The Best Albums of 2015

Best-Albums-20152015 was another great year for new music, but not all those tracks made it onto the best albums. The album is not an easy thing to get right. Some hit it with their debut and then fail to reach those heights again, others get it right second time around, still more take several attempts or never get there. Rare is the artist who reaches a high level of consistency. Rarer still those that keep getting better. This year proves that there are few certainties in music with a list that includes first timers, second chancers, late bloomers and old faithfuls, and omits just as many1.

Some of these records appear on many other end of year lists, but they are not here to make the list seem relevant. Others are much less celebrated, but they are not included in an attempt to appear iconoclastic. Rather, these 20 albums are those that have moved and excited me the most, the ones I still can’t stop playing, the ones that I love the most. Any other measure is meaningless.

Baio - The Names20. Baio The Names
This could have been just a space filler from the nerdiest looking member of a nerdy looking band, but Vampire Weekend bassist Chris Baio has made good on his promise of an album of “Bowie and Ferry-influenced pop songs and dumbsmart arena techno”. Keeping it to a compact nine-songs-in-39-minutes, he has delivered a record with songs as charming, hooky and interesting as his day job band. Baio’s speak-singing voice suits the songs well thanks to his well judged and mannered phrasing. The tunes are instant, but continue to reveal further charms with every listen. It’s bizarre that this album has been so overlooked. What coverage it received has been good, but the likes of Pitchfork, The Guardian and NME failed to even review it. Clowns!

Recommended tracks: ‘Sister of Pearl’, ‘Brainwash Yyrr Face’, ‘I Was Born In A Marathon’, ‘Needs’.

Cristobal and the Sea - Sugar Now19. Cristobal and the Sea Sugar Now
London-based Anglo / Portugese / Spanish / Corsican fourpiece with debut album of upbeat, trippy psych pop and tropicalia funk. This record got left a few people perplexed or wnderwhelmed on its release back in October, but the sense of joie de vivre and the lightness of touch with which it blends its influences have kept me coming back to it over the last few months. Packed full of charm and its best songs are unlike anything else released this year. 

Recommended tracks: ‘Sunset of Our Troubles’, ‘Counting Smiles’, ‘Happy Living Things’, ‘Fish Eye’

Gun Outfit - Dream All Over18. Gun Outfit Dream All Over
The fourth album from the Olympia band led by guitarist / vocalist
Dylan Sharp and Carrie Keith feels like riding through a sunblasted plain. You can feel the heat and taste the dust as the country noir and desert dreampop unfolds over 41 minutes with twelve songs that bear the imprint of folk, Sonic Youth, psych and krautrock. The near-motorik beats and meadnering guitars of ‘Gotta Wanna’, the sitar-like sounds of ‘Matters to a Head’, the slow stoned sprawl of ‘Scorpios Vegas’ and the closing ‘Only Ever Over’ are just some of the highlights.

Recommended tracks: ‘Gotta Wanna’, ‘Matters to a Head’, ‘Scorpios Vegas’, ‘Only Ever Over’.

Protomartyr - The Agent Intellect17. Protomartyr The Agent Intellect
Detroit post-punk infuenced band’s third album bridges the gap between Girls Against Boys and Cop Shoot Cop. Unlike those band’s there’s no twin bass attack, but there are unhinged rhythms, and a cold, jagged, metallic edge to the guitars while Joe Casey’s vocal style is part declamatory, part detached observer.

Recommended tracks: ‘Cowards Starve’, ‘I Forgive You’, ‘The Devil in His Youth’

Wolf Alice - My Love Is Cool16. Wolf Alice My Love Is Cool
The north London band retain some of the grunge-influences of their earlier EPs on their debut album – particularly on ‘Your Loves Whore’, ‘Fluffy’, ‘You’re A Germ’ and the alt-rock muscularity of ‘Giant Peach’. But they also deliver the claustrophobic noir of ‘Silk’ and bring an assured pop sensibility to the likes of ‘Freazy’, ‘Bros’ and the breezily upbeat ode to stalkerish obsession ‘Lisbon’. It’s an excellent debut that defies attempts at pigeonholing.

Recommended tracks: ‘Bros’, ‘Lisbon’, ‘Silk’, ‘Your Loves Whore’

La Luz - Weirdo Shrine15. La Luz Weirdo Shrine
Surf rock meets pop noir on the Seattle band’s second album. Produced by sometime tour companion Ty Segall, who encouraged the band to take a more relaxed, less perfectionist attitude into the studio and talked singer / guitarist Shana Cleveland into embracing judicious use of a fuzz pedal. Coupled with lyrics in part inspired by Black Hole (Charles Burns’ allegorical graphic novel about a mutation-causing STI) this is one of 2015’s most beguiling albums.

Recommended tracks: ‘Sleep Till They Die’, ‘I Wanna Be Alone (With You)’, ‘Don’t Wanna Be Anywhere’, ‘I’ll Be True’

Low - Ones and Sixes14. Low Ones and Sixes
Over 20 years on from their slowcore origins, Low continue to develop their sound. Ones and Sixes assimilates all the elements of their past while continuing to move forward. There’s barely restrained anger and beauty in the music, frustration and love running through the lyrics. Drums are sometimes processed or replaced by machines, guitars and piano are distorted and an air of menace or at least foreboding underpins many of the songs (‘Gentle’, ‘No Comprende’, ‘Innocents’), even the prettiest of pop songs ‘What Part of Me’ has something dark stirring beneath the surface. But as with all Low records, beauty is never far away in the voices of Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker, whose shared vocals hit a high on the wonderful ‘Lies’.

Recommended tracks: ‘Lies’, ‘Innocents’, ‘No Comprende’, ‘Congregation’, ‘What Part of Me’

Sufjan Stevens-Carrie and Lowell13. Sufjan Stevens Carrie and Lowell
Inspired by the brief time spent with his schizophrenic, alcoholic mother and her husband when Stevens was still a child, this album can’t help but at first appear like a complete downer. Drum-free and relying (mainly) on acoustic instrumentation, lyrics touching on religion, loss, mental illness and death, this isn’t always an easy listen and it’s not something that you can just put on in the background. But what saves it from ultimate wrist-slitter status are the vocals (even the “we’re all going to die” refrain of ‘Fourth of July’ sounds more beautiful than bleak) and some sparse yet nuanced arrangements (especially on the relatively uplifting ‘The Only Thing’ and ‘Eugene’). If you make it through the first time, each successive listen is more rewarding as the album reveals its complex moods. You might want to follow it up with some Carly Rae Jepson, though.

Recommended tracks: ‘Fourth of July’, ‘The Only Thing’, ‘Should Have Known Better’

Hop Along - Painted Shut12. Hop Along Painted Shut
Like Courtney Barnett, Kurt Vile, The Drink’s Derbhla Minogue and Royal Headache’s Shogun, Hop Along’s Frances Quinlan’s is a voice apart in 2015. A band with a distinctive sound that owes something to the 90s alt rock and even emo, on this their second album much of the power comes from the balance of restraint and release employed by Quinlan and her band as these ten compelling vignettes, touching on blues and jazz musicians, waffle house doppelgangers, humiliation and uncannily radiant teenagers, depression and abuse.

Recommended tracks: ‘Horseshoe Crabs’, ‘Waitress’, ‘Powerful Man’, ‘The Knock’

Courtney Barnett - Sometimes I Sit...11. Courtney Barnett Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit
A singular talent whose keen eye finds relatable detail in the mundane details of both extraordinary and everyday situations and combines it with a storytelling ability that is at once quintessentially Australian and oddly universal in its appeal. Add the sometimes laidback / sometimes enervated singing style and her stellar guitar playing to create one of the most compelling artists of the decade (at least). Since the bundling of her first two EPs as A Sea of Split Peas, the world has been awaiting this debut album proper and, while the production doesn’t always do the live versions of the songs justice (and ‘Depreston’ is near-murdered by the shuffle beat and country-twang), this is still a great album.

Recommended tracks: ‘Elevator Operator’, ‘Pedestrian at Best’, ‘Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go to the Party’, ‘Aqua Profunda!’, ‘Dead Fox’

Beach House - Depression Cherry10. Beach House Depression Cherry
The first of two albums released this year by the Baltimore duo. For me, this one just edges out Thank Your Lucky Stars. Warm keyboard washes and drones and Victoria Legrand’s enveloping vocals contrast with drum machine beats and Alex Scally’s distorted guitar tones to create woozy, otherworldly dreampop. An initially comforting and familiar listen that reveals its idiosyncrasies on repeated listens (the girl-group like spoken intro to ‘PPP’, the indecipherable vocal loop that intros and runs through ‘Spark’). Like its predecessor, Bloom (2012), this feels like a gentle pushing of the boundaries of the sound that they first fully realised on third album Teen Dream (2010).

Recommended tracks: ‘Levitation’, ‘Spark’, ‘Space Song’, ‘PPP’.

Kurt Vile-B'lieve I'm Goin' Down9. Kurt Vile b’lieve i’m goin’ down
Even more so than Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze (2013), B’lieve I’m Goin’ Down feels like the release that should bring Kurt Vile to a wider audience. Despite being recorded at six different studios with a variety of producers, engineers, mixers and musicians (including Warpaint’s Stella Mozgawa) this album sounds seamless. Though Vile is (quite rightly) noted for his electric guitar playing, he’s no slouch on the acoustic (‘That’s Life, tho’, ‘Kidding Around’), banjo (‘I’m an Outlaw’) and piano (‘Lost My Head There’, ‘Bad Omens’). The lyrics are often self-referential and full of humour, with first single and opener ‘Pretty Pimpin’’ he’s written a classic slacker anthem and one of 2015’s best tunes. But just as importantly, he’s maintained that high level of songwriting across the record, an achievement that even extends to the triple-album version’s bonus tracks. Essential.

Recommended tracks: ‘Pretty Pimpin”, ‘Lost My Head There’, ‘Dust Bunnies’, ‘That’s Life tho”

Royal Headache - High8. Royal Headache High
Four years on from their brilliant debut, Sydney’s premier garage-punk-soul band return with the second album that almost didn’t happen. Clocking in at just under half an hour, there’s an urgency to these ten songs that is lacking from much of what else is out there. ‘Need You’ and ‘Love Her If I Tried’ are northern soul as played by a bunch of garage punks; ‘Garbage’ swaps out the soul for filthy, distorted, metallic guitar; ‘Carolina’ is breezy, elegiac pop while ‘Another World’ alternates between disgust and longing with its “You ate my face to take my place so you can shine in another world / Cause you can’t discern I need a friend who makes me wanna fly to another world” refrain. All of it is elevated by a melodic sensibility and Shogun’s full-throated vocals.

Recommended tracks: ‘Love Her If I Tried’, ‘Another World’, ‘Garbage’, ‘Carolina’

Torres - Sprinter7. Torres Sprinter
Two years on from her excellent debut, Mackenzie Scott returns with a follow up that finds an artist really coming into her own. All the elements – songwriting, lyrics, vocals, performance, arrangements – have moved on from the debut. If not entirely confessional (Scott is as likely to sing in character as she is in the first person) these are deeply personal songs, with lyrics that deal directly or tangentially with identity and finding one’s place in the world; relationships; fear of loss, betrayal. For the album, Scott enlisted original PJ Harvey drummer and bass player Robert Ellis and Ian Oliver (the former also in the producer’s chair) plus Portishead’s Adrian Utley. Their support is felt the most on the triumvirate of most rocking numbers (‘Strange Hellos’, ‘New Skin’ and the title track) as well as the assured and understated ‘Ferris Wheel’ and the re-recorded ‘The Harshest Light’ (previously available in demo form as an RSD 7”). But Sprinter’s most affecting number, the closing ‘The Exchange’, finds Scott solo with acoustic guitar (and some accompanying, ambient birdsong) touching on all the album’s themes through the prism of her adoptive mother’s own adoption.

Recommended tracks: ‘Sprinter’,’New Skin’, ‘Harshest Light’, ‘The Exchange’, ‘Ferris Wheel’, ‘Strange Hellos’

Dick Diver - Melbourne Florida6. Dick Diver Melbourne Florida
Melbourne, Asutralia purveyors of superior, literate guitar pop manages to leap forward while looking backwards. Previously, the band had been compared with the lo-fi jangle of early Go-Betweens and the more melodic of the vintage Flying Nun bands (esp. The Clean, though it’s an influence the band refute). On this their third album they have expanded the scope of their sound and while there’s still plenty of jangle, there’s also some harmonic psych pop chiming on the likes of ‘Waste The Alphabet’ and ‘Tearing The Posters Down’ which recalls first-album era-The Church while ‘Year in Pictures’ has people citing Icehouse’s ‘Great Southern Land’. Mainly-drummer Steph Hughes lead vocals may only appear on a couple of tracks but, as with ‘Gap Life’ on Calendar Days, ‘Leftovers’ leaves an indelible impression.

Recommended tracks: all of them, but try any of ‘Waste The Alphabet’, ‘Year In Pictures’, ‘Competition’, ‘Tearing The Posters Down’, ‘Leftovers’, ‘Private Number’

Tame Impala - Currents5. Tame Impala Currents
After two essential albums of guitar-heavy psychedelic rock, Kevin Parker shifts styles on the third Tame Impala album to embrace elements of 70s soul and 80s electronic pop. Despite the electronic production techniques that gave the earlier records much of their distinct flavour (and despite the fact that they have never really translated those solo studio creations into a compelling live experience) the lack of obvious rock guitar has polarized fans. Both of the band’s previous albums made my personal top five’s in their respective year of release and I’d consider them to both be near perfect. The same goes for Currents. I’ll admit, I don’t think I even registered exactly how different and relegated the guitars are from this album until I’d listened to it a few times. It’s such a dense, encapsulating listening experience, and even though they are expressed differently, the influence of psychedelia and late-period Beatles are as strong as ever. As is the quality of the song writing and construction. It comes across as an obvious (but no less brilliant) evolution.

Recommended tracks: ‘Let It Happen’, ‘Eventually’, ‘Disciples’, ‘Reality In Motion’:

Desperate Journalist - Desperate Journalist4. Desperate Journalist Desperate Journalist
The jangle and chime of Rob Hardy’s 12 string Rickenbaker and Jo Bevan’s impassioned vocals often recall the pairing of Morrissey and Marr at their peak, but there’s also the influence of early-R.E.M., 90s alternative bands and the gothier end of post-punk (the name’s a Cure reference and you can hear the imprint of Joy Division, Siouxsie and The Banshees and The Cult’s Billy Duffy in there too). This debut album’s eleven songs bring a power, beauty, brightness and focus to a quintessentially English-take on post-punk and early-80s indie. If this isn’t on your end of year list, you just haven’t heard it yet, baby.

Recommended tracks: ‘Control’, ‘Cristina’, ‘Eulogy’

Father John Misty - I Love You, Honey Bear3. Father John Misty I Love You, Honeybear
A marriage of concept, songwriting, performance and arrangement that few artists manage to achieve, yet alone sustain for an entire album. This is a leap forward from 2012’s excellent Fear Fun (and even further forward from the stripped down solo works as J. Tillman). From the lush orchestrated title track, to the mariachi horns and strings that adorn ‘Chateau Lobby #4’ to the 80s-influenced synth pop of ‘True Affection’, to the soulful backing vocals and mournful guitar that permeate ‘When You’re Smiling and Astride Me’, to the rising hysteria and stabbing keyboards of ‘The Ideal Husband’ to the near acapella ‘Bored in the USA’ and the acoustic-backed stream of consciousness platitudes / treatise on life and love that is ‘Holy Shit’. This is a diverse album that works as a whole. Some will label this Americana, but that would be inappropriate for an album whose strongest sonic influence appears to be late period Beatles.

Recommended tracks: all of them, but you could start with ‘Chateau Lobby #4’, ‘Bored in the USA’, ‘Ideal Husband’, ‘Holy Shit’

Joanna Newsom - Divers2. Joanna Newsom Divers

Five years on from her magnum opus triple album Have One On Me, Joanna Newsom returned, with what initially looked like a modest record for such a long time away, but soon revealed itself as a major triumph. The songs herein (many about love, place and time) are all of the highest quality, and Newsom’s playing is exceptional, not only on the harp but also a variety of instruments from Moog to Mellotron to Marxophone (and that’s just the Ms). While spending a lot of time mixing a record is usually a sign that the whole project is fucked, on Divers the extension of that period from two weeks to four months has paid off (read a great, non-nerdy article on the process here). As ever, her lyrics are esoteric, full of obscure historical references that often require one key phrase to be deciphered to reveal what the whole is about, but the songs also work on their own, knowing what they are about is not a pre-requisite for falling in love with them. And while her voice will probably always have its detractors, Newsom now has more range and subtly exhibits control without losing any of the character that is so important to the delivery of the songs.

Recommended tracks: all of them, but you could start with ‘A Pin-Light Bent’, ‘Leaving The City’, ‘Goose Eggs’, ‘Divers’.

The Drink - Capital1. The Drink Capital
After last year’s exceptional compilation Company, London-based three-piece The Drink released their debut album proper in November. Where Company was more angular, with much of the energy derived by how the guitar lines sat at odds with the rest of the instruments, Capital’s performances are more sinuous and fluid, the songs emboldened by the confidence and experience of the players, with elements of post-punk, afropop, goth, and prog rock feeding into their “odd, dark folk pop”.This is an album (not unlike Life Without Buildings’ Any Other City) that combines previously unrelated sweet spots from music’s past into something that sounds like it could only have been made in 2015. If there’s a song at the heart of the album it’s ‘You Won’t Come Back at All’, which builds to the extended instrumental outro on the last minute-and-a-half as Derbhla Minogue runs free with her guitar, weaving in and out of the rhythm laid down by Daniel Fordham (drums) and David Stewart (bass). It’s a lesson in the power of economy, like Neil Young playing a free range one-note guitar solo while Crazy Horse keep it locked in, or more recently, like Hospitality’s ‘I Miss Your Bones’. ‘The Coming Rain’ manages to skirt prog and disco funk and at the same time remain a sing-along indie pop song, while the closing ‘No Memory’ is propelled by a near constant minor tone of deep psych fuzz organ.

Recommended tracks: All of them – this album is ten near-perfect tracks, but if you aren’t hooked by the opening trio of ‘Like A River’, ‘You Won’t Come Back at All’ and ‘Potter’s Grave’, I don’t know what to tell ya.

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Footnotes
1I listened to nearly 500 new albums in 2015. Most of them were rubbish, but there were many great albums that didn’t quite reach the heights of the twenty above.  Here’s an incomplete list of some of the best of the rest: Speedy Ortiz Foil Deer, !!! As If, Ryley Walker Primrose Green, Beach House Thank Your Lucky Stars, The Dodos Individ, Sleater-Kinney No Cities to Love, Novella LandJulia Holter Have You In My Wilderness, Shunkan The Pink NoiseCold Beat Into The AirBattles La Di Da DiTwerps Range AnxietyRadical Dads Universal Coolers, Colleen Captain of NoneMondo Drag Mondo DragAll Dogs Kicking EverydaySoccer Team Real Lessons in CynicismSports All of SomethingFidlar Too, TRAAMS Modern Dancing, U.S. Girls Half FreeEmpress Of Me, Robert Forster Songs to PlayShannon and the Clams Gone By the DawnMartin Courtney Many MoonsPWR BTTM Ugly CherriesLana Del Rey HoneymoonDestroyer Poison SeasonAu.Ra Jane’s LamentSarah Neufeld / Colin Stetson Never Were The Way She Was, Best Coast California NightsWhite Reaper White Reaper Do It AgainWilco Star WarsWhite Fang Chunks,Lower Dens Escape From EvilHoundstooth No News from HomeThe Mountain Goats Beat The Champ, My Morning Jacket The Waterfall, The Decemberists What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World, Built to Spill Untethered Moon, Ducktails St Catherine.

In The Pharmacy #89 – Mid October 2015

Twenty-eight new tracks from the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Denmark.
Indie rock, indiepop, garage punk, dreampop, psych folk, psych pop, and psych rock, dance punk, post punk and electronic pop. New tracks from The Drink, Soccer Team, Desperate Journalist, 
Eleanor Friedberger, 
Ex Hex, Torres, Protomartyr, The Wharves, Shunkan, Terry, Hiccup, Fuzz, Dilly Dally, The Spook School, Lowly, !!! (chk chk chk), Deerhunter, Porches, Pure Bathing Culture, YACHT, Beach House, Majical Cloudz, Daughter,Gun Outfit, Lawrence Rothman featuring Angel Olsen, Weyes Blood (pictured), Paul Bergman featuring Emily Kokal.

In The Pharmacy #87 – Late September 2015

Twenty-three new tracks from the US, UK and Canada. New music from Silversun Pickups, The Drink, Fidlar, Lana Del Rey, Julia Holter, Kurt Vile, Shannon and the Clams, Family of the Year, Darkstar, The Woolen, Battles, Stars, TRAAMS, 
U.S. Girls, 
Metric, 
Chromatics, Metric, U.S. Girls, The Whales, Dilly Dally, 
Pure Bathing Culture (pictured), Gun Outift, 
Desperate Journalist, Soccer Team, and Lou Barlow.

Fidlar ‘Drone’
LA garage punks with a track from their second album Too (out now, Mom & Pop).
[Fidlar]

Family of the Year ‘Make You Mine’
Sunshine indie pop from the LA band’s self-titled album, their third (out now, Nettwerk).
[Family of the Year]

Silversun Pickups ‘Circadian Rhythm (Last Dance)’
Second track to appear from the band’s forthcoming fourth album Better Nature, (September 25, New Machine Records) and a rare one that features Nikki Moninger on lead vocals.
[Silversun Pickups]

The Drink ‘No Memory’
The closing track from the London-based trio’s debut album proper, Capital (last year’s stunning Company compiled their first three EPs). Although it’s not physically released until November 13 (Melodic), pre-orders come with an instant download of the whole, brilliant album.
[The Drink]

Darkstar ‘Stoke The Fire’
Warp signed artist with hints of afropop and the Beta Band in their groove based pop. Taken from their third album Foam Island (Warp, September 25).
[Darkstar]

Shannon and the Clams ‘Telling Myself’
Following on from It’s Too Late (ITP #85) and Corvette (ITP #81) more sci-fi surf pop from the SATC new album Gone By The Dawn (out now, Hardly Art).
[Shannon and the Clams]

The Woolen Men ‘University’
An eighties melodic hardcore vibe from these Pacific north western DIY punks with a track from their new album Temporary Monument (out now, Woodsist).
[The Woolen Men]

Battles ‘Dot Com’
More krauty instrumental math rock goodness from the band’s new album La Di Da Di (out now, Warp).
[Battles]

Stars ‘A Simple Song’
Following on from last year’s excellent and bizarrely underrated indie disco-tastic No One Is Lost, comes a new slice of melancholy electronic pop from their new digital only Lost and Found EP (out now).
[Stars]

TRAAMS ‘Silver Lining’
Following on from Succulent Thunder Anthem (ITP #84), the Chichestter post-punk trio return with another track from their forthcoming second album Grin (FatCat, November 13)
[TRAAMS]


U.S. Girls ‘Sed Knife’
Surprisngly seventies influenced dirty indie rock number from experimental popster Meghan Remy’s 4AD debut Half Free (25 September).
[U.S. Girls]

Metric ‘Lie Lie Lie’
Maybe you too will be thinking of Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘The Boxer’ too when you hear this catchy track from the band’s Pagans in Vegas album (out now, MMI/Crystal Math).
[Metric]


Chromatics ‘Shadow’
New Adult Swim single from Johnny Jewel’s electronic dreampop outfit. Available for download now.
[Chromatics]

The Whales ‘Marguerite’
Lo-fi jangling indie rock from Cambridge, originally released back in March.
[The Whales]

Dilly Dally ‘Purple Rage’
More raw vocals and grungey guitars from the Toronto band’s debut album, Sore (October 9, Partisan Records).
[Dilly Dally]

Pure Bathing Culture ‘Palest Pearl’
Electronic indiepop taken from the band’s John Congleton-produced second album, Pray For Rain (October 23, Partisan).
[Pure Bathing Culture]

Gun Outift ‘Only Ever Over’

Country dreampop from the LA band’s forthcoming album Dream All Over (Oct 16, Paradise of Bachelors).
[Gun Outfit]


Desperate Journalist ‘Perfect Health’
Following on from their brilliant debut album (a contender for album of the year) comes this track from their soon to be released Good Luck EP. Nicely understated, Smithsy jangling.
[Desperate Journalist]

Soccer Team ‘Friends Who Know’
DC indie rockers with nineties slack track from their Real Lessons in Cynicism album (out 27 October, Dischord Records).
[Soccer Team]

Lou Barlow ‘Wave’
Another highlight from the Dinosaur Jr / Sebadoh / Folk Implosion man’s new solo album Brace the Wave (out now, Joyful Noise).
[Lou Barlow]

Lana Del Rey ‘The Blackest Day’
It’s a quick turn around for Honeymoon (out now), album number three from Lana Del Rey which she started working on as soon as she finished last year’s rather excellent Ultraviolence. It’s another lush pop noire classic and this is just one of many stand out tracks.
[Lana Del Rey]

Julia Holter ‘Vasquez’
Another great track from Have You In My Wilderness, the experimental popster’s fourth, most accessible and most pleasing album yet. This brings to mind the lush, jazz tinged post-pop of David Sylvian and late period Talk Talk.
[Julia Holter]

Kurt Vile ‘Lost My Head There’
Slacker indie rock with a lush seventies vibe. Taken from KV’s excellent forthcoming album, b’lieve I’m going down (September 25, Matador).
[Kurt Vile]

In The Pharmacy #72 – February 2015

Eighteen of the best songs from the last two weeks. A fortnight’s worth of new music from the US, Australia, Canada, NZ, UK and Sweden.

Dick Diver ‘Tearing the Posters Down’
One of two songs to emerge from the forthcoming third album Melbourne, Florida (March 6, Chapter Music / Trouble in Mind) finds them taking both the jangle and songwriting up another notch.
[Dick Diver]

Desperate Journalist ‘Eulogy’
North London four-piece with a taste for The Smiths, post-punk and 12 string jangle have released a brilliant self-titled debut album (out now on Fierce Panda). This is just one of many stand out tracks.
[Desperate Journalist]

Unknown Mortal Orchestra ‘Multi-Love’
Portland based band featuring ex-pat Kiwis step it up for the title track of their forthcoming third album, due out on Jagjaguwar, May 25
[Unknown Mortal Orchestra]

Liam Hayes ‘Fokus’

Liam Hayes (the man behind slow moving project Plush) sounding like a power pop Ted Leo on this track from his Slurrup album (out now on Fat Possum).
[Liam Hayes]

Houndstooth ‘No News From Home’
Woozy psych-dappled folk pop title track from Pacific North Westerners’ forthcoming second album (March, No Quarter), the follow up to Ride Out The Dark.
[Houndstooth] http://houndstooth.virb.com/

Lower Dens ‘To Die in L.A.’
Poppier than anything on Nootropics, but still maintaining the Krautrock and Bowie-in Berlin influences of that album, this is taken from forthcoming third long player Escape From Evil (March 31, Ribbon Music).
[Lower Dens]

Alex G ‘Sarah’
Philly based Alex G has a wealth of music available on his Bandcamp page, a lot of recently reissued on ltd edition vinyl. This track originates from 2012 but is only now seeing the light of day. Lo-fi, melodic indie with heaps of charm.
[Alex G]

Father John Misty ‘Holy Shit’
One of many stand out cuts from J Tillman’s second album as FJM, I Love You, Honeybear (out now, Sub Pop).
[Father John Misty]

Fred Thomas ‘Bad Blood’
Leader of indie pop collective Saturday Looks Good To Me (among other projects), with something different and darker from his forthcoming solo album All Are Saved (Polyvinyl).
[Fred Thomas]

Babaganouj ‘Can’t Stop’
Brisbane band featuring two former members of the sadly defunct Go Violets with a big, bright pop song, the follow up to last year’s ‘Bluff’ and ‘Too Late For Love’ singles.
[Babaganouj]

Speedy Ortiz ‘Raising the Skate’
Northampton, MA 90s festishists return with first track from follow up to 2013’s Major Arcana, Foil Deer (April 21, Carpark). Lyrically a mission statement, and a reflection on the frustrations of being a female musician in 2015, singer/ songwriter/ guitarist Sadie Dupuis says “It’s crazy frustrating seeing women and girls, myself included, put in positions in which they have to shirk credit for their talent or otherwise risk getting dissed as overbearing and bitchy,”
[Speedy Ortiz]

Purity Ring ‘Heartsigh’
Opening track from the Canadian duo’s second 4AD album Another Eternity (March 3). Electronic pop with the occasional euphoric stadium house flourish.
[Purity Ring]

Joanna Gruesome ‘Last Year’
More self-proclaimed “dissonant wimp music” from the Welsh quintet who appear to have refined their noise / pop balance to better effect. This is taken from forthcoming second album Peanut Butter (Fortuna Pop! / Slumberland / Turnstile, May 11).
[Joanna Gruesome]

Nite Fields ‘You I Never Knew’
Taken from the Brisbane band’s Depersonalisation album, out now on Felte. Superior 80s goth / post-punk leaning sounds.
[Nite Fields]

Crushed Beaks ‘Overgrown’

Melodic, noisey indie pop that harks back to the mid-80s. Taken from the London band’s debut album Scatter (out now on Matilda).
[Crushed Beaks]

Makthaverskan ‘Witness’
Gothenburg post-punks with a track from their new limited 7″. Out in Europe on March 3, and in the US as an official Record Store Day single (April 18).
[Makthaverskan] https://www.facebook.com/makthaverskanofficial

Breakfast in Fur ‘Portrait’
Like In The Pharmacy favourites Diert Cig, Breakfast in Fur are from New Paltz, NY. But these guys eschew ramshackle indie pop for in favour of a more lush dreampop style as evinced on this track from their debut album Flyaway Garden (out now on Bar/None).
[Breakfast in Fur]

Ryley Walker ‘Sweet Satisfaction’
Another beauty from the Chicago singer/ songwriter / guitarist’s can’t-get-here-soon-enough Primrose Green album (Dead Oceans, March 31). Starting off with his picking folk guitar style and gentle jazz flavoured rhythms, this one has a vein of barely restrained fuzz running through it starting at the 1 minute 43 mark which carries on until the last two minutes of the song turn into more of a guitar freakout. Fantastic.
[Ryley Walker]