1. Downtown Boys – ‘Full Communism’
This Providence, Rhode Island act have been held up as America’s finest new punk band by Tom Morello, Rolling Stone and more. Debut album ‘Full Communism’ backs up those claims. We gave it 9/10 back in May and we stand by that mark now – political sax party punk has never sounded so good.
2. Tobias Jesso Jr – ‘Goon’
These heartfelt ballads appeared to describe a man defeated but Jesso Jr, in reality, is anything but. With a more full-bodied sound than his demos – just check those soaring George Martin-esque orchestrations on ‘Just A Dream’ and ‘Tell The Truth’ – ‘Goon’ has become 2015’s go-to album for anyone with a broken heart. A certain Adele Adkins was listening…
3. The Coneheads – ‘LP 1. aka “14 Year Old High School PC – Fascist Hype Lords Rip Off Devo for the Sake of Extorting $ $ $ from Helpless Impressionable Midwestern Internet Peoplepunks LP”‘
North West Indiana’s punk scene is unlike anything else at the moment, and Coneheads’ first proper album was its boldest work yet – gnarly and full of in-jokes, but above all fun.
4. Lightning Bug – ‘Floaters’
Still something of an internet secret, Floaters made barely any impact when it came out in January. It’s ambitious, the lush sound of a band whose dreamy nature sees no horizons. Tracks like ‘11 But Not Any More’ channel vintage Felt and Donovan with a warm, buzzy veneer, while closer ‘Real Love’ is more ethereal.
5. Snooty Garbagemen – ‘Snooty Garbagemen’
Houston punk act Snooty Garbagemen’s self-titled is essential. Although they’re on 12XU, they’re very much a yard band – no major support tours, no mainstream press, no nothing. Key track ‘You And Ernie’ sets the pace, owing much to the full-throttle machismo of Dead Kennedys but also with a snarl to it that most bands couldn’t invent if they tried.
6. Kamasi Washington – ‘The Epic’
The go-to guy if you’re Kendrick Lamar and want your music to sound totally thrilling, 2015 was the year Kamasi went from being a cult hero to an overground gonna-be. Rightly so too – the music and politics of everyone from Charles Mingus and Ornette Coleman to Cypress Hill get bandied about when referencing him, but really he’s in a league all of his own.
7. Bully – ‘Feels Like’
Punk-pop the way it should be? Weezer fronted by a Courtney Love-wannabe? Nashville’s Bully are many things, but most of all they’re just a great rock band. ‘Trying’, ‘Brainfreeze’ and ‘I Remember’ are perfectly crafted tracks, and for once it doesn’t feel out of place to say that the vocals, from Alicia Bognanno, are the crowning glory – razorsharp and indispensable.
8. Shamir – Ratchet
While Shamir’s Godmode EP Northtown gorged mostly on the DNA of DFA Records, the Vegas native pushed the boat out for his debut album proper. Ratchet had a resounding playfulness to it, especially on tracks like ‘On The Regular’, yet as a persona Shamir was still appealingly aloof: an anti-popstar siphoning early MTV, straight-faced soul, pure pop and indie sensibilities
9. Salad Boys – ‘Metalmania’
‘Dream Date’, Salad Boys’ jumpy first single from album Metalmania was a prime slice of New Zealand indie, but variation was the key here. ‘Here’s No Use’ was the sound of waking up on a couch in Seattle in 1989, while ‘I’m A Mountain’ was Lemonheads at their most angsty. Underneath it all was charming, not pulverising, punk record.
10. La Priest – ‘Inji’
The return of Sam Dust (formerly Eastgate) was always going to raise interest, especially if you were into British indie post-Libertines and pre-Vaccines. His old band Late Of The Pier never fulfilled their potential but on Inji, an assured, intelligent album that doffed its cap to Jagwar Ma and Chemical Brothers, he finally sounded like he’d truly found himself.