Everyone has their favourite writer at Methods Unsound. It’s impossible not to. Every member in the team has their own distinctive voice and particular oeuvre, and each has their own rabid fanbase that loyally stands by their chosen figurehead, ready to defend them to death if needs be.
This happens more often than you’d think.
Earlier this year, resident wine expert Fenelope Carpal sent her entire Instagram following to the slaughter when she fell out with resident homes and interiors correspondent Ken Barrasment over whether Kendrick Lamar or Vince Staples released the best rap album of 2015. Fenelope naturally demanded retribution against Ken and summoned her army of 15 year-old professional food stylists to wage war against his own following. Unbeknownst to Fenelope though, Ken’s entire fanbase is made up of bare-knuckle boxers and their pet Wolf Hybrids.
To avoid a similar tragedy this Christmas (although collateral damage is naturally to be expected), I’ve decided to let every writer on the staff publish their own ‘best albums of 2015’ lists in one place, that way everyone can see their favourite albums share equal billing and we can all live in relative, temporary harmony.
Until tomorrow when I publish the official Methods Unsound Best Albums of 2015 list and they all gang-up to wreak their vengeance upon me. I’ll be ready for them though. I’ve set a number of bear-traps around the office and I was only half-drunk when I did it, so I remember where most of them are.
In the meantime, here’s who the Methods Unsound staff wrapped their ears around this year.
I should first state that the best thing I listened to at home this year wasn’t an album, it was Aphex Twin’s behemoth Soundcloud dump, over a hundred unreleased tunes the vast majority of which match the calibre of his released work. He’s since whittled it down to 15, which suggests something may be afoot. This wasn’t the best music I heard though, that was Autechre’s sold out Brixton gig where the duo stood on a pitch black stage and turfed out an hour of mind shattering noise. Warp’s gods owned hard this year.
1. Rustie – EVENIFUDONTBELIEVE [Warp]
2. British Murder Boys – Collected Recordings [Downwards]
3. Special Request – Modern Warfare [XL]
4. DJ Richard – Grind [Dial]
5. Squarepusher – Damogen Furies [Warp]
6. The Fear Ratio – Refuge Of A Twisted Soul [Skam]
7. Jamie XX – In Colour [Young Turks]
8. John Grant – Grey Tickles, Black Pressure [Bella Union]
9. Slashing Cousin – Fallen Gods [Skam]
10. Rival Consoles – Howl [Erased Tapes]
I’m hoping to get a job with the NME next year, so I armed myself with Windows 10 on the lightning-fast Surface Pro 3 Tablet in order to write the following list:
1. Kurt Vile – b’lieve I’m goin down
2. Ezra Furman – Perptual Motion People
3. Sleater-Kinney – No Cities to Love
4. Kadavar – Berlin
5. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
6. Tame Impala – Currents
7. Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba – Ba Power
8. Küken – Küken
9. Jose Gonzalez – Vestiges and Claws
10. PINS – Wild Nights
11. Nathaniel Rateliffe & The Night Sweats – Nathaniel Rateliffe & The Night Sweats
12. Thunderbitch – Thunderbitch
13. Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings – It’s a Holiday Soul Party
14. Adrian Younge presents Twelve Reasons to Die II starring Ghostface Killah
15. Action Bronson – Mr. Wonderful
In no particular order (and also with the artists and titles the wrong way round.)
Sol Invictus – Faith No More
Matador – Gaz Coombes
Hide and Seek – Mammoth Penguins
Lovesongs for Robots – Patrick Watson
Marks to Prove It – The Maccabees
No Cities to Love – Sleater Kinney
Natalie Prass – Natalie Prass
The Race For Space – Public Service Broadcasting
Another Eternity – Purity Ring
Carrie and Lowell – Sufjan Stevens
In Colour – Jamie XX
Currents – Tame Impala
Grey Tickles, Black Pressure – John Grant
Art Angles – Grimes
To Pimp A Butterfly – Kendrick Lamar
This year I have either been mostly listening to quite hairy growly men or reasonably hairy falsetto men. Apparently according to Google I like bears but not of the ursine variety. I’m sure we can all agree that this is weird and that I should never download Grindr!
1. Clutch – Psychic Warfare
2. Coheed and Cambria- The Color Before the Sun
3. Kadavar – Berlin
4. Arcane Roots- Heaven and Earth
5. Painted Wives – Obsessed With the End
1. The Spook School – Try To Be Hopeful
Perfect Scottish pop songs that prove that queers have the best tunes.
2. Selena Gomez – Revival
BEAUTIFUL second solo (minus The Scene) album from former Disney starlet.
3. Kelly Clarkson – Piece By Piece
It’s Kelly Clarkson. Every song is a banger that makes you cry on the dancefloor.
4. Sleater-Kinney – No Cities To Love
Sleater-Kinney. ‘Nuff said.
5. Thunderfuck, Alaska – Anus
THE best from Ru Pauls drag race releases the second best album to come out of it. Adore Delano’s was better but it’s from 2014. Dammit.
6. Shopping – Why Choose
Ace post-punk queerz from London town. Joyous and angular.
7. Demi Lovato – Confident
Fucking top notch pop songs (plus Michelle Rodriguez is in the ‘Confident’ video). Need I say more?
8. Cattle Decapitation – The Anthropocene Extinction
Brootal. They used to be vegans but not sure they are anymore. Death death metal.
9. Peaches – Rub
It’s Peaches, expect electro weirdness, overtly sexual lyrics and lots of queer. AKA the best.
10. Veruca Salt – Ghost Notes
Second best comeback (Sleater-Kinney pipped you to the post). It sounds like they never went away (or at least, like Nina Gordon never went away).
It’s probably worth mentioning that I’ve only really *listened* to Orchid’s Capricorn album and whale song tapes for the past four years, with everything else reduced to background buzzing. A few top tunes did poke their heads into my vaulticus doomicus this year though, mainly through dint (is dint a word? It sounds like a Jawa swear) of being obnoxiously loud/containing lyrics about pissing in bottles and throwing them at a unicorn.
HERE THEY ARE:
2. Iron Maiden – The Book of Souls.
More upbeat and better produced than they’ve been in a looong time. Hello subtle harmonies and 12 minute epics, goodbye ‘bass sound hidden under mattress’.
3. Windhand – Grief’s Infernal Flower.
Miserable as fuck, and a great comfort to me during my daily commute to fucking Hammersmith.
4. Myrkur – M
Little Amalie goes all black metal. But it’s the good black metal. The one that lives in the woods and scares the shit out of your gran, rather than the one that poses in Oslo bars and bangs on about Mickey Rourke movies being totally amazing.
5. Bell Witch – Four Phantoms.
Sneaking, creeping doom that scuttles up the inside of your wardrobe door at night and creeps you the fuck out. Nice one!
6. Arcturus – Arcturian.
Arcturus’ 1996 debut still sounds like it was recorded in the year 3172. This year’s offering sounds like it was recorded in the vivisected mind-sac of a deranged many-angled god. Music for students from the Warhammer universe.
7. Cattle Decapitation – The Anthropocine Extinction.
Marvelous grue-chuggery, blessed with ridiculous lyrics and a hyper-modern LOUD production. Take it sensibly, or laugh out loud all the way though. Just make sure you wear black while you’re doing it.
8. Goatsnake – Black Age Blues
I’ve always had a soft spot for the ‘snake, so good to see them jumping back on their ‘grunga-grunga-grunga’ wagon and making some more (relatively) upbeat thumping metallised doom-rock.
9. BattleAxe – Heavy Metal Sanctuary.
Actually came out at the end of 2014, but it’s so fist-banging it’s managed to punch its way onto this year’s list. Chanting about legions uniting and songs where a 50 year old man proclaims himself to be ‘Too Hot For Hell’. There’s nothing here not to love.
10. Satan – Atom by Atom.
Who would have thought something so truly NWOBHM could come out of France? It’s got a skull on the cover, it’s got songs about the fall of Persephone (whoever she is) and it’s batshit insane. I bloody love this sort of thing, and all others are wrong.
2015 brought the bombast of Kendrick Lamar, sonic brilliance from Tame Impala, a manifesto for love from Father John Misty, impressive debuts from Dralms and Wolf Alice, another superb Mac Demarco album, opulence and splendour from Beach House, a new found swagger from Kurt Vile and a tear to the eye from Sufjan Stevens. A lot to sink your musical teeth into.
1. Beach House – Depression Cherry
2. Deerhunter – Fading Frontier
3. Tame Impala – Currents
4. Father John Misty – I Love You Honeybear
5. Dralms – Shook
6. Wolf Alice – My Love is Cool
7. Kurt Vile – b’lieve I’m goin down
8. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie and Lowell
9. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly
10. Mac Demarco – Another One
Because I’m a subversive, I have submitted nine albums. But because I am also a weak, weak man I can add another entry to make up the 10 if you want me to? Oh the self-loathing.
1. Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear
2. Belle and Sebastian – Girls in the Peacetime Want to Dance
3. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
4. Marika Hackman – We Slept At Last
5. Andy Shauf – The Bearer of Bad News
6. Matthew E. White – Fresh Blood
7. Destroyer – Poison Season
8. San Fermin – Jackrabbit
9. Waxahatchee – Ivy Tripp
1. Cold War Kids – Hold My Home
After the unsure and disconnected albums of the past, Hold My Home finally presents a confident sound that serves the signature heart-rending lyrics well.
2. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly
Bringing the rap scene back to its roots – jazz, R&B and funk overlaid with anti-establishment rhymes – To Pimp a Butterfly somehow has won mainstream appeal for what is essentially a meticulously-crafted, foot-stomping, protest album.
3. Patrick Watson – Love Songs for Robots
Love Songs for Robots is a hauntingly beautiful offering that keeps true to the comforting orchestral sound of past albums, while still being able saying something new (what that is though, I’m not too sure).
4. Gaz Coombes – Matador
Complicated arrangements with bewildering lyrics, Matador is a misleadingly easy listen with songs that stay with you.
5. Chasity Belt – Drone
Drone is what happens when Riot Grrrls go contemplative. It takes familiar d.i.y punk themes – partying, slut-shaming, abusive relationships – and asks, are we still having fun?
6. Panda Bear – Meets the Grim Reaper
If Patrick Watson was writing love songs for robots, Panda Bear is providing the soundtrack to their drug-fuelled orgies during the apocalypse. Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper is not an easy listen, but it’s worth spending the time to immerse yourself in the strange world it creates; eerily soothing melodies playing over threatening circuits going haywire.
7. Benjamin Clementine – At Least For Now
One of the standout albums of the year, At Least for Now warrants one, two or 50 repeat listens. The overproduced cinematic strings slightly detracts but you can hear the full potential in the live tracks on the Deluxe album. Unfortunately, it’s this year’s Mercury Music Prize Winner so we’re unlikely to hear from Benjamin again.
8. Ryan Adams – 1989
Finally, a Taylor Swift album I can get behind.
Follow Methods Unsound on Twitter: @MethodsUnsound