As is now traditional, here's my view of the best of 2015 – twenty albums, in a loose interpretation of the term, featured in reverse order. There’s been so much good music this year that JSBX, Kristin McClement, Sleater-Kinney, Fuzz, British Sea Power and many others didn’t make the cut. We hope the 20 records that did will entertain you nonetheless:
20: Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats – 'The Night Creeper'
Getting us off to a tremendous start Kevin (K.R.) Starrs’ throwback crew arrive with an air of mystery and the whiff of fog juice. They’ve supported Black Sabbath with their vintage riffery but they have a distinctive voice. Their fourth excellent album in a row has a shady concept and some guitar driven headbangers straight from the desert sands of Cambridge.
Essential: 'Waiting For Blood', 'Melody Lane', 'The Night Creeper'
19: Godspeed You! Black Emperor – 'Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress'
Canadian masters of the power of the collective continue to kick out the jams. Extended songs with complex lines, so no surprises but as we said previously this is one of their very best releases, not that they’ve exactly been prolific. Find a loop on the London overground after dark, gaze out the window and listen to this, loud.
Essential: 'Asunder, Sweet', 'Piss Crowns Are Trebled'
18: Will Haven – 'Open The Mind To Discomfort'
Now veterans of the scene and one of our very favourite bands, they continue to negotiate the moguls of the music business whilst remaining very much upright. Tight, aggressive, overpowering tunes that are almost as exhausting to listen to as they must be to make. This band has never made an album that’s less than excellent.
Essential: 'Soul Leach', 'Hermit', 'Do You Have A Light'
17: Deafheaven – 'New Bermuda'
Saturday headliners from this year’s ArcTangent festival, they have built a real following amongst critics and fans alike. Inventive music, carefully constructed and delivered with amazing energy on stage, they are amongst the most imaginative forces in post-metal. This follow up to the acclaimed 'Sunbather' album shows them to be in supremely confident form.
Essential: 'Brought To The Water', 'Baby Blue', 'Come Back'
16: OHHMS – 'Cold'
Another band to feature at ArcTangent, OHHMS hail from Kent and are just starting out. They’ve already released 2 great EPs - this is number 2, both of which have just two lengthy tracks. OHHMS tracks tend to start slow and tight, then gradually unravel into uninhibited rock outs, then fade away. Led by Paul Waller’s shamanic vocals, they whip up a complex brew that takes you to uncompromising places and situations. They’re the new Canterbury scene.
Essential: 'Dawn Of The Swarm'
15: Goatsnake – 'Black Age Blues'
Almost a supergroup with stoner roots, this band led by Pete Stahl and Sunn 0)))’s Greg Anderson hasn’t always found a distinctive voice but after a break of over ten years they’ve returned invigorated. Stahl proves he’s a top notch vocalist and the band have something urgent about them. Riffs, grooves & greasy drop tuning – all the good gifts of the desert.
Essential: 'Another River To Cross', 'Jimi’s Gone', 'House Of The Moon'
14: Sir Richard Bishop – 'Tangier Sessions'
Fall in love with a guitar, buy it for more than you can really afford, take it back to your hotel room in Morocco, and record yourself wrangling magic from it. Well that’s the back story to this deceptively simple album from Sir Richard Bishop of Sun City Girls fame. It’s like a breath of fresh air in complicated times, beautifully played and totally unpretentious.
Essential: 'Frontier', 'Safe House', 'Mirage'
13: Sunn O))) – 'Kannon'
Sunn O))) must be the most unusual band to have crossed over into the mainstream of alternative music. Their live shows are so loud they make you puke and their ritual is perhaps as important as the music. Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson have once again recruited extraordinary vocalist Attila Csihar to make a doom laden roar of an album that is both bleak and strangely comforting. There’s a related story about the goddess of mercy to give spiritual context as needed.
Essential: It doesn’t really work like that here but 'Kannon Pt. 3'
12: Torche – 'Restarter'
Floridian band Torche emerged from the ashes of the legendary hardcore band Floor in 2004 and set out to define a genre busting mixture of sludge, stoner and good old rock songs. Four terrific albums later, 'Restarter' is a statement of technique and aesthetic that sees that original vision delivered decisively. Heavy, dense grooves that ring in your ears and resonate around your head for days, these are songs you can and will hum on your way to work. Hardcore’s answer to AC/DC.
Essential: 'Annihilation Affair', 'Bishop In Arms', 'Restarter'
11: Hey Colossus – 'Radio Static High'
After a truly colossal year in which this band from London and the South West released a couple of albums and overhauled their sound quite radically, 'Radio Static High', released in October, cemented their reputation as one of the UK’s very best. As the band say: ‘we feel it is more subversive for us to compose songs with rigid song structures than it is to absentmindedly clang off another riff-athon.’ That said, they do have a touch of the Zepp about them.
Essential: 'Radio Static High', 'Numbed Out', 'Snapping Undone'