another eternity (2015)
Fragile twee vocals contrasted by muscular beats somewhere between arty EDM and bass-heavy hip hop: Purity Ring repeat the tricks used on their debut. They're good tricks, but where the duo once sounded like the near future, they now sound like recent history. Still highly enjoyable, but they should've kept pushing forward in order to surprise us.
Best song:stranger than earth
Aureate Gloom (2015)
Of Montreal can now be cited as an influencer, rather than purely an influencee. Aureate Gloom is Barnes' heaviest work in years, yet the thrash of guitars never feels overwhelming, possibly because of a muzzled rhythm section. His musings on life may be common, but they are no less important for that. Focus on the feeling behind the words.
Best song:Like Ashoka's Inferno Of Memory
O Shudder (2015)
O Shudder would be quite enjoyable if it were instrumental. Listen to the slow burning grooves and tell me they wouldn't work as a nice Lounge album. Unfortunately, there are vocals. Whilst lead singer Duncan Wallis' impossibly high pitch might satisfy some, he will annoy most. Their funk is completely nullified, and it's a real pity.
Best song:Tidal Weight
Black Rivers (2015)
Doves are never far away on this 'spin-off' album. Black Rivers do manage to blend in some other untapped influences; 'The Ship' is more electronic than Doves ever were. The others are mostly melancholic, dreamy songs that get to you immediately, but keep on growing and get under your skin. Nothing new here, but highly recommended nonetheless.
Best song:The Ship
Modern Australians do such good Smiths tributes. Actually, throw in some Joy Division and you have this jangle, mated to a morose delivery that made its way into the hearts and souls of teenagers during the 1980s. To call it sepia-tinged is to ignore the anguish that accompanies this nostalgic sound. See if you can spot the Nick Cave nod.
Future Brown (2015)
Future Brown sounds like the ultimate urban radio station playlist: an accessible and harmless (and boring) mix of R&B, latin and Jamaican influences, and hiphop that's never too rough or offensive. The producers remain in the background while their random guest artists should grab your attention, but hardly ever do. A messy and meaningless release.
Best song:Room 302 (feat. Tink)
Natalie Prass (2015)
Prass combines a real touch of jazz-fuelled class with lyrics just about as honest as it gets this side of St. Vincent. Heartbreak. It might be an overdone topic, but when it is set over rising strings and a rampant horn section, even a whispered refrain sounds fresh and exciting. Have you just been ditched? This is your soundtrack.
King Khan & BBQ Show
Bad News Boys (2015)
Primal drums, lo-fi sounds, raunchy and romantic songs taking turns, bursts of pure fun. You know what to expect from a KK&BBQ record, and their latest doesn't disappoint. Khan is the eccentric entertainer, BBQ the sneakily amazing vocalist, and together they conquer the world of seedy garage rock 'n roll. Bad News Boys, please don't ever grow up.
Best song:Never Felt Like This
Dark Sky Paradise (2015)
Sean is the original hashtag rapper. Feeling that has held him back, he lightens up (slightly) on the punchlines and makes his thematic choices more blatant. He also enlists Kanye to give him that classical production sheen. Despite his efforts, he still sounds the same. He was always a thematic rapper, yet now he's blunted his only other weapon.
Best song:Blessings (feat. Drake)
By the producer behind Pianos Become The Teeth’s latest. Title Fight fails to reveal a similar monument of powerful beauty. This album very much feels like an in-between record. Roads being explored, finding none to travel indefinitely. At its best it’s good, but mostly it’s a tough lean towards a mediocre powerpop wave that will never make your day.
Best song:Rose Of Sharon
In her quest to turn her (staggering) voice into another instrument, Richard gets lost heavily in the mix. Imagine if Timbaland was classically trained, and you'd land on the sound she has conjured for Blackheart. But too often, her vibrant, strong personality is sadly lost in a sea of flutters and tribal noises. It's genuinely boring.
Best song:Titans (Interlude)
Live From Crush Palace (2015)
You wanna talk about an intimate recording? How about Karen O taking center stage and releasing her lo-fi Crush Songs tracks along with other specials? Spinning through her solo work and soundtrack contributions, Karen O makes a quiet, yet powerful statement through the 50+ minutes. When "The Moon Song" calms to silence, everything is lovely.