Top Ten of 2015 — Day 4
Written by Joel Funk
1. Harmlessness by The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die
I missed the initial hype that surrounded The World Is… going into the recording of ‘Harmlessness’ and then I heard “January 10th, 2014.” The song was, and still is strikingly beautiful. This was my first encounter with David Bello on vocals for the band, and to hear his call and return with Katie Shanholtzer-Dvorak to help tell the story of Diana, The Hunter of Bus Drivers was a phenomenal experience. I was so sold by this track that I went out of my way to and eventualy fall in love with the majority of The World Is’ back catalogue. Not only is this my favorite record of 2015, it has become one of my favorite records of all time. Side note: I don’t know that I’ll ever be hit as hard by a group of lyrics as I am with the following: “Don’t you quiver/I am an instrument/I am revenge/I am several women” and “Our hands on the same weapon/Make evil afraid of evil’s shadow.“
2. Dealer by Foxing
No bullshit, I cried on my first spin of this record. On the tails of all of the emotional weight presented by “Indica,” the sweeping, haunting beauty of an instrumental track called “Winding Cloth” was enough to send me over the edge. My story with Foxing is similar to that of The World Is… in that I missed out on the initial hype that surrounded their debut album, ‘The Albatross.’ I remember recieveing the promo and listening to “Bloodhound” and just feeling like it wasn’t for me. Almost a year passed between that attempt and the listen where that record hit me, and that was right before Foxing began to tease the release of ‘Dealer.’ This record is heavy-handed and one of the most beautifully written collection of songs that I’ve had the pleasure of listening to, and I’m confident in my decision to have this as the first runner up for my album of the year.
3. In Time We Belong by Slow and Steady
This is a record that felt like it was ripped from my own reality. I touched on this in my lengthy review of the record, but I’m sure it doesn’t hurt that while the record reads as autobiographical, the fact that I am currently in the early-20’s mindset that the record was written in doesn’t hurt my experience with it. I’m sure that I’m going to get some flack for this, but I feel comfortable saying that the writing on this record feels like the best of Christopher Browder (Mansions) and a less melancholic David Bazan. If these words haven’t sold you on the record, listen to “Pendulum” and rejoice in the fact that you are now saved.
4. Back on Top by The Front Bottoms
I don’t have much to say about this record other than I’m shocked that I got into it so quickly. I first heard The Front Bottoms in a The Wonder Years tag on tumblr, and I’ve been hooked since. Their last full-length, ‘Talon Of The Hawk’ was great, but I didn’t fully appreciate that until recenly. ‘Back On Top’ feels like an extension of that record. The hooks are huge and infectious, and although I’ve heard people say that Brian’s vocals have become less lively and morphed into a slow drone, I find that this change is exactly what’s sold these songs to me. They’re fun, nonsensical pop songs with a drone that often comes across as either really enthusiastic or bitingly sarcastic. It’s perfect for what it is.
5. I, No Longer by Pentimento
It’s hard to remember how I first heard a Pentimento song, but I’m sure glad that I did. From the moment I heard “Words with Friends” this has been a band that I had every intention of following through to the end, and it’s been more than worth it so far. To hear this band grow with each release has done little to curb that urge. ‘I, No Longer’ shows Pentimento at their best. The songwriting is clever and manages to feel bitter and melancholic without feeling disingenuous. Also, I dare you to try and find a hook bigger than the one found in “Sink or Swim” that’s come from this year.
6. Mable by Spraynard
Spraynard are the real saviors of pop punk. You can argue with me about The Wonder Years of The Story So Far being the true champions of the genre, but they’ve become pop punk by association and not by their output. With ‘Mable,’ Spraynard breathed new life into the genre for me with songs that felt like they could have been ripped from the early 2000’s that explode with perfect, angsty lyrics that reek of suburban life in your early 20’s. “Applebees Bar” starts off with that explosive one-liner, which would have been destined to be in somebody’s AIM profile; “I am every person that you’ve ever ignored/I am the flaming bag of dog shit on your porch/Used to think I was a savior or part of a cause/Now see I am nothing/No, nothing at all” and the rest of the album is just as flawless in delivery.
7. Supersonic Home by Adventures
When I reviewed this record, I called it comfortable. I still think that description is perfect. ‘Supersonic Home’ is riddled with these perfect and stunning vocal harmonies that are bound to engulf you and make you feel a sense of warmth that radiates from the inside. Aside from “Dream Blue Haze,” the record never really makes it past the mid-tempo mark — which is oddly fitting. You could make the argument that the rest of this record is what’s suspended in this dream blue haze and I don’t think that anyone would argue with it. Those harmonies and the oft somber musical accompaniments will practically make the case for you. Adventures is a very special band and ‘Supersonic Home’ is a record worthy of a world of praise.
8. Peripheral Vision by Turnover
Turnover is a band that doesn’t seem content with staying stagnant. It’s impossible to deny the growth from the release of their self-titled EP, and it’s crazy to hear when you lay it all out in front of you. The change from the raw pop punk sounds of ‘Turnover’ to the emo-tinged of their debut album, ‘Magnolia’ were almost to be expected, but ‘Peripheral Vision’ felt like the debut of a new band entirely. This is a collction of hazy pop songs more reminiscent of The Cure than anything else. The verses of these songs can feel a bit like droning at first, but the sweet and infectious hooks more than make up for it. It’s been a wild ride with Turnover so far, and they seem to be at the forefront of whatever revival (so-to-speak) is due next. I can’t wait to see what they throw at us in the future.
9. Joy, Departed by Sorority Noise
I would say that ‘Joy, Departed’ and ‘Forgettable’ feel like records that were made by two different bands, but the truth is that they were. With ‘Joy, Departed’ we were given a hyper-personal indie rock record with soaring guitar riffs and gut-wrenching lyrics. These songs were saturated with real life emotion and experience that didn’t need to be dolled up or skirted around — it just needed to be talked about. This record feels a lot like a catharsis, but not a chaotic release. It’s more of a well thought out and executed release of inner demons meant to not only provide relief, but be a conversation starters. While Boucher is wearing his experience on his sleeve, he’s making sure that you feel comfortable doing the same. It’s an incredible record that really took me by surprise, but it’s one that I’m glad I got to hear.
10. Shame by Petal
I had no expectations going into this record. I managed to stay ignorant to Petal until the cycle for this record began, and was blown away when I heard “Sooner” for the first time. The story-telling on this record is remarkable, specifically with both “Tommy” and “Heaven.” I talk about how the songs feel like they were meant for eachother in my review of the record, and I stil stand by that 100%. This record almost lost the number ten spot to Waxahatchee, but there’s one song inparticular that saved it from the chopping block. “Nature” is a risk that paid of tremendously. The structure is weird, but holy fucking hell, I love this song. Please, please, please listen to this record.
11. Ivy Tripp by Waxahatchee
12. Heck No, Nancy by The Obsessives
13. Dogged by You, Me, and Everyone We Know
14. Real Stories of True People Who Kind of Looked Like Monsters by Oso Oso