The Null Device

Records of 2015

With 2015 drawing to a close, it's once again time for a list of the records of the year, so here it is:

Honourable mentions include: AlpineYuck (the Melbourne band move from the Scandinavian-Balearic sounds of their earlier work towards a more laptop-R&B vibe), Beach House - Depression Cherry (lush and enveloping; a fine successor to Bloom; BandCamp), BjörkVulnicura (an exorcism of the sundering of her relationship with her long-time partner, from the first doubts to the terrible, numb aftermath—the whole Kübler-Ross; lush yet harrowing), The Catenary WiresRed Red Skies (Amelia Fletcher and her husband and long-time bandmate Rob Pursey's latest project eschews the indiepop shimmy and skronk for a more understated and (dare one say) mature vibe, somewhere between old country 78s and the Go-Betweens; Throw Another Love Song On The Fire would be the standout track), Courtney BarnettSometimes I Sit And Think And Sometimes I Just Sit (wordy indie songwriting in a distinctly Australian voice over real rock riffs, somewhere between The Lucksmiths, Pavement, Sonic Youth and a coolsie Chisel), CuusheNight Lines (an EP of tastefully chilled electropop grooves from Japan's Cuushe; BandCamp), Desperate JournalistDesperate Journalist (taut new-wavey indie-rock by numbers; reminiscent of early My Favorite in places), East India YouthCulture Of Volume (a bit more pop than his debut; Carousel stands out as the highlight), Fever DreamMoyamoya (some fine shoegaze à la Chapterhouse/MBV from a young London band to watch), Four TetMorning/Evening (a 40-minute 2-track EP/album, combining Indian vocals with kosmische analogue synthesizer pulses and making an entrancing work; BandCamp), GrimesArt Angels (interesting and idiosyncratic hook-laden electronic pop; highlights include Flesh Without Blood and REALiTi), GwennoY Dydd Olaf (Welsh-language haunto-pop, not too far from Broadcast), Haiku SalutEtch And Etch Deep (the Haikus go on as they started, only (perhaps appropriately) a shade deeper, more intricate and more expansive), Jean-Michel JarreElectronica 1: The Time Machine (get your arpeggiator/sequencer/modular-synth fix here), The Leaf LibraryDaylight Versions (more languid and contemplative than their previous albums, eschewing (most of) the Stereolabesque motorik buildups of their earlier work in favour of a more pastoral, cozy feeling, with a warm, pre-used sound palette), Martin L. GoreMG (an instrumental affair, following on from his Vince Clarke collaboration, VCMG, only without the Clarke's dancefloor-friendly influences; i.e., 55 minutes of frosty, vaguely post-Depechey noodling with synths, beats and electronic effects; pairs well with ambiguous footage, ideally in black and white), PinkshinyultrablastEverything Else Matters (another good shoegaze record, this time from Russia), Purity RingAnother Eternity (more witch-house-tinged electropop from the Canadian duo), Sleater-KinneyNo Cities To Love (the riot grrrl pioneers return in fine form), Stealing SheepNot Real (playful electropop from Liverpool; the title track is my favourite), Teeth Of The SeaHighly Deadly Black Tarantula (not too far from Ben Frost, with its post-industrial drones, ominous moods and (perhaps scenery-chewing) obsession with the Burkean sublime that's evident in song titles like Field Punishment and Have You Ever Held A Bird Of Prey; the album closer, Love Theme From 1984, is rather lovely, somewhat reminiscent of New Order's Elegia; BandCamp).

Were I to choose an album of the year, it'd probably be Holly Herndon's Platform, with Briana Marela's All Around Us as a runner-up. There should probably also be a special mention for Björk; while her album didn't finish in the top this year, her influence is on at least three of the albums that did.

Anyway, here is a companion mix on 8tracks.

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