It is that time of year when everyone looks back on the past 12 months. Here at Already Heard we have once again been blessed with some superb releases this year. That is why for this year’s Record of the Year list we have decided to cover more releases and highlighted the top 25 releases from 2015.
As always, the Already Heard team have discussed (and argued) to make a definitive list of album releases from the past year.
Over the next five days we will be counting down the top 25. Today is day one of our countdown. Here are the first five records that made our list.
25. Allison Weiss – New Love (Side One Dummy)
Few records this year showed quite the musical development or career changing potential as Allison Weiss’ ’New Love’. This was the record that saw Weiss cement her move from cutesy lovelorn ballad smith to creator of shiny, bright slices of new wave pop wonderfulness capable of mainstream bothering appeal.
The likes of first single ‘Golden Coast’ and title-track ’New Love’ were like sweet, sweet candy for the ears combining unadulterated joyful expression with mature thoughtful writing. The only question is quite how this release didn’t find it’s way higher up our list. The prospect of hearing these tracks live for the first time when Weiss returns to the UK in February is certainly one of the brightest of the New Year. (DW)
24. The Front Bottoms – Back on Top (Fueled By Ramen)
Over the past few years, the success of irreverent-yet-oh-so-relevant The Front Bottoms has lit a fire under the indie end of the punk spectrum, and although the success of the likes of You Blew It! and Modern Baseball cannot go unnoticed, the New Jersey quartet continue to set the standard.
Without deviating from their DIY ethic, this year’s ‘Back on Top’ sees the band arrive as bonafide players, signing to Fueled By Ramen, taking the UK festival scene by storm and gate crashing the Billboard top #40 in the States. Their third full-length offers a punchy trip through the marauding mind of Brian Sella, with the versatility of The Front Bottoms on show yet again, seamlessly transitioning from the delicate ‘Cough it Up’ to a jaunty slab of toe-tapping indie-pop with ‘Help’.
‘Back on Top’ takes the listener through the full range of emotions, but remains underpinned by a meandering joviality that’s as much Nate Ruess as it is Rivers Cuomo; the deliciously catchy ‘Laugh Till I Cry’ cementing its status as the album’s standout track and one of the punk anthems of 2015. There were sceptics aplenty when the band were picked up by Fueled By Ramen, but with ‘Back on Top’ The Front Bottoms have emphatically silenced the doubters and, more importantly, outdone themselves yet again. (JL)
23. Great Cynics – I Feel Weird (Specialist Subject Records)
If you wanted to treat your mind to big grin inducing grungy pop-rock in 2015 then you need look no further than this cracking third full-length from Great Cynics.
This was a loveable romp spilling over with bonhomie, playful anecdotes and irresistible summery hooks. From the pure delight of socially awkward outsider anthem ’Everyone’s A Little Bit Weird’, resplendent with bouncy lolloping riffs and breezy on the money social observations, to the bashful meandering expressions of love that make up ’Complicated’ and ’Lost In You’ there wasn’t a solitary second of this release that was anything less than desperately endearing. Even now in the dull depths of winter listening to ’I Feel Weird’ instantly transports the listener back to the heady heights of festival season and to a brighter carefree place. What more could you possibly want from an album? (DW)
22. Silverstein – I Am Alive In Everything I Touch (Rise)
‘I Am Alive In Everything I Touch’ is a wonderfully unique concept album (a format Silverstein certainly don’t shy away from), about the very thing that they do, tour. Each song is about a different city and they capture the essence of those cities as they hear them, including the live sounds of some of those very places.
Silverstein are a sublime example of how a band can stay true to their roots, yet mature through longevity together. Aside from lead guitarist changes, Silverstein have been together as they are since 2001 and have honed their standard of music in the last 14 years, which is exemplified by this album. Shane Told’s lyrics remain as brutally honest, conveyed through great harmony and screams that are never forced and are complimentary to each other.
Silverstein are as fundamental a part of post-hardcore history as any of the founding fathers of this now mainstream genre. ‘Late On 6th’ is a prime example of Silverstein’s excellent use of mellow sounds, to contrast the heavy chords that emphasise the heart wrenching pain of Told’s lyrics. This album is a carefully crafted example of what Silverstein do best, may their longevity continue. (HF)
21. Frank Turner – Positive Songs For Negative People (Xtra Mile)
Six studio albums deep into his rather meteoric solo career Frank Turner released ’Positive Songs For Negative People’ with the most fanfare and expectation of any of his albums to date. What we got manged to be a curious mix of easily the most accessible material of his career, on an album that of all his releases would most be considered “a grower”. Away from the instantly enthusing singles ’Get Better’ and ’The Next Storm’ many tracks seemed at first to miss the heights hit by previous efforts. But each listen coaxed more out of songs such as ’Mittens’, ’Josephine’ and ’Silent Key’ that revealed a subtlety, depth and weight of knowledge and care to the writing and musicianship that made this perhaps the most rewarding and rounded release that Turner has treated us to.
It may have been kept off the top spot by a certain rapping Dr, but ’Positive Songs For Negative People’ still deservedly earnt Turner his highest chat position so far. (DW)
Words by Dane Wright (DW), James Lloyd (JL) and Heather Fitsell (HF).