I know you’ve been on tenterhooks waiting for this year end treat and so has everyone here at Mas Tortas. So, without further ado, we present:
TOP TEN ALBUMS OF 2015 COUNTDOWN:
10. Belle and Sebastian – Girls in Peacetime Just Want to Dance
The house band of the Scottish National Party just can’t stop pumping out the hits. I thought I’d never get away from “Party Line” in the early quarter of this year. Everywhere you went, there it was. I think I heard it used a couple of times in TV sports promos! Stuart Murdoch told some twee publication late last year that the band can’t help it if they have pop music pumping through their veins. I don’t think he was joking. The band has put out countless albums over the last twenty years. Though this one is no Dear Catastrophe Waitress or If You’re Feeling Sinister, it’s not far behind them.
9. Childbirth – Women’s Rights
Finally, the Seattle supergroup released its follow-up to its debut It’s a Girl! That featured the punk classic “I Only Fucked You as a Joke.” There’s no Sophomore slump here. “Tech Bro”, “Breast Coast”, and “Siri Open Tinder” are generation-defining tracks that will likely keep popping up in millennial nostalgia in the coming decades. Have these young whipper snappers found their Cameron Crowe yet?
8. Waxahatchee – Ivy Tripp
This album is a mystery to me. It’s not easy for us labelers to get a grip on. I’m not sure why I love it, but I certainly do. One second it’s hipster Lucinda Williams, the next it’s Riot Grrrl fire, with nods to Stereolab all up and down the tracks. It’s a little confusing, but never ever off-putting. Maybe that’s why I can’t stop listening to it.
7. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
I don’t think this LP is as good as Barnett’s previous work, but folks have gone mad for it nonetheless, and Barnett has gotten her well-deserved recognition, including a Grammy nomination for “Best New Artist”, which makes some of those who’ve followed her since the release of A Sea of Split Peas in 2013, or even earlier (“History Eraser” was released in 2012), emit a little chuckle and say “it’s about effin’ time.”
6. Best Coast – California Nights
Best Coast is no longer and up and coming band. With this album, they’ve arrived. Cannot wait to see them with Wavves when they tour early next year.
5. Protomartyr – The Agent Intellect
Wow. Here’s Joy Division, Tindersticks, and a dozen other rainy day UK bands fortified with Detroit grit and mid-80’s SST hyper-tempo. On the “rock scale”, this album is in the same league as Husker Du’s Zen Arcade and the Minutemen’s Double Nickels on a Dime. Joe Casey is the poet laureate for the penumbra between Detroit’s crash and its eminent rise.
4. Leon Bridges – Coming Home
This is a rhythm and blues gem straight outta Fort Worth, Texas. The songs and the vocals here are flawless. Bridges will surely have more coming.
3. CHVRCHES – Every Open Eye
Topping their debut, The Bones of What You Believe, wasn’t easy, but CHVRCHES managed it somehow. Sorry Belle and Sebastian, Mogwai, et. al., but CHVRCHES are Scotland’s, and maybe the world’s, reigning musical heavyweight champs. Good to know that someone is making synth-pop fun again.
2. Grimes – Art Angels
The long awaited follow-up to 2012’s Visions sounds like a pop sell-out on the surface, but dive into the lyrics, and it’s anything but. This is a loud announcement not to call them “women in music”, but musicians, and producers, and video directors, and label founders, and whatever else they want to be. As Grimes says in “World Princess Pt. II” to the boys trying to push her away from the studio console, “You’re so far behind me.” Save for Quincy Jones and maybe a few others, she’s spot on. This musician/producer/label founder/video-maker/etc. Has got some serious chops and is a force to be reckoned with.
and now, the BEST ALBUM OF 2015:
1. Chastity Belt – Time to Go Home
There’s a “Seattle Party” and everyone’s invited. This LP leaves the grungy punk of CB’s debut, No Regerts, on the eastern side of the cascades as the band takes a more melodic approach to their song craft with some astounding results. The interplay between the two guitars is hypnotic as they switch out lead and chords, and sometimes overlap each other with melody. Not to belittle synth pop and samplers crowd, after all there are two such acts on this top ten list, but it’s good to know that some millennials haven’t forgotten good, down to earth guitar-driven rock. Chastity Belt “bring it” live, too. Their show opening for Courtney Barnett at Austin’s Mohawk in June 2015 is one of the most memorable gigs I’ve seen since early ’80s U2 or mid-’80’s Sonic Youth or Meat Puppets. I got up early the next morning and bought both of their LPs on Amazon. It’s been a long time since I’ve been that excited about a band. They’re a revelation, polar bears in the jungle, and all that. Julia Shapiro belongs in the next edition of Jews Who Rock. Okay. I’ll put the hyperbole aside, for now.
Panda Bear – Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper
The World is a Beautiful Place and I’m No Longer Afraid to Die – Harmlessness
Pony Time – Rumours 2: Rumours are True
Really good stuff that came out in previous years that I didn’t hear until 2015:
Tacocat – NVM (2014)
The Twilight Sad – Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave (2014)
Bluesky Archives – EP (2012)
Alvvays – Alvvays (2014)
Beverly – Careers (2014)
Grimes – Visions (2012)
TOP TEN TRACKS OF 2015 COUNTDOWN:
10. “Joke” – Chastity Belt, Time to Go Home
9. “Pedestrian at Best” – Courtney Barnett , Sometimes and Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
8. “Breast Coast” – Childbirth, Women’s Rights
7. “Pontiac ’87” – Protomartyr, The Agent Intellect
6. “Power of Three” – Belle and Sebastian, Girls in Peacetime Just Want to Dance
5. “Jealousy” – Best Coast, California Nights
4. “Uncle Mother’s” – Protomartyr, The Agent Intellect
3. “Empty Threat” – CHVRCHES, Every Open Eye
2. “Flesh Without Blood” – Grimes, Art Angels
and now, the BEST TRACK OF 2015:
1. “Lydia” – Chastity Belt, Time to Go Home
“Cool Slut”, “Time to Go Home” – Chastity Belt, Time to Go Home
“Art Angels”, “Venus Fly” – Grimes, Art Angels
“Nobody’s Empire”, “Party Line” – Belle and Sebastian, Girls in Peacetime Just Want to Dance
“Siri, Open Tinder”, “Tech Bro” – Childbirth, Women’s Rights
“Feeling Okay” – Best Coast, California Nights