Two thousand and fifteen was a year of gorgeous darkened music. No style form was completely dominant. A microcosm of styles percolated through the digital mediums expressing a variety of takes. I admit I wasn’t all there for pockets of time. However, the music often drew me back in and I was taken by the many different releases that shaped the great year that we will remember as two thousand and fifteen.
1. Nicole Dollangaganger // Natural Born Losers
It’s always hard to choose number one, I’d like to think anything that makes this list is a number one of some kind, there’s shit I’m forgetting, but there’s one record that I keep coming back to listen to over and fucking over, the baby-voiced white trash metal tinged Nicole Dollangagner, there is something really fucking disturbing about this album, which is probably why I like it so much, but these are some unique and fully fucking realized songs. I don’t know if she made any other top tens out there, but she’s one of the few artists keeping it worth while to purchase a whole record, not that other artists aren’t loading their albums with excellent tracks, she’s exceed in making something that fucking puts it foot down and makes a statement right off the bat from the first track, and then continues to deliver over the full arc of the LP tracklist, and then closes with a FUCKING ATOMIC BOMB, I think the album closer is what autoplays from her shit, but you gotta start with “Poachers Pride” and work your way through her shit. Congratulations to her and whoever else was involved in making something that will be important many years from now. Thanks Grimes for doing something worthwhile last year.
2. EyeShadows // EP1
It was infatuation at first sight when I first heard Eyeshadows track “Jump”. I didn’t hold back on my admiration for the duo which had me interviewing them shortly thereafter. This was the artistic direction that I wanted 2015 to be. These were the tracks I needed to play and these sons came through for me.
3. Tamaryn // Cranekiss
Spectacular release from an artist who took shoegaze into dream pop territory. The feedback from the guitars have been swapped for clean chorusy seperation comparable to late 80s early 90s recordings that blessed the early half of my existence. The obvious influences are there: Curve, Cocteau Twins, The Cure, Chapterhouse and Slowdive. I am enamored of how magnificent these tracks sound. When I listen to this, I really feel like I am taking the cellophane off of a cassette tape purchased from a record store at the mall in 1988-1992. Cranekiss should not be missed!
4. Wikana & Marh // Beyond the Dark Mirror
Ambient drone darkness representing 2015 here. These cats WIK▲N & MAHR gave us a haunting journey into the ambient unknown with “Beyond the Dark Mirror”. It was like pouring ice over a curved spine track by track. Into Oblivion, the opener, feels just like the title suggests a note that sustains into oblivion. No false advertising here, just chill factor to infinity.
5. Partisan // II
Bunny, the artist behind the project Partisan, dropped this one in finality after a few alterations and name changes back in March 2015. It opens up in true industrial fashion with the track “Fissure” with some tribal beats conducted on what sounds like a battalion of steel shopping carts clamoring about. Then we move on to “Iced Out” which sounds like a defective steel drum being bent into submission. This album is industrial cinematic to the core. One of the highlights for me in 2015.
6. Sidewalks and Skeletons // White Light
One of the standouts for 2015 was this masterpiece which employed a masterclass of vocal contributions from Emily Hall, Masha Petrova, Crossparty, †LOΛΣΓS† and Lauren Greenwood. From the cinematic instrumental opener entitled “Fall” to the various ups and downs of this post-witch player, the darkness is ever so eloquently fallen upon us here on the planet when this bitch plays. Goth, which is track #4, is probably one of the most purest heart lifting tracks I have heard, a definite title track for me. After months of self-isolation and experimentation, S & S have brought a worthwhile follow up to their 2014 album ‘Future Ghosts’ which was a top album for me in 2014. Some will call this a very natural progression which includes some new styles and themes that are new to the palate. I find this release a very rewarding listen and hope you will enjoy this the same way I have — by playing the tracks in the album order preferable under the canopy of some white light.
7. Neon Shudder // Hex Phase
Hex Phase released an ultra fast 4-tracker which was an absolute ode to the late 1980s futurism that should have been realized via the soundtrack of a Sega console. The standout for me is the carefully thought out and well orchestrated “Petrichor”. This track does everything I need it to. It builds and carefully disassembles its self like a fine art. Like a video game though, before you know it this album is over which pretty much describes 2015.
8. Prison for Kids // Revived Devine
Real artists are the types that are constantly pushing the boundaries of creativity. I like to dabble my deep dark dives with experimental dreamy gaze and this is where “Revived Divine” fitted my 2015. Take the opener “On Night” which teases the soundtrack of my darkened slumbers. Then wash it away with embracing pop structures which is all-together abandoned song after song for warped experimental soundscapes. I believe it is the crystalline notes that ultimately leads this black cat down a path of unique propulsive experimentation.
9. Beach House // Depression Cherry
I hate to use this space to push any of the big boys/girls/non-biary persons music, but fuck, Beach House put out their best record since their first if you ask me. Beautiful shit that almost doesn’t work, or sometimes almost works too well, but they fucking nail it, this shows some Talking Heads level control on one of two records pushed our in the same year. Some fucking beautiful examples of losing yourself in your art, and living that shit. If the music isn’t you, then it’s a waste of everyones time. I’m punishing Beach House with an 8 position for their top 40 status, and the fact that I’ll have to rub buts with bros if I end up at one of their shows, maybe that wouldn’t be so bad though.
10. Pictureplane // Technomancer
I’ll deal very straight with you here, really love the new Pictureplane, it would be higher on this chart if there weren’t so many reworked elements that I recognize from “Thee Physical” however the tracks that work are amazing, the title track is worth the purchase alone, and Riot Porn gets me hyped up to dance sexy in the mirror and ask if imaginary people would like to fuck me. I can remember all the way back to when I dropped the first leaked track from this lovely.
11. AFX // ORPHANED DEEJAY SELEK 2006 -08
I wonder how Richard D. James processes life, it must be horrible to look through his mental window, he makes capturing the full spectrum of the rainbow in music seem effortless. I blast off to this music nightly.
12. HEALTH // Death Magic
HEALTH continue their amazing work, would have never guessed this would be their evolution back in the first decade of the 00s, but happy they continued the journey. Death Magic is their best LP yet, if you like them, and you’re reading this blog so you probably do, if you don’t own it then buy it. You’ll be happy you did.
13. High Functioning Flesh // Definite Structures
I like this, everyone seems to as well, I put it on here. I don’t know if I want to throw this record the parade that everyone else is, but I enjoy it. Nice very 80s throwback.
14. Brandy Kills // Violent but silent pain
This dude keeps turning out some amazing music, there’s few dark electronic artists giving us the classic melodies and solid feel that the Brandy Kills albums continue to deliver. To the best of my knowledge he lives in Siberia, and at points has been a duo, all I can say is a lot of artists are too comfortable, the sheer desire and focus are audible on these recordings. Make your passion your main focus is the lesson learned from Brandy Kills, or you end up with a half assed band.
15. Years & Years // Communion
When you process something enough times it comes out the other side as something like a weird game of telephone, this is slick and sometimes contrived attempt at being a by the numbers radio pop album has transmuted into something mechanical that has grown a soul. Don’t let their audience dissuade you from enjoying this record, it is the sound of now, but redefined by artists whose skewed perspective made their Epic R&B Techno into an emotionally painful and celebratory revelation, great arrangements that destroy their other mainstream competition when it comes to artistry. Play the whole thing, don’t jump around and you’ll be rewarded by melodic surprises and the R&B experience that so many artists have been promising, with surprisingly beautiful vocals.