Some projects you just have to go alone. Released free via Twitter, Solo is an exercise in frivolity for Frahm, which has expressed itself as music of great restraint and sparsity. Invocative titles are just misnomers. He doesn't bother with electronic frippery, preferring to play, and just play. It can be at times absolutely beautiful.
The Early Years EP (2015)
Girl Band make noise rather than music. Shivers down the spine are guaranteed when you let these ice cold waves of sound wash over you. Military drums, distorted guitars and demented cries do their best to hide melodies that are actually quite catchy. This 4,5-track burst is irresistible, but you need to accept that your eardrums will not survive.
Ólafur Arnalds & Alice Sara Ott
The Chopin Project (2015)
You'd expect a William Orbit-type reinvention of classical Chopin works. Rather than reproducing it on modern equipment, with a recital-concert crispness, Arnalds employs vintage recording techniques and aparatus (i.e. a decent, old piano) to lend a warmth to Chopin's works that hasn't been heard for many, many years. It's a delight.
On their third album, Passion Pit's euforic power pop reaches new heights at the expense of relatability. Gone are the samples. The underlying sadness they used to try to dance away is partly missing too, but their sound and energy are still unmatched. A nice, polished summer record; just don't expect it to comfort you when the sun goes down.
Best song:Lifted Up (1985)
Coldplay, The Killers, U2, Kings of Leon. All of these bands put in hard work before they went full on Stadium in their sound. Not so The Wombats, who have decided to play music attuned to a 70,000 capacity venue, before actually amassing that fanbase. The result? Exactly why The Wombats aren't playing Madison Square Garden.
Best song:Greek Tragedy
Tyler, The Creator
Cherry Bomb (2015)
Tyler has always had great songs in him, but a complete album is too much of a challenge. This one too is an incoherent mess decorated with a few touches of genius. He's noisier than ever, heavily influenced by N.E.R.D.. Always offensive and entertaining, Tyler remains an important force in today's hip hop, but he's still too impatient and all over the place.
Best song:Smuckers (feat. Kanye West & Lil Wayne)
Dirtbike 4 (2015)
NeverLove took its toll creatively and emotionally, so Buck delves back into his bedroom days to deliver a lo-fi, dense hip hop record focused on abstract samples and incisive lyrical turns. It doesn't wholly break free from his current mainstream mire, though fans will find ample enjoyment in this hour long single track. Look out for Kevin.
Best song:Dirtbike 4
The Air Conditioned Nightmare (2015)
Doldrums' first album was a weird and wonderful work of art. The surprise is gone for his second effort, which reaches the same frantic heights at certain points and disappoints at just as many others. His voice is still strangely feminine, his beats are still weird and cool, yet the overall flow is more laidback. A nice move, but not necessarily forward.
I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside (2015)
There's a stunning mood perpetuated on this record that is both menacing and desperate. Earl conjures it through a production effort that sounds stunted by today's standards, which is why it stands out so starkly. It's not a rainy day, it's a rainy decade. The surprise is the lacklustre rapping, which falls well short of his Doris and Earl days.
Best song:Off Top
There are 14 different personalities competing on Run. At times, Bruno screams like Steve Tyler. He growls like a spurned Johnny Cash. He even croons like a young, sober Justin Bieber. It's a pleasing, albeit long, romp of LA rock seen through the spectre of Britpop. Is it pop, is it dance, is it hard-edged rockstar grunge? Just enjoy the fusion.
Toto XIV (2015)
Did you know Toto was a politically charged band? Probably not. And it's 2015, so you probably don't care about them anymore, outside of Africa on karaoke nights. But XIV is a nice listen; a throwback to big walls of sound and unquenchable energy. They use guitars too! Throw a fist in the air for the 1980s, 'cause it still rocks.
Suuns and Jerusalem In My Heart
Suuns and Jerusalem In My Heart (2015)
The pairing of the ice cold, exciting Suuns and Jerusalem in my heart's Middle Eastern vibes may seem unlikely, but the Canadians happen to share a certain love for seemingly endless drones. This unique combination results in some gorgeous noises, but nothing really happens. If you believe music can never be too monotonous, you'll love this record.