Posts Tagged ‘Best Albums Of 2015’

 

Time to Go Home artwork

Seattle post-punk female four piece return with their second album and their first for Sub Pop offshoot, Hardly Art. ‘Time to Go Home’ sees Chastity Belt take the nights out and bad parties of their past to their stretching points, watch the world around them break apart in anticipatory haze, and rebuild it in their own image with stunning clarity before anyone gets hung over. Cool, twangy and languid guitars meet vocals dripping in melancholy.

Let yourself be swept away by this stunning, meditative clip for Chastity Belt’s “Lydia,” off of their widely-acclaimed 2015 album “Time to Go Home”.

Chastity Belt is a rock band consisting of four friends – guitarists Julia Shapiro and Lydia Lund, bassist Annie Truscott, and drummer Gretchen Grimm. They met in a tiny college town in Eastern Washington, but their story begins for real in Seattle, that celebrated home of Macklemore and the Twelfth Man. Following a post-grad summer apart, a handful of shows and enthusiastic responses from the city’s DIY community led them, as it has countless others, into a cramped practice space. They emerged with a debut album, No Regerts, sold it out faster than anyone involved thought possible, and toured America, a country that embraced them with open-ish arms. Now they’re back and the tab is settled, the lights are out, the birds are making noise even though the sun isn’t really up yet: it’s Time to Go Home, their second long-player and first for Hardly Art.

In the outside world, they realized something crucial: they didn’t have to play party songs now that their audience didn’t consist exclusively of inebriated 18-22 year olds, as it did in that college town. Though still built on a foundation of post-post-punk energy, jagged rhythms, and instrumental moves that couldn’t be anyone else’s, the songs they grew into in the months that followed are equal parts street-level takedown and gray-skied melancholy. They embody the sensation of being caught in the center of a moment while floating directly above it; Shapiro’s world spins around her on “On The Floor,” grounded by Grimm and Truscott’s most commanding playing committed to tape. They pay tribute to writer Sheila Heti on “Drone” and John Carpenter with “The Thing,” and deliver a parallel-universe stoner anthem influenced by Electrelane with “Joke.”

Recorded by José Díaz Rohena at the Unknown, a deconsecrated church and former sail factory in Anacortes, and mixed with a cathedral’s worth of reverb by Matthew Simms (guitarist for legendary British post-punks and one-time tourmates Wire), Time to Go Home sees Chastity Belt take the nights out and bad parties of their past to their stretching points, watch the world around them break apart in anticipatory haze, and rebuild it in their own image with stunning clarity before anyone gets hung over.

TRACK LISTING

1. Drone
2. Trapped
3. Why Try
4. Cool Slut
5. On The Floor
6. The Thing
7. Joke
8. Lydia
9. IDC
10. Time To Go Home

Every discussion of Hop Along begins with Frances Quinlan’s voice. It’s a force of nature, yes, but it’s also human, often painfully so, and she uses it to relate stories of humanity in all its rawness and imperfection, its ugliness and its grace. The band match her thorny intensity with knife-sharp guitars and rhythms, see-sawing from sweetness to noise, building to moments of musical and emotional catharsis that detonate with the force of a land-mine. So much of Painted Shut is about feeling small, feeling weak, letting people down and being let down, but Hop Along turn that into something explosive and strong and beautiful and triumphant. Powerlessness has never sounded so powerful.

The wiry, bookish sound of Painted Shut by the band Hop Along are at their vanguard. “By the time it’s old/ My face will have been seen/ And I’ll share a very/ Common poverty/ It’s a very common kind,” Frances Quinlan sings on “Waitress”, a vignette about a disgraced diner server. Hop Along spend all of their stellar third album leaping to capture these specific sorts of honors.

Quinlan’s rough voice always sounds on the verge of giving out, but as a writer she is a tender guardian who sees dignity everywhere she looks: On “The Knock”, she is moved to tears by the beaming Jehovah’s Witness who knocks on her door (“I never once seen a teenager look so radiant”), and “Buddy in the Parade” recalls the spectacular public breakdown of early-20th century cornetist Charles “Buddy” Bolden, who started frothing at the mouth during a parade performance and spent the rest of his life in a sanitarium. The songs are furiously angry in their energy and endlessly compassionate toward their targets, backing you into a corner and hugging you fiercely, like someone staging a very determined intervention on your behalf.

Houndmouth	- Little Neon Limelight

For their followup to their promising 2013 debut From the Hills Below the City, Houndmouth proved that when a young band is prepping their highly anticipated, often-maligned second album, there’s no need to overthink it. Sometimes it’s best to just make a better version of your debut, and Little Neon Limelight is just that: a more tightly-composed, fully-rendered update on the joyfully sloppy Americana bar band feel of the band’s debut. The songs on Limelight are sturdy, expertly-crafted three minute folk-pop tunes featuring tall-tale characters like Jenny Gasoline and Shotgun Alynda. The band’s ragged four-piece harmonies are the main draw throughout, turning just about anything—a tribute to Otis Redding, an offhand ode to marijuana—into a heartfelt campfire sing-along. The band also displays its versatility on darker, stripped-down songs like “For No One” and “Gasoline.” There’s no question this exciting young band will need to stretch its comfort zone at some point down the road, but with Little Neon Limelight they made the perfect decision: sticking to what they do best.

All Your Favorite Bands sounds effortless in a way. Producer Dave Rawlings nearly captures the Dawes’ reputable live sound, and the band for their part are relaxed yet adventurous, with plenty of confidence in their words. Sure, Dawes’ sound has always been easily comparable to a handful of classic ‘70s soft-rock bands (read: Jackson Brown, The Band), but the songs have always existed in their own continuum, which is why they work so well. Singer-songwriter Taylor Goldsmith doesn’t shy away from cliche, but he’s able to do so unabashedly and eloquently, a crucial skill in pop music. And while the band doesn’t tread any new ground for themselves this outing, it still showcases a band at the peak of a sound they’ve been crafting for years. All Your Favorite Bands also marks the end of keyboardist and founding member Tay Strathairn’s creative relationship with the band. Strathairn has always been a central part of the band’s sound, leaving little doubt that this album marks the end of an era for Dawes. All your favorite bands might not stay together, as Goldsmith warmly wishes, but they will press on.

 

Our record is available now from Trouble In Mind and from all good independent records stores. It’s available everywhere else next week

The sophomore release from London-based band Ultimate Painting. Initially formed as a loose collaboration by Jack Cooper (Mazes) and James Hoare (Veronica Falls) the project quickly turned into a full-fledged band in 2014 with the release of their self-titled debut album. Continuing with the warm 60s influenced pastoral gems that characterized their impressive debut, ‘Green Lanes’ sees the duo conjure up another collection of super cool dreamy pop. “Green Lanes” is the second album from London-based band Ultimate Painting.

With the release of their s/t debut album on Trouble In Mind. That album received praise worldwide from NME, Pitchfork, Consequence of Sound & more & with “Green Lanes” the band is poised for more accolades. The album is focused & cohesive, the result of two voices becoming one and each member’s songs complimenting the other, carving out a distinct & unified voice as Ultimate Painting.

Slinking out of the gate, the first song “Kodiak” is an hummable future-classic with Cooper & Hoare’s guitars dancing around each other with ease. The licks & lyrics conjuring up images of Sixties California & Seventies New York; a picture of dark clouds on a sunny day. The rest of the album follows suit with the airy, lush harmonies of “Sweet Chris” & “Two From The Vault ” and even kicks up some dust with the chooglin’ “(I’ve Got The) Sanctioned Blues” and the manic ”Woken By Noises”. While their self titled debut was all Cooper & Hoare, this time out, they are augmented by the addition of their live drummer Neil Robinson who provides propulsion on all but one of “Green Lanes”s tracks.

The album artwork was once again provided by Portland artist Bradley Kerl, who portrayed Hoare’s London flat and recording space chock full of the equipment used to record both the band’s albums casually tumbling toward the viewer.

2015 sees the band hitting the road again, with appearances at UK & European Festivals as well as a full US Tour in the fall in support of “Green Lanes”

TRACK LISTING

1. Kodiak
2. Sweet Chris
3. (I’ve Got The) Sanctioned Blues
4. The Ocean
5. Two From The Vault
6. The Ocean (reprise)
7. Break The Chain
8. I Was Lost
9. Tee Zee Em
10. Paying The Price
11. Woken By Noises
12. Out In The Cold

A dark, dreamy dose of romantic pop that rises and falls between icy climes of quivering vocals to the warm, dark depths of fluid driving riffs. There’s touches of psychedelia, swirling elegantly around simplistic melodies that soothe and gently etch themselves into your mind. Gengahr are in no rush to make an impression you, this is no deluge of dream pop, it is not intended to blast you away floundering and wondering what’s going on. It’s a far more gentle, progressive record that washes over you in slight ebbs and flows and allows you to drift away, tuning into the occasional raucous solo. Stick on “Bathed In Light” and try not to picture yourself rowing a raft, your toes dangling in the water. Delightful grooves accompany perfected guitar effects of John Victor, but Gengahr are a band we’re already eager to hear develop, from their already irresistible sound that can slot neatly into practically any mood.

In March last year, The band Gengahr emerged from north London with breakthrough demo ‘Fill My Gums With Blood’, a vampiric love song on which singer Felix Bushe implored, “Let me in/So I can drink from you”. The quartet’s debut album sounds just as unsettling. “I’ve changed for the better now there’s metal in my heart”, sings Bushe in his delicate falsetto on the iridescent ‘Heroine’, like some kind of lovelorn Iron Man. ‘Lonely As A Shark’, meanwhile, has him “lonely as a shark in a dark room, counting away” over rippling guitars, and the woozy ‘She’s A Witch’ wonders “Maybe she’ll sink, maybe she’ll fly/I caught a witch that cries all the time”. Throughout these 11 gently psychedelic tracks, John Victor weaves an aura of calm via unconventional but pretty guitar patterns that counterbalance Bushe’s romantic tribulations. The result is a record that cloaks Gengahr’s inherent weirdness in peaceful melodies you’ll want to wallow in for hours.

Beach House’s fifth album sees Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally distil things right down to their essence and create their best record so far. This is dream-pop in excelsis. Using the most minimal ingredients of organ, guitar, drum-machine and voice, but creating a spangly, fuzzy, graceful sound that could never be considered lo-fi, the duo have made an album that totally envelops the listener. Mesmerising. The narrative surrounding “Depression Cherry” isn’t particularly interesting, just a very good band making another very good album. But to dismiss it as “just another Beach House album” would be a disservice to what it really is: a paring back of the sweeping grandeur to reveal the bittersweet humanity underneath. On first listen, it sounds surprisingly small. But that’s also its greatest strength — instead of pulling you into an expansive universe of sound, it meets you on your level, makes room for your emotions. Bloom made me feel like I was flying, but Depression Cherry offers me a hand up

Beach House are Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally. We have been a band for over a decade living and working in Baltimore, MD. Depression Cherry is our 5th full-length record. This record follows the release of our self-titled album in 2006, Devotion in 2008, Teen Dream in 2010 and Bloom in 2012. Depression Cherry was recorded at Studio in the Country in Bogalusa, Louisiana from November ’14th through January ’15th .

In general, this record shows a return to simplicity, with songs structured around a melody and a few instruments, with live drums playing a far lesser role. With the growing success of Teen Dream and Bloom, the larger stages and bigger rooms naturally drove us towards a louder, more aggressive place; a place farther from our natural tendencies. Here, we continue to let ourselves evolve while fully ignoring the commercial context in which we exist.

 

Depression Cherry was produced and recorded by the band and Chris Coady at Studio in the Country in Bogalusa, Louisiana.


Dilly Dally’s debut LP “Sore” was released on 10/09 via Buzz and our buds at Partisan Records!From their debut album “Sore” comes the lead single “Desire” via Buzz Records and Partisan Records.

This blunt-force grunge album from Toronto’s Dilly Dally is more than a 90s throw-back. In fact, it strips the plastic wrap off of everything trendy about the 90s revival and reminds you what made grunge rock so good in the first place, and that’s pure, unadulterated angst. Even the screeching feedback that kicks off the record is no match for the fiery, deep-seated roar of new-comer Katie Monks: Her apathy is boiling and she’s a kettle to the mic. But it’s not just the sound of Monks’ voice or the piercing guitars that make Sore feel so raw. The lyrics grate at Monks’ vexed desires with verses like “I miss you, the ballin’ chain.” Every song on Dilly Dally’s powerful debut—starting with the explosive lead single “Desire” to the aforementioned “Ballin Chain”—scrapes against loving what might kill you in the end.

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Listen to the lead single “Desire” right now.

The first half of the album’s opening track is a beautiful, restrained ballad, which aches with quivering vulnerability. The second half of that same track is a screeching, thumping rock song. And the rest of the album continues in this brilliantly contradictory vein, layering Mitski’s emotive, scale-leaping vocals over squelchy rock riffs and a sea of noise. Its lyrics, too, are astoundingly beautiful.

Mitski’s broad, tremulous vocals and sly humor recall  maybe Angel Olsen, while the equal split between unencumbered acoustic pining and pummeling, mid-fi indie rock respectively aligns her with labelmates Frankie Cosmos.  And it lays out a compact scene of domestic bliss, littered with specificities—a lover who wears socks in bed, reads Objectivist poetry, and serves as the breeze in her Austin nights. The final acknowledgement of romantic contentment occurs less than three minutes into the album Bury Me at Makeout Creek and by its bitter end, the only thing that can bring Mitski any  comfort is the thought of dying with a clean apartment (“They’ll think of me kindly/ When they come for my things”).

The way an outsider might view her narrator is duly noted just by the loaded title of the song “Townie”—this is someone who’s stuck around far too long after the party ended and almost certainly has a distorted perspective as to whether it was any fun to begin with. “Townie” previews a horrible night out with all the protraction and morbid glee of a suicide pact. Her images are startlingly violent—she wants a love that falls like a body from the balcony, she’s holding her breath with a baseball bat  and sing-along hooks, Mitski shouts, “I’m not gonna be what my daddy wants me to be…I’m gonna be what my body wants me to be,” a call for freedom that’s galvanizing from a teenage perspective, but increasingly sad as songs like “I Don’t Smoke” and “Drunk Walk Home” lay out the terrible life plan the body of this self-described 25 year-old “tall child” has for her.

Though not necessarily nostalgia, the sound of Bury Me at Makeout Creek is inventive and resourceful in a ’90s-indie way. The choruses here soar like power pop, but are subdued by tempo and fidelity, while cheap drum machines are deployed as much for their tone as their rhythm. And even when Bury Me has full band arrangements, everything calls attention to the narrator’s loneliness—awkwardly thumbed basslines, slapdash drumming, a mocking chorale on “Carry Me Out”, organ drones that could pass for someone nodding off on the keys.

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The craft here is obvious, as is the accruing confidence of someone who’s developed a compelling voice in obscurity. Mitski can lay on the emo melodrama (“One word from you/ And I would jump off of this ledge I’m on, baby”) just enough so things aren’t too real and mundane, and while these songs are first-person and personal, they’re meant for an audience.

Mitski Miyawaki is starting to gain a bit of separation from her band; Bury Me at Makeout Creek still sounds like a breakthrough album.

HolyHolyAlbumCover

Holy Holy started out as a song writing side-project, Timothy Carroll and Oscar Dawson had separate and varied musical careers, the duo started writing together when their paths crossed in Europe. The demo’s they created became “When the Storms Would Come”, a hugely successful debut release, and one of the more popular Australian albums in 2015.

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Recorded largely to tape, the album is 10 tracks of elegant song writing, with warm tones, beautiful harmonies and some epic guitar solo’s that give a nod the bands’ love of Neil Young and Pink Floyd. The sound is modern, yet heavily influenced by the artists and sounds from an earlier time. Joined by a regular backing band, the duo has barely been off the road since the album was released, including tours of the UK and Europe. A fantastic live act, they will no doubt gain even more fans when they join Vance Joy on the road early in 2016