Andrew Lockwood picks his favourite albums of 2015.
10. Belle & Sebastian - 'Girls In Peacetime'.
A glorious return to top form for Belle & Sebastian. 'Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance' contains all the bands trade mark signatures as well as introducing a few new ones. The generally up beat, playful tone of the album is full of pathos, dark humour and heartfelt musings. This is Belle & Sebastian back to their creative best. With an arty intellect and a wry take on life they have combined some of their most varied musical scores to date with more of their joyous lyrics.
9. Girl Band - 'Holding Hands With Jamie'.
A wake up call that needs to be heard. 'Holding Hands With Jamie' is a shot in the arm; a torrent of musical mayhem and magnificent noise. Distorted and unrelenting, 'Holding Hands..' is an unapologetic onslaught to the senses and a nerve tingling jolt of excitement. A quite brilliant debut.
Continue reading: Andrew Lockwood's Top 10 Albums Of 2015
Son Lux, the ever fluid vehicle for the multi-talented New Yorker Ryan Lott, delivers an intriguing, imaginative and all together inspired fourth album, 'Bones'. Ryan, musician, writer, soundtrack creator and ad scorer, has collaborated with many people since his arrival on the music scene in 2007. Last year saw him team up with Lorde (amongst others) on 'Easy', and he continues to be actively involved on the triumvirate venture with Sufjan Stevens and Serengeti, 'Sisyphus'. With 'Bones', however, Ryan Lott is no longer just collaborating or merely working with an artist and as such his Son Lux name is now that of the band, being joined as he is by guitarist Rafiq Bhatia and drummer Ian Chang.
The differences the new additions have made are subtle but, on the whole, positive. 'Bones' is a very cohesive body of work that certainly feels fuller and slightly more approachable than some of Son Lux's previous work. None of it is particularly immediate or commercial, but it is a thoroughly captivating curiosity.
The compositions are never formulaic, they are challenging and brilliantly creative, they don't drift past in the background, they require your utmost attention and your unwavering focus. The music is, at times, jagged and angular, harsh, surprising and arresting ('Change Is Everything') but at others tender, delicate and even soulful ('Flight' and 'I am The Others'). Classical passages and string sections ('Breathe Out') vie for airtime with angelic or terrified vocals whilst the music is punctuated with rhythmic hybrids ('This Time' and 'Undone'), injections of electronica and semi-industrial white noise. If that were not enough, guest vocalists, among them Daughter's Elena Tonra on 'White Lies', provide still further interest.
Continue reading: Son Lux - Bones Album Review
Camera Obscura, Shamir and Merchandise are added to the line-up.
More acts have been announced for the ever growing line-up of London's Visions Festival, set to take place in August. With acts like Camera Obscura and The Antlers, this year is sure shaping up to be one of the best for Visions yet.
Now in its third year, Visions Festival brings a host of stellar new additions to their 2015 line-up, joining the likes of already announced The Antlers, Toy, Son Lux and Andy Stott. Plus, the day will be bigger than before with yet more venues added across London to celebrate what will hopefully be another sell-out success.
Continue reading: Visions 2015 Is Looking Yet More Colourful With New Additions
Given their heritage, it would be easy to assume that Gallic fashion house Kitsuné would be "Into" the sort of soul-sucking EDM you'd associate with catwalks: via this series and, more frequently, its Europhile sister imprint, they've, however, unearthed more than their fair share of pop mavericks from around the globe over the years.
A compilation itself is like a box of chocolates of course, but in the third instalment of their American version, 'Kitsune America 3', much of the good flavours seems to have gone. On opener 'Karma', NYC-based duo Beau bring something of a spaghetti western touch to their sweet tale of wished-for revenge, sounding not unlike their neighbours Lucius, whilst Sunni Colon's auto-tuned harmonies on the otherwise uneventful soul balladry of '1000 Roses' narrowly help to avoid the feeling it was salvaged from the talent show dustbin.
At times, you feel that in their obvious haste for artist diversity the compilers have fallen into the trap of focussing on the sound and not the songs, the result being a series of tussles with generics as opposed to fresh talent which is also doing new things. This slip up means that Navvi's plodding closer 'Speak' is more sleep inducing that the dream pop it aims to be and Misun's girl-band chirping on 'Eli Eli' grates. But the biggest turn-off comes via Brenmar's 'Medusa', a more by-the-numbers rip off of The Weeknd you're less likely to clock from San Francisco to Miami.
Continue reading: Various Artists - Kitsune America 3 Album Review