Gig Review: The Front Bottoms @ The Barras, Glasgow

words + photos by dominic cassidy (@lyre_of_apollo)

The Front Bottoms were back in Glasgow, on tour for their latest album: Going Grey. After the unconventionalness of their fourth LP, I was stressing to see what their show would be like – but thankfully they did not disappoint.

Preceding them were a set of solid support acts: psychedelic American outfit Brick + Mortar were the first to get the crowd prepped for the New Jersey rock boys who exploded onto the stage in ecstatic weirdness – and immediately pulled the crowd into their set. The main support for the night was Aussie lo-fi rockers the Smith Street Band – whose chill noises grooved over the crowd, sounding quite like old school Front Bottoms and setting up perfectly for the top billing.

The Front Bottoms, shrouded in shadow, kicked off the night, being met with ravenous applause from the Barrowlands crowd. The band opened with You Used To Say (Holy Fuck) to an explosive response. It really shows the band at their best – turning a song with electro inflections – and from an album that didn’t receive the most positive reviews – into a stripped down, absolutely interstellar opening for their set.

The band hit out with Help and Vacation Town next. These tracks with very little input from the band, turned the audience into a swirling mess of mosh pits and lyrics being thrown up to the band. I think this really speaks to the whole vibe of The Front Bottoms, being able to make songs with such affecting and often dour lyrics so relatable that the audience knows them verbatim.

As the show went on, the band hit some of the older tracks out with the likes of Swimming Pool and Be Nice To Me, among others. The band then finished off their set with Twin Size Mattress. It was these tracks that really showed the real vibe of the band – hitting out with music that they know the fans love. And in saying that, this comfort really lends itself to the band, you can see on stage how happy they are to be there.

After the wee “that’s us done” walk-off, the band were immediately called back for one more tune. Frontman Brian Sella monologued for a bit, talking to the crowd, and about Scotland – before getting right into it with 12 Feet Deep; with which the rest of the band faded back in, transitioning from Sella playing solo to the full band back on stage together. After this the ever fantastic Skeleton was wheeled out, followed by the last track of the night, Oceans. It seems like it gave some sense of narrative to the night as the band had opened with the first track off Going Grey. However it does seem like a kinda funny choice to make for the last track of the night – and even more, for the encore songs. Despite this, it still delivered a great performance for the crowd, showing off really well what the band can do.

The Front Bottoms is a band which easily inspire a sense of chillness as well as a sense of togetherness – encouraging you to rock out to a cracking band in a room full of people that are doing the same. Plain and simple: it’s just pretty cool.

10 Worst Albums of 2017

You’ll be happy, or sad, to know that this list is the last negative one to drop all year though all that means is that the team are gonna blow their collective loads over the worst music we’ve been subjected to all year.

Of course, this is entirely subjective and if you find any joy from the below albums then we’re glad you did: we didn’t. If you do have any grievances with our choices then you know where to send them so let’s batter on, shall we?

10. Wonderful Wonderful
by The Killers

If you’re familiar with The Killers, you might know that they have released their first album in five years in 2017. If you’re not, you might have not even noticed they were gone. Wonderful Wonderful picks up as if they never left, neither improving nor maturing upon their last effort, Battle BornWonderful Wonderful does not act as an improvement in The Killers’ discography, but instead, plays the same formula they’ve been following for the past 13 years.

Wonderful Wonderful would have sounded better had it been released in 2013, back when Get Lucky by Daft Punk was the biggest song in the world. Maybe then, The Man could have stood as a decent radio single. Almost every element of Wonderful Wonderful sounds incredibly stale in the current genre of indie rock. Making songs like Rut, fueled by frontman Brandon Flowers’s distress with trying to help his wife’s PTSD condition, feel passionless. Like Rut, most of the songs off Wonderful Wonderful try to sound like the grand stadium-closer track that electrifies the crowd and instead sound like the deep cut off their new album that nobody knows the words too.

The Killers lack a certain element that makes their songs sound as grand as they want them to sound. What made songs on Hot Fuss sound as exciting and fresh as they did at the time, and endless revisable as they do today, has been poorly executed throughout their following studio albums. Wonderful Wonderful, not acting as an exception, but further proving the point that The Killers are not as great as you would like them to be. – Ryan Martin (@ryanmartin182)

FULL REVIEW HERE

9. Going Grey 
by The Front Bottoms

The Front Bottoms have been one of the biggest stars of the underground indie community of this decade. Originating as a duo of simple acoustic power chords, provocative lyrics, and catchy melodies, TFB have managed to retain their dedicated fan base since the release of their self-titled 6 years ago. Surely, fans must expect the raw, emotional, amateur sound of the early releases to evolve and mature over time.

This was hinted at with 2015’s Back On Top, which incorporated a fuller and more mainstream sound to what fans were used to expecting from the New Jersey duo. TFB’s latest, Going Grey, takes a strong lead into the direction Back On Top foreshadowed. With heavy synths, trap hi-hats, and minor use of the acoustic guitar, it’s leaving day one fans scratching their heads.

Going Grey plays front to back much less like an album but more as a collection of songs. There are too many skippable songs for an 11-track record and not enough heartfelt moments for it to even feel like a Front Bottoms record. The only consistent element throughout TFB’s discography is the vocal range that Sella has kept throughout the years. It’s the only thing that still feels in place about the band but also sounds so out of place when backed by a sound that sounds desperate for radio play. 

Going Grey may have added more elements, instruments, and layers to TFB’s early minimalistic approach, and there are definite highlights to be found in Vacation Town, but the result sounds less like an evolved, matured version of the band than a sell-out, cheapened version. – Ryan Martin (@ryanmartin182)

FULL REVIEW HERE

8. Reputation
by Taylor Swift

When following up a successful record, 2 of an artist’s main goals should be not to repeat what they did on their previous LP, and for this progression to make the new record better as a result. However, on new album Reputation, Taylor Swift did neither of these things.

In short, her tacky new trap sound found on roughly half of the record’s tracks (…Ready For It?) was so hideous that it saw insufferable lead single Look What You Made Me Dovoted as Blinkclyro’s worst track of the year. On top of this, Swift made the bizarre decision to unsubtly write all her beef into her music for the first time, literally beating listeners over the head with the knowledge of how detestably petty she is.

To be fair, there were 2 excellent tracks on Reputation: Getaway Car and New Year’s Day. The only problem? Getaway Car sounds exactly like what Swift did on 1989 and New Year’s Day is a bizarre hark back to her Speak Now days.

The risks she took on Reputation flopped just about as badly as they could have, and anything good about the record heard her merely repeating what she’d done before. – Andrew Barr (@weeandreww)

FULL REVIEW HERE

7. Low In Highschool
by Morrissey

Not since Breaking Bad can we recall the descent of a man quite like Morrissey: starting off in one of the most iconic bands of the 20th century, the quiffy man seems unable to close his big mouth and as he’s got older, the more he starts to resemble UKIP’s key demographic.

This bleeds into his latest album Low In Highschool, a record full of idiotic choices in terms of instrumentals & production (Spent The Day In Bed) to the idotic appraisal of war mongerers while…criticising warmongerers (Israel)?

The question of separating the art from the artist has come up time and time again this year but this Morrisey LP goes to show how near impossible it is to do so: it’s an insult to your brain as well as your ears. – Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

6. Memories…Do Not Open
by The Chainsmokers

A wise man once said: The Chainsmokers are the musical equivalent of those weird twenty-year-old guys studying photography in college who message sixteen-year-old girls stating they’re “fascinated by their minds lol xD”. That man is Josh Adams and he owes me a fiver, so if you see him, break his legs.

Memories…Do Not Open is enough to make me feel the anguish those who regularly slate chart music must feel as they exclude themselves from pop bangers: unfortunately, said bangers will not be found in this album. On all levels apart from physical, this album is sheer shite.

If you’ve ever heard an EDM song in your entire life then not only will you get deja-vu but you’ll get the unshakeable feeling that you’re witnessing a murder scene as this duo show off the drained remains of anything that could be considered “a tune”. In addition to the lacklustre production, the attempts of singing on this record are utterly laughable: Break Up Every Night is the manifestation of everything bad about this LP, featuring some of the poorest vocals to be put into an album all year along with some of the worst lyrics I’ve ever heard in my life;

She wants to break up every night / Then tries to fuck me back to life

“She got seven personalities, everyone’s a tragedy.”

If their name is anything to go by then it’s only a matter of time until The Chainsmokers quit the cigarettes, pick up a vape, lose their cool cred and fade into obscurity like they should have after that dreadful selfie song.  – Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

5. SCUM
by RAT BOY

Finally dropping their debut album SCUM, the album everyone wanted in 2015, Rat Boy added to the pile of mediocre indie rock to populate the British music scene. The only unique thing each track has is a different band or artist to rip off; think of any significant British act in the past 30 years and no doubt rat boy will have mimicked them with abysmal results on their debut album.

Any potential that the band had is buried in their influences and their desire for popularity has produced a safe and tedious effort that brings nothing fresh to the table at all. Even older songs such as Left 4 Dead have been butchered to death for the studio album and all the energy that the band could have had is replaced with cringe-worthy lyrics, forced themes and forgettable instrumentals.

Oh and if for some reason you actually still want to listen to this PLEASE don’t listen to the deluxe version; it has these radio “skits” that are just awful and make the entire thing even worse (if you can imagine that). – Ethan Woodford (@human_dis4ster)

FULL REVIEW HERE

4. As You Were
by Liam Gallagher

If there’s one positive thing I can say about Liam Gallagher, it’s that he’s got the marketing game down to an absolute tee: amassing a cult following thanks to his trademark Twitter ramblings, exposing a new age of fans to his erratic behaviour, it’s definitely helped him get back on his feet after the disaster that was Beady Eye and his media portrayal over the past few years.

That being said; why is his debut LP so painfully dull? I will admit that it was a clever move to get Greg Kurstin of Adele production fame on board to allow his songs to mutate into some earworms but there are delightful earworms and then there are the terminal ones that are injecting some sort of toxin into your membrane without you realising.

As stated, the biggest gripe I have with this album is just so by the numbers it is though unlike a coloring book, which provides some sort of vibrance, As You Were works with greys, dark greys and some slightly lighter shades of grey. – Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

FULL REVIEW HERE

3. Erratic Cinematic
by Gerry Cinnamon 

What can be said about this Scottish upstart that hasn’t been said already? Plenty, apparently. Everycunt and their dogs seem to love Gerry Cinnamon and his HASHTAGRELATABLE songs. To be fair to the lad, they do cover a plethora of topics. From getting drunk to taking drugs… to girls… to… taking drugs and getting drunk! Truly a poet of our times.

If I hadn’t made it abundantly clear, I hate Gerry Cinnamon’s music and especially his latest album Erratic Cinematic. I really, really do. It’s the exact opposite of what I would choose to listen to regularly, but I saw Twitter ranting and raving about this man and his guitar, so I lamented and had a wee listen. This was all after I seen his “Legendary” set at TRNSMT festival this year, which I absolutely fucking hated every second of. But I thought it was only fair to give his studio album a wee try, see what the craic was.

I have now decided to never be fair again because honestly and truly, this is one of the worst albums I’ve heard in years. I’ve been known to be hyperbolic from time to time, but I genuinely mean it. It’s so bad that I can’t bring myself to listen to it again. Just listen to Sometimes and Belter and if any part of you enjoys it, let me know so I can entirely block you from my life.

The only slightly redeeming quality of this album is Gerry’s vocals, which are fine. But on record, they sound like they were recorded when he was trapped in a fridge that’s orbiting Jupiter. So tinny and manufactured sounding. To be honest the entire album was recorded piss poorly.

Who knows, maybe if Gerry stumbles into an actual working studio one day, he might do a Jake Bugg and end up maturing into a decent artist, but for the moment this is by the numbers, utterly forgettable, “for the people” lad-folk that will leave a bad taste in the mouth of any self-respecting music fan. – Jake Cordiner (@jjjjaketh)

2. Pacific Daydream
by Weezer

When I listened to Pacific Daydream, Weezer’s 11th(!) studio album, I wasn’t angry or even disappointed, I was sad. Genuinely, actually sad. Coming off of 2014’s return to form Everything Will Be Alright In The End and 2016’s genuinely fantastic White Album, it was a great time to be a Weezer fan.

They’d gone back to the halcyon days of masterpieces Blue Album and Pinkerton and seemed to have abandoned the overly poppy sheen that saturated albums like Raditude or Red Album. Weezer were doing the impossible, they were winning back the fans they’d lost, and convincingly at that.

Then, earlier this year, they dropped Feels Like Summer, the lead single from Pacific Daydream, and everyone started to worry. This wasn’t Weezer. This was the disgusting, mutated love child of modern Fall Out Boy and naughties Weezer, and it wasn’t even as good as either of them. Transparent, nothing backing vocals. A jaunty wee piano line. Shite lead vocals from the more often than mot serviceable Rivers Cuomo. What the fuck was this? More importantly, why the fuck was this?

They stopped trying, Weezer stopped giving a fucking shit. I don’t know if Rivers and the lads just decided they were bored of writing actual good power pop and decided to just completely pull the rug from underneath all of the OG fans who thought it was safe to go back into the Weezer-infested water for a laugh. I cannot wrap my head around it.

The whole album is just like Feels Like Summer; boring, bland as you like pop-rock. Mexican Fender is a bit catchy, but it just sounds like a song they knew wasn’t good enough for White Album. I’m getting all fired up now so I’m away for a lie-down. I expect a written apology from Weezer for this abomination, and FAST. – Jake Cordiner (@jjjjaketh)

1. Divide
by Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran is a confusing man. Whilst he seems like a genuinely nice guy, his music is so bland and vanilla you’ve forgotten what the song sounds like before it finishes.

Despite the fact it was wholesomely boring, Shape of You seemed to be one of the biggest tracks of 2017, capitalising on a clearly large market of heterosexual couples who enjoy missionary sex, chicken kormas and racially abusing train guards after two mulled wines at the Christmas market.

Can you remember what Barcelona sounds like? Bet you thought Dive was on the last album, didn’t you? Whilst Multiply had a few choice cuts on it, Divide saw the ginger guitar grandmaster dive deeper into milquetoast music for people who just don’t care about what they listen to.

25465932_10154978412625811_384883043_n
“You know I had to do it to Ed”

Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think either in the comments below or beef us over on our Twitter (@blinkclyro).

The Front Bottoms – Going Grey ALBUM REVIEW

By Ryan Martin (@RyanMartin182)

The Front Bottoms have been one of the biggest stars of the underground indie community of this decade. Originating as a duo of simple acoustic power chords, provocative lyrics, and catchy melodies, TFB have managed to retain their dedicated fan base since the release of their self-titled 6 years ago. Surely, fans must expect the raw, emotional, amateur sound of the early releases to evolve and mature over time. This was hinted at with 2015’s Back On Top, which incorporated a fuller and more mainstream sound to what fans were used to expecting from the New Jersey duo. TFB’s latest, Going Grey, takes a strong lead into the direction Back On Top foreshadowed. With heavy synths, trap hi-hats, and minor use of the acoustic guitar, it’s leaving day one fans scratching their heads.

Now backed by a major-label home to acts like Twenty One Pilots, Paramore, and All Time Low (who are also all acts that have changed their sound to suit a more mainstream audience), The Front Bottoms have made the full transition into an indie-pop rock act. Songs like Grand Finale and Trampoline are nauseating examples of the new sound TFB have acquired. Being a fan of TFB for quite some time now, the idea of a new sound doesn’t upset me. As much as I would have loved another song like The Beers on Going Grey, the members are all growing older and wiser and trying to mature the sound of their band. The material of Going Grey is a full departure from their earlier work and a very clear attempt to market themselves as a popular mainstream act. Making the record feel cheap, unclean and almost painful to get through.

With multiple listens, songs from Going Grey only unravel their flaws overtime rather than bloom into songs with a lasting impact. Front man Brian Sella’s vocals on the opening track, You Used to Say (Holy Fuck) sound less like the raw passionate ones heard on earlier records and instead sounds out of place behind an overproduced and forgettable instrumental. Songs like Peace Sign and Vacation Town use poppy piano and horn riffs to latch their way into your brain and have dull choruses. Lyrically, Brian Sella steps back immensely. Earlier lyrics from the band left lyrics that felt honest and like they meant something to both the listener and the writer. Lyrics from Going Grey either sound like a cheap attempt to cater to tweens or come off as clunky. Don’t Fill Up On Chips has existed as a demo Sella had been workshopping for months and made its way onto YouTube as an acoustic song called Tommy. The final product is one of the clumsiest songs not even on the record but of this year. The chorus is stale and the lyrics from the verses are too corny to be taken seriously with lines like

“Tommy I love you

I confess

Are you impressed

With what I profess?”

Highlights include Raining and Vacation Town, which are built off of strong instrumentals and decent hooks. While maintaining the same sound as the rest of the record, there’s an amount of charm that shines through with these two tracks that stands above the others. They’re by no means fantastic tracks but in the context of Going Grey, they’re fun track to nod your head to. An interesting aspect of Going Grey is the decrease in quality behind the choruses. Tracks like Far Drive, which sounds like a rip-off of a Walk The Moon song, have such poorly written choruses that it could have been done by a poetic middle-schooler.

“Far drive

Totally worth it

Just to see you

Act alive

Plus being

In the car with

People you love is

Always a good time”

Going Grey plays front to back much less like an album but more as a collection of songs. There are too many skippable songs for an 11-track record and not enough heartfelt moments for it to even feel like a Front Bottoms record. The only consistent element throughout TFB’s discography is the vocal range that Sella has kept throughout the years. It’s the only thing that still feels in place about the band but also sounds so out of place when backed by a sound that sounds desperate for radio play. Going Grey may have added more elements, instruments, and layers to TFB’s early minimalistic approach, but the result sounds less like an evolved, matured version of the band than a sell-out, cheapened version.

The Front Bottoms – Needy When I’m Needy EP REVIEW

By Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)

Managing to further refine their already solid pop punk and emo-fueled sound on last year’s Back On Top, one of the best records to be released in 2015, The Front Bottoms have treated fans prior to their UK tour with a two song EP. Titled Needy When I’m Needy, the release features b-sides that didn’t make the cut but upon listening to them, it’s hard to figure out how they didn’t make an appearance on their last LP.

Opening up with Joanie, the similarities between this and Wolfman off the GDP split EP are made pretty apparent: just like how the latter opens up with a shimmering instrumental akin to The Cure, Joanie kicks things off with an echoey guitar that paves the way off for one of the band’s most layered tracks to date. Brian Sella’s delivery of romance adorned quips is still music to the ears, never too droney and as smooth as butter, managing to give off that awkward aura that has cemented The Front Bottoms in the hearts of many introverts. Lines like “Do you ever think maybe I could be one of those things that you hate but eventually learn to love” further solidifies this and are further proof of the jump the band have made in terms of songwriting.

If Joanie represents the new and improved Front Bottoms then Tighten Up displays all the traits that veterans of the acts would describe as classic. Thankfully the step back in sound doesn’t affect the overall quality and still stands out as one of the better tracks the band have crafted over the past year or so. As a youtube comment under the official video puts it perfectly “the trumpet in this song made me nut”.

Needy When I’m Needy stands out as one of The Front Bottom’s most approachable releases to date, showing both sides of the emo outfit like no other release prior to this has. Whether you want to see a more mature and experienced take on their pop punk sound or you want to revel in nostalgia at the sound of horns and drums in unison, this is the EP you need in your life, fan or newcomer alike.

8/10

~

CONTACT US 4 REVIEWS

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK

Top 25 Albums Of 2015

It’s time.

List season. It’s odd how something with such a boring name could cause heated debate amongst many, though that’s nothing new for the internet. So as I’ve always done since 2013, I’ve compiled a list of my favourite albums of the past 12 months, ranging from heavy rock to pop to grime to rap, there’ll no doubt be something here for you. Disagree with me? Well you could always contribute to my Best of 2015 post which is coming next Thursday, just message me on Twitter or Facebook and you’ll be sorted!

I hope you enjoy this list which took far too much time to make than I’m proud to admit. So put the pitchforks down for now and let’s dive in.

25. At. Long. Last. ASAP – A$AP Rocky

ASAP

Following up his 2013 debut Long Live ASAP, Harlem rapper A$AP Rocky gets even more experimental on this sophomore album. While there’s significantly less chart gems present than his last outing, the same charm and production value can be felt on every track.

 

24. Purpose – Justin Bieber

277737

Time for all those awfully spelt insults and memes we made about biebs to disappear. He is back and with a totally transformed sound as those who once slated him are now praising him as tracks like Sorry are pop perfection. While his vocals might be a bit lackluster and too safe, the influence Kanye, Skrillex and co. have had on the lad has paid off.

23. Back On Top – The Front Bottoms

1425x1425sr

While Talon Of The Hawk felt like a AAA version of The Front Bottoms’ self loathing lyric fueled sound, Back On Top feels like the beginning of a new chapter for the band. Historic Cemetery just screams Weezer and other tracks like Cough It Out are as catchy as a cold (albeit more enjoyable). A near flawless amalgamation of emo & pop-punk.

22. Every Open Eye – CHVRCHES 

CHVRCHES

There’s no denying that CHVRCHES are one of the best new bands to come out in quite a while, breathing new life into the synth pop genre and yet again reiterating how vibrant the Glasgow music scene is. Every Open Eye is like the Empire Strikes Back for the band: more gritty, more epic but faithful to what made the band what they are.

21. For All My Sisters – The Cribs

maxresdefault

West Yorkshire band The Cribs might have hit out with their best album yet, full of the indie punk greatness that put them on the radar in the first place. See Pink Snow for a chaotic crescendo closer that results in another classic album for the band’s discography.

 

20. Currents – Tame Impala

tame-impala-currents

Despite constantly being compared to the likes of Radiohead for their album rock genius, Tame Impala somehow manage to merge frontman Kevin Parker’s uncontrollable love of pop and their trademark psychedelic sound to craft something truly special. A breakup album disguised as a feel good, funky gem, Currents is only as good as the sum of its parts and those parts are undeniably brilliant.

19. Sometimes I Sit And Think And Sometimes I Just Sit – Courtney Barnett

SIJS-2400

Courtney Barnett has proved time and time again why she deserves to be put on a pedestal, despite what she might say on Pedestrian At Best. Sometimes I Sit.. has an unprecedented charm to it and is insanely listenable. Absolutely exceptional.

 

 

18. Art Angels – Grimes

grimes-art-angels-album-stream-listen

As abnormally appealing as they come, Grimes returns with a record which is far more pop orientated than anything she’s ever made before yet it still retains all her trademark characteristics. California is a radio friendly hit that never verges into sell-out territory. She may have scrapped an entire album before this but when the replacement sounds this good, we’re not losing any sleep.

17. Cherry Bomb – Tyler The Creator

Cherry_Bomb_Tyler_the_Creator

While the ever controversial Tyler may have had a bad 2015 (OFWGKTA is no more, fall out with best pal Earl Sweatshirt, banned from UK), he can end the year knowing his latest album is arguably his best yet. A Frankenstein’s monster of sorts, Cherry Bomb fuses Tyler’s influencers (N.E.R.D, Stevie Wonder) and his own own dubious rap style to make a distorted masterpiece.

16. Another One – Mac DeMarco

Another-One-Mac-DeMarco

It really is testament to how talented Mac DeMarco is that a mini album manages to stand above full LPs. In his own words, Another One is about “different kinds of facets of being in love, being out of love, wanting love, not wanting love”. This concept never grows tiresome over the record’s eight track length and further refines his already sublime laid back sound.

15. Happy People – Peace 

81Hw2HpbxBL._SL1500_

Peace know what they are: floppy haired indie royalty, just like Arctic Monkeys before them. They’re not ashamed of this in the slightest though as they embrace this wholeheartedly. Happy People has exactly what you’d expect from the guys who brought you bloodshake as well as some even heavier tracks like I’m A Girl, showing the band are still as capable as ever to fire out some more indie-rock gems.

14. What Went Down – Foals

Foals (1)

It’s hard to recall an album this year that has managed to balance balls to the wall heavy rock and cordial little tracks all on the one LP. Foals have proven yet again that it’s not in their DNA to make a bad album.

 

13. Are You Satisfied – Slaves

81rIWd69XNL._SL1417_The debut album is often a record which most bands would play it safe on to be more approachable by the public. This isn’t the case for Kent punk duo Slaves who showcase their silliness on Feed The Mantaray while also trying to get their message across of “doing something with your lives” to listeners. Regardless if they succeed in doing so, the boys manage to stand out from every two piece band around at the moment, no small feat at all.

12. The Mindsweep – Enter Shikari

Enter-ShikariS_The-Mindsweep_5x5_300-1000px

2015 was undoubtedly one of the most important years for UK politics and no band knows and represents this better than Enter Shikari. From the feedback heavy track Anaesthetist dealing with the privatisation of the NHS to the unsubtly commentary on the corruption of bankers on Bank Of England, the band make their voice well and truly heard and it’s never sounded so good.

11. If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late – Drake

cce7159047d388ffb864e6f66d104f53d76109b8

For a man who is worth millions, if not billions, Drake’s latest album is surprisingly minimalistic in comparison to other rapper’s records. However, this surprise release benefits from this, managing to hit out with the anthems you’d expect from Drizzy while managing to be retrospective. A man that can’t be stopped.

 

10. Too – FIDLAR

12390F44-E144-54B9-1F83C628C2FDF4B6

Los Angeles band FIDLAR love drugs (despite just getting out of rehab), drinking and self loathing. They lay all their cards out on the table so that they and the listeners can get down to business and have a good time. Wouldn’t you know it, they do exactly that. Heavily inspired by the 90’s teen angst bands like blink-182, Too is a 42 minute record that is all about having fun and provides just that. Simple yet amazing.

9. My Love Is Cool – Wolf Alice

Wolf-Alice-My-Love-Is-Cool

Is it any surprise that Wolf Alice are the biggest new act of 2015? The band have built up a hype hurricane since their very first EP which hasn’t been helped by the likes of NME naming them a “band that will change your life” and being nominated for multiple awards. Thankfully this hasn’t derailed the band who deliver a record bursting with heart and grunge-lite sound. One of the greatest debuts of the past decade.

8. Life’s Not Out To Get You – Neck Deep

Neck_Deep_LNOTGY_featured

Pop punk has had its own sort of renaissance this year with Knuckle Puck mixing the emo sound of American Football with the appeal a genre like this brings. Neck Deep have filled the converse of blink-182 with an album that is full of the same polish and emotion as Enema Of The State. A band that are worth keeping your eye on.

7. Positive Songs For Negative People – Frank Turner

Positive_Songs_for_Negative_People

You’ll struggle to find a solo artist with the same raw passion as Frank Turner. After constructing a record about heartbreak that was enough to make the toughest person feel second hand remorse, PSFNP does exactly what it says on the tin. Any self professed cynic will find themselves drawn in by the snarling guitars and folk rock genius of certain tracks, showing that Frank is arguably the most talented Turner in the business.

6. The Powers That B – Death Grips

b541e50f5fdb5e4cc59e433d25219c46

Sacramento experimental hip hop band Death Grips are…weird to say the least. This statement proves to be the most true when listening to Jenny Death, the second half of TPTB, which came out of fucking nowhere in traditional Death Grips fashion. It serves as a reminder to why many fell in love with the band: pure uncut anarchy with the staple MC Ride delivery. Although it isn’t as tremendous as The Money Store, it’s the perfect combination of rap and rock, especially on tracks like On GP.

5. Integrity > – JME

71BnHp7rRGL._SL1400_

Just like pop punk, Grime witnessed a second wind this year, solidified by artists like Skepta breaking into the charts and a flamethrower extravaganza at the Brits when many artists from the genre joined Kanye on stage. While it may not have topped charts, JME’s latest record is the best record in the genre since Boy In Da Corner. Independently released, JME preaches about keyboard warriors, veganism and his disinterest in others opinions. Over the 16 tracks and countless video game references, it’s painfully clear that JME is loving what he’s doing, not having to answer to a boss and in the process he’s stumbled upon one of the most refreshing albums of the year.

4. Get To Heaven – Everything Everything

EverythingEverythingGetToHeavenArtwork2015750

Bare with me here. Yes, if you had asked me a few years ago if I would ever enjoy an Everything Everything album I would probably have laughed you off. However, the Manchester act aren’t regarded as genre defying for nothing and their latest release is proof of that. Full to the brim with infectious pop and insanely danceable tracks, Get To Heaven is unlike anything to come out this year. It has political commentary so well hidden by its 60’s beats and weirdly catchy alarm clock samples that even if they were stripped away, the album as a whole would still stand on its own. Imaginative and unique, Get To Heaven can be three genres at once but still be described with one word: exhilarating.

3. That’s The Spirit – Bring Me The Horizon

IMG_0049

After a brutal history with the drug Ketamine, Oli Sykes says he came out of Rehab feeling like he didn’t want to scream anymore, he wanted to “sing from the fucking rooftops”. Just as Sykes overcame his addiction, so to have Bring Me The Horizon overcame the troubles that most bands face when changing their sound. Although hardcore fans who have been there since their metalcore days may be disappointed about the transition, there is no denying the layered and evolved synths and atmosphere that come in hand with them are on an such a level of quality that it’s hard to think of a band that does it as well as them. Without a doubt, the best rock album of 2015.

2. In Colour – Jamie XX

Jamie_InCol_Cover_4000_020315_935bcd22-857f-4f34-8147-459668cdecdb

It’s hard to fault Jamie Smith when it comes to his skills as a producer. Many felt like working with The XX was limiting his range, musically, and whilst members of the band make appearances throughout, In Colour not only stands on its own two legs, it stands out as an absolute juggernaut of a record. The brilliant thing about In Colour is how difficult it is to pigeon hole. It’s been described by some reviewers as a rave album and some tracks like the aforementioned Gosh could imply that it is such an album. However each track can be interpreted in so many and the term “electronic” is so vague that it’s almost insulting. Whether you think it’s a rave album, a techno one or even a semi reggae one for some reason, you’re both right and wrong. One thing is for sure though and that’s that you’ll definitely be in the latter if you decide to give this album a skip.

 

And the best album of the year is…

To Pimp A Butterfly – Kendrick Lamar

3813bcd3d4accb7634eea23a2a7ab190.1000x1000x1

What else was it going to be? Let’s all confess for a minute: we were all worried. How on earth could Kendrick Lamar top the move-esque masterpiece that was Good Kid m.A.A.d city? We were anxious as fuck but once To Pimp A Butterfly dropped out of nowhere, all those worries were laid to rest.

Criticise me if you wish but Lamar is the new king of rap as his scope reaches a ginormous scale you’d expect from a firearm. Showing the rage of Kanye (Blacker The Berry), romantic nature of Drake (Complexion) and the unpredictableness that only Lamar himself can provide, TPAB could have been a lame, safe follow up. Instead it tackles integrated racism in America, staying true to yourself by turning down stardom and…talking to Tupac. Seriously though, Kendrick is a man who knows where he stands in the music world. He knows he’s one of the biggest artists in the world and he uses this position for good, asking for gangs to reconcile, calling out rappers for being shams and telling the listener to love themselves.

There’s not much I can say about To Pimp A Butterfly that hasn’t been said already but what I can say is this: it’s not only the best album of 2015, it’s arguably the best album to come out this century.

Big love, Liam x

Twitter | Facebook