A US-centric list of 2015 musical highlights picked by Louder Than War’s New York Correspondent Carrie Quartly.
Protomartyr’s third offering is an emotionally brutal narrative of oppression, desperation, and drunkenness. The caustic drawl of singer Joe Casey is Mark E. Smith’s cousin with a conscience, yet also often Ian Curtis-like in its violent intensity. Despite the venomous existential conflict contained within The Agent Intellect, it somehow manages to sound brighter and more hopeful than its predecessor Under Color of Official Right.
Although they are jokesters at heart, Calgary art-rock four piece Viet Cong delivered a complex and moody self-titled debut of epic codas with bone rattling beauty. Read Louder Than War’s full review here.
On Perfect World, Brooklyn duo Ben Greenberg (former The Men bassist) and ex Drunkdriver leader Michael Berdan create a throbbing monolithic drone of screeching nihilism that is dark, hypnotic, and strangely danceable. It’s an aggressive skree of irritable shrieks, controlled guitar blasts and Akai drum tracks, mixing hardcore and industrial styles with the choleric spleen of early English post-punk. Recommended for fans of Nurse With Wound, Whitehouse, and Suicide.
4. Jared Leibowich – Welcome Late Bloomers (Unblinking Ear Records)
Welcome Late Bloomers is the first solo outing of Jared Leibowich of The Zoltars, which reinforces his seemingly innate ability to craft timelessly spooky gloom pop. His lonely lyrical fixations glide buoyantly over melodies so fragile and delicate, you think at any moment they might break. A true Saturnine outsider gem in the same vein as some of Daniel Johnston‘s earlier efforts.
The ‘Cudas are number one when it comes to euphoric pop janglegasms and larger than life singalong foot stompers. They are probably the most straightforward, unpretentious and good-humored band currently out there, and perhaps that’s why they sparkle so brightly.
Virgo’s Maze is an ambitious 20 song double album by San Francisco based synth-pop master tunesmith David Loca. The recordings span 5 years and a whole gauntlet of styles, from psychedelic indie pop and fuzzy lo fi to 70s glam and soft rock nostalgia. From start to finish, Virgo’s Maze is a joyously dreamy and whimsical experience with surprising consistency for a double album.
Seattle singer-songwriter Will Toledo crafts smart, densely layered pop odysseys as Car Seat Headrest. He has received many Guided By Voices comparisons due to his extremely prolific output and DIY ethos, recording and self-releasing 11 albums since 2010. Teens of Style collects re-recorded versions of older songs for Toledo’s first Matador release.
Colleen Green continues to develop as a songwriter without sacrificing the core simplicity that makes her music so effective. True to its name, the themes of I Want To Grow Up focus on entering adulthood and leaving bad habits behind. This may seem like a bummer, but it’s an incredibly strong-minded and empowering collection of songs, also featuring JEFF The Brotherhood shredder Jake Orrall and original Diarrhea Planet drummer Casey Weissbuch.
In Plain Speech is a meditative masterwork exploring the sad, transient nature of human relationships that urges us to reconnect with one another. Its songs are full of strange, piercing climaxes that alternately jolt and soothe, while Haley Fohr’s booming, operatic baritone lends the eerie, avant garde bleakness a radiant power and hopeful light.
Read my full album review here, and my Haley Fohr interview here.
Buck Biloxi and The Fucks are great at bashing out a dirty, Southern fried punk rock racket, and their song titles read like a comprehensive catalog of gloriously lame brained adolescent angst (“You Can’t Tell Me Shit”, “Everything Is Fake”). All but one track on Streets of Rage clocks in at under 2 minutes long, so it’s a fun blast of “I don’t give a fuck” that never overstays its welcome.
All Words by Carrie Quartly, you can read more of her writing on the site here.