Onwards with more of the best new releases of 2015, as usual in no order, but with the first mentioned especially worthy of earspace…
Oblivionized – Life Is A Struggle, Give Up (Secret Law Records)
Oblivionized spent the years 2008 – 2013 or so building a style that was dense, technical, experimental and explosive and roughly in the borderlands between technical death metal and grindcore, a period perhaps best experienced on 2011’s Abhorrent Evolution EP. Thereafter, the band reconfigured to a three piece and stripped their music to its unpredictable, emotionally volatile core. Life Is A Struggle… is the perfect encapsulation of the style they arrived at and is a perfect distillation of some of the more vital aspects of the UK extreme [enter preferred genre name here] underground.
Ratatat – Magnifique (XL Recordings)
Ratatat’s peculiar ‘rocktronica’ is as distinctive as ever on this, their fifth album. I haven’t heard all of their work, but based on the bits I know, this seems ‘typical’, in that it is strangely soothing even when woozily off key or actually sort of instrumental-version-of-Queen-ish.
Nechwochen – Heart of Akamon (Nordvis Produktion)
2015 was a good year for folk and/or ‘heritage’ influenced American black metal and while Obsequiae (rightly) got most of the plaudits for the extraordinary Aria of Vernal Tombs (which will feature in this end-of-year-roundup at some point), Nechochwen’s Heart of Akamon is a superbly atmospheric album which has its roots in the history and culture of north America – still surprisingly rare in USBM compared to the influence of essentially European themes.
Alif – Aynama-Rtama (Nawa Recordings)
I hate to use a term as meaningless as ‘world music’ but I don’t know enough about Arabic music (or want to, really) to say anything very intelligent about this beautiful and (to my ears) unusually-textured music.
Chris Cornell – Higher Truth (Universal Music)
Despite my affection for Soundgarden, I was quite surprised to find how much I enjoyed this album; compared to recent Chris Cornell albums, it’s simple, straightforward, not boring and heartfelt. Plus his voice is still great.
OLD ALBUM OF THE YEAR: contender# 3
Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers – Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers (Berserkley Records, 1976)
Genuinely timeless in its strange mixture of sparse instrumentation (acoustic guitar/bass/drums), harmony vocals and childishly straightforward songwriting; a great album