Favourite Albums of 2015

DS FAVE ALBUMS 2015

Another year comes to a close and it’s time for the end-of-year lists to be revealed. Here at Doubtful Sounds we’ve had another 12 months deeply immersed in Americana music (alt. country & folk) so you’ll find plenty of albums from that genre on the list below. That’s not to say we didn’t listen to plenty of other styles of music. As usual we wrapped our ears around plenty of post-punk and indie rock with doses of jazz, electronic and psych rock. Read on to see what we rated as our favourite albums of 2015 and let us know what your top selections were.

a0486859370_101. James McMurtry – Complicated Game

McMurtry was a new discovery for me in 2015, despite Complicated Game being his tenth studio album. I was immediately floored by the storytelling, the vivid and heartbreaking prose that cut straight to the core of the story at hand and by using the fewest words possible he drew me into his characters, predicaments, heartache and troubled times. His closest contemporary is Willy Vlautin (Richmond Fontaine, The Delines) who he shares a fascination with the downtrodden and struggling. Complicated Game was the most consistent and exquisite example of songwriting, complete with restrained and emotive playing, that I heard in 2015.

timthumb3.php-52. Marlon Williams – Marlon Williams

“Though this solo debut has been a long time coming he has toured and built a strong reputation as a live performer across Australia and NZ and that experience has filtered through on this superb album that never falters or loses its sense of wonderment across thirty-five playing minutes.”

james_thomson_cold_moon-23. James Thomson – Cold Moon

“The balance and symmetry of Thomson’s writing is a standout facet of his music. From blues to country, folk to New Orleans flavours, through the positive vibe of love songs to the darker desolation of characters at the end of line he nails them all in mood and lyrical imagery”

courtneyb-560x5604. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit

“Barnett often gets pegged as quirky yet her musical approach ticks most alt. rock and indie boxes. The joy and achievement of Sometimes I Sit and Think… is how she has married that with her inimitable knack for lyrics that will draw attention from even the most staunchest of listeners who would normally pay little attention to words. Like a more impressionistic pop-art take on the skilful writing of Mark Kozelek, Barnett is leading the way in literate songwriting without any hint of pretension.”

tah-cover-jpeg5. Lost Ragas – Trans Atlantic Highway

“That ability to hammer out a brisk honky tonk rhythm one minute and then craft a late night whisky-sodden ballad of heartache highlights the band’s magic. Combined with the way they apply tonality to their songs, both vocally and instrumentally, Lost Ragas have created an album of timeless quality, full of dark and graceful beauty.”

30f02ea86. The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – Freedom Tower: No Wave Dance Party 2015

Spencer, Judah Bauer and Russell Simins get back to what they do best; incorporating no wave funk, rock ‘n’ roll, blues and garage rock into one hollering’ and testifyin’ primal groove soundtrack. This was a palette cleanser after all the generic psych rock and faux electro-soul that permeated the airwaves in 2015.

Dogs At Bay WEB7. Bad Dreems – Dogs At Bay

“This feels like an important album, a statement born of experience, countless hours spent in the practice room and driving to shows. It rocks in a primitive fashion and it takes up residency in your short term memory. It sounds like the country and people that it chronicles and it never loses sight of the power of simplicity in rock n roll.”

Gold Class-28. Gold Class – It’s You

“Gold Class wear their influences on their collective sleeve yet they’ve corralled them into their own sound. The sheets of guitar, cold rhythms and that dark poetic howl are a breath of fresh air on this highly accomplished and compelling debut album.”

protomartyr_the_agent_intellect_10159. Protomartyr – The Agent Intellect

“Primal rhythms with wire-brush screes of guitar and the distinctive disaffected howl and Mark E Smith-styled rant of frontman Joe Casey. The way they sonically blend beautiful and bruised sounds is what makes their music so appealing. It sparks and spits, Casey’s black humour lyrics are both catchy and provocative but above all, in 2015, Protomartyr are a breath of dissonant fresh air.”

10. Infinity Broke – Before Beforea4111469137_10

Though mostly born from the same sessions as last year’s River Mirrors album, these nine songs operate on a different plane. More concise and song-based, yet with a broad range of moods and levels of intensity, the quartet conjure up caustic distorted storms of guitar over measured rhythms.

11. Nadia Reid – Listen to Formation, Look For The Signs

12. Royal Headache – High

13. Houndmouth – Little Neon Limelight

14. Father John Misty- I Love You, Honeybear

15. Blank Realm – Illegals In Heaven

16. Tami Neilson – Don’t Be Afraid

17. Kurt Vile – B’lieve I’m Goin Down

18. Sleater-Kinney – No Cities To Love

19. Destroyer – Poison Season

20. Twerps – Range Anxiety

21. Ryan Bingham – Fear And Saturday Night

22. Lindi Ortega – Faded Gloryville

23. SJD – Saint John Divine

24. Faith No More  – Sol Invictus

25. Bob Dylan – Shadows In The Night

26. Pokey LaFarge – Something In The Water

27. The Holy Soul – Fortean Times

28. The Phoenix Foundation – Give Up Your Dreams

29. Ryley Walker – Primrose Green

30. Perry Keyes – Sunnyholt

31. Tame Impala – Currents

32. Raised By Eagles – Diamonds In The Bloodstream

33. Lucero – All A Man Should Do

34. Jason Isbell – Something More Than Free

35. Sam Hunt with David Kilgour & The Heavy 8s – The 9th

36. Bill Ryder-Jones – West Kirby County Primary

37. Neil Young + Promise Of The Real – The Monsanto Years

38. John Moreland – High On Tulsa Heat

39. Kamasi Washington – The Epic

40. Beach House – Depression Cherry

41. Sleaford Mods – Key Markets

42. Dan Kelly – Leisure Panic

43. Moon Duo – Shadow Of The Sun

44. Ruby Boots – Solitude

45. Mark Lucas – Little Town Blues

46. Malcolm Holcombe – RCA Sessions

47. Django Django – Born Under Saturn

48. Jamie XX – In Colour

49. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly

50. Chastity Belt – Time To Go Home

 

REISSUES/LIVE/BEST-OF

  •  Bob Dylan – The Cutting Edge 1965 – 1966 The Bootleg Series Vol. 12
  • The Velvet Underground – The Complete Matrix Tapes
  • Drive-By Truckers – It’s Great to Be Alive!
  • The Jean-Paul Sartre Experience – I Like Rain: The Story of the Jean-Paul Sartre Experience
  • John Prine – September 78
  • Mogwai – Central Belters
  • The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers
  • Ryan Adams – Live at Carnegie Hall
  • Sly and The Family Stone – Live at the Fillmore East: October 4th & 5th, 1968
  • Townes Van Zandt – The Nashville Sessions
  • Various – Ain’t Gonna Hush: The Queens of Rhythm & Blues
  • Various – In a Moment: Ghost Box
  • Various – Ork Records: New York, New York
  • Various – Punk 45: Extermination Nights in the Sixth City – Cleveland, Ohio: Punk and the Decline of the Mid-West 1975-1982
  • Various – Remembering Mountains: Unheard Songs By Karen Dalton
  • Various – Buried Country 1.5: The Story of Aboriginal Country Music

DS 40 Favourite Albums of 2014

DS Fave albums 2014

Another bumper year of music eases to a close with pretty much all the year’s albums now released. This year we’ve collated our 40 favourite LPs that we heard over the last 12 months. Of course there are bound to be a few gems that we didn’t get round to hearing that we’ll discover in the months to come but as of now these are the ones that hit the spot for us here at Doubtful Sounds. Americana music was a big part of what we listened to in 2014 and that is represented in the make-up of our list. If that is your musical cup of tea you can find our full folk and alt-country best-of list over at our Post To Wire blog. That aside, there are still plenty of other styles from brutal metallic riffing to woozy indie gems, primitive electronic poetry and doomy post rock. Hopefully there are a few records here that you haven’t heard yet and might feel inclined to check out. We’d love to hear your favourites in the comments section or on our Facebook page.

  1. Sun Kil Moon – Benji
  2. Protomarytr – Under Color of Official Right
  3. Lucinda Williams – Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone
  4. The Delines – Colfax
  5. The War On Drugs – Lost in the Dream
  6. Hurray For The Riff Raff – Small Town Heroes
  7. Tiny Ruins – Brightly Painted One
  8. The Felice Brothers – Favorite Waitress
  9. Little Bastard – Little Bastard
  10. Infinity Broke – River Mirror
  11. Earth – Primitive and Deadly
  12. Dan Michaelson and The Coastguards – Distance
  13. Blank Realm – Grassed Inn
  14. Nikki Lane – All Or Nothin’
  15. Rosanne Cash – The River and the Thread
  16. Robert Scott – The Green House
  17. Bernie Griffen & The Thin Men – Salvation
  18. Tami Neilson – Dynamite!
  19. Shihad – FVEY
  20. East Brunswick All Girls Choir – Seven Drummers
  21. Aldous Harding – Aldous Harding
  22. Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds in Country Music
  23. Drive-By Truckers – English Oceans
  24. Frazey Ford – Indian Ocean
  25. Damien Jurado – Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son
  26. David Kilgour & the Heavy Eights – End Times Undone
  27. J Mascis – Tied to a Star
  28. Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band – Intensity Ghost
  29. Doug Paisley – Strange Feelings
  30. Spoon – They Want My Soul
  31. Justin Townes Earle – Single Mothers
  32. Robert Ellis – The Lights From The Chemical Plant
  33. Ryan Adams – Ryan Adams
  34. Jep and Dep – Word Got Out
  35. Malcolm Holcombe – Pitiful Blues
  36. You Beauty  – Jersey Flegg
  37. Peter Bibby – Butcher/Hairstylist/Beautician
  38. Donny Benet – Weekend At Donny’s
  39. Sleaford Mods – Divide & Exit
  40. Shellac – Dude Incredible

2013 MID YEAR FAVOURITE ALBUMS

2013 mid year faves

Here we are again at list time, halfway through 2013 and already there have been a swathe of great albums released. We’ve been listening to an eclectic mix of stuff as usual including dub electronica, skronking freeform saxophone, abrasive art rock, retro-leaning post punk and heartstring americana. These are the records we’ve loved the most from what we’ve heard this year. There will be others from the last six months that we’ll discover as the rest of the year rolls out but we can at least highly recommend these ones – in no particular order…

  • Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Push The Sky Away
  • Protomartyr – No Passion All Technique
  • The Phoenix Foundation – Fandango
  • Kirin J Callinan – Embracism
  • The Drones – I See Seaweed
  • Fat Freddy’s Drop – Blackbird
  • Jason Isbell – Southeastern
  • DJ Koze – Amygdala
  • Eleanor Friedberger – Personal Record
  • Colin Stetson – New History Warfare Vol 3: To See More Light
  • Zomby – With Love

DS Top Electronic Releases of 2012

2012 TOP ALBUMS electronic

This is by no means a snapshot across all forms of electronic music as I have little interest in some strands such as trance, commercial dance music or the mainstream adoption and bastardisation of the name dubstep. I say ‘the name’ as the music itself bears little resemblance to the sounds that were created under that tag through the 00s. My tastes instead drift towards bass music – be it dub, experimental, minimal techno, ambient or drone.  This list of releases from 2012 hits the best of those dark, murky suggestive and cerebral places so in no particular order here are our favourites. Click on the artwork to sample/buy any of the releases via Boomkat.

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BURIAL :: KINDRED

 

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RAIME :: QUARTER TURNS OVER A LIVING LINE

 

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ANDY STOTT :: LUXURY PROBLEMS

 

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ACTRESS :: R.I.P

 

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SHED :: THE KILLER

 

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DARLING FARAH :: BODY

 

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IRON CURTIS :: SOFT WIDE WAISTBAND

 

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SHACKLETON :: MUSIC FOR THE QUIET HOUR

 

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MONOLAKE :: GHOSTS

 

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FOUR TET :: PINK

 

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LOSCIL :: SKETCHES FROM NEW BRIGHTON

 

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VCMG :: SSSS

 

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ROBERT HOOD :: MOTOR: NIGHTTIME WORLD 3

 

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DAPHNI :: JIAOLONG

 

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TERRENCE DIXON :: FROM THE FAR FUTURE PT. 2

 

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1991 :: 1991

 

DS Top 50 LPs of 2011

2011 has been another massive year for music, at least it feels that way. Invariably the availability and access to recorded music is easier and greater than ever with streaming and file sharing available at the click of a button. Each year I seem to increase the size of my list, purely as a result of the volume of stuff I get to hear. The more I hear, the more I like which is a good thing but it makes year end lists a real brow furrowing exercise – painful but fun for a music obsessive such as some of us are.

This year threw up some new albums from favourites of recent years like Girls, Wild Beasts and Wooden Shjips  – all groups that seem to be refining and improving their music with each album they release. I’ve also been listening to a lot more electronic music reflected by appearances from The Field, Robag Wruhme, Gui Boratto and Zomby. Check out our list over at Komputer Music for more great electronic releases. I’ll also be publishing a list in the coming days of some of my favourite songs from 2011. To the list…

Pure X – Pleasure [Review]

Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost

Wild Beasts – Smother

Kurt Vile – Smoke Rings for My Halo

Destroyer – Kaputt [Review]

Wooden Shjips – West [Review]

Gillian Welch – The Harrow & The Harvest [Review]

The Felice Brothers – Celebration, Florida [Review]
Wilco – The Whole Love

Royal Headache – Royal Headache [Review]

Leader Cheetah – Lotus Skies [Review]

J. Mascis – Several Shades Of Why [Review]

Okkervil River – I Am Very Far

Zomby – Dedication

The Field – Looping State of Mind

The Low Anthem – Smart Flesh

Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

The Field – Looping State of Mind

Bill Callahan – Apocalypse

Melodie Nelson – Meditations on the Sun [Review]

Zola Jesus – Conatus [Review]

Tom Waits – Bad As Me

The Black Keys – Camino

Iron & Wine – Kiss Each Other Clean

Gui Boratto – III

Dick Diver – New Start Again [Review]

Nils Frahm – Felt

Radiohead – The King of Limbs

Real Estate – Days

The Horrors – Skying

Thurston Moore – Demolished Thoughts

Neil Young – A Treasure

Robag Wruhme – Thora Vukk

Jack Ladder – Hurtsville [Review]

Step-Panther – Step-Panther [Review]

James Blake – James Blake

Twerps – Twerps [Review]

Austra – Feel It Break [Review]

Eleanor Friedberger- Last Summer

The Bats – Free All The Monsters

Those Darlins – Screws Get Loose [Review]

Ryan Adams – Ashes & Fire

British Sea Power – Valhalla Dancehall [Review]

Mogwai – Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will

Black Lips – Arabia Mountain

Tiny Ruins – Some Were Meant For Sea [Review]

Anna Calvi – Anna Calvi [Review]

PJ Harvey – Let England Shake

Bon Iver – Bon Iver

The Necks – Mindset

2009 Top 25 Albums

Another year, another shitload of great albums. As soon as you start thinking it is feeling like a quiet year they come tumbling out of the woodwork and the end of year culling process becomes as tricky as ever.

Honorable mentions must go to two outstanding EPs: Bon Iver’s Blood Bank and Witch Hats’ Solarium Down The Causeway as well as the following reissues:

  • Neil Young Archives – a stellar collection that sets a new standard in box sets and career overviews… and its just the beginning of the series!
  • Kraftwerk Remaster series – the electronic pioneers were overdue for a reappraisal and these new versions of their classic albums prove they were the electronic originators and still the masters.
  • The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses. A clean-up of an album that defined its time.
  • Pearl Jam – Ten. A worthy replacement for the muddy and billowing sound of the original.
  • The Beatles Remaster series – A chance to hear the songs in a totally new light.

Our favourite albums of 2009 (click on the links to read reviews) are as follows… Let us know your thoughts!

25.  Gallows | Grey Britain

24.  Odawas | The Blue Depths

23.  Felice Brothers | Yonder Is The Clock

22.  J. Tillman | Vacilando Territory Blues

21.  Wilco | Wilco (the album)

20.  Sonic Youth | The Eternal

19. The Maladies | With You Right By My Side, Baby The Deal Just Can’t Go Down

18.  Vetiver | Tight Knit

17.  Wooden Shjips | Dos

16.  The Scare | Oozevoodoo

15.  Black Lips | 200 Million Thousand

14. Dimmer | Degrees Of Existence

13.  Jamie Hutchings | His Imaginary Choir

12.  Grizzly Bear | Veckatimest

11.  Fink | Sort Of Revolution

10.  Songs | Songs

9.  The Flaming Lips | Embryonic

8.  Leader Cheetah – The Sunspot Letters

7.  The Fiery Furnaces | I’m Going Away

6.  Dinosaur Jr | Farm

5.  Justin Townes Earle | Midnight At The Movies

4.  Jay Reatard | Watch Me Fall

3.  Magnolia Electric Co | Josephine

2.  Girls – Album

1. Wild Beasts | Two Dancers