Stephen White

With the holiday season here and 2015 winding down to a close the Last Mixed Tape has compiled its top 20 albums of the year. See full list and Spotify playlist below. 

20. Elephant – Hypergiant
Not always but often in music you listen to a debut album where you can hear the full unyielding potential of an artist just sitting patiently underneath, waiting to be fully realized. Hypergiant is that kind of album, Elephant is that kind of artist.
Key Track: ‘Little Ghost’

19. Fight Like Apes – Fight Like Apes
Fight Like Apes self-titled return marked a line in the sand for the band, separating them from what had come before whilst looking towards broader horizons. To listen to Fight Like Apes is to experience unwavering delight, as you begin to hear the risks taken throughout the record. The entire album has a “take of leave it” attitude made all the more compelling by a much fuller production.
Key Track: ‘Crouching Bees’

18. The Hedge Schools – At The End of A Winding Day
A work of handcrafted brilliance and deftly woven musicianship the Hedge Schools’ At The End of A Winding Day is a welcoming album that simply teems with great songwriting. Music is a connective experience, and this is a record that makes that connection.
Key Track: ‘Winter Coats’

17. Le Galaxie – Le Club
Brilliantly bold and true to its convictions Le Club is an album of pure kinetic energy. The album conveys abandon, limitless creativity and invention all held together by Le Galaxie’s daring ambition. It’s not perfect, at times it is down right messy, but as with all excess that seems to be the point.
Key Track: ‘Love System’ (featuring Elaine Mai)

16. Glen Hansard – Didn’t He Ramble
With Didn’t He Ramble Glen Hansard expresses, confesses and chronicles the world around him and the people who occupy it. Resulting in an album that is as naturalistic and honest as you’re likely to hear.
Key Track: ‘Lowly Deserter’

15. This Other Kingdom – Telescopic
There can be no doubting the propellant way in which This Other Kingdom temper their psych-rock sound. Telescopic is a visceral snapshot of the band’s instantly impactful live sound and worked to introduce a group who are on the cusp of something very exciting.
Key Track: ‘Vacate the Horror’

14. Jape – This Chemical Sea
This Chemical Sea is an album with a mantra. Vividly produced music and in the moment lyricism put through the filter of Jape’s own perspective, Richie Egan’ fifth offering is his most accomplished work to date.
Key Track: ‘Seance of Light’

13. The Hard Ground – Triptych
The culmination of a year-long, three E.P. concept that began back in 2014, the Hard Ground saved the best for last with the final installments of the Triptych series. Delivering an album that traverses a myriad of sounds whilst still remaining cohesive. An ambitious project brought to a satisfying close.
Key Track: ‘Pucker’

12. Oliver Cole – Year of the Bird
The long-awaited sophomore solo album from Oliver Cole, Year of the Bird finds Cole augmenting deeply personal songwriting with a D.I.Y approach that is free from the trappings of over produced convention. How much of the album is a point of perspective or experience is irrelevant, Oliver Cole takes what he needs from it and allows us to do the same.
Key Track: ‘Ah Ooh Ooh’

11. No Monster Club – People Are Weird
The mad scientist of Irish music Bobby Ahearn’s latest outing as No Monster Club put indie-pop/lo-fi music through a thresher of sound and reassembles them to make an album that is completely unique.
Key Track: ‘I’ve Retired’

10. Naoise Roo – Lilith
An assertive, mood-driven album Lilith is immersive in just how fiercely independent it is. With no compromises and no quarter given Naoise Roo has something to say, and we should listen.
Key Track: ‘Oh Son’

9. i am niamh – Wonderland
Few albums enraptured the listener so fully into it’s world than i am niamh’s Wonderland was a beautiful anomaly in this year’s list of release. Wonderland is the unfolding of a story, part truth and part hope. Taken breathlessly over the course of fourteen songs i am niamh gives us a glimpse into her way of seeing the world around her.
Key Track: ‘Wonderland’

8. Ham Sandwich – Stories From The Surface
Perfectly encapsulating how the past colors the present, Ham Sandwich deliver a career best with Stories From The Surface.  Albums can be one-whole experience, a snapshot of where we are and where we’d like to be. For many they can encapsulate a specific moment or an entire phase in our lives, one lost in time that only resurfaces when a certain song hits our ears.Stories from the Surface is that kind of record.
Key Track: ‘Apollo’

 7. Soak – Before We Forgot How To Dream
The ability to say how you feel exactly how you feel it, is possibly one of the biggest hurdles songwriter face artistically. With her first full album Soak bravely faces this issue head-on with songs that speak about her outlook, her story, her world. All of which is compelling.
Key Track: ‘Garden’

6. Young Wonder – Birth
A landmark in Irish electro-pop Young Wonder’s Birth is the perfect example of an ambitious album that fully pays-off on what it sets out to do.Brimming with invention and creativity, the Cork duo’s debut has a sound all of its own.
Key Track: ‘Sweet Dreaming’

5. Girls Names – Arms Around A Vision
An album built on a strong post-punk foundation and peppered with Girls Names own distinct take on the genre, Arms Around A Vision is an record that lives and dreams in shadows. Demanding multiple listens.
Key Track: ‘A Hunger Artist’

4. Villagers – Darling Arithmetic
Merging the intimacy of Becoming A Jackal and the depth of {awayland}, Conor O’Brien’s third album was a much more emotionally bare-boned affair. It is part of the human condition to communicate, or try to, our emotions by projecting them outwards. For most of us we need a another’s voice to help us to do so. In this way Darling Arithmetic is cathartic for both the artist and the listener, creating a bridge between the two.
Key Track: ‘Hot Scary Summer’

3. Little Xs For Eyes – Everywhere Else
Possibly the most sonically satisfying record of the year, Little Xs For Eyes sophomore album was a sublime meld of vivid rhythms and styles pulled forward by great songwriting. An album that was big on heart, Everywhere Else also provided the brilliant ‘Logical Love’.
Key Track: ‘Logical Love’

2. Girl Band – Holding Hands With Jamie
Few albums this year had the same cultural and artistic impact as Holding Hands With Jamie. Girl Bands’ thrashing cacaphony threw out the rule book and replaced it with none at all. The after effects of this record will be felt for quite some time.
Key Track: ‘Paul’

And TLMT’s Number One Album of the Year 2015 is….

1. The North Sea – Anniversary
Sometimes high-expectations can let you down, especially in music. The North Sea promised so much in the build-up to Anniversary and delivered on every-level. Resulting in an album that was big on production but intimate in the connection it made. “Chemistry will be the ruin of me” says Eoin Kenny towards the record’s closing moments, few sentences can capture the hopeless abandon of love so easily.
Key Track: ‘December’

Stephen White

The Last Mixed Tape: Irish-indie blog run by music critic Stephen White.

5 Comments »

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s