As the year draws to a close, it’s time for me to look back over the past 12 months and remember fondly the records that I’ve enjoyed the most this year. I’m going to make a separate list for mixtapes, singles, EPs and maybe even videos. Here are the first five albums on the list:
25. Holy Other – Held
The way Holy Other uses a blend of ambient electronics and sampled vocals to create dark, disconcerting music on his debut LP, Held, is rather unique. The closest comparison would be that of How To Dress Well, with both sharing the ghostly RnB vibes, while Holy Other is less concerned with the lyrical meaning behind the music and more concerned with just creating an eerie, supernatural atmosphere. Held provides 35 minutes of music perfect for taking long late-night walks and cements the UK at the forefront of the electronic music scene.
24. Ty Segall Band – Slaughterhouse
Ty Segall is the only person on the list who I actually had trouble picking just one album from to include this list. Probably one of the most prolific musicians currently working in the business, Ty Segall released not one, not two, but three records this year. Slaughterhouse is the definitive release this year, and maybe even the best album that Segall has ever produced. As the unofficial king of San Franciscan garage freak-folk (which is a much less of a niche than you would imagine) Segall commands his newfound gang of cohorts through 40 minutes of unleashed madness, complete with bone crushing riffs, plenty of wailing and screeching and a few covers thrown in for good measure. Behind a wall of distortion and fuzz is some of the tightest and fastest guitar work of the year. It’s all just an exhillarating joy-ride, culminating in the excessive 10-minute feedback-fest Fuzz War. THIS is proof as to why Ty Segall deserves his reputation. Bravo, sir.
23. Beach House – Bloom
Few albums this year have mezmerised me quite like Bloom. Instead of reinventing themselves with this release, Baltimore’s Beach House chose to hone and perfect their craft, creating an album that is one of the dreamiest albums of the year. Each track sees Victoria Legrand’s heavenly vocals blend seemlessly with lush arrangements of guitars, keyboards and percussion, creating some of the most soothingly beautiful melodies of recent years. Read my review HERE.
22. Woods – Bend Beyond
After releasing albums year in, year out, Woods really struck gold with Bend Beyond. Mixing raw, unharnessed guitar work with their folk-rock roots, Woods have streamlined their sound for the greater good. By focusing on a more straight-forward direction, Woods will undoubtedly gain attention from more than a few new fans, but they make no comprimises in doing so. Frontman Jeremy Earl’s voice really comes into its own on this record, leaving behind the trepidation that he so often hid behind on previous releases. There are still moments of warming sincerity throughout, with “It Ain’t Easy” being a prime example – it has an I’m Wide Awake-era Bright Eyes vibe to it that fans of the band (such as myself) will find instantly endearing, while tracks like “Find Them Empty” reveals the bands’ more psychadelic side once again. Bend Beyond is the most coherent and instantly enjoyable album that they’ve ever put out.
21. METZ – METZ
There’s a good chance that the way METZ stylise their name isn’t intentional; the capital letters and abruptness of ‘METZ’ sort of reflects on the impact the band hope to deliver with their debut, and the result is one and the same. With their debut on the legendary Sub-Pop Records, METZ thrash through eleven face-crushing tracks that pack enough punch to put IceAge in their place. Leaving no room to breathe, this self-titled album is definitely not for the faint hearted. The fact that three dudes from Canada can make so much noise is quite an accomplishment. Between the fuzz-filled guitars, pounding drums and screeched vocals, the band certainly make quite a racket – in the best possible way.
Come back soon to see the next 5 on the list, as well as the top singles, EPs, mixtapes and MORE!