[sic] Magazine

2015: The Half-Term Report

List season comes around earlier and earlier each year so we thought we’d throw our hat in the ring with a half-term report before June is even over. Don’t hate us too much please. How’s the year shaping up? Pretty darn well it turns out even if the year-end top-spot is still up for grabs. You’ll no doubt have your favourites. Mine are below.

Perennial [sic] chart toppers in the label category 4AD, Sacred Bones, Matador, Kranky, Fierce Panda, Dead Oceans, Hardly Art and Jagjaguwar once again find favour in the round-up, but it’s the smaller Partisan and Cardinal Fuzz stables that take the mid-point prize with two entries apiece. A number of former favourites are back with a bang, too. A Place To Bury Strangers have turned in another corker in the coruscating shape of Transfixiation, while Björk will ease into almost any mid-term round-up – even at the giddying canter her Vulnicura put forward. Similarly styled to the Icelandic one, Holly Herndon has at least half a tremendous album under her belt in the paranoid shape of Platform. At the other end of the musical spectrum, magnetic singer-songwriter Torres may have plugged-in since her bewitching debut but her new-found confidence has done her the world of good. Another battling simple existentialism and winning is Colleen Green, her staring down the barrel of adulthood making for triumphant pop-punk listening.

Making good on a promising debut, Pretty Lightning are really coming into their own now also, twanging iconically throughout the psychedelic blues of their Magic Lane. Long-time psychonauts Moon Duo and White Manna are still tabling their best wares too, their Shadow Of The Sun and Pan a real ying-yang ding-dong of groove and attitude. Post-punk aficionados Ceremony are back with a career-best in the form of The L-Shaped Man as well, closely followed by Disappears’ supremely solid exercises in kraut-rocking on Irreal – a sound Vision Fortune echo on their undisputed break-through LP, the misleadingly titled Country Music. And the breakthroughs keep coming in the form of The Amazing’s irresistible dream-rocker Picture You, Death And Vanilla’s lounge-psyche library music and GHXST’s knock-out noise-grunge. Viet Cong may be taking the plaudits in this category, and their post-punking self-titler is a beauty, but the pick of the breakthrough artists must go to post-hardcore heroes Pile whose You’re Better Than This is pretty much perfect.

2015 upstarts are plentiful, too. Courtesy’s retro-futuristic psyche-pop is deeply comforting, while Grey Hairs and Milk Teeth have kept the British rock end up in superlative style. And last, but far from least, Havah’s noise-rock/darkwave split with former 4AD stars His Electro Blues Voice seems destined to fly under the radar yet will absolutely decimate wherever it does land. While a real stinker is yet to cross my path this year the less said about the thin jokes offered by that Bad Guys LP the better and so too parts of that iffy Sundowners album. And, in this camp, there was slight disappointment too in Ela Orleans’ shot at the middle-stream, as well as with Braids’ overcooking of electro-pop and Evans The Death’s fey pop outings. Nevertheless, and with a teetering stack yet to appraise including colossal releases from Gnod, Blanck Mass and Godspeed You! Black Emperor amongst others, 2015 is shaping up to be another belter.

That list in full (no particular order – linked where reviewed):

Pretty Lightning – A Magic Lane Of Light And Rain (Blues-Psyche) [Cardinal Fuzz]
Grey Hairs – Colossal Downer (Post-Hardcore/Sludge-Punk) [Gringo]
Vision Fortune – Country Music (Kraut-Rock/Post-Punk) [ATP]
Colleen Green – I Want To Grow Up (Pop-Punk) [Hardly Art]
Disappears – Irreal (Kraut-Rock/Post-Punk) [Kranky]
GHXST – Nowhere (Noise-Rock/Grunge) [CLUB.THE.MAMMOTH.]
White Manna – Pan (Psyche-Rock/Proto-Punk) [Cardinal Fuzz]
The Amazing – Picture You (Indie/Dream-Pop) [Partisan]
Holly Herndon – Platform (Electro-Pop/Experimental) [4AD]
Milk Teeth – Sad Sack (Grunge/Emo) [Venn]
Moon Duo – Shadow Of The Sun (Psyche-Rock) [Sacred Bones]
Courtesy – Slow Bruise (Psyche-Pop) [Moon Glyph]
Havah / His Electro Blues Voice – Split (Noise-Rock/Darkwave) [Maple Death]
Torres – Sprinter (Singer-Songwriter) [Partisan]
Ceremony – The L-Shaped Man (Post-Punk) [Matador]
Death And Vanilla – To Where The Wild Things Are (Lounge-Psyche) [Fire]
A Place To Bury Strangers – Transfixiation (Noise-Rock/Post-Punk) [Dead Oceans]
Viet Cong – Viet Cong (Post-Punk) [Jagjaguwar]
Björk – Vulnicura (Electro-Pop/Experimental) [One Little Indian]
Pile – You’re Better Than This (Post-Hardcore/Indie) [Fierce Panda]

Hear some of our tracks of the year so far:

What’s been floating your boat? Be free to comment below.