While a Best of 2015 album list is wholly expected, it's also easy and predictable, so here's a couple of albums that are wholly, greatly listenable from beginning to end that you shouldn't miss out on if you can help it.
In true rock style, Will Toledo began his music career recording songs from inside the family car, and that lo-fi, gasping for breath from under the water, desperately clawing sound is just as present on Car Seat Headrest's Teens of Style. We'd like to very strongly recommend, of course, "Something Soon", but also, "Times To Die", "Psst, Teenagers, Take Off Your Clo", "Strangers" and "Bad Role Models, Old Idols Exhumed (Psst, Teenagers, Put Your Clothes Back O)". In all his literary greatness, Will Toledo is still a fumbling twenty-something, and that sound comes out enticingly in a great mess of perfect sound you don't want to miss.
Avid Dancer's 1st Bath is worth more than a few listens, because it's honestly one of those that only gets better with each listen. Sure, it loses its way for a beat or two in the middle, but it finds its way back with such aplomb it's almost enviable; grabbing you lovingly by the shoulders in "Whatever's On Your Mind" and leading you through the remainder of the album with careful steps, all while clinging to a sheen of breathtaking honesty before dropping you off to enjoy the sweet little two person steady dance number that is "Up Against A Wall". Plus, who can deny a mention to the guy (Jacob Summers) who put his blood into his work; that's not red paint on the album cover, folks, it's pure unyielding 'that's cool but don't bring it any closer to me' artistry. Still not convinced? Listen to "All Your Words Are Gone" until you reshape your heart and let the magic and frailty of trust overtake you; it is so, so good.
I can't talk up the impeccable purity of Young Empires enough. You've got these full sounds with breaking, relatable lyrics and building riffs that sweep over a vast, lush landscape of sounds, all vying to be the first to take your breath away. It's intricate and fully aware of that fact without coming off as 'better than the norm', something that would lay in the realm of 'too artsy for your enjoyment'. Much the opposite, actually, if there's one on this list you really need to pay attention to, it's The Gates. It's breaking, fresh, and screaming personal revolution in its own quiet way, written openly and unselfishly for the kids who need to hear something uplifting that's not just fluff. Mature and beautiful, it is really something to take note of.
Even though it's expected, Bully belongs on this list because of the faulted honesty she so freely shares on Feels Like: like in tracks "Six" (which perfectly explains the guilt of mistakes in our youth) and "Sharktooth" (that draws you in with honest lines and twisted lyrics and grown up, harsh truths, culminating in "it's time to buck up and be a man"). Honesty is the one word we would use to sum up this album, harsh honesty if you want to get specific, because the unforgiving reality of "I Remember" and the straight up truth in "Trying" (because who the fuck else is going to admit to praying for their period to come) are so straight-forward and rough that they may be the most, embarrassingly, relatable lyrics of the year. It's indie grunge at its best and we're still not tired of it.
Yukon Blonde's On Blonde, much like Bully, isn't a far reach into the ether for songs you've not heard of, but these spinning riffs and great lyrics are not to be missed. Group vocals are always a plus and the entire album is just such tacit fun and easy-without-being-monotonous listening from start to finish that it'll still be great a year from now. "I Wanna Be Your Man", "You Broke The Law", "Favourite People", and, of course, "Saturday Night" are our suggested 'don't miss' tracks. Actually, just play "I Wanna Be Your Man" anytime you're feeling low, that riff will give you new life every time.
While not a full length, Mike Water's Life EP gets an honorable mention because holy fuck is it good. Our love affair with his sound started with the release of the "Gambling Man" video and quickly spiraled from there; the track's breaking and honest and almost painful with lines as honest as "sometimes I need to sink before I swim/ I’m not really built for the world I’m in" and "I’ve a lot of secrets I can’t share/ please don’t stay away, please don’t be scared" trotted out without shame, with an unobtrusive and sneakily honest video to match. "Feels Like Home" is a sweet self-acceptance to get yourself hooked on and singing along to, and we're just really into "Dreams"; acoustic guitar, more honest lyrics, pretty vocals - goodness it's good. With its faulted truths and pure melodies, you'll want to keep listening into the new year.