We’re six months into 2015 and it feels like many good records have already come out this year. There’s been a few duds but for the most part, a lot of records have delivered. This article is by no means a ‘list’ of the top five albums this year so far, but it is more of a handy run-through of some of the greatest albums to land, not to mention some of the albums that were released prior to the start of The Funnel, of which there were a good few. So, let’s begin in no particular order:
Ivy Tripp // Waxahatchee
2013’s Cerulean Salt was a big step-up from the acoustic heaviness of American Weekend. Ivy Tripp further pushed Katie Crutchfield into a more mainstream, catchy band-project which sees college-rock and piano ballads be incorporated into a more rounded album with Crutchfield’s trademark wordy lyrics, sounding like a cross between Cat Power and Pavement. It’s definitely a slow burner, never jumping out beyond the initial tracks of ‘Under A Rock’ and ‘Poison’, but occasionally surprises with a turn into a genre that you didn’t expect at all, like the noise-rock elements of ‘Bonfire’ or the spaced-out pop of ‘Air’. A interesting and growing album for sure.
My Love Is Cool // Wolf Alice
Possibly a premature decision for the best albums so far, but undoubtedly one of the catchiest and appeal-straddling albums of 2015 so far. Despite the three year wait and a whole ton of hype, Wolf Alice took their time and delivered an astonishingly good album with no weak links in the 12-song set. It reworks the old favourites ‘Fluffy’ and ‘Bros’ into tighter songs and produces blissed-out anthems like ‘Lisbon’ and ‘Silk’. The wait really paid off, ensuring that My Love Is Cool can be spoken among one of ‘those’ debuts in the hall of fame. At the least, it has to be appreciated for delivering after having years to live up to the EP and live acclaim that they’ve been gathering. No mean feat considering the results of the previous wave of overhype (For further information see Palma Violets’ latest release).
Time To Go Home // Chastity Belt
This album came late to my attention, but has steadily grown to be an on-repeat album. The writing is so knowingly clunky it’s endearingly charming. A lot of credit has to go to guitarist Lydia Lund for her spellbinding and shoegazey guitar lines which compliment Julia Shapiro’s tales of late-night rejection and sexual freedoms. Time To Go Home takes the more mature moments of No Regerts such as ‘Black Sail’ and ‘Seattle Party’ and translated it to a psych-rock template away from the punk numbers from the previous album such as ‘Pussy Weed Beer’ and ‘James Dean’, which were commendable for their titles and content, but were hard to take seriously. Time To Go Home retains the humour in songs such as ‘The Thing’, but is a whole lot more appealing and immediate.
Vulnicura // Björk
If humour isn’t really your thing, the bleak break-up narrative of Vulnicura is sure to warm the cockles of your heart. Vulnicura is the best thing Björk has made since Homogenic, full stop. Under the production duties of The Haxan Cloak and Arca – both in-demand producers – Björk created the cold and clinical instrumentation to match the heartbreaking story of Björk’s breakup with longtime partner Matthew Barney. ‘Black Lake’, Vulnicura’s centrepiece, is the perfect blend of Björk’s key elements – vocals, orchestra and electronica, with the held notes peaking the story of ‘eternal pain and horrors’. Emotional stuff.
No Cities To Love // Sleater-Kinney
To round things off, let’s go punk. Nowadays, a lot of reformed bands are either skating the festival circuit with the greatest hits or making half-decent records that don’t match up with the heyday. No Cities To Love is up there with Dig Me Out, One Beat and The Woods in terms of classic Sleater-Kinney. It most resembles their punky beginnings, with Corin Tucker sounding as desperate as ever on tracks such as ‘Gimmie Love’ and ‘Surface Envy’ bringing their lyrics into the modern age with ‘Price Tag’ and ‘No Cities To Love’. It’s a testament to the initial frenzy of creativity that Sleater-Kinney were active in and shows that even after ten years on hiatus, age hasn’t softened them.