THE BEST 55 NEW ALBUMS OF 2015-PART ONE.

THE BEST 55 NEW ALBUMS OF 2015-PART ONE.

As I continue my look back through 2015, we get to the best albums of 2105. Usually, I choose fifty albums. This year was such a good year for music. So much so, that I increased the list to fifty-five. The artists represented, come from all over the world. This includes Scotland, England, Norway, Sweden, Germany, America and . It’s one of the most eclectic lists of recent years. Equally eclectic is the music. Numerous genres are represented here. That’s no exaggerating. There’s something for everyone, and each and every album is a worthy addition to any record collection. So without further ado, here is my fifty-five best albums of 2015 in A-Z order.

ADMIRAL FALLOW-TINY REWARDS.

Admiral Fallow were formed in 2007, by Glasgow based singer-songwriter Louis Abbott. They released their debut album Boots Met My Face in June 2009. Nearly three years later, Admiral Fallow released their sophomore album Tree Bursts In Snow in May 2012. Since then, it’s all been quiet on the album front.

That was until Admiral Fallow returned with Tiny Rewards in May 2015. It was released on the Canadian label Nettwerk. Tiny Rewards marked a welcome return from Admiral Fallow. It’s a truly captivating and eclectic, career defining album from Admiral Fallow.

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ANNELI DRECKER-ROCKS AND STRAWS.

In July 2015,  Anneli Drecker released her long awaited, and much anticipated third solo album, Rocks and Straws on Rune Grammofon, It marked a welcome return from Anneli Drecker. Her recording career began twenty-eight years ago, with Bel Canto when she was just seventeen.  Since then, Anneli Drecker released six albums with Bel Canto, worked with Röyksop and released her third album Rocks and Straws.  

For Rocks and Straws, Anneli Drecker penned eleven new songs. These songs are based on lyrics by cult poet Arvid Hanssen, and were  translated into English by artist and writer Roy-Frode Løvland. Arvid Hanssen´s poems have been strongly influenced by the mysterious and powerful nature of this arctic region, including the works of writer of Knut Hamsun. Despite the lyrics being based on Arvid Hanssen’s lyrics, the songs on Rocks and Straws are personal to Anneli Drecker. She describes them as an “ode” to the town and region she was born and brought up. Helping Anneli Drecker, who also produced Rocks and Straws, were some of the great and good of Norwegian music. 

The result was a captivating album that showcased Anneli Drecker’s ethereal vocal. It’s complimented by understated, acoustic arrangement. They frame Anneli Drecker’s vocals, as effortlessly, she breathes life, meaning and hope into lyrics. Other times, her vocal veers between tender, dramatic and powerful. Occasionally, Anneli Drecker’s vocal and tinged with sadness. Always, it’s heartfelt and impassioned. That’s because each of the eleven songs on Rocks and Straws are personal to Anneli Drecker. They’re about Anneli Drecker’s life and formative years. These years shaped Anneli Drecker, and made her what she is now. That’s one of the most talented singers in Europe.  

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AS THE TIRED TRAINS CROSS EUROPE-LUCID MOMENTS. 

One of the real finds of 2015 was As The Tired Trains Cross Europe’s debut album Lucid Moments. It was released on CD and heavyweight vinyl by Big Pink Records and showcases a truly talented singer-songwriters.  So much so, that great things are forecast from As The Tired Trains Cross Europe. No wonder.  

As The Tired Trains Cross Europe is the perfect showcase for the the multi-talented Vegard Eggum. He wrote, recorded, produced and mixed the ten tracks on Lucid Moments. It’s a musical roller coaster, where As The Tired Trains Cross Europe flits between and combines elements of country, electronica, folk, jazz, Krautrock, Nordic Wave, pop, post rock, psychedelia, reggae and rock. The result is a musical journey that all music loves should experience and embrace.

Over Lucid Moments’ ten tracks, Vegard Eggum becomes storyteller and troubadour. He embraces these roles, delivering vocals that are variously cathartic, heartfelt, hopeful, hurt-filled, impassioned, needy and soul-baring. Lyrics come to life, as Vegard Eggum lives them, on Lucid Moments, the debut album from his latest musical vehicle, As The Tired Trains Cross Europe. Essentially, Lucid Moments is a musical journey through the mind of musical adventurer and explorer Vegard Eggum.

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ASAMISIMASA PLAYS THE MUSIC OF ØYVIND TORVUND.

Øyvind Torvund was a composer that Asamisimasa had long admired and been inspired by. So, Asamisimasa decided to record an album of Øyvind Torvund’s compositions. The result is Asamisimasa Plays The Music Of Øyvind Torvund will be released by Norwegian Aurora Contemporary on 11th September 2015. However, this is no ordinary album.

Asamisimasa Plays The Music Of Øyvind Torvund features four lengthy soundscapes. Two of them, feature several movements. Wilibald Motor Landscape is a five piece movement, while Neon Forest Space features seven movements. Both tracks tell stories, and have a cinematic quality. Just like the two lengthy tracks, Wolf Studies and Plastic Waves, these tracks see Asamisimasa a disparate and eclectic selection of musical genres and influences.

During the four tracks on Asamisimasa Plays The Music Of Øyvind Torvund, elements of ambient, avant-garde, classical, electronica, experimental, free jazz, industrial post rock, psychedelia and rock melt into one. Somehow, though, this ambitious and pioneering fusion of disparate musical genres hangs together, and make perfect musical sense.

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ASTRID WILLIAMSON-WE GO TO DREAM.

Despite just releasing her sixth album, We Go To Dream, Astrid Williamson is still one of music’s best kept secrets. That’s despite a career that’s spanned three decades. Sadly, widespread commercial success that Astrid Williamson deserves has so far, eluded her. That’s why Astrid Williamson decided to reinvent herself.

The reinvention ofAstrid Williamson  began on Pulse, which was released in 2011. Astrid Williamson continues to reinvent herself on We Go To Dream. It’s without doubt, the most eclectic album of Astrid Williamson’s career.

So much so, that We Go To Dream is a magical mystery tour through musical genres. Seamlessly, Astrid Williamson flits between and fuses disparate musical genres on We Go To Dream. Effortlessly, Shetland born chanteuse  Astrid Williamson squares the musical circle on We Go To Dream, which features something for everyone. 

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AXEL KRYGIER-HOMBRE DE PIEDRA.

Axel Krygier’s career began thirty-one years ago, in 1985. Since then, the Buenos Aries’ born multi-instrumentalist has established a reputation as a musical maverick, who continually, has pushed musical boundaries to their limits, and sometimes, beyond. That was apparent on Axel Krygier’s genre-melting fifth album, Hombre De Piedra, (Man Of Stone), which was released by Crammed Discs in 2015.

Unlike Axel Krygier’s previous albums, Hombre De Piedra is a concept album. This however, is no ordinary concept album. Instead,  Hombre De Piedra is is a musical collage, inspired by  the French documentary Lascaux: Le Ciel des Premiers Hommes, which was a study of the the famous paleolithic cave paintings. The documentary caught Axel Krygier’s imagination. So, he set out to what many people thought was impossible, and tell the story of mankind on Hombre De Piedra.

With a few of his musical friends, Axel recorded not just an ambitious musical collage, but a groundbreaking one. On Hombre De Piedra Axel pushes musical boundaries to their limits, and sometimes, way beyond. To do this, Axel, a musical alchemist, combines musical genres and influences. This includes Balkan rapture, blues, disco, dubstep, exotica, funk, hip hop, Latin, lounge and rock. Soundtracks also influence Axel; including Ennio Morricone’s Spaghetti Western soundtracks. Then there’s The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Dick Dale inspired surf guitars. The result is pioneering collage Axel Krygier set out to record.

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BARETO-IMPREDICIBLE. 

When friends form a band, an adventure begins. Nobody knows what’s about to happen. Everyone has their hopes and dreams. It used to be being signed to a record company, and releasing their debut album. Maybe, after a couple of albums, commercial success and critical acclaim will have come their way?  If that’s the case,  their lives will have been transformed. They’ll have turned their back on the tedium and drudgery of everyday life. Replacing it, will be life split between recording studios and  playing some of the most prestigious venues in planet music. That’s the dream. Hoping to live that dream are one of the rising stars of the Peruvian music scene, Bareto, who released their fourth album Impredecible, on  the World Village label in November 2015.

Impredecible is captivating and intriguing because you never know which direction the album is heading. Bareto throw curveballs aplenty. Each track is eagerly awaited. What genre will Bareto reference next? Sometimes that’s obvious. Other times, surprises are store. The music veers between cinematic, haunting and moody to joyous, irresistible and hook-laden. However, each track on this musical magical mystery tour has one thing in common. They ooze quality. That’s why Impredecible should be the album that introduces Bareto’s genre-melting music to a much wider audience. 

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BELLE AND SEBASTIAN-GIRLS IN PEACETIME WANT TO DANCE.

Purveyors of perfect indie pop, Belle and Sebastian are almost veterans of the Scottish music industry. Their Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance, was released back in January 2015. It was recorded in Atlanta, and was the third album to be produced by Ben H. Allen III. The result was an ambitious album.

With Ben H. Allen III’s help, Belle and Sebastian, not for the first time, reinvented themselves again. Some would have as believe that  Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance it seems, is the musical equivalent of a midlife crisis. That’s far from the truth. Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance was an ambitious album where Belle and Sebastian were taken out of their comfort zone. The result was a first for Belle and Sebastian, a dance album. Now as the Belle and Sebastian’s twentieth anniversary fast approaches, it’s now time to move on. Maybe, that’ll mean a return of Tony Doogan as producer, who was responsible for some of return of some of Belle and Sebastian’s finest albums.

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BERANGERE MAXIMIN-DANGEROUS ORBITS.

Bérangère Maximin’s fourth album Dangerous Orbits. was  released on Crammed Discs in  May 2015.  It was a fitting addition to the Made To Measure series. Bérangère Maximin has a reputation for continually releasing groundbreaking music. Her music is ambitious, challenging and pushes musical boundaries to their limits, and sometimes way beyond. The music can also be described as challenging, cerebral and engaging. That’s been the case throughout Bérangère Maximin’s career. Dangerous Orbits was no different, and is an album to embrace.

If you embrace the music on Dangerous Orbits, you’re richly rewarded. What follows is a sonic voyage of discovery. You’ve no idea where the destination is. It’s a case of trusting Bérangère Maximin. She takes you on a journey. All you need to bring, is your imagination. As you listen to Dangerous Orbits, scenarios and plots unfold. That’s not surprising, as Dangerous Orbits has a cinematic sound. However, the listener has to provide the script. The beauty of this is, that each script is different. Everyone will pick and choose different sounds. They’ll also interpret sounds differently. This makes Dangerous Orbits a fascinating album, one that’s a captivating, cerebral and cinematic. It’s also a journey through disparate musical genres. 

Listen carefully to Dangerous Orbits, and elements of ambient, avant-garde, drone, electronica, experimental, free jazz, industrial, musique concrète, psychedelia and rock all play their part in the sound and success of Dangerous Orbits. It features sonic explorer Bérangère Maximin creating music that’s challenging, cerebral, engaging and truly groundbreaking. So much so, that Dangerous Orbits is the most ambitious, cinematic and innovative album of Bérangère Maximin’s four album career.

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BILL WELLS AND AIDAN MOFFAT-THE MOST IMPORTANT PLACE IN THE WORLD.

Four years after the last musical sojourn, Scotland’s musical odd couple of Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat return with their long awaited sophomore album The Most Important Place In The World. It’s the followup to Bill and Aidan’s 2011 debut album, Everything’s Getting Older. It was received to widespread critical acclaim back in 2011. Since then, music lovers have been awaiting the return of the unlikeliest musical yin and yang, Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat. The Most Important Place In The World, which was released on Chemikal Undergound has been worth the four year wait.

On The Most Important Place In The World, Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat have returned with a dozen songs about Scotland’s dark underbelly. They’re songs that deserved to be turned into a short film. No wonder. The characters and scenarios are very realistic Macho men, drinkers rub shoulders with dancers, chancers and romancers. They’re responsible for fleeting fumblings, illicit romances and tales of love gone wrong. Even the loves songs have a twist in the tale.

There’s a reason for this. Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat keep it real. They write about what they know, what they’ve seen and experienced. That makes a difference. Far too many songwriters try and write about things they’ve neither experienced nor witnessed. Not Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat. Drawing upon their experiences, they combine caustic wit, cynicism and social comment with tragicomedy. Other times their lyrics are tinged with sadness, hurt and heartbreak as The Most Important Place In The World takes on a late-night sound. Other times, the music is joyous and uplifting, as seamlessly, the flit between musical genres. This they do throughout The Most Important Place In The World, which is without doubt, a fitting followup to Everything’s Getting Older.

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