Top albums of 2015

2015 was a big year in terms of music releases. Genres all across the spectrum had outstanding hits that made 2015 memorable.  Here are Concert Crap’s contributors and their picks for their top albums of the year.

 

Corey Kleinsasser

Bring Me The Horizon – That’s the Spirit

This album brought out the softer side of Bring Me the Horizon.  I don’t think there are any growls on this album and only soft spoken, clean lyrics, all sung by Oli Sykes, but that isn’t a bad thing.  “Drown” and “Throne” are now even getting played on local rock radio stations and the band has completely revamped their sound and made them versitle.  It was a change for the good.

Red Sun Rising – Polyester Zeal

The band from Ohio had their breakthrough album come out this year. Every song on the album could be the next big thing in hard rock. They have already received success from “The Otherside,” reaching number 1 on the mainstream rock charts, and probably one of my favorite songs from 2015.  Listen to this album if you enjoy great hooks and catchy choruses in hard rock.

Three Days Grace – Human

This album was announced so long ago in 2014, and with Adam Gontier being replaced by Matt Walst, fans of past TDG may have been skeptical, but it definitely lived up to the hype. Gontier found success in his new band Saint Asonia, and Three Days Grace is still living strong so everyone is happy.  “Car Crash” is one of my favorites from the album and each song has the same band styles with it’s infectious choruses and hard rock instruments powering through from start to finish.

Parkway Drive – Ire

This is one of my favorite bands and each time they put out a new album, it tops the last. It’s amazing how big this band from Australia is, not only in their home country, but all over the world.  “Crushed” and “Writings on the Wall” shows us a slightly cleaner side to the metalcore band, giving us some clear, but still heavy spoken words from Winston McCall.  That being said, we think that the band is slowly transitioning like Bring Me the Horizon and will be even more versatile with a more radio-friendly sound in the future.  But they still hold their hard metal sound true with the songs “Dedicated,” “Destroyer” and “Bottom Feeder.”  This is the heaviest album on my list and one that should be listened to if you are a lover of metalcore music.

Young Guns – Ones and Zeros

This is one of the most underrated bands in the rock scene today and I cannot figure out why.  This album seems like it could be on any rock station, and possibly even a pop station with it’s intoxicating alternative rock sound and operatic Gustav Wood singing lead vocals.  All of these songs got me hooked the first time I listened to it and I’ve listened to it so much this year.  “Daylight” and “I Want Out” are the standouts on the album but there’s so much more to it with great songs like “Speaking in Tongues,” “Ones and Zeros,” and “Rising Up.”

Twenty One Pilots – Blurry Face

This duo finally found mainstream stardom with this album.  “Tear in My Heart” was played like crazy on the radio and now “Stressed Out” and the band deserves everything going towards them.  They’re only rising and this album helped very much.  Each song is easily a hit and I’ve listened to it over and over without getting sick of it.  “Fairly Local” and “Ride are my favorites.

Dustin Kensrue – Carry the Fire

Lead singer of Thrice, Dustin Kensrue released his second solo effort this year and was very successful, even in the midst of Thrice reuniting and playing a number of festivals through 2015.  I received an advanced copy of this two months ahead of time to review and I was immediately hooked.  Kensrue is an amazing singer and lyricist.  This album was perfect for him and I’m a little upset that more people have not listened to it yet because it is a masterpiece.  And I’m not just saying that because Thrice is my favorite band, but it is a wonderful, deep, lovely album.

Rey Pila – The Future Sugar

When I first heard these guys open for Interpol for their tour last year, I enjoyed them and anticipated this release from the band.  I even went as far as to reach out to them and interview them twice in my Concert Crap career.  Even though this album was delayed a few months, it made me want it even more, and the wait was well worth it.  These guys from Mexico have an 80’s-esque sound to them them that makes them very enjoyable to listen to.  With their unique sound, I feel like these guys are bound to breakthrough in 2016 and years to come.  Don’t sleep on them.

Enter Shikari – The Mindsweep

These gentlemen never cease to amaze me.  Their electronic music personas shine bright with their post-hardcore sound and I never get sick of it.  I always feel like their lyrics are some of the most complex that I’ve heard.  I mean, have you heard of anyone call and song, let alone sing, about “Anaesthetist”?  They make sure their music and lyrics are like a science project and they always score an ‘A’ when I listen to it.

Mini Mansions – The Great Pretenders

The reason I started listening to these guys was because I heard Michael Shuman of Queens of the Stone Age is in the band, and I am so glad I took the chance.  These guys and The Great Pretenders are phenomenal.  I was indebted as soon as I listened to the dual singers in Shuman and Tyler Parkford.  Parkford and the band’s sound remind me of The Beatles.  The band even has ties with Arctic Monkeys and have Alex Turner sing on their breakout hit “Vertigo,” which I love.  Others I enjoy are “Freakout!,” “Death is a Girl,” and “Double Visions”

 

 

Matthew Saunders

The Weeknd – Beauty Behind The Madness

Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, better known by many as “The Weeknd,” made his voice known this year with the chart topping singles “Can’t Feel My Face” and “The Hills.”  The album itself made a home for itself on the Billboard Top 200 was the second most successful release this year right behind Drake’s If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. Awards aside, The Weeknd delivers a blended sound of pop and R&B, inspired by Michael Jackson, R. Kelly and Prince, to modern listeners of all ages and backgrounds.

Twenty One Pilots – Blurry Face

Twenty One Pilots have made great strides, to say the least, over the year. Their latest release from Fueled By Ramen established the duo on mainstream radio and media. The singles ‘Tear In My Heart” and “Stressed Out” received heavy airplay throughout the course of the year and got the group on arena stages for their next tour.  The album, overall, showed the talent and potential of the duo who cover so many sounds and instruments within the two-man group.

Drake – If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late

It’s safe to say Drake took 2015 by storm. From dropping this “mixtape” without a moments notice in February, to headlining both sold out dates of the Coachella music festival to becoming one of the internet’s most talked about celebrities, he made his presence known.  This release was an emotional look into the rapper’s life depicting sorrowful times in his home city of Toronto, to dealing with the stress of fame and everything in between. This was Drake’s most adventurous venture to date and it’s apparent it paid off.

Neck Deep – Life’s Not Out To Get You

The year 2015 was tremendous for not only the pop-punk community, but the easycore fans as well.  Neck Deep rode the lines between pop-punk and easycore with their most recent release.  The band “rejuvenated” both genres by delivering positive lyrics, paired with catchy, upbeat riffs.  The album also featured guest vocals from a Day To Remember frontman Jeremy McKinnon on the track “Kalima.” McKinnon also produced the album, alongside audio engineer Andrew Wade.  The album charted #17 on the Billboard 200 its first week and was widely accepted as the band’s “most mature release to date.”

Bring Me The Horizon – That’s the Spirit

The UK based metal band made many heads turn this year with the direction of their latest album.  The band that was once known for blistering guitar rifts paired with guttural vocals took this sound and toned it down to a more ambient/electronica sound.  The band still kept to their rock roots with the singles “Happy Song” and “Avalanche,” however, the band delivered a more experimental and atmospheric sound rather than an intense, “in your face,” metal approach. Regardless of fan criticism, the album earned the band a newfound spot on the Columbia Record’s roster alongside artists like Adele and The Neighbourhood.  The album charted well internationally with a #1 spot in Australia and a #2 spot in both the UK and America and was certified silver in the UK.

State Champs – Around the World and Back

There is naturally a lot of pressure for any band to have their follow up sophomore release be just as good, if not better, than their debut full-length release. State Champs saw this challenge and rose to the occasion.  The singles “Secrets” and “All You are is History” took the pop punk community by storm.  The album also got the attention of Australian pop quartet, 5 Seconds of Summer, who decided to take them on their stadium in their home country.  The album charted #30 on the Billboard 200 and has been making commotion ever since.

Chunk! No Captain Chunk! – Get Lost, Find Yourself

The year 2015 was the resurgence of easycore. The scene/genre has not seen this level of community and fruitfulness since 2009, and it is partially thanks to this album. The album combines a variety of textures and sounds, but sticks true to the “easycore” sound the band is known for. This album may have only charted 113 on the Billboard 200, however, it revived a scene that was thought to be “dead” and that itself makes this album a distinguishable release for 2015.

The Neighbourhood – Wiped Out

The Neighbourhood followed up their release I Love You with their most recent album Wiped Out.  The album was everything fans expect from them band and a tad bit more.  The album takes the ambient, “spacey,” indie sound the band is most well know and delivers with intricate lyrics.    The album charted #13 on the Billboard 200 and the single “R.I.P. 2 My Youth” received heavy airplay.

The Story So Far – The Story So Far

The Walnut Creek quintet have grown tremendously over the course of their career, however, it came to a point to where fans questioned if the band still had it in them or if they were going to utilize the “sound” they were known for until it burned out.  The Story So Far didn’t disappoint and delivered an impressive self-titled release that blended their most well known sound with more groove (as heard on ‘Heavy Gloom”) as well as ambient textures (as heard on “phantom”).

 

 

Leanna Ahmed

Lamb of God – VII: Sturm und Drang

This seventh studio album will convert any thrash metalhead into a Lamb of God fan all over again. Sturm und Drang translates into “Storm and Stress” in German, reflecting the ancestral romanticism of German art, giving artists the freedom to express their reactions to emotion.  This album, being the first released album after vocalist, Randy Blythe, overcame his manslaughter case in the Czech Republic, mirrors most of his internal feelings of apprehension, confusion, stress and anger undergoing trials and jail time.  

Ninety percent of the lyrics were written by Blythe along with the band’s agile, skillful riffs and drums.  Even though the entire album is just purely amazing, in my opinion, a few of the best songs are — the first single, “Still Echoes,” which tells a story about the history of the prison he personally learnt from the guards and fellow prison mates; “512”, which was written in the prison cell Blythe was put in in order to be monitored for depression; “Embers,” featuring Deftones Chino Moreno, which uses the ocean as a metaphor for life; “Overlord” conveys the harmful effects of self obsession; “Torches,” featuring Greg Puciato of Dillinger Escape Plan is about an iconic Czech student who set himself on fire in 1968 during the communist reign.  

This entire album will doubtlessly satisfy any thrash metal fan’s expectations to the fullest, or even more; furthermore, it will make your senses cringe because it literally grants you a walk with Blythe through his hell.

 

Tesseract – Polaris

This is the English, cerebral progressive metal band’s third studio album, where they brought back original vocalist Daniel Tompkins. Polaris is also known as one of the brightest stars, which is revolved by the entire northern sky, the North star. This album is a genuine expression of who and what this band is all about – the progressive, rhythmic, and technical complexity of musical sounds that holds a number of ethereal layers – conveying the scientific side of human emotions.

A few of the top songs on this album are — “Survival,” which has this soulful progressive metal melody, may be a bit repetitive, but it’s almost as if the song is a retrospect of life, death and memories; “Hexes” , “Tourniquet” and “Seven Names” convey beautiful, hard hitting melodies of instruments and vocals that make you feel this dreamlike mystery of cumbersome emotions all at once – making not wanting these songs to end; “Dystopia,” the opening song of the album brings back memories of the band’s old songs – if you love progressive metal, definitely keep this track in mind; it will keep you on your toes the entire time.

 

Periphery –  Juggernaut: Alpha and Omega

Here is another compelling American progressive metal band who released a two part album this year. All I can say is that Periphery did it again and keeps getting better with time — the doubt is gone now, and they are more than worthy of being one of the pioneers of the “djent” movement, a new musical style driven from progressive metal.  This is for fans of Meshuggah and Animals as Leaders, but also touches Coheed and Cambria vocals.  You definitely have to check this 81 minute album out; it is a heavy hitting progressive story unfolding within itself.

Alpha is amazing. Starting from the opening song “A Black Minute,” you cannot stop. “Heavy Heart,” “The Scourge,” “22 Faces,” “Four Lights,” “Rainbow Gravity,” and “Psychosphere” are a few of my favourites.

Compared to Omega, Alpha has a little bit more melody with hints of their new age pop punk style in it, but if you are a fan of darker metal,  Omega is for you – it is so much heavier than Alpha! “The Bad Thing,” “Graveless,” “Hell Below,” and “Omega” are gut wrenchingly incredible songs. Over all, Omega is probably the best song in the entire two-part album.

 

Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly

It takes a lot for a rap album to make my top list these days, but Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 album is an exception. To Pimp a Butterfly is an album that exhibits the intense war on racism that African-Americans have been experiencing and the institutionalized treatment by the authority.  With a uniform mixture of enticing classic hip-hop beats, trumpet and piano jazz instrumentals, psychedelia influences, and Lamar’s impeccable rap lyrics, makes this album one of the best rap albums this year.

“The Blacker the Berry” is doubtlessly one of the best tracks here; the raw effortless rap artistry of Lamar just hits the soul, and the reggae chorus is a bonus. It is just an amazing song – bottom line.  “King Kunta,” “Institutionalized,” “Wesley’s Theory,” “u,” and “Alright” are my favourites.  If you want to experience a raw, genuine feel of what the inner cities experience and the honest fury of rebellion against racism, this album is the one.

 

Silversun Pickups – Better Nature

Oh sweet Silversun Pickups – I have been a fan since the beginning and I’m so glad, like many others, to see them come out with another album in 2015 and they did not disappoint with Better Nature. With plenty of heartfelt tracks, this album stayed consistent with the band’s indie, grunge, alternative style, but also incorporated hints of industrial and electronica into it.

A lot more Nikki Monninger’s vocals can be heard along with Brian Aubert’s usual vocals in this album.

For fans, most songs in this album would be in their favor. My favourites are, like I said, most of them – “Cradle,” “Connection,” “Friendly Fires,” “Nightlight,” “Circadian Rhythm,” “Tapedeck,” “Latchkey Kids,” “Ragamuffin,” and “The Wild Kind”.

 

Death Cab for Cutie – Kintsugi

Kintsugi means “repairing,” the Japanese art of broken pottery, which explains the album’s continual impression of heartbreak and healing. For those that love Death Cab For Cutie, you know that this album was not one of their bests, but still, most of the songs in this album are ones that can be played and listened to over and over again. The best out of all is “Black Sun” and songs like “No Room in Frame,”“The Ghosts of Beverly Drive,” “Little Wanderer,” “Hold No Guns,” “Everything’s a Ceiling,” “Good Help (is so Hard to Find),” and “Ingenue.” ALlare all just amazing songs that makes you want to either weep or reminisce about memories.

It is quite hard to hate Death Cab For Cutie as their dark, yet optimistic songs are relatable with almost everyone, and Ben Gibbard’s articulate vocals has the ability to sometimes awaken memories of The Beatles.

 

Meg Myers – Sorry

When I first heard Meg Myers’ lyrics and songs, I felt a sense of comfort and relief that she exists as an artist in today’s day and age. Her debut album, Sorry, feels sort of like a confessional diary that women all around the world can relate to in some way – even though it is hard to put a finger on the exact direction she tried to take with this album, she definitely nailed it.

With rock, alternative, grunge, electronica feels to it, her unyielding honest expression of emotions project louder than anything else – strength, rebellion, grief, guilt, regret, fear, vulnerability, love, desire, hope, etc. “Sorry,” “Desire,” “I Really Want You to Hate Me,” “Make a Shadow,” and “Feather” are a few of my favourites that have a bit more of a rock and grunge influence to it.  “A Bolt from the Blue” has a lot of electronic influences to it and is also an amazing track.

 

Highly Suspect – Mister Asylum

This rock, grunge, and dark-blues influenced band has conquered many hearts, including mine, this year with Mister Asylum, Johnny Stevens’s raspy vocals are heart throbbing and the band’s raw grunge instrumentals prospers almost perfectly.

Every single song conveys a raw feel of relatable emotions. The entire album is alluring because of it’s unique candidness.

A few of my favourites are “Bath Salts,” “Lydia,” “Mom,” “Mister Asylum,” “Bloodfeather,” “Vanity,” and “Claudeland.”  This album is perfect to blast in your car for long drives, at a bar, or a party – any way, you will find yourself singing along at the top of your lungs and jumping around.

 

 

What are your top albums of 2015?  Comment below.

Post by Corey Kleinsasser, Matthew Saunders and Leanna Ahmed

 

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