a wake-up call for the British public. The minimalistic programming of beats coupled with a narrative that highlighted the depravity, the poverty and the ultimate bleakness of UK living made for something that was boundary pushing, all by Jason Williams cut throat outlook. The music isn’t catchy, it isn’t riddled with hard hitting grooves and doesn’t contain a chorus which you’d want to sing with your mates. Yet ‘Key Markets‘ brought into the mainstream a message which highlighted a severely under represented demographic of people within the UK, and that is something the album should be praised for.

(DB)

8.

VIET CONG

Viet Cong’

(Jagjaguwar)

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Across 2014’s ‘Cassette’, Calgary based Viet Cong fluctuated comfortably between concise post-punk and more ramshackle psych. This time around there is a very deliberate lack of comfort. Listening to the album at times can feel like being exposed to the harshest elements of the bands Canadian home, a sensation of vulnerability to the sublime interspersed with moments of coming in from the cold, a rush of sudden warmth. For instance when the distorted march of drums and noise relents to a lush, arpeggiated synth in the albums opener, ‘Newspaper Spoons’ or when Matt Flegel sings ‘Fingertips in the fountain/Fondle liquid gold’ on ‘Continental Shelf’. Its this kind of attention to form and texture that makes this a truly astonishing album.

(JWH)

7.

SUFJAN STEVENS

Carrie & Lowell’

(Asthmatic Kitty)

Carrie&Lowell

Having been as well documented as Sufjan Stevens has across his career, ‘Carrie & Lowell‘ – his seventh record – offered the most enlightening insight into one of this century’s greatest songwriters. Written in the wake of the death of his estranged mother, Sufjan stripped back to the folk of his early work – beautifully composed and evidently cathartic for both listener and artist. Whilst finding light in his own writing, Sufjan delivered not just the most relatable record of the year, but, perhaps surprisingly, the most uplifting. In making us question death and our own faith, Sufjan delivers a voice of empathy and reason. Undeniably effecting and tragic in it’s own right, Sufjan almost appears to have come full circle – from the poetic folk of ‘Michigan‘, through to the expansive notions of ‘Illinois‘ and returning to the stripped-back openness of today.

(RJ)

6.

SAUNA YOUTH

Distractions

(Upset The Rhythm)

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An incisive, modern Post-Punk record that is steeped in its DIY values as an antithesis to the daily modern life. Undeniably catchy in melody whilst capturing the fervour of serious intensity – ‘Distractions‘ documents not just the mundanity of modern life but the habits of the incumbents who live amongst one another – albeit unhappily. Its not that it is a considered record, but the group display an intelligent judgement in knowing how to express themselves in the most effective way. An almost philosophical outlook on the real world, Sauna Youth have provided an essential release for 2015.

(RJ)

5.

THE BLACK TAMBOURINES

Freedom’

(Easy Action)

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The Black Tambourines have always been a band who can incorporate various different forms of guitar music into one succinct sound, one that’s never mistaken for anyone else. ‘Freedom, their second LP, captures the band in full stride – the record having been recorded in Falmouth in the summertime over a week long period. ‘Freedom is an example of how thrilling and vital buying a new record can be, the best thing about it however is that you get the impression they are only just getting started.

(CM)

4.

THE HIPSHAKES

Maximum Growth & Vigour

(SMF)

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Maximum Growth and Vigour’ is the most recent in a long line of essential Garage Punk from Manchester’s The Hipshakes. As per their catalogue, it’s a real joy – from hit smash ‘My Confession‘ through to the emphatic ending of ‘Forgive & Forget‘. The album is slightly less thrashy than you would come to expect, producing an album packed from back to front with hits, lyrically mixing the profound and the hilariously not so profound.

(CM)

3. 

THEE OH SEES

Mutilator Defeated At Last

(Castle Face)

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A crashing wave of psychedelia and all round expansiveness in sound poured out of Thee Oh See’s sixteenth LP ‘Mutilator Defeated At Last’. Forever outdoing their peers in terms of pushing boundaries with inventiveness (to the point of almost being bizarre), ‘Mutilator…’ finally captured the band’s tightness, rip roaring ferocity and unhinged energy of their live performances and marred it perfectly with their scrappy, razor sound they have on wax. The production was masterful, and the tunes were on point and continually relentless. A release that no doubt will continue to shine amongst their weighted discography for a long time to come.

(DB)

2.

PANDA BEAR

…Meets The Grim Reaper’

(Domino)

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Bouncing off sheer weirdness and unmatched creativity, ‘Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper’ was one of the more adventurous and colourful releases to hit us this year. The lead single ‘Mr Noah’, with its belching bass line and odd, contorted soundscape felt like we were in some nightmarish dream, yet enjoying every minute of it. Plunging the depths of psychedelia in an electronica fashion in such an accessible but also creatively dense way is something that only Panda Bear has really been able to achieve. ‘Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper’ shows that Noah Lennox’s track record for success within this confound is yet to be tarnished, this strong release unanimously acclaimed here at Wax.

(DB)

1. 

KENDRICK LAMAR

To Pimp A Butterfly

(Top Dawg)

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It’s become far too apparent within this industry, especially within outlets for musical expression and criticism, that’s it’s easy to draw barriers within genres. As such, blurring those lines is unjustly viewed as precociously trying to be different, following trends in what is “cool” and you are deemed as not having the required knowledge and reputation to speak on music of different styles. Fuck that. There’s no other reason for Kendrick Lamar Duckworth of Compton, California being top of our list other than his third record, ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ being unquestionably the best record released this year. Its scope, its moral and its cause are deafeningly definitive, from the infinitely compelling draw of funk, jazz and contemporary hip-hop for rhythm to Lamar’s socio-political and morally driven verse that not only documents pure disdain for modern day life and fame but attacks it, just as we should yet are too afraid to even face. With ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’, Kendrick didn’t just define this year, he has influenced the future.

(RJ)

Writers: Ross Jones (RJ), Dan Brown (DB), Jon Whitfield (JWH), Jake Willbourne (JW), Henry Young (HY) & Charlie Murphy (CM)

2015 – Thank you.

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