Top Ten of 2015 — Day 1
Written by Mike Moger
Since becoming a staff writer for a little site called 36vultures, I’ve been introduced to some of the best music this past year. Joel puts a ton of effort into the site and I’m really proud to call it home and supply the internet with some awesome reviews and interviews! Behold, my list of AOTY 2015 – or as I affectionately call it: the sophomore slugger. Considering that the entire top 6 released their second LP’s this year, and all but one of those released their first LP back in 2013. Overall, it’s slightly better than 2014’s list (despite the top 4 still resonating in my eardrums), but still 2013 reigns as king.. for now.
1. Oso Oso – Real Stories of True People Who Kind of Looked Like Monsters
I don’t think I was ever ready for an album this much since Angels & Airwaves’ ‘I-Empire’ (ModLife days were the bomb-diggity). Like I mentioned in my review, I received a promo copy of Oso Oso’s masterpiece about a month before its actual release date, allowing me to become enchanted and immersed in ‘Real Stories’ in all of its glory. Jade simply excels at songwriting, which shows in the mysterious “Josephine” and the heart-on-your-sleeve ending of “This Must Be My Exit.” However, nothing this year has surpassed the immaculate experience that is “Track One, Side A,” and I’m really really okay with that fact.
2. Marietta – As It Were
Talking about surprises, holy MOLY! Marietta dropped the definitive emo record of the year (quite the compliment given #3 on this list) at a time when literally no one expected them to. The promotion for this record was non-existent until a week before the release date, and it still slays every time. Combine that with noticeable production improvements – the intro of “Destination Unknown (Reprise)” alone sent shivers down my spine – and it’s easy to see how Marietta continues to amaze. The best part? We’re only two full lengths into their catalog, and both albums are flawless.
3. Foxing – Dealer
Thanks to “Weave” immediately dispelling the famous of albatross of yesteryear, Connor and co can finally shake that damn bird off of their necks. After touring exclusively off of their debut for two years, Foxing are making damn sure things are going to be different this time around. And it proves magnificently, as ‘Dealer’ marks some of the most melodic and cathartic moments in the band’s short career. The only reason it sits at #3 is because of the surprise factor that Marietta brought this year; we already knew this album was going to be fucking amazing.
4. Better Off – Milk
Aside from seeing them open for Have Mercy in a tiny basement in MA, my experience with Better Off was literally nothing. And then ‘Milk’ came and completely overtook every pent-up emotion I’ve had since thirteen and blasted them to the stratosphere. I’m talking knobs to 11 here, people. To this day I still am caught rocking out to the nonchalant “Whatever, I Don’t Care” and the moody-turned-almost-creepy “Bella Disorder” while on my way to class. Safe to say, Better Off definitely made me a believer with their astounding second album.
5. TWIABP – Harmlessness
My initial listens of “January 10th, 2014” were alarmingly poor – for some reason I just couldn’t allow myself to believe that this was TWIABP now after making such a perfect album in ‘Whenever, If Ever.’ Thankfully, those feelings went astray once I heard the rest of the album, as it truly captures the spirit of a band with an ever-shifting eight-piece ensemble. It’s like they took the best pieces of their previous LP and tried to make it more etherial, resulting in the magnum-opus that is “Mount Hum” and the brilliant opener of “You Can’t Live There Forever.”
6. Turnover – Peripheral Vision
I was honestly so upset and at a loss of Turnover’s apparent.. well turnover.. that I couldn’t believe my ears. An 80’s esque album without any call-backs to ‘Magnolia?’ Crushed. Disappointed. Yet strangely, impressed. The fact that this was my reaction to ‘Peripheral Vision’ should speak volumes that it’s currently sitting on my top 10 list. Production value alone makes this album amazing, let alone the sheer brilliance that is cadence that bleeds throughout “Cutting My Fingers Off” and, especially, “Diazepam.”
7. Moving Mountains / Prawn – split
If there’s one thing Moving Mountains does better than any other post-rock band, it’s creating songs with pure emotion coupled with soaring instrumentals – so much so that strings are featured prominently on both “Abby Normal” and “Deathless.” Their return to music after a short hiatus was the best music-related news of 2015, as I am still elated with ‘self-titled.’ As for Prawn’s contribution to the split, they’ve continually impressed with each new release and complete the package well with two grounded-tracks, compared to MovMou’s aery stature.
8. Runaway Brother – Mother
The anticipation for ‘Mother’ on this site was palpable; we were beyond stoked to hear more from Runaway Brother following a stellar debut EP. But nothing prepared me for how multi-layered the entire album would be. From the highs of “Harvest” to the in-your-face nature of “Catch” to the slow burning “Faking It,” these boys have created something special. A more serious version of The Front Bottoms if you will, Runaway Brother have managed to nestle into common ground between whimsicality and emotion, making some perfect melodies while they’re at it.
9. Grin & Bear – Range Wars
Everyone has that group of friends from their hometown who are in a band that’s slightly-kinda-sorta successful, but hasn’t hit their stride yet. Grin & Bear are making that stride, and are doing it full steam ahead. ‘Range Wars’ is one calloused album from front to back, and never loses footing. I’m immensely proud of these guys for the effort they put into making such an amazing album while attending college full-time, and cannot wait to hear what’s next out of the four-piece. Do yourself a favor and just listen to “Pity,” and tell me you’re not impressed.
10. Daisyhead – The Smallest Light
Being the first anticipated release of a new calendar year is no easy feat, as Title Fight’s ‘Hyperview’ fell flat. But second? Second is the best, as it were, thanks to Daisyhead and their first LP. Coming off a strong split last year, I expected ‘The Smallest Light’ to be as good, but I never thought I’d be blown away. The pure emotion that comes after the first chorus of “Defenselessness” is harrowing and definitely sets the tone for the rest of the record. As a result, Daisyhead is not afraid to craft songs on topics such as suicide (“Neck”) or family (”East Bend”).
Honorable mentions: Four Year Strong – s/t, Head North – Bloodlines