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Two thousand and fifteen has been another incredible year for music and we are very grateful to have worked with some of our favourite bands and met some amazing new friends over the course of the year.
While it’s true that every punk and their dog has an opinion on the best records of the year, we figured that we’d compile a “recommended listening” list rather than a “best of”. Music is subjective and our emotional responses to it unique, so to say that one record is better than another is, whilst a fun exercise, ultimately futile.
With this thought in mind, we here at MTAT collated our individual favourite releases of the year for inclusion is this accumulative list of “recommended music from the year. LPs, CDs, EPs and digital-only releases all count but re-issues do not (shout out to Adrenalized and The Hotelier who had their incredible “Docet Umbra” and “It Never Goes Out” LPs respectively re-released this year). We’ll also rock in alphabetical order rather than numerically. There will undoubtedly be some we’ve missed so do please forgive us!
Words by Derrick unless otherwise stated. Not MTAT releases will be included. Please check out our rundown of 2015 releases here.
Much love and respect to everyone who continues to support independent and DIY music worldwide!
Make That A Take’s “Recommended Records of 2015”
After The Fall – “Dedication” LP (Bridge Nine Records)
Incredible, searing and heartfelt melodic hardcore/tech/skate punk from Albany, NY rockers whom we were lucky to host at our final show of the year. One of the most honest and passionate punk rock records of recent years, this Blasting Rooms-produced enamel-stripper is a fitting obituary to their fallen comrade and band mate Brian Peters.
Bangers – “Bird” LP (Specialist Subject Records)
The third “proper” full length from our favourite Cornish punks was their first album recorded in a “proper” studio and may well be their finest, most cohesive piece of work to date, melding the beloved eccentricities we’ve come to expect with a brightened, slightly more polished sound that accentuates both light and dark. One of Europe’s best punk bands knocked it clean out of the park again.
Beach Slang – “The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us” LP (Polyvinyl / Big Scary Monsters)
Beach Slang get bit of flack for the hype surrounding them, but I’ve always just listened to the tunes and if I like it, I’ll buy it. Hard to argue that the tunes aren’t there, very catchy, fuzzy sing along tales of staying young and hopeful. Beautifully packaged vinyl also. Bonus points. (Baz)
Birds In Row – “Personal War” 12″ EP (Deathwish)
This hasn’t been out for long, but it made the list. I saw Birds In a Row this year and they absolutely blew my head off. What a fucking intense racket for a 3 piece. Only thing I’ve seen really that rivals Kaddish for intensity both live and on record. Its like 13 mins long but it absolutely RIPS. (Baz)
Boak – S/T 7″ EP (Square Of Opposition/Vleesklak/ADGD/SuperFi/Wolf Town DIY/cross my heart and hope to diy/Friendly Otter)
Aberdoom’s finest purveyors of three-piece powerviolence/hardcore punk absolutely shredded it to bits with this six track EP that has returned to the turntable at Cowpunk HQ consistently throughout the course of the year. Just an absolute ripper of a 7″, this is bludgeoning socially conscious hardcore punk to make ye both think and mosh simultaneously.
Carson Wells – “Tread A Northern Path” LP (Black Lake/Adagio830/Barely Regal/Eat A Book/La Agonia De Vivir/We Are the Daughters)
Another incredible record from the bleak north east, “Tread A Northern Path” is the second full length from Aberdeen’s Carson Wells and is an absolute masterclass in refined and dynamic Ecossemo that weaves together intricacies, emotion, poetry, dynamics, freak-outs and hulking great riffs to create an essential emo document. Jawdropping stuff from front to back.
Choke Up – “Black Coffee, Bad Habits” LP (Black Numbers)
Choke Up have captivated me, from their early demos to this, and I can’t quite pinpoint it. Its just SO good. The songs are amazing, the technical parts are all over this, popping up like little markers on the record, I’ve lost count the amount of times i’ve had this on in company and had to stop conversation to say “wait wait, check this bit out, this is amazing….”. Absolutely magnificent stuff. (Baz)
The Flatliners – “Division Of Spoils” (Fat Wreck)
At this point, these well-traveled Canadian punks are veterans of the punk scene, despite their youth, and have an uncanny knack for knocking out anthemic melodic punk rock bangers with seeming ease. The fact that this record is a collection of b-sides, out-takes and compilation tracks that transcends most bands’ studio work is indicative of their depth of songwriting talent. Simply one of the best Fat punk bands of our time.
Franz Nicolay – “To Us, The Beautiful” LP (Xtra Mile)
One of our collective favourite singer/songwriters returned this year with arguably his greatest piece of work yet featuring members of The Slackers, Leftover Crack and Against Me. Produced by the legendary J. Robbins, “To Us, The Beautiful” captures Franz at his enigmatic best, from heartwrenching acoustica to foot-stompin’ blues/punk, this is emotionally engaging from start to finish. We were lucky enough to put out an exclusive 7″ this year featuring two tracks recorded during these sessions also.
Freddy Fudd Pucker – “Hourglass Wine” LP (Monkey Records)
One of the highlights of BYAF IX, Freddy Fudd Pucker also released one of our favourite records of the year that has barely left my record player over the last month. Coming across like a relocated Bob Dylan raised on a steady diet of late 90s/early 00s punk rock and hardcore, Freddy is a one-man-band that transcends the often-limiting “folk punk” tag to create something truly timeless and special.
Fucked Up – “Year of the Hare” 12″ EP (Deathwish)
One of the most esoteric and challenging bands in hardcore, Fucked Up returned this year with the latest release in their vaunted “Zodiac” series and it may well be the most esoteric, challenging and insidious episode in the series yet, which is saying something. A beguiling record, it’s one I’ve returned to time and again, always finding something else; another hook, another layer, another dynamic. Essentially peerless in modern hardcore.
G.L.O.S.S. – “Demo” 7″ (Nervous Nelly / Sabotage)
Girls Living Outside Of Society’s Shit have released what history may decree one of the single most important documents of modern hardcore. With pure rage, spite and frustration boiling over into a maelstrom of rock’n’roll influenced hardcore punk rock, there is absolutely no fucking around here, like Bikini Kill having a square go with Poison Idea in an Olympia basement.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – “Sweet, Asunder and Other Distress” (Constellation)
The latest masterpiece from these legendary Canadian ephemeral progressive punks follows in their long tradition of releasing utterly bewitching works of art that are as rewarding as they are challenging. Words seem inadequate to describe the emotional and audio onslaught of this record, it’s quite simply one of the most incredible works of art to come out this year.
Great Collapse – “Holy War” LP (End Hits Records)
Featuring Thomas Barnett from Strike Anwhere, I was always going to love this; it’s such a good album, full of punk rock protest songs addressing so many modern issues that bands just don’t sing about anymore. I’m so glad Thomas is still actively creating, as his voice has always been the loudest to me, and this record changes nothing of that fact. I’d say this is essential. (Baz)
In Tongues – “Rituals Of Failure And Ruin” LP (Carry The Weight Records)
Weapons-grade metallic hardcore troops from Glasgow released their debut full length this year and it absolutely destroys everything within it’s blast zone. With nods to the titans of the genre (Slayer, Earth Crisis, Entombed) and their contemporaries such as xrepentancex and Breaking Point, this is undoubtedly one of the heaviest highlights of the year. Gutted they couldn’t make it out to BYAF this year.
Iron Maiden – “The Book Of Souls” LP (Parlophone Records)
One of the biggest bands it the world, it would count for nothing if they sucked but the universal truth of the matter is that Iron Maiden are one of the most uncompromising, most punk rock bands in the world, if we’re to take it’s meaning as being doing whatever the fuck you want. Sonically, this record is every bit as bewitching as their classic works and “Empire of the Clouds” is just a eighteen minute exercise in wonderment.
The Kimberly Steaks – “Chemical Imbalance” 7″ EP (Don’t Ask / Round Dog)
One of the greatest Scottish punk rock bands of recent times only released around seven minutes of music this year but goddamn it’s among the most invigorating seven minutes you’ll ever spend. Featuring three characteristically sonically upbeat, lyrically downcast zingers and a cover of a Hermann’s Hermits bangers, this is the perfect little melodic punk package and comes of beautiful yellow vinyl.
Lost Limbs – “Misery In Repetition” download (self-released)
With this album, Lost Limbs have added another delicious slice of progressive/desperate skramz to the Ecossemo canon whilst pushing the envelope of the genre to it’s breaking point. Mixing equal parts desperation, anxiety, guitar pyrotechnics and an distinctly melodic indie rock sensibility, these Glasgow-based hardcore troops have thrown the formula out of the window and carved themselves something utterly engaging, unique and vital.
Make War – S/T LP (Black Numbers)
I’d heard sneak peeks of what these songs sounded like as a full band recording, so was pretty well prepared, along with knowing and loving all these songs in their previous incarnation as acoustic “Sad and French” recordings. So there wasn’t anyway way I wasn’t gonna love this, and I do. (Baz)
Min Diesel – “Mince” LP (Struggletown / Cool Yr Jets)
Lo-fi indie rock jamz packed full of north eastern soul from these noisy Aberdeen punks who take their charming nervous shyness and douse it in glorious fuzzy-edged noise pop, coming across like Sebadoh / Pavement having their own bake sale in a Scottish art school. Quite simply a glorious, joyous uplifting racket on beautiful swirly pink and white vinyl.
John Moreland – “High On Tulsa Heat” LP (Old Omen Records)
A hardcore punk kid who turned solo and started writing heartbreaking acoustic country songs. I read in an interview it was because he loved the words more than anything, in the hardcore songs, but could never make them out over the music so he wanted to write his own songs and make sure people heard what he had dsosay. His 2013 album “In the Throes” is absolute class, so I was keen to grab this and its gotten me though a lot this year. Doing it RIGHT. (Baz)
Jeff Rosenstock – “We Cool?” LP (Side One Dummy)
Fun as absolute shit. I caught a brief glimpse of Jeff live once as his set was ending, and it was just a sea of balloons and confetti cannons. A pure party. Its total over the top pop, but Jeff’s delivery is still punk as fuck. “Get Old Forever”, “Nausea” and “Beers Again Alone” are slices of thirty something reflective perfection. (Baz)
Sam Russo – “Greyhound Dreams” LP (Specialist Subject Records)
Taking a more stripped-down approach for his second full length, Sam Russo has brought is incredible poetry and lullaby-like singing voice to the fore and has knocked it clean out of the park. Enlisting the backing vocals of the Dear Everyone was an inspired decision and Sam’s penchant for penning lamentful punk rock ballads continues unabated. All that time spent touring with the likes of Tim Barry and Dan Adriano has served Sam well and this is undoubtedly his strongest work to date.
The Spook School – “Try To Be Hopeful” LP (Fortuna Pop!)
Glorious and riotously uplifting buzzsaw melodic pop/punk laced with potent and important lyrical messages and themes throughout, The Spook School have delivered on their early promises and created one of the most important records of the year that has seen them take over the globe and destroy everything in their path. The best is undoubtedly yet to come but these queer punx captured lightening in a bottle in 2015.
Spraynard – “Mable” LP (Jade Tree)
This is a masterpiece of a record. Its just utterly perfect. I just want to force feed it into every home in the world and let it make everyone feel better. The best thing they have done, the album that stayed with me and guided me past all the horrible shit of this year, the absolute best. (Baz)
Earl Sweatshirt – “I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside” (Odd Future)
Intelligent, hard-hitting lyrically sharp, voice-finding, emotionally naked LP mixing introspection and revulsion into a coherent whole with dense beats, synth breaks and a distinct sense of unease throughout. While not rammed full of instahits, it’s a subtly nuanced hip hop record that takes its sweet time to worm its way into your brain. Brave, honest, bold and challenging.
Tenement – “Predatory Headlights” LP (Don Giovanni Records)
A massive undertaking across two jam-packed LPs, “Predatory Headlights” pushes the boundaries of what we understand of as “pop punk”, especially in these modern times, and redefines what can be achieved within the genre. Equal parts haunting, driving and inspired, this is a record of great heft, poetry and ideas that blends the inner Descendents-loving ideals of youth with the grim realities of adulthood with hooks on hooks on hooks.
Toy Guitar – “In This Mess” (Fat Wreck)
The return of Jack Dalrymple is always something to get excited about and this was the first LP that blew my mind in 2015. Mixing up all the best parts of his previous work (One Man Army, Dead To Me, Swingin Utters, countless more), Jack’s silky smooth vocals, uncanny songwriting abilities and surf-guitar influences come to the fore to create what is almost the perfect pop/rock/punk album that has seen the band travel the world this year. Outstanding in its field.
War On Women – S/T LP (Bridge Nine)
Like a Molotov cocktail exploding in your face, War On Women released what may be the single most ferocious and angry hardcore punk record of the year that gets more potent and intense with each subsequent listen. Quite simply, this is one of the most important records released in recent years, challenging perceptions and stereotypes both within and outwith the punk scene.