Best Releases of 2015

It's the end of 2015, when another whole year went by and no one even remembers what happened. Time plays tricks on you like that. Some may say, once again, that they can't think of any good music that came out this year, but it's there. Since Brooklyn is what we know best, this is very Brooklyn-centric, with a few others who represent their own scene in the best way, including some legit mainstream artists that everyone has heard by now. 

Here's our top 15 favorites releases from the past year that left good memories. 

Lower Dens - Escape From Evil

Lower Dens

Lower Dens

This release is what made Lower Dens really blow up bigger than ever. And for good reason. This album is beautiful, with frontwoman Jana Hunter’s voice and lyrics on point, with some of the best storytelling and poetic advice you could ever open your ears to.

Kaki King - The Neck is a Bridge to the Body

Kaki King

Kaki King

Kaki King’s eighth LP is really best experienced live, but I would also listen to this album the way I would listen to classical music, as more of a meditative soundtrack. I already respected Kaki as a guitarist, but she really took it to another level with this project. Simply awe inspiring.

Tame Impala - Currents

TameImpala2015

Kevin Parker really took a turn with Currents, leaving a lot of the psych fuzz behind and opting for a much poppier sound. While the previous sound was what initially turned me onto Tame Impala, I also appreciated the new direction, especially at a time in my life that happened to coincide exactly with what Parker was singing about. This album was good therapy.

Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp A Butterfly

KendrickLamar2015

This album was just an amazing work of art, really a new hip hop masterpiece. Like, this album should be studied in schools.

YinYangs2015

Longstanding Noise Love favorites, the Yangs put out a rockin new tape this fall.

by Walter Wlodarczyk

by Walter Wlodarczyk

Also a Noise Love favorite, this “trash jazz” trio is doing some important sonic work. Their EP Cut was also another important release, providing the accurate representation of certain feels with sounds that once I heard, I couldn’t live without.

Junk Boys - Junk Boys LP

JunkBoys2015

Featuring members of Yin Yangs, MPHO, and Organs, Junk Boys formed like voltron and came up quick on the Brooklyn scene and became new Noise Love favorites fast.

Protomarytr - The Agent Intellect

Protomartyr2015

The Detroit boys continue to represent some raw, visceral shit with this one. Question everything, rock always.

Pill - Pill EP

Another heavy rotation cassette from another Brooklyn gem who also put on a helluva show, Pill is on their way to do lots of great things, including a proper full length coming soon.

Haybaby - Sleepy Kids

haybaby2015

Consistently one of the hardest working bands in NYC, this babely bunch released their very first full length in between all their impressive amount of live performances. Although nothing beats a real live Haybaby show, it’s good to have something to tide you over till the next one (which is soon).

Mr. Ma’am - Kiss and Yell

Mr.Ma'am2015

This Chicago punk 2-piece of one Mr. and one Ma’am has been described as “a punch to the gut” and that’s pretty on point. Their Kiss and Yell cassette was on heavy rotation for me after being turned onto them over the summer, because a sonic punch to the gut was often exactly what I was craving.

Peaches - Rub

I mean, it’s Peaches and her teaches are still as awesome as ever.

Bodega Bay - Our Brand Could Be Your Life

BodegaBay2015

Quite the novel of an album at 33 tracks, Our Brand Could Be Your Life is a full on punk statement on culture and consumerism in the modern worl

Dead Waves - Nature

deadwaves2015

This Queens trio always hit hard and loud, and always with a message. This release finally gave me recorded version of songs that were my favorite live, like “Mistaken” and “33.” Keep the Dead Waves rollin’.

Lady Lamb - After

LadyLamb2015

Shortened from Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, and certainly with more sophisticated production, Lady Lamb released another collection of from-the-gut and lyrically dense songs worth multiple plays.

Ditches Make a Controlled Mess of Life with Scraped Off EP

by Kelly K

Ditches EP cover
Scraped Off represents feeling beat up. Trying hard with no pay offs (lovers, friends, staying a float, self worth... all that). But at the same time, staying mobile, going outside and making a controlled mess of life.” - Ditches

Life is shit sometimes, but it’s bands like Ditches who make you feel a little better about it all. There’s no way it can be all that bad if there are still people making sounds capable of relating these things in a way that brings some beauty and solace into an otherwise confusing and frustrating existence. That’s the whole point of music anyway, right?

On their Scraped Off EP, unscrewed vocals, keyed up bass, and other combinations of vitalizing spooky noises of tension tightening and unwinding drive these songs in like the shot in the arm you need from the rest of the dull rabble.

Ditches is Tim Donnelly, Garrett Prange and Dave Mead; a San Diego three piece who make music about real shit in a visceral, real way you can connect to. They’re also cool because they recorded Scraped Off in the backside of a barbershop, owned by a man named Emilio, who also happens to be the star of their video for "Break In." They’re also set to record in a proper studio with Jon Greene, who’s worked with Crocodiles and Dum Dum Girls.

New Dog’s Classic Ballroom Dances: Modern Isolation As Tuneful As It Is Palpable

by Maria Schurr

NewDog

In an interview in support of his new album Classic Ballroom Dances, New Dog, aka Anar Badalov, expressed his appreciation for the tome This Will End In Tears: The Miserabilist Guide to Music by Adam B. Houghtaling, saying the book “validated my obsession with this genre of (sad) music.” Sad music, whether or not it’s given a more specific genre designation, such as “slowcore,” doesn’t appeal to everybody’s sensibilities. However, in the case of an artist like Badalov, the sadness exists for a reason. Classic Ballroom Dances rolls out evocative, relatable images song after song, resulting in an album that suggests the universal malaise connected to the isolation that technology sometimes breeds.


On first listen, Classic Ballroom Dances gave me the overall impression of a less spacey, super somber version of The Sophtware Slump by Grandaddy. But songs slowly come into their own over time, with single “The Airport Lobby” being an early standout. When a song’s chorus consists of, “I’ve been going to the airport and watching / landings from the lobby / These days I’ll take on anything you can call a hobby,” as “The Airport Lobby” does, presenting it in a way that isn’t a bummer is an unenviable task. Somehow, Badalov makes it sound more like a basic truth than a mopey confession.

The album’s title track starts out a bit more rollicking than Classic Ballroom Dances’ other songs before lapsing into a shuffling, sing-songy chorus. On “Hospital Nights”, Badalov sings of despondent nighttime walks and televisions acting as a replacement for family and casts everything in the sickly glow of hospital corridors. Somehow, you won’t want it to end. “Dusklands” is a ramshackle plaint that wears its Sparklehorse influence on its sleeve. Anyone who strives to uphold Mark Linkous’ legacy gets an automatic pass, yet “Dusklands” feels so heartfelt that it exists as a masterfully sad song in its own right.


“Fires” begins with the image of sneakers thrown over telephone wires and follows it up with children chasing cars and the glow of flickering televisions emanating from strangers’ homes. It’s a meandering snapshot of urban loneliness that exemplifies Classic Ballroom Dances as a whole. Its refrain questions, “who’s going to be the one / to step out of time?” Classic Ballroom Dances rises to that occasion, smartly expressing its modern malaise through mood and evocative scenes rather than an overabundance of explicit references. Solemn nights may not be for everybody, but miserabilists like myself should be happy to add New Dog to the sadcore canon.

Wand Bring the Highest Decibel Psych Vibes on Golem

Wand Golem CoverArt

By Maria Schurr

Wand are affiliated with Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall (Golem was released on the latter’s God? label) but the first comparison I drew through listening to their second release was a super stoner, heavier Tame Impala. This could just be a superficial comparison, as Wand lead singer and guitarist Corey Hanson’s vocal style is pretty close to Kevin Parker’s. There is maybe a bit of Segall’s Manipulator in here as well, but Wand seem to merely be skirting glam where Segall went for it full throttle. Golem’s pacing suggests Wand gave glam a valiant go, as opener “The Unexplored Map” attests, but quickly abandoned it for a game of Magic: The Gathering (in which all manner of golems can be found).

That probably sounds like a terrible, terrible diss, but Golem still seems like a hip release (thank the Segall association and the growing heavy psych trend for that). Golem’s highest decibel psych vibes somehow never plod and the songs never feel punishingly heavy. The standout breather moment “Melted Rope” serves as one of the album’s highlights, an easy, breezy groover that centers the listener before dropping them into the album’s ultra sludgy second half.  


Songs like “Flesh Tour” go a bit overboard with the Sabbath vibes, but it could certainly be worse. The album’s closing two tracks,“Planet Golem” and “The Drift,” wander the farthest into sludge and probably sound awesome through any speakers that are not a laptop’s. I’ve no doubt Wand are insane live, and sometimes this sort of loud, heavy psych that is so fun to trip out to among friends can be hard to translate into a solitary listening experience. With Golem, Wand have done a valiant effort of this, even if it sometimes brings to mind a bunch of stoned guys pretending to be wizards in a mildewed basement.

Album Review: Iceage - Plowing Into The Field Of Love

Iceagecoverart

“Some might question why you would feed an animal with champagne,” Elias Bender Rønnenfelt sings on title track “Plowing Into the Field of Love,” off Iceage’s doozy of a third album. 15 songs full of frustration, desire, classical references, and mythological symbolism channel all the tumultuous energy of their past releases, and refines it into an intense account of what happens when a band who lives in darkness as much as Iceage gets all the spotlights turned bright on them.

On this record, Elias’ vocals are at the forefront more than ever, unveiled and raw, and fuller of emotion than he would ever show on his face. Below the surface of the ice, there’s not much keep him afloat, as he sings on single “Forever,” a track that explores the duality of human nature. “I’d always had the sense / that I was split in two,” he begins, and as the musical waves start crashing harder from Johan Suurballe-Wieth's biting guitar and Jacob Tvilling Pless and Dan Kjær Nielsen’s pounding grooves, he starts to repeat with more and more fever, “If I could dive into the other / like it was an ocean / caressed by it’s waters / I’d lose myself forever.”

Iceage switches up musical styles with a broadened spectrum from one song to the next, such as the old school country blues rollicking along of “The Lord’s Favorite,” that is both dark and quick-witted. No doubt the reception of everything Iceage has done so far has conditioned them to feel like they can do and have whatever they desire. When you’re treated like God’s favorite, you’re invincible. Elias sounds cocky here with his exaggerated slurring bravado, but the thing is, he’s right. In “How Many” he acknowledges the incentive of success and recognition: “I have a sense of Utopia…is it really any wonder that I’m here like this.”

At the same time, the band isn’t completely letting themselves go. Their music is still art; a sacred thing to them, which is being bought and sold like “Simony,” but they also know this is also how they are able to keep making their art exclusively, and how they are able to live their life the way they want to live. It’s no wonder that with dealing with all of the bullshit that comes with that would give them an attitude of “Whatever I do, I do not repent / I keep pissing against the moon,” Elias growls in a ballad of no apologies.

With this new record, Iceage is plowing into the field of love for themselves. Not blindly, and not without reflection, but with an embraced resolve to forge on ahead. As Elias’ words explode from the depths of his “Glassy Eyed, Dormant, and Veiled” exterior, “like a feral horse who will gallop to its death.”

Plowing Into The Field of Love is out today on Matador.