Yep, it’s that time of year again. What kind of list is popping up more exponentially than those wishful ones destined for the big bearded fella? You guessed it, the albums of the year list. So us folks on the Circulation committee decided to make a our own little albums wish list, each picking out favourite record of 2015. The resulting compilation is a pretty eclectic mix, though it can barely scratch the surface of this year’s excellent musical output. Choosing just a single album proved to be an incredibly tricky task, but here’s what we came up with…
5AM – Amber Run
This 17-track deluxe album has the diversity to give you a full range of alt-rock band sounds. From upbeat, head bobbing, toe-tapping summery grooves (‘Hurricane’, ‘Good Morning’) to stripped-back emotional chills (‘I Found’, ‘5AM’). The Nottingham five piece’s debut album doesn’t fail to disappoint regardless of your mood or tuneful needs.
Tom, Live Editor
In Colour – Jamie XX
The album opens up dimensions of sonic space in a way that surprises and fascinates. Groovy yet relaxed, catchy yet profound, accessible yet abstract, every track is a exploration of the diverse possibilities of electronic beats. Personal favourite is ‘The Rest is Noise’.
Christine, Head of Production
What Went Down – Foals
What Went Down is a far cry from their debut Antidotes, in terms of sound and diversity. There’s an almost dichotomous difference between the anger of tracks like ‘What Went Down’ and the ambience of ‘Birch Tree’, but ‘Night Swimmers’, ‘Mountain At My Gates’ and other tracks bridge this disparity. The album spans the whole spectrum of Foals’ musical capabilities and it’s this sonic variety that makes it such an enjoyable listen– you won’t listen to one song that sounds the same in its 48 minutes.
Lucy, Social Media and Publicity
Reality Show– Jazmine Sullivan
Jazmine bounced back after a five year hiatus with a true, nostalgic RnB sound whilst keeping up to date with production. The thematic scope of her lyrics is much broader, keeping the album interesting and showing a more confident side to her.
Adobe, Albums Editor
Dream a Garden– Jam City
Jack Latham’s about-turn from flagbearer of the Night Slugs sound to utopian protest singer is one of the most daring and inspired decisions in recent memory. Choosing to forego the rigid bass music of debut Classical Curves for an expansive, hazy sound with reference points as diverse as post-punk, psychedelia, grime and hip-hop, Jam City’s sound is unlike anything else. Lyrically wearing its heart on its sleeve, Dream A Garden is overtly a protest album, confronting the horrors of life “under the regime of high capitalism”. Drenched in reverb and defiantly hopeful, Dream A Garden is a truly vital album.
Sam, Events Coordinator
Another One – Mac Demarco
A thougtful, emotional and all-baring album. The sound is arguably the same – guitar effects and lazy basslines – but the songs are not. This album shows that Mac has much more emotional depth to put into his music than previously expected. With Another One, he proves that he wants to do more with music than inspire young lads to drink, smoke and shove drumsticks up their ass.
Maja, Features Editor
Get to Heaven– Everything Everything
Everything Everything have something to say on their third album. Its infectious choruses and gimmicky charm such as the spooky laughter on ‘Regret’ belie Higg’s graphic lyrics, which explore disease, brutality and politics. Ultimately this is a set of brilliantly danceable songs, and you only realise EE have created a terrifying snapshot of society’s underbelly once you are hooked and it is too late to go back.
Jessie, Events Coordinator
Read our review of Get to Heaven here
Saint Cecilia– Foo Fighters
Definitely my favourite release of the year, the Foos always deliver. And for free no less. Recorded at this year’s Austin City Limits Festival, with Saint Cecilia Dave Grohl once more demonstrates his talent to mix rage and passion into powerful stadium anthems.
Nelson, Managing Director
Hunch Music– Hunee
It’s been a remarkable year for Hun Choi aka Hunee aka Europe’s most adventurous dance music nice-guy. Having kept quiet on the release-front since 2012 this new production is a breath of our already Hunee-saturated air (still fresh though). Hunee’s imaginative and decade-spanning sets never follow rules, likewise Hunee’s productions follow suit. The album casually shows off Choi’s exceptional talent and individualism with stand-out tracks like ‘Silent Sensation’ or club-friendly ‘Rare Happiness’. Yet there’s an emotive diversity within the record that takes you from 100 to morning-after (or morning still in the club) vibes in the space of a few tracks. ‘The World’ in particular provides for a really sensational and emotionally-charged listen.
Charlotte, Comment Editor
To Pimp A Butterfly– Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick’s follow up to the phenomenal Good Kid, M.A.A.D city is a hip-hop masterpiece. The production has a greater jazz influence than his older stuff, and Kendrick’s lyrical ability complements it beautifully. From the screams on ‘u’, to the spoken-word delivery on ‘For Free?’, Lamar is as dynamic as he is poetic, as his topics vary from the effect of fame on him, to race issues and more. Painting the hood in a way directly analogous to Plato’s Cave, Kendrick arises from the topics explored in GKMC as the philosopher, both diminished and made wiser from his experiences.
Elliott, some guy
In Dream– Editors
A seamless transition from the stadium-filling guitar sound, Editors throw us into an startling world of swelling synths and ethereal vocals. From the delicate notions of ‘No Harm’ and ‘The Law’, the album jarringly oscillates into the basslines of ‘Our Love’ and ‘Life Is a Fear’. Mostly produced by Editors themselves, the breathtakingly fresh sound is exceptionally coupled by their artistic collaboration with filmmaker and photographer Rahi Rezvani. Representing the philosophies and concepts established in their earlier work, In Dream confronts and combines transition and uniformity in one of their finest hours.
Jack, Graphics and Brand Manager
Currents- Tame Impala
Tame Impala’s third studio album, Currents, significantly contrasts with the band’s former work that originally branded them as a psychedelic rock band. Despite Kevin Parker’s guitar still gladly making an appearance, rather than the classic rock guitar, instead it heavily features synthesisers and has gravitated away from this genre towards a more dance-orientated style of music. The airy and weightless music cleverly conceal the sadness and emotional heartbreak that is deeply embedded in the lyrics, and this is also visually depicted in the album’s cover art of vortex shredding.
Alex, Deputy Editor
The Race for Space- Public Service Broadcasting
PSB’s second album The Race For Space is a cinematic masterpiece, telling the awe-inspiring story of humans’ journey into space. It has emotional high’s and low’s, varying musical styles from the almost jazzy brass section in ‘Gagarin’, the indie-rock stylings of ‘Go!’ to the amazing electronic intensity of ‘The Other Side’ all while using original archival samples from NASA.
James, Web Editor
Read our interview with Public Service Broadcasting here
The Night Took Us In Like Family– L’Orange and Jerimiah Jae
So my actual favourite album is like so many other people’s Kendrick’s To Pimp A Butterfly, but I figured it’s praises have already been sung to the point of exhaustion (including by us). So I decided to root for an underdog in L’Orange & Jerimiah Jae’s incredible and cinematic collaborative effort. L’Orange collaged together 50’s gangster movie samples with jazzy beats that begs for Jae to come in and match them with his bars. He dutifully delivers.
Lonelady aka Julie Campbell’s post-punk-funk sound echoes with the ghostly resonances of other Manchester greats such as Joy Division, Section 25 and A Certain Ratio, but has her own, distinctly contemporary, pop twist. Taking these reference points, she’s created an album which powerfully evokes the decaying industrial landscapes of its conception and whilst often dark in subject matter, always remains undeniably upbeat in its danceable groove. Hinterland is the phoenix risen from the ashes of the city’s forgotten fringes. For me, an addictive, essential release of 2015 which remains under the radar.
Read our fascinating interview with LoneLady here
Interested in seeing which records made the Circulation cut last year? Take a look at our Top Albums of 2014 here