Isolated Nation's Musical Best of 2015

Isolated Nation's Musical Best of 2015

#26 Thumbs - Busdriver

This is mostly here because Busdriver is probably my favourite currently active member of the hip-hop community. With this free mix-tape being released in the last quarter of 2015, I felt it would do him a disservice to not get a mention here. Also I will do anything to get Busdriver more popular than he already is. RW

#25 The Gate - Swans

This inclusion was a little bit unfair, simply due to the fact that Swans have drummed up a lot of good will with me over the past couple of years. And I mean a lot. So basically all they had to do was release anything, like this self-made live recording, and it would pretty much be guaranteed a spot. That being said I will defend wholeheartedly that it deserves it, simply because it extrapolates all the post-rock/punk goodness from their recent ventures. RW

#24 Viet Cont - Viet Cong

Well, this one was remarkably easy, although not ranked I would have to give this particular album the number one. At the very start of the year I made the Nostradamus-like prediction and said this would still be my favourite at the end of 2015, well lo and behold, here we are. There is nothing that this album doesn't do right in my opinion, from the hard-hitting 'Bunker Buster', to the extensive but engrossing 'Death'. Though this may not be everybody's cup of tea, anybody remotely interested in post-punk should absolutely dive into this headfirst. RY

#23 Vega Intl Night School - Neon Indian

This one spent quite some time wasting away on my horrendously extensive 'to-listen' list, this list gave me the chance to give it a go and holy heckaroni did it surpass a lot of contenders in an instant. With its sleek synth-pop sound, I can think of no track off this album which drops the ball even slightly. Unequivocally danceable, and easily one of the best albums of the 2010's so far.

Neon Indian takes to the stand this year, unveiling the true brainchild of a third album even having lost all initial progress. Amazingly, Vega Intl. Night school smashes any premonitions one might have whenever new music is released, and is no doubt a testament to Palomo's timelessness. This time, the newly adopted glitz and glamour is only befitting. As opening track 'Hit Parade' plays into 'Annie', you're already well-acquainted with the record's scintillating nature. What follows is only arrant longevity, oozing with goodness. Whilst it encroaches on disco territory, the album works in favour of delivering feverish techno tunes. Behind every maverick song title are more playful and chromatic sounds. But what is Neon Indian without plenty of packed substance? Vega Intl. Night school gives critics a run for their money, and grows on you as an original, refreshingly sensual oeuvre.  RY

#22 In Colour - Jamie XX

In Colour is the debut album by Jamie xx (of The xx fame), and what a way to announce himself! Taking cues from UK garage and house, R&B and pop while remaining seamless and unique, In Colour is a technicoloured explosion of emotion and sound that is equally suited to the dance floor with friends and strangers or the bedroom with headphones on. A clear indicator of his skill as a producer is how he remains equally engaging in tracks with and without feature guests. This is a very promising and assured debut from an enormously intriguing act. DM

#21 Portraits - Maribou State

In their debut album, the British electronic duo stayed true to their late-night chill-out merging of atmospheric dubstep and house; although this time they played more with an organic sound. Subtle cracks and other live-tracked background sounds layered with the bursts of strings and brass keep the songs beautifully textural, most notably in “Wallflower”. The triumphant build-up in notable favourite “Rituals” is not your standard festival-tent affair, with anxious glitchy drops that entice you into staying, listening again and again, not just to the infectious near-tribal percussion of this track, but to the whole album. CQ

#20 Mercy Mountain Moses Gunn Collective

Hailing from Brisbane is Moses Gunn Collective, whom infectiously present their brand of psychedelic glitter rock. Mercy Mountain is a surreal frenzy of a record, that encloses such hypnotic melancholy it permeates throughout. Spanning a little over a dozen tracks, each song overlaps in a cohesive buildup and allows oneself to be immersed in a soul-staggering continuum. Whilst many songs stay true to its garage rock roots, a pleasant hint of tropical dream pop is evident amongst denser guitar melodies. The resulting infusion of Mercy Mountain holds no mercy in contention, for it sets a league of its own. RY

#19 Art Angels - Grimes 

After seemingly ages of teasing and red herrings, Grimes finally followed up 2012’s iconic album Visions on November 6. The end product, Art Angels, somehow manages to be both weirder and more accessible than anything she has done before. Expertly written and perfectly produced, Art Angels remains quintessentially Grimes while simultaneously being completely different to anything she’s ever done. Only an artist like Grimes could put a song as crazy as “Scream” in between pop tracks like “California” and “Flesh without Blood” and make it work. Art Angels is simply exceptionally enjoyable to listen to on all levels. DM

#18 New Bermuda - Deafheaven

“New Bermuda runs almost 50 minutes over 5 tracks. Each song takes you on a completely separate musical journey, as bleak as that journey may be, I have not once found myself waiting on a song to end. Album opener ‘Brought to the Water’ was the first ‘single’ released which sets the tone for the record. Literally, the guitar tones and the overall feel of the album are different to previous efforts. Dischordant guitars strum over church bells, and then the album hath begun.” - Read our full review. LB

#17 I Love You Honeybear - Father John Misty

Father John Misty, no matter how cynical and sarcastic he can be, is obviously a softie at heart. It is this heart that makes I Love You, Honeybear work so well. This is perfectly demonstrated by the opening and title track, which includes lines like “everything is doomed/and nothing will be spared/but I love you, honeybear”. I Love You, Honeybear is one of the smartest and most thought-provoking albums of the year, all delivered with a good dosage of humour and humanity. Also, he has a stunning voice. What’s not to love? DM

#16 Earl Sweatshirt – I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside

Earl is a mystery. His Odd Future influence seems to be gone, and this work truly is off-kilter emotional hip-hop. He is even self-loathing in his braggadocio. Earl’s unique flow and varying beats (form lo-fi instrumentals through to bass-heavy thumpin’ sounds) carry the album to the next level from his previous efforts. LB

#15 Tide - Miles Away

Tide is old-school hardcore done perfectly. At their best, Miles Away sound like a bunch of mates having a ball, and at their worst, well you don’t hear it here. Hear, hear! Tide is as positive as hardcore gets, and features some great songs which translate beautifully into the moshpit. They may not be the most complex instrumentalists, but they more than make up for it in their intent. LB

#14 Together We’re Alone - Statues

2015 has been a tumultuous year for the Perth hardcore band. Releasing their superb debut, gaining a member, losing a member, losing their enigmatic frontman. Their place on this list however is well deserved – their album feat. re-recorded EP tracks and newly penned destruction is any bit as chaotic as Converge, and just as well put together. LB

#13 Bully - High Tension

High Tension have put together a clusterfuck of genre bending tunes on their sophomore release, Bully. The Collingwood group blend sludge grooves, apathy and death metal aesthetic to produce some unique metal to listen to when you’re depressed, high-as-fuck or gardening. +1 for female fronted metal! LB

#12 6teenDRE'am [night xo] GOVS

GOVS has done it once again, emerging with a debut album of opulent proportions. GOVS is an earnest and underrated artist, one whose listening experience is the equivalent to being carried in a fluid dream. 6teenDRE'am [night xo] willingly entices you into a world of the subconscious, a world "outside of time", as made possible by the fusion of illusory electronica and archival samples. As always, Josiah Birrell's echoed voice carries emotive weight – making his tracks the perfect candidates for an insurmountable, late-night trance. Sentimentality isn’t just for romantics; it’s innate, and GOVS effortlessly taps into it. RY

#11 Yuck - Alpine

Leisurely-paced, the album remains a tribute to Alpine's unconventional take on indie pop. Yuck is impeccably produced, and this is accredited to its blended instrumentals and gentle vocals. Amidst the dulcet vocals of Lou James and Phoebe Baker are the ambivalent convictions of being “a first world problem waiting to explode”, a modern reality that is brutally honest. There also appears the undertones of romantic dissatisfaction; the elusive promise of “love and safety” – a theme the album so boldly resounds. With every listen and its fair share of melodic fun, Yuck leaves you to savour line after line of candid introspection. RY

#10 Hard Hold – Jaala

Jaala come as late entrants to top music lists of 2015 but very worthy contenders. I was smitten after witnessing their musical prowess as a very tight, live outfit at The Bird in August. Each member balances one another with subtlety and skill which does not detract from the raw energy of their musicality as a collective. Front-woman Cosima Jaala embodies the cutesy intonation of Regina Spektor with a dash of quirky Bjork-ness and the balance of organic and industrial that is unique to seedy lanes of Melbourne. Hard Hold is a wild assortment of synaesthesia-inducing colour which blinds at its peaks and comforts at its troughs. AT

#9 How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful – Florence and the Machine 

The title of Florence Welch’s 3rd full length release harks at the expansive, cinematic wonderment of her sound. How Big does not quite reach the same consistently high heights as her previous two releases but the orchestral sound is very well suited to Flo’s soul affirming mezzo-soprano. There’s some rockier riffs (see Mother and Ship to Wreck), a recurrence of chest-thumping and unswerving drum lines (see Delilah) and of course Florence’s entirely original and emotionally energetic voice (see entire album). AT

#8 To Pimp a Butterfly - Kendrick Lamar

2015 was the year of Kendrick Lamar. From “Alright” being chanted at Black Lives Matter rallies to Taylor Swift collaborations to a countless number of talk show performances, it has been hard to ignore Kendrick, and for a good reason. To Pimp a Butterfly is quite simply one of the best rappers alive in absolute peak form. Incorporated in the album are elements of jazz, funk, pop and even spoken word poetry, proving Kendrick Lamar’s forward-thinking tendencies. This will without a doubt go down in history as one of the most definitive rap albums ever made. DM

#7 Choose Your Weapon - Hiatus Kaiyote

Hiatus Kaiyote are a band from Melbourne who have seriously been under the radar for a few years. With a few albums under their belt, its crazy to think people haven't heard of them. The multi dimensional polyrythmiticians have come out with another corker of an album this year. Their tour to support this incredible album was a blastChoose Your Weapon was released to massive critical acclaim and solidified their position as a band that truly dodges definition. SM

#6 Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit – Courtney Barnett

Courtney Barnett is Gen Y’s drawly answer to the bar of lyrically lo-fi Australiana storytelling set by Paul Kelly. At the surface level, Barnett might seem endearing in her simplicity but there is a undercurrent that sweeps all drifting 20-something Australians along with it. CB is relatable, punchy, heartfelt, witty and unabashedly herself. Her themes touch close to so many thoughtful hearts; from comments on marine conservation to Melbourne real estate and job dissatisfaction. Having recently taken home the J Award for Album of The Year, Sometimes I Sit, has cemented itself as an Australian classic; shit UNO playing aside, you keep doin’ you Courtney, it’s a clearly a winning formula. AT

#5 Thank Your Lucky Stars – Beach House

The successful and offbeat dream-pop duo delighted fans with 2 new album releases in the space of less than a month and although it’s hard to pick between the two, the latter release has stolen my heart, see why here!

# 4 Carrie & Lowell - Sufjan Stevens

A lot has changed for Sufjan Stevens. Gone is the lavish and indulgent orchestration and experimentation of previous albums like Illinois and The Age of Adz; on Carrie & Lowell, Sufjan Stevens stripped his sound back to the bare minimum, resulting in one of the most moving and emotive albums of the year. Rather than scrutinizing an unusual concept (like the history of a US state), Stevens instead burrows into his own past, particularly memories associated with his recently deceased mother, who struggled with addiction and mental illness and was distant from his life. Tissues are absolutely vital. DM

#3 Fading Frontier - Deerhunter

Deerhunter's heavily anticipated 7th release Fading Frontier was released a few months ago via 4AD / Remote Control Records. The album was written and recorded in the band's hometown of Atlanta, GA and exemplifies that within a decade, the band has retained its intensity and have grown to be a mature and consistent alt rock band. The LP featured some amazing contributions from Broadcast's James Cargill and Tim Gane from Stereolab. One of our favourite tracks was ‘Living My Life’. SM

Although maybe not quite up to the standards of Halcyon Digest, Deerhunter is anything if not consistent. With there yet to be a blemish on their lengthening catalogue, Deerhunter again remains comfortable in their reserved seat on my top lists of any given year. RW

#2 Multi Love - Unknown Mortal Orchestra

Polygamy is a topic not often alluded to in pop music. Thankfully, Unknown Mortal Orchestra filled that void on their third album by talking about it openly in all its pain and glory, which is good news for everyone, not just those to whom it may be relevant. As with their previous albums, Multi-Love is scattered and spontaneous, but exhilarating. The production is the biggest triumph of this album; while dense and encompassing a million seemingly inconsistent sounds (there is a LOT going on), UMO manage to keep their sound coherent, poppy, psychedelic and glorious. An artistic triumph. DM

#1 Currents – Tame Impala

Yes, they’re changing, in all the right ways. Having recently returned home to a blazingly warm welcome at the Belvoir Ampitheatre on the 14th and 15th of November, the boys are set for a hiatus. But they leave us to mull over Currents, a funky and consumable encapsulation of an emotional volta in Kevin Parker’s life. Deviating from the band’s traditionally fuzzy sound, Currents takes on a poppy clarity and may well be the best psychedelic pop-rock break-up album in existence. KP has certainly come a long way as a producer, musician and story-teller giving Perthians a worthy dose of West Aussie pride.  AT

A few of our favourite tunes

Notable Mentions include

  1. Short Movie – Laura Marling
  2. Purpose - Justin Bieber
  3. Vulcinura – Bjork
  4. Foil Deer – Speedy Ortiz  
  5. My Love is Cool – Wolf Alice 
  6. The Agent Intellect - Protomartyr
  7. "Harmlessness" by The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die
  8. George Fitzgerald - Full Circle

Floating Points, Moodymann, tINI and Henry Maxwell

Floating Points, Moodymann, tINI and Henry Maxwell

[VIDEO] Best Films of 2015 (that is not Star Wars) - A Supercut

[VIDEO] Best Films of 2015 (that is not Star Wars) - A Supercut