KUBE Radio’s Top Releases of 2015
Entering 2016, it’s only appropriate to reflect upon the last year – 2015 was a great year for music, with The Weeknd exploding onto the scene with his hit single ‘Can’t Feel My Face’, the rapid rise of grime in the forefront of British rap music and the come back of everyone’s teen favourite rock groups Fall Out Boy and Panic! At The Disco.
With such a wealth of great music it’s been difficult to choose, here’s a break down of some of our favourites from 2015:
Tayla’s Top 10:
1. Friends On Mushrooms by Infected Mushroom
After the release of Friends On Mushrooms Vol. 1-3 I was thrilled to find that the band had combined all their EPs into a comprehensive album with a few extra tracks. The psy trance duo showcase their willing experimentation by branching into several different EDM subgenres, the whole of Friends On Mushrooms is a brilliant mix of the duo’s take on dupstep, deep house, dub, reggae and more.
Infected Mushroom have played their hand well with this album, their original songs are completely on par with their various collaborations on the album – with the pinnacle being Nerds On Mushrooms (ft. Pegboard Nerds), an intense blend of psy trance and dubstep with beasty, guttural drops. If you are into EDM at all, look at for this album – for a taster start with the 3 K’s: KafKaf, Kazabubu and Kipod.
2. Evermore: The Art Of Duality by The Underachievers
Evermore: The Art Of Duality is probably one of the best rap albums I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. The album is split into two sides, and somewhere in the middle transitions into a deep, dark almost chaotic atmosphere before pulling it back into the group’s usual ‘no-holds-barred’ style. Both Issa Gold and AK’s flows are much sharper, more coherent and totally on point – AK has developed a much deeper flow that is much akin with the gansta rap movement which totally blew me away.
The duality in the album talks about living with poverty, depression and getting into heavy drug use to medicate before moving into more hopeful territory of overcoming your struggles and being the boss of your own world. If The Underachievers have fallen under your radar, then this album is the one to put them on the map. Recommended tracks: Illusions, Allusions.
3. Beauty Behind The Madness by The Weeknd
I’ve been a long time fan of The Weeknd, way back to remember the excitement in my chest when he dropped his second mix tape Thursday with its glorious R&B flair and sensual tones. For his second major label release The Weeknd stepped away from his R&B roots and embraced a more ‘pop’ side of the music industry. I admit at first I thought this album was a bad joke, and that it fell flat in comparison to the wonders of Kissland but it grew on me like mold in a tea cup.
The Hills was the song that convinced me the new direction was good, and The Weeknd totally rocked his new style with other iconic singles Can’t Feel My Face – with its funky basslines and catchy choruses – and In The Night, bringing back the Michael Jackson vibes. The Weeknd is on the up and up, and while he has drifted far apart from his musical roots and completely ditched the steel pan drums I am still wholly in love with him.
4. Walk With Me [EP] by Bugzy Malone
2015 has been a big year for grime, with top releases from across the board and a massive grime beef to boot. Coming out on top was lesser known Manchester MC Bugzy Malone, who has been quietly releasing hip hop mix tapes since Swaggaman back in 2010. His transition to grime has come thick and fast, and Bugzy has brought a fresh lick to the scene with his catchy hooks, choruses and tight metaphors in his bars. His latest EP Walk With Me came in the place of a promised mix tape (I’m not complaining), where he hit out at other MCs trying to keep him down and talked frankly and emotionally about his past all while keeping to the thick and fast beats.
It’s refreshing to hear people cover little talked about topics like psychological and emotional abuse, and dealing with abusive parents all while trying to make something of yourself – songs like M.E.N. really pull at my heart strings in the most macho ways. Top marks for Bugzy Malone, this guy is one to watch.
5. Omen by Blutengel
German industrial legends BlutEngel came back with several releases in 2015. After a few years of stagnation and moving slowly in more electronic and melodic realms the group kicked back with Omen. The album presents a collection of songs in the bands usual bilingual approach, some in English, others in German with a thick overlay of piano melodies and shimmering synths.
Omen, lays somewhere between the gothic realms of industrial and EBM, and lighter EDM – while the group’s new album shifts away from the industrial movement, they still retain their goth aesthetic which they are notorious for. The album marks a new era for the group, with their sound now more refined and polished they wouldn’t sound out of place in a goth nightclub.
6. Badlands by Halsey
Halsey’s lead single from Badlands, Ghost has been constantly stuck in my head for months to the point where I just had to seek out her album. Her style rings similar to the 1960’s girl vibe of Lana Del Rey’s West Coast, but gives expression to more dreamy musical landscapes and vivid imagery. Badlands present the start of remarkable career for Halsey, and I hope that she capitalises on her current sound for her next album – I see big things to come.
7. The Kingfisher [EP] by Rosemary & Garlic
Everyone who knows me has witnessed my guilty pleasure of acoustic, laid bare, folk music. Rosemary & Garlic were introduced to me by one of my favourite atmospheric rock bands, The Gathering through a facebook post. The first thing I noticed was the similarities in the warmth and depth between the vocalists of both groups, and this was a instant sell for me. Once I’d properly sunk my teeth into this EP I couldn’t stop, each and every song is filled with pure, sweet energy that is truly captivating in its simplicity.
8. Cosmic Drone [EP] by Ison
Ison is the collaborative project between two of my favourite vocalists, Heike Langhans (Lorelei; Draconian) and Daniel Änghede (Hearts Of Black Science; Crippled Black Phoenix). I wasn’t sure to expect when this project was announced, but I’m pretty sure I wasn’t prepared for the eargasms I received when Cosmic Drone dropped. The dark ambient sounds were stretched into a psychedelic infinity which transported me elsewhere, songs like Redshift and Icosahedron will stay with my for over a decade.
9. Save Me [EP] by Forever Still
Danish alt rock group stole my heart this year with their string of EPs (which they gave away for free digitally). Save Me bolsters three incredible tracks which left me with the thirst for more. Breathe In was a wonderful surprise when it broke down into some some guttural growls and truly captured the band’s raw energy. The band are releasing their EPs into a comprehensive album entitled Tied Down, due Jan 15th – I for one cannot wait.
10. Bridges by Eivør
Eivør is a true treasure in a vast sea of music, the Faroese folk/pop/rock artist has been making and releasing music since the age of 13. After the success of her last album Room, Eivør came back with another beauty in the form of Bridges. As ever I’m astounded by her creativity, the way she weaves Faroese folklore and traditions into her modern approach to folk infused popular and rock music. If there’s one discovery you need to make this year, it’s Eivør.
Laurence’s Top 10:
1. Currents by Tame Impala
2. Depression Cherry by Beach House
3. What For? by Toro Y Moi
4. To Pimp A Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar
5. Another One by Mac Demarco
6. Every Eye Open by Chvrches
7. What Went Down by Foals
8. Purpose by Justin Bieber
9. Fading Frontier by Deerhunter
10. 25 by Adele
Ben’s Top 10:
1. Mashupyourbootz 2015 by Dj Morgoth
Mashupyourbootz 2015 is simply stunning. As he does every year Dj Morgoth takes a look at all the mashups released over the past year and re-releases them into a “best of” album/continuous mix. As this is by far the best one he’s done in the last 5 years, as well as containing some incredibly mashups from a wide variety of artists, Best of 2015 takes my number one.
2. Pawprint by White Panda
The White Panda are a set of American friends who now dj around the states and release their work online. The Pawprint is their most recent release and it is fantastic. Years and years pull you straight into Pharrell and Will Smith and from there you just can’t stop.
3. The Annual 2016 by Ministry of Sound
Not going to lie, this feels like a slight cop out as it really is just a selection of singles, but this is a CD full of massive sounds that will not disappoint. A new song from here I am loving is the incredible Years and Years remix… Check it out!
4. Sugar by Robin Schulz
Having left 2014 with the hits of Waves, Prayer in C and the amazing Sun Goes Down, Sugar is so damm sweet I’m bouncing off the ceiling. While puking from the cheese too. Headlights starts the album off beautifully and I am actually addicted to Sugar itself. The album continues on to become the most incredible chilled/dance mix that I could just listen to for hours.
5. Drones by Muse
Having been three years since Muse’s 2nd Law, I was pumped for a new album from such an epic group and they have not disappointed. You can absolutely hear the sounds of their old albums in some of the tracks, but they’ve worked and improved on them over the years to build one beautiful album, ending up at number five.
6. Every Open Eye by Chvrches
Every Open Eye’s First listen for me was a bit of a rush – having brought it into the Kube studio to play on the music team show as an upcoming song, somehow my mind skipped the part where we were told this was in fact an album. A quick listen to it prompted us to play Afterglow, the final, beautiful closing track to the album. I listened to it again properly after that and fell in love with the incredible sounds that is Chvrches and this album.
7. Young Chasers by Circa Waves
Circa Waves was an interesting one. I heard them first on Radio 1 and thought they sounded pretty cool, then their album came up a month or so later and I absolutely love it. Feeling slightly nostalgic yet fresh, this is an album I’ll be opening up again as soon as its sunny and warm enough to drive with the windows down, head down the road back home, up the hill and watch the sun go down with group of friends.
8. Into the Wild Life by Halestorm
Looking at the rest of this list I’m sure this will surprise a few people, but Halestorm entered my life and I couldn’t let them go. I’ve listened to a lot of classic rock (and probably metal, genres are hard) over the years and Halestorm is getting me tempted to find more. With that much power, energy and emotion in their songs I promise you, you will love them.
9. Communion by Years & Years
I really wish I could put these guys higher but its just been so good this year I can’t. If you haven’t listened to it, it’s as chilled as the singles hint to, and they are all so damm good. I’ve had this sitting in my car for a while now, and I’m not making any move to take it out anytime in the next decade.
10. American Beauty/American Psycho by Fall Out Boy
Finally, we reach number 10. The last two Fall out Boy albums have been absolutely incredible, as with Years & Years this hasn’t left my car for months and has helped me though many a drive, but unfortunately it’s maybe it’s age or maybe it’s length just means it gets the number 10 slot this year. Novocaine and Uma Thurton are personal favourites, but I’m fairly sure I can sing the entire album by now….