As a bit of a change from doing a “Top Ten Albums of 2015” article and instead I’m making two top fives – one for albums and the other for live gigs. Here are my five albums and why I think they sit at the top of my list as we bring another cracking year for local and worldwide albums to an end.
5. We Came From Wolves – We Came From Wolves
Self-titled debut from Glasgow’s We Came From Wolves is an indie rock gem. It’s no wonder this band won Best Alt/Rock Act at this year’s SAMAs show. Smooth rhythm laying down a foundation for the snappy lead and solo work to lift each track and align them with the relevant, topical and pop-culture-based lyrical content. Standouts on the album are ‘Am I Useful’, ‘Butterflies’ and the anthemic advert for their adopted hometown ‘Glasgow Stranger’. Having finally gotten around to seeing this band live twice in the last months of the year I can now say that the performance onstage matches that of the album – brilliant!
4. Muse – Drones
Conceptual in its obvious nod to the manually operated killing machines, widely used by Western Government(s) to wipe out enemies from the comfort of their warships and the like. This album also has a sweeping undercurrent that touches on the the loss of love – possibly due to Bellamy’s breakup with American actress Kate Hudson. Whatever the motives were behind the material that came about, this is a stripped back version of the mammoth, stadium-playing, megabeast that is Muse. This is the Muse I love and cannot wait to see in March when they return to Glasgow. Drones is an album packed from start to finish with absolutely brilliant, thought-provoking lyrics layered on top of some absolutely belting tracks.
3. Start Static – Arguments
This likeable bunch of lads from Glasgow lay everything out there on their upbeat, raw and at times, downright dirty debut. From the opening notes of party anthem ‘Reckless’ to the bassy and heartwarming undertones of ‘Running For Ages’ we are treated to some of the best tracks to make it out there in 2015. These guys are all about having fun both inside and outside the studio and this comes through so apparently in the end result of this album. This is the album that you go to when you need a wee lift or a right good kick up the bum. Add the fact that Arguments is a self-produced, self-released masterpiece into the mix and you have an absolute winner.
2. Black Map – …And We Explode
Another debut album, …And We Explode is the follow-up to San Francisco trio Black Map – yet another band and album that was thrown up at me via Spotify. With its stand out tracks ‘Gold’, ‘And We Explode Pt. 1’ and ‘Chinaski’ this album shows off a well-rounded set of musical skills. Heavy without being too in your face, subtle and tender in places this album has the lot. A late entry, but give then amount of airtime its had for me in the car, at work and at home this one had to be on the list.
1. Highly Suspect – Mister Asylum
When you look at your year in music and there’s one album that has five times more plays than any other on the list you find that the decision for top album of the year has already been made. That was the case for Highly Suspect’s debut Mister Asylum. To put things in perspective, this album that came out in July and I hadn’t even heard of it until the end of August and it still had infinitely more listens than other albums on this list which have been out for months longer. As far as albums go at any time, never mind just one year, this one is untouchable.