It is around this time each year, as the cafe doors close, the heat spikes, and smell of BBQ meat permeates all social events that I get really excited. Not for the crispy steaks, the sweaty sleeps or the lack of good coffee, but I am excited for one specific reason; ‘album of the year.’
I spend the last weeks of my year scouring the internet for the Top 10, 20, 50 or (preferably) top 100 albums of the year. I skip the top 3, because we’ve already all head bopped to Kendrick Lama’s ‘King Kunta,’ or missed notes on Adele’s ‘Hello,’ but I am in it for the records I missed, the gems sitting at 59, the obscure electronic album at 32, or even the metal album that cracked the top 20.
So, to let you in on my excitement, I thought I would share with you ‘My Top Five Albums…Outside of the Top 10.’
5. Deafheaven – New Bermuda
My first experience of Deafheaven was listening to their sophomore release ‘Sunbather’ on repeat during a five hour flight from Perth to Melbourne, my mouth agape the entire time. On their newest release they spend 50 minutes both berating and comforting the listener, keeping their feet steadfast in a pocket of music that is best described by their own band name.
4. Trouble Knows Me – Trouble Knows Me (Sam Herring, Madlib)
This record isn’t ‘all that heat,’ but it was good, surprisingly good! I was amazed that Future Islands lead singer Sam Herring was doing anything with beat master Madlib, but was even more amazing that it was good! It isn’t necessarily timeless but it makes this list because has flow, and head-bop-ability, and every time I put it on, it’s for more than one spin.
3. Kurt vile – b’leive i’m goin down…
What makes this record enjoyable, is that it is obviously more for Kurt Vile than it is for me. It is clear from the album tone, the focus of his music, and his lyrical content, that Vile would be just as happy if the listener never existed. He has created work that is personal, and selfish, and meditative, drenched it in a crisp guitar-driven country inspired alt-rock, and given us the privilege of listening in.
2. Jaimie XX – In Colour
This album is paired accurately with record sleeve of colours shifting from bright to dark and back to bright. Jamie xx blends London club bangers with dance floor downers, giving us some insight into his last few years on the electronica and club world circuit. I was never a fan of XX but Jamie Smith has created a sound not too dissimilar, but completely his own, producing a memorable yet perfectly simple record that’ll make it’s way onto every party playlist I ever make in the future.
1. Clark – Clark
Clark was released in late 2014 which I know should disqualify it, But it has easily been my most listened to album of 2015, so I am claiming it!
This is not a record for all music lovers. A deeply dark tone permeates every grandiose and terror filled moment of Chris Clerk’s return to perfection. ‘Clark’ pulses with florescent highs, heart wrenching lows, stormy peaks and pushes the listener into a realm of his making. He dramatises strings, flooding them with a bass back, crowding the sound with zaps and mutilated voices, only to whip it away to hollow classical piano, this leads to a healthy jazz beat, but before long the listener is again lost in the chaos of Clark’s dark world. It set’s its self apart from other electronica because of its dedication to follow its own story, incorporating everything and anything, but never biting down on the bait that is over production. It is like nothing else, but each point you wish there was more of this. Amongst the chaos, Clark leads you a long with melody, and each pulse feels like a step closer to its end, and your safety, but when the album stops, you instantly miss that drive, and turn back to its opener ‘Ship is Flooding,’ to lead you again, into the darkness.