Wednesday, 30 December 2015

My Musical Highlights Of 2015

2015 is the year I got my mojo back, music-wise. For the past few years I've been pretty disengaged when it came to new bands, new releases, live music... nothing was really getting me excited.

But 2015 has fixed all that. There was so much I loved this year, so many new releases that made me heart soar with joy. I even went to two gigs in one week in November which, I know, is hardly front page news but I think I went to two gigs total in 2014. So....

Pop Crush Of 2015
Long-time readers of this blog will know that I'm enormously susceptible to a slice of great pop music (2012's One Direction obsession, anyone?) , and my pop crush this year was Charli XCX, and particularly the single Famous. She has savvy, smart and funny lyrics, a don't-give-a-fuck attitude, an all-girl live band, plus she made a documentary about feminism and pop music. What's not to love?

Gig Of 2015
Gig of the year was hands down Joanna Newsom at the Albert Hall in Manchester on Halloween, who never fails to provide anything less than a transcendental live experience. She was beating off stiff competition, however, from Ryan Adams (Leicester De Montfort Hall, 21st February), Father John Misty (Sheffield Plug, October 26th), and Sufjan Stevens (Manchester Apollo, August 31st).

Albums Of 2015
Joanna Newsom's Divers was the most exciting release of the year; a new album from her is always cause for celebration, as they don't come along often. And Divers more than lived up to the anticipation, a breathtakingly beautiful collection of songs.

Meanwhile, Father John Misty's I Love You Honeybear hasn't been far from my stereo since its release in February. Moving far from the gentle acoustic songs of his recordings under real name Josh Tillman, I Love You Honeybear is a melodic mixture of ballad, torch song, and folk rock, the highlight of which is almost always his audaciously witty, often bitter and cynical, lyrics.

Another record I loved was Beirut's No No No, a joyous and uplifting collection of songs from multi-instrumentalist Zach Condon. I am so looking forward to seeing them in the new year.

And finally, mention has to go to noisepop band Joanna Gruesome, who I resisted for a long time because of their name until, in 2015, falling head over heels first for their 2013 album Weird Sister followed closely by recent release Peanut Butter.

Songs Of 2015 (omitting tracks from my albums of the year)
As well as the aforementioned Famous by Charli XCX, I loved Bad Blood by Taylor Swift ft. Kendrick Lamar (and the Ryan Adams cover was pretty awesome too).

While I've struggled to listen much to Sufjan Stevens' 2015 release, Carrie & Lowell, with its aching sense of loss and sadness, Blue Bucket Of Gold is a standout track, the remixed single version of which I perhaps love even more than the original.

Meanwhile, although Wolf Alice's debut album was, for me, too much filler and not enough killer, You're A Germ is a fucking tune and no mistake.

Finally, the two opening songs from Bjork's ambitious and much-lauded album Vulnicura - Stonemilker and Lionsong - reminded me just how much I love her.

What were your musical highlights (or should I say high notes?!) of 2015?