Sun Coming Down (2015)
This entire record is draped around its centerpiece, Beautiful Blue Sky: the apex of Ought's nervous 80s-inspired art-punk. But there's more to enjoy; Tim Beeler charismatically talks rather than sings his way through a series of atypical, hardly structured compositions. Nobody else is making this kind of music right now, which makes it all the more fascinating.
Best song:Beautiful Blue Sky
No No No (2015)
A lot has happened since Zach Condon released The Flying Cup Club, his masterpiece, in '07. His worldly music, carrying the weight of his experiences, has become more subdued, even straight-forward at times. More diversity (and even more horns) would've been appreciated, but this concise record is once again full of that typical Beirut magic.
Best song:No No No
Anthems For Doomed Youth (2015)
Ten years after their rise and fall, we couldn't expect The Libertines to reach the same heights. The lads' comeback does sound surprisingly fresh; they're obviously having fun again, never trying too hard to please old fans. Several sketchy songs should've been scrapped, but in the end it's just an enjoyable, more laid-back release, as pleasantly messy as ever.
What Went Down (2015)
Have Foals peaked at Holy Fire? For fourth album What Went Down, the Brits go bigger once again, and for the first time grandeur stands in the way of emotional impact. This muscular record sounds great - Yannis' vocal range keeps expanding - but for every catchy banger there's a flat, forgettable, middle-of-the-road dud. Step up your game, guys.
Best song:Mountain At My Gates
23 Live Sex Acts (2015)
90 Minutes of everything that makes a good live show: improvisations, alterations, errors, some riot, big cheers and a sing along crowd. Against Me!'s great live reputation is consolidated. Grace is still the performer she used to be. It’s an energetic, loose and well recorded cross-cut of all their albums, showing that a punk act can mature excitingly.
Best song:We Laugh At Danger And Break All
View this as less of an album and more of a museum. Astro takes us back through every iteration of mainstream electronic music that showed its head during the 90s (and there were a lot). It was a wonderful watershed time for instrument dodgers, characterised by a sound more lush than Aphex Twin's breasts. This does it perfect justice.
Best song:Kilometer Disco
Beauty Behind The Madness (2015)
Abel Tesfaye is a pop star now, his roots as an underground R&B vocalist are far away. Still, besides his two breakthrough hits there's enough for old school fans to enjoy on Beauty Behind the Madness, The Weeknd's second actual record. His angelic voice still almost masks his filthy words, the beats are still smooth as hell. Abel deserves stardom.
Best song:The Hills
A tough listen. Hammering vocals up front. Another hardcore concept album in the, by now, so familiar realm of despair, war trauma, guilt and hopelessness. It's wearing thin. Yet more spins and unbiased ears are rewarding on this genre-transcending album that convincingly descends into the burdens of the new character: the young, faith ridden priest, spared in hell.
Best song:Spared In Hell
Positive Songs For Negative People (2015)
The evolution of a singer on the rise: bigger tunes, better production. Recorded live in the studio with his Sleeping Souls band, which gives this smooth album the life it needs. Although the larger sound of Turner's folk punk is no turnoff, it can’t mask the wayward songwriting. It tells us a focused Turner still has a thoroughly heartfelt Big Bang in store.
Best song:Glorious You
Yung Rich Nation (2015)
Why did Future succeed, and Migos fail? Beats. Production rules this sub-genre of hip hop, and if you haven't got the correct atmosphere, the result is almost laughable. Migos sound terrible over the top of some Fruity Loops banality. With their desperately basic lyrics laid bare, they sound like kindergarten kids in music class.
Best song:One Time
Southpaw (Music From and Inspired By The Motion Picture) (2015)
Explosive aggression is tempered immediately by introspective crooning. The result is a weird push and pull, and as a standalone project it's too disjointed to keep on repeat. Whilst the individuals all perform above average, the sum of their parts equals much less than they are worth solo. As a compliment to the movie, though, it's potent.
Best song:All I Think About
The Hangover (2015)
Cheers was a wonderful, hopeful reception. Second Rounds on Me was a casual drink with a good friend. Bottom's Up was a Tuesday night, alone, on your second bottle of Jack. The Hangover offers no new direction, no new sound, no new themes. It's Obie regurgitating the lesser points of his career. Superbly talented, but without his mentor he's dull.
Best song:Bruh Bruh