Top 50 LPs of 2015

Odd Box has released 5 LPs this year. Asking me to rank those is an impossible task. But each of these 5 albums deserve to be mentioned in any self respecting blog post considering their favourite releases of 2015:

Frozy – Lesser Pop
The Manhattan Love Suicides – More Heat! More Panic!
The Ethical Debating Society – New Sense
Two White Cranes – Radisson Blue
Nervous Twitch – Get Back In Line

I shan’t include them in the run down below. But rest assured these are great albums and deserve to be heard by all.

Here are my ‘other’ favourite albums of the year.

01 Ela Orleans – Upper Hell (HB Recordings)
02 Sauna Youth – Distractions (Upset The Rhythm)
03 Eerie Summer – the way i don’t understand anything anymore (Self Released)
04 Flying Saucer Attack – Instrumentals 2015 (Domino)
05 Pinkshinyultrablast – Everything Else Matters (Club AC30)
06 Drinks – Hermits On Holiday (Heavenly)
07 Try The Pie – Domestication (Salinas Records)
08 SPORTS – All Of Something (Father/Daughter records)
09 Wireheads – Big Issues (Tenth Court)
10 Evans The Death – Expect Delays (Fortuna Pop)

11 Mammoth Penguins – Hide & Seek (Fortuna Pop)
12 Beef Jerk – Tragic (Self Released)
13 Peach Kelli Pop – III (Burger)
14 Totem Terrors – Hard Science (Diet Pops)
15 Chorusgirl – Chorusgirl (Fortuna Pop)
16 Dead Friends – The Worthless Chug Of Affluence (Lugubrious Audio)
17 Fever Dream – Moyamoya (Club AC30)
18 Expert Alterations – You Can’t Always Be Liked (Kanine)
19 The Fireworks – Switch Me on (Shelflife)
20 The Spook School – Try To Be Hopeful (Fortuna Pop)

21 Twerps – Range Anxiety (Merge)
22 Try The Pie – Rest (HHBTM)
23 Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit (Milk!)
24 Trust Fund – No One’s Coming For Us (Turnstile)
25 Brad San Martin – Tell Someone (Jigsaw)
26 Darren Hayman – Chants For Socialists (WIAIWYA)
27 Knife Pleats – Hat Hark Beach (WIAIWYA)
28 The Catenary Wires – Red Red Skies (Elefant)
29 Grubs – It Must Be Grubs (Reeks Of Effort/Tuff Enuff)
30 Trust Fund – Seems Unfair (Turnstile)

31 Oh Peas – Difficult Second Chair (Time of Asking/Diet Pops)
32 Motorhead – Bad Magic (UDR)
33 The Lovely Eggs – This Is Our Nowhere (Egg)
34 The Penny Licks – The Penny Licks (Self Released)
35 Shopping – Why Choose (Fat Cat)
36 Tigercats – Mysteries (Fortuna Pop)
37 Joey Fourr – To The Floorr (Milk Records)
38 Simon Love – It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time (Fortuna Pop)
39 Chelsea Wolfe – Abyss (Sargent House)
40 Bjork – Vulnicura (One Little Indian)

41 Ghostpoet – Shedding Skin (PIAS)
42 Sleaford Mods – Key Markets (Harbinger Sound)
43 Owl & Mouse – Departures (Fika Recordings)
44 The Membranes – Dark Matter / Dark Energy (Cherry Red)
45 Milky Wimpshake – Encore, Un Effort (Fortuna Pop)

As always I’ve not included EPs, singles or split releases. And I have probably forgotten something I really like. That always happens.

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DRINKS – Hermits on Holiday

I’ve had this record for about a month now. It keeps working it’s way back to the top of the listening pile. When so much music is here one minute and gone the next, it can take a special record to warrant repeat listens. This is record is special.

DRINKS are Cate Le Bon and Tim Presley (White Fence) and that was not a huge selling point for me. I like some Cate Le Bon stuff (not really a fan, though) and I don’t think I’ve actively heard White Fence. But I heard a song from this record on the radio and liked it enough to take a chance. I’m glad I did.

‘Hermits on Holiday’ is not like anything else I’ve heard in 2015. It’s fizzes with invention whilst remaining a fairly accessible listen. Sitting somewhere between post-punk and out there prog leanings this record is a hard one to classify. Stand out songs for me are the mesmeric ‘Cannon Mouth’ and the meandering ‘Split The Beans’.

Like I said, I am continually drawn to this record. There are a few moments where I think the pair would have benefited from a little self editing (Tim, Do I Like That Dog? – really tests my patience) but for the most part the free flowing approach on ‘Hermits on Holiday’ works really well.

Sauna Youth – Distractions

Sauna Youth have recently released their 2nd LP. ‘Distractions’ (Upset The Rhythm) is a potent mix of fizz bomb punk riffs and catchy-as-fuck songs. The vinyl record comes with a lovely printed (A4) lyric booklet. Lead single ‘Transmitters’ is a sure fire hit. Check the video above if you want proof.  Elsewhere the songs are just as sharp and punchy. There are a couple of spoken word songs with sparse musical accompaniment that give the listener a break from the wonderfully relentless guitar attack. But really, this record is all about adrenalin and not letting the listener off the hook.

This is a bloody great record.

Totem Terrors – Hard Science

Totem Terrors are a duo (Max and Rosie) from Cardiff. ‘Hard Science’ is their second LP. They crowd funded the money to put the package together. DIY. Their own imprint is called ‘Diet Pops’. They obviously raised enough cash because this is a beautiful record. Splatter vinyl. Deluxe gatefold sleeve and a beautiful illustration by Ghostshrimp to boot. It looks lush.

I’m a fan. Their first record was great. And ‘Hard Science’ follows in a similar fashion. It’s post-punk influenced (think Wire, think Devo, think Delta 5) with a nod to late 80s American noiseniks (think Big Black).They make a lot of noise considering there’s just 2 of them. I believe Max makes guitar pedals and these are utilised across the record. The record careers along frantically, barely taking time out, leaving you feeling breathless (even though you’re just sitting and listening). Although the rhythms quickly make you want to get up off your posterior and start moving rhythmically to the sounds spewing from the speakers. Yep, it’s got danceability.

Recent single ‘Narrowman’ is a particular highlight. But you really are spoilt for choice across the 14 songs on the LP. The vocals are shared between Max and Rosie and this really works. ‘Tick Tock’ is a menacing slow burner showing that the band can handle subtle just as well as they are adept at wielding a sledgehammer. You get the idea, I really like this record.

The Sweet Inspirations – Sweet Sweet Soul

On the blog I also intend to write a little bit about second-hand records I buy. One of the most recent finds is this gem on the Atlantic Records label from 1970. The Sweet Inspirations were formed by CIssy Houston (Whitney’s mum) and were primarily a going concern between 1967 and 1971. This record was the last to feature any contribution from Cissy. At the time this would have been described as R&B record. This LP does drift dangerously close to schmaltzy on a couple of the songs but for the most part this is a very good album. Songs like ‘Shut Up’ and ‘Two Can Play That Game’ stand up really well. I am no expert on the Atlantic soul sound although I have a passing interest in that sound through exposure to Northern Soul over the past decade or so. This is a welcome addition to the growing collection of second-hand gems.

The whole record is available to stream on Spotify.

King of Cats – Microwave Oven

Max Levy is ostensibly King Of Cats. He has a cast of ‘helpers’. On this record Roxy Brennan of Two White Cranes came over and sang a song or two and these songs give the LP a balance. Live the band can also include Owen Williams (Joanna Gruesome, Grubs), Camille Reardon (Towel, Hallie & The Annies) and Laurie Foster (Playlounge).

‘Microwave Oven’ is the 2nd King of Cats full length. The first came out on the cool as you want it to be imprint Art Is Hard Records. On vinyl. Microwave Oven is seeing the light of day on CD, Cassette and Download. I’ve snapped up a cassette. Max’s singing voice always divides opinion. He has a scratchy voice and it’s easy to hear what the haters might hate. Personally I find his voice cathartic. This is a singer that wears his heart on his sleeve and you can feel the raw emotion coming through. Max also happens to write some of the best songs you’re likely to hear on any DIY lo-fi record this or on any year.

From gentle guitar strums, to proto-type electronics ‘Microwave Oven’ gives a good account of itself on the variation stakes. If you can come to terms with Max’s voice you are in for a treat. If you can’t that’s your loss. You are also wrong.

Div I Ded – Born To Sleep

Div I Ded hail from the Czech Repbublic. They’re indebted to that shoegaze sound – think hazy female vocals gliding just under the mix. Think swirling guitars that shimmer rather than bulldozing into you. This is at the brighter end of the shoegaze sound – more dreampop and floaty.

This 9 song album doesn’t do much new but it does what it does really well. If you like bands like Fever Dream or PinkShinyUltraBlast there is a lot to take from Div I Ded. Refreshingly the band stick to fairly short songs with most of the songs on Born To Sleep clipping in at under 4 minutes whereas other within this genre are often prone to longer meandering jams. So if you like dreamy pop with the emphasis on the ‘POP’ Div I Ded deserve your ears.

This EP came out on limited cassette via Dialog Crew. All now gone. Luckily you can still buy it digitally from their bandcamp page.