1. FAITH NO MORE - SOL INVICTUS
It's been a long wait. Almost 18 years to be exact and FNM pick up right where they left off...completely unpredictable and magnificent. Being my favorite band, it's unusual that I really can't think of any other bands comparable to Faith No More that I enjoy. That is most likely because no other band really sounds like Faith No More. I truly believe that the sound they create is extremely unique. That magical combination of Patton, Gould, Bottum & Bordin somehow sparks this addictive, euphoric chemical reaction in my brain that no other band can duplicate. By the Sol Invictus May 18th release day, I'd already flown to Chicago to witness the sold out tour for myself, listened to numerous live bootlegs of the new material, as well as gorged on the full album stream provided by NPR the week before. I knew this was going to be my favorite album of the year and my ears have been swimming in it ever since.. Everyone shines on this release. Mike Patton's vocals are brilliant of course, ranging from hushed whispers to the guttural roar of a homicidal maniac as in "Cone Of Shame" ("... I'D LIKE TO PULL YOUR WINGS OFFFFF!!!") Billy Gould's bass lines and Mike Bordin's beats are as driving as ever, especially felt on the impending doom of "Separation Anxiety". If there is one song that fully embodies what is Faith No More, it has to be "Matador" in all it's bravado and glory.
This was definitely the most fun release of the year. Completely all over the place from sunny to funky and frenzied. Every track feels different from the next. Purple (TX) trade off boy/girl vocals, sharing lead and backup duties and at other times straight up dueting. It's very 90's weird alternative rock ala Sonic Youth, Muffs, Hole, or No Doubt, but also this hint of southern early 2000 hip hop funk (perhaps the band name comes from Purple Drank aka Sizzurp?) The last track "DMT" runs 6 minutes and the schizophrenic vocal changes from sweet-n-sassy to a snarling rabid animal would make Mike Patton proud. Can't wait for the follow up! New single "Mini Van" is a mind scramble!
No sophomore slump for Scottish electronic trio CHVRCHES. In fact, I may enjoy this one on the whole more than their debut The Bones Of What You Believe (which also made #3 on my favorite releases for 2013). Completely infectious and there isn't a shabby song to skip over. Definitely worth seeking out the deluxe edition, as the 3 bonus songs are just as strong as rest of this output (especially "Get Away" and "Bow Down").
Top 3 Tracks: Clearest Blue, Bury It, Leave A Trace
4. WOLF ALICE - MY LOVE IS COOL
Another female fronted alt-rock group in my favorite releases of 2015 that wouldn't have felt out of place on the radio in the 90s. UK's Wolf Alice switch it up from the haziness of Mazzy Star to the pretty/pretty angry musical dynamic of the Cranberries. Great tunes to get stuck in your dome.
Top 3 Tracks: Bros, Moaning Lisa Smile, Your Loves Whore
5. COHEED & CAMBRIA - THE COLOR BEFORE THE SUN
Real life is the concept for the first non-concept album from prog-rock band Coheed & Cambria. Lead singer/songwriter Claudio Sanchez is married with children (actually a child) and these experiences provide the basis for some of the best tracks on this album and also in C&C's career. Are the vocals still an acquired taste? Most likely. Sometimes over the top? Probably. Sappy at times? Oh yeah...and ask me if I love it.
Top 3 Tracks: Eraser, Atlas, Colors
6. BEACH SLANG - THE THINGS WE DO TO FIND PEOPLE WHO FEEL LIKE US
Comparisons to the Replacements keep coming in, but as a fan of lead singer/songwriter James Alex's previous pop-punk turned indie rock band in the 90s - I still hear Weston and in a good way. Amazingly written with tattoo-able lyrics for the millennials from a former pop punker now in his 40's who self proclaims he's "Too young to die, too late to die young."
Top 3 Tracks: Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas, Too Late To Die Young, Ride The Wild Haze
7. BACKYARD BABIES - FOUR BY FOUR
The latest album from Swedish sleaze punkers Backyard Babies at times could be mistaken for the same formula found on Motley Crue's 1989 album Dr. Feelgood (especially the talk box effect ala "Kickstart My Heart" on lead track "Th1rt3en Or Nothing") One of the originators of Swedish sleaze and some say the band responsible for it's most recent resurgence, Backyard Babies give us a nice, tight package of electric, melodic rock n roll with a "Without You" ballad("Mirrors") thrown in for e-crue measure.
Top 3 Tracks: Wasted Years, Mirrors (Shall Be Broken), Th1rt3en Or Nothing
8. KILL IT KID - YOU OWE NOTHING
I'm actually pretty bummed to hear UK band Kill It Kid recently broke up. I really liked this release and plan on checking out their earlier material. Male/Female vocals with a bluesy White Stripes feel, complete with a lot of feedback. My only complaint on this album is the sequencing, which feels a little too weak on the back-end due to some slower songs being butted together. It makes you forget how some of the heavier tunes knock you on your ass early on.
Top 3 Tracks: I'll Be The First, Caroline, Black It Out
9. THE DARKNESS - LAST OF OUR KIND
Like one of their most famous singles, I would say the most recent Darkness album has been really "Growing On Me". Though my favorite 3 tracks are listed below, I would argue that recently "Mudslide" (which I still can't figure out if it's about diarrhea or anal sex) and "Hammer & Tongs" are making choosing a difficult decision. With this album, more so than the previous Hot Cakes, it seems the boys are more connected and that the creative spark is more alive.
10. MOTOR SISTER - RIDE
Scott Ian (Anthrax) and wife Pearl Aday's guilty pleasure side project, resurrecting and rerecording hand picked songs from the relatively unknown and now defunct 90s LA hard rock group Mother Superior's catalog. Original singer/guitarist Jim Wilson sounds like he's having a blast revisiting his old tunes, while Scott Ian, Pearl Aday, Joey Vera and John Tempesta tear them a new asshole.
Top 3 Tracks: A-Hole, Head Hanging Low, Fork In The Road