Five Great Albums From 2015 (so far!)

So the mid way part of the year has passed and with a bit of time to reflect, here are my top 5 of 2015 so far. It is hard to rank, as so many great records have been spinning their way into my psyche. So I reserve the right to change my mind later.

5) Wolf Alice – My Love Is Cool

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Built around strong guitar work and soaring vocals, Wolf Alice bridges the gap between the 90’s alt-rock revival and the more modern Brit-Rock led by the Arctic Monkeys and their recent disciples Royal Blood. It would have been fun to play Guitar Hero to their tunes.

4) Best Coast – California Nights

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Gone is the warm washing fuzz of reverb on everything that had the words lo-fi and surf rock attached to their records, and in is a more ‘nineties-esqe’ alt-rock tone that could be slipped into a mix between the Lemonheads and Garbage. California Nights has a way of sinking under your skin and making you want to play them over and over again.

3) Leon Bridges – Coming Home

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He’s got the brass sounding like the legendary Memphis Horns, a deep groove reminiscent of Duck Dunn and the minimalist guitar leads that you might swear were coming off Steve Cropper. Then you mix in a style that slides in a suave 60’s Bacharach martini dance party and you get a glimpse of the power possessed in Coming Home. In essence, Bridges is the ‘new old soul.’

2) Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit

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Sarcastic and playful in the most observational of ways, Courtney Barnett makes stinging shots sound like a musical sit-com. Characters inhabit a ‘Seinfeld-esqe’ place where nothing seems larger than life and decisions don’t necessarily lead to conclusions. However, the journey is one hell of an adventure.

1) Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color

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If Alabama Shakes debut Boys & Girls was a first shot across the bow against musical mediocrity, then Sound & Color is a full on declaration of war. Not content to merely ride the wave of being the best rock ‘n’ soul or Southern rock band to currently grace the planet, they expand and grow. It’s the kind of growth and experimentation one got from Radiohead when they leapt from The Bends to OK Computer; or in other words – WOW!

“Rock Star” not “Pop Star” or Wolf Alice – My Love Is Cool

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Outside of Courtney Barnett, no one has received the tremendous pre-release expectations that Wolf Alice has with the lead up to My Love Is Cool. Dropping new singles every few weeks has helped to build momentum and gather fan support for the album. The result is that Wolf Alice is seeing print in almost every music mag and newspaper for today’s release… but does it hold up?

Well actually, it doesn’t disappoint.

Built around strong guitar work and soaring vocals, Wolf Alice bridges the gap between the 90’s alt-rock revival and the more modern Brit-Rock led by the Arctic Monkeys and their recent disciples Royal Blood. Subtle whispers turn to moments of shoegaze before exploding into an all out “throw your hair around and play air guitar” press as “Giant Peach” blasts out.

“Bros” starts with a Juliana Hatfield Three rhythm before going all “1979” Smashing Pumpkins as if Tanya Donnelly (Belly) was singing. The thing is, Wolf Alice isn’t playing at nostalgia but instead inhabits a space that fits in well with the narrative of ‘rock star’ rather than the dreaded ‘pop star’. When “You’re A Germ” lets the slow verse flare into the heavy chorus of screams and thundering guitar, the impression is that these guys play music that makes them want to ‘rock out’ along with their listeners. Just when you think you’ve pegged their sound, “Your Love’s Whore” throws in a groove that flies into Soundgarden mixed with a Dandy Warhols’ feel. Then you get “The Wonderwhy” which drones on with a buzz that is simultaneously terrifying and mesmerizing.

My Love Is Cool on first listen might sound very 1994, but with each subsequent spin you discover new reasons to forget the past and enjoy the moment. For Wolf Alice, that moment is now and be prepared, you’re going to be hearing a lot more from them.

My Love Is Cool is released on June 23.