For me, this year has been one of musical discovery. I decided to see just how deep that fuzzy rabbit hole goes, and I have to say its rather nice here in wonderland 😉 I’ve also discovered great artists from other genres I never would have thought I could appreciate. Below are my top 20 albums from 2015!
20 : Mammatus – Sparkling Waters
Perhaps the most interesting entry on this list, I’m still not entirely sure I enjoyed parts of this album! Only because it literally blew my mind, to the point it was uncomfortable at times. In my review I touched on the idea of this being more an experience than entertainment, and that’s still the best way I can describe it. Atmospheric, expansive, and exploratory to a fault; this album stretched my musical taste and understanding to new levels.
19 : Deville – Make It Belong To Us
Crammed full of down-tuned, Mastodon style riffs that are as huge as they are groovy, this album crashed it’s way onto my ‘Gymspiration’ playlist. There’s so much energy and punch packed into each tune that it just get’s me pumped up and raring to go every time. Sounding somewhat like a drag race through the Nevada desert, the grit, tone, and aggression that permeates through the catchy melodies make this album a killer slab of heavy metal.
18 : Electric Moon – Theory Of Mind
What I would have given to witness the below performance in the flesh. Each track on this album moves from the understated to the ridiculous at such an organic pace. I saw an interesting interview with the band where they explain there is, of course, a rough template for where the song needs to go, but the details are decided in the moment. Then I understood this album. It’s like a musical plant growing in front of you, slowly but surely reaching for the sun. Sula Bassana’s experimentation with effects pedals is phenomenal, and Komet Lulu is one of the most mesmerising female bass players I’ve ever heard.
17 : The Heavy Eyes – He Dreams Of Lions
First time I heard this album I sort of dismissed it as being “Fu Manchu 2.0”. Then I realised how dumb that was, because The Heavy Eyes clearly take their influence from most of my favourite bands! A couple more listens later and I was in love. A fuzzy classic rock base that gets that unmistakable southern groove woven in. There are some seriously catchy tunes here, “The Fool” has one of the coolest riffs I’ve heard all year. If you want an album to stick on during a long drive, The Heavy Eyes have got you covered.
16: The Prodigy – The Day Is My Enemy
Every metalhead’s favourite dance act are back! You can’t deny there is something about The Prodigy that’s different to most of their peers. I got to see them last year at Sonisphere Festival in the UK and they had absolutely everyone in the crowd either moshing around or dancing like a tit. This album did little if anything to change up their sound, but that’s not what we want from these guys. We want more dirty basslines and hooks than we know what to do with, and that’s exactly what we got. No one does what they do better.
15 : Rotor – Fünf
Somehow in my sheltered existence I managed to go through life without hearing about these guys until this year, when I stumbled upon a little site called More Fuzz. Once I did though, it took me exactly 52 seconds to fall in love. Why so specific? Well, my introductory track was Volllast and that moment, 52 seconds in, is a fuzz pedals’ wet dream. This album feels twice as long as it actually is because it just goes so deep! Add that to hugely varied levels of distortion and you’re left with what is essentially a textbook on how to do heavy instrumental psych the right way.
14 : Tame Impala – Currents
I’ve been a fan of Tame Impala since 2011’s Innerspeak, and whilst that album did more for me with its classic 70’s psychedelic feel, Currents was a tasteful transition into a more modern sound. The use of electronic elements played a much more prominent role, but they just about kept what makes them who they are. This, combined with the increased production quality, make listening to Currents like pouring Belgium chocolate into your ears. It’s smooth, calm and composed; a perfect evening album to relax to.
13 : Lamb Of God – VII: Sturm Und Drang
By now I’m sure everyone is away of Randy Blythe’s ordeal leading up to the release of this album. The events in the Czech Republic are referenced in more than one track, but they avoided it becoming a concept album of sorts. I think that speaks to the heart of metal’s defiance. Even after Randy was cleared, their refusal to let it shake their unending ferocity is admirable, and it resulted in one of LOG’s most crushing releases to date. I loved the inclusion of more varied guitar effects, especially the talk box on Erase This! Overlord stands out to me though as a showcase of how heavy metal should be.
12 : Vulfpeck – Thrill of the Arts
And now for something completely different. Welcome to jazz/funk/pop ensemble: Vulfpeck. Ordinarily an instrumental act, they have incorporated guest vocalists into their work increasingly with each EP release. Thrill of the Arts is the first full length album that they’ve done, and whilst some of the later tracks are a bit hit and miss, the singles are amongst my favourites for their entire catalogue. Just remember, he ain’t no duck…he’s a funky duck.
11 : Lil Dicky – Professional Rapper
WILD CARD! Now choosing a rap album on a site like More Fuzz might appear to be some sort of blasphemy but I’d be lying if I said I haven’t played this loads. What I like about Lil Dicky (OK, David Bird) is the topics he raps about. He covers having no money, inability to convince girls to sleep with him, sneaking crisps and chocolate bars into the cinema and how he probably should smoke less weed and pay more attention to what’s going on in the world. I guess what I’m trying to say is it’s relatable. Oh, and had me laughing my head off multiple times.
10 : Iron Maiden – The Book Of Souls
Who doesn’t like Maiden? I mean come on. 35 years into their outstanding career it would be all too easy for them develop into a caricature of themselves. Nope. Not here. Maiden instead decided to release a 92 minute long double album. It’s grand, impressively epic, and honours the Iron Maiden name the way one of their albums should. My favourite track would have to be The Red and The Black, Empire Of The Clouds deserves a special mention for just how daring Bruce Dickinson’s magnum opus became.
9 : While She Sleeps – Brainwashed
‘Sleeps’ fans will know this album took a lot longer than expected. Their debut ‘This Is The Six’ dropped in 2012 and they started making serious headway. Then, in late 2013, frontman Lawrence Taylor had to undergo major throat surgery. Their big momentum crashed to a halt and for a time, people weren’t sure how the band would continue. That might have broken lesser bands, but this year they put out some of the heaviest and most brutal stuff they’ve ever done. Tracks like Four Walls, New World Torture and Brainwashed became instant fan favourites but standout song for me is easily Trophies Of Violence. I’ve almost passed out listening to that more than a few times.
8 : Parasol Caravan – Para Solem
I just cant stop listening to this. Alexander Kriechbaum’s voice is incredible, and those riffs! Fantastic hooks (with some deceptively weird time signatures) set within tons of mood and atmosphere, but all done with a charm that feels just light hearted enough to really have fun. To me it sounds like Clutch, old school Black Stone Cherry and a healthy dose of Tool all chucked into a rocket and blasted into space. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for these guys, lets hope a UK tour or two!
7 : Mother Engine – Absturz
Few albums have captivated me as instantly as this one. There’s a whole lot of fuzz and heavy moments, sure, but the dispersal of those moments is what makes the entire thing feel more refined. They understand that by detouring through those lofty space rock sections and THEN engaging the fuzz engine, it carries way more weight. I love me some weird too, so Wustenwind’s blend of conflicting notes that somehow actually work is right up my alley! And let’s not even try to work out how many time signatures are kicking about on this thing! Sublime, intelligent and inspiring stoner psych.
6 : Churchhouse Creepers – From Party To Apocalypse
This Icelandic 3-piece put out their debut in November and it’s the most fun I’ve had with an album all year. Relentless high energy stoner/party rock that has some pretty weird sections, what with tempo changes and lightning-fast riffs, but they managed to maintain a jovial overtone throughout. This album gatecrashed it’s way onto this list and I can’t wait for this band to do a UK tour! Also, I’m a sucker for some pop art, so the album cover is one of my favourites from 2015 😉 . Also giant laser cats.
5 : Clutch – Psychic Warfare
The masters of groove returned this year and what a return it was. Expectations were high after the masterpiece that was their previous album, but they met those expectations with cool certainty. Is it as good as Earth Rocker? This is debatable. What can’t be debated is just what a staggeringly good back catalogue Clutch have built for themselves. They’ve influenced so many bands over the years, and Psychic Warfare was their way of saying they ain’t done showing the younger generation how it’s done yet. You better believe it brother…
4 : Sergeant Thunderhoof – Ride Of The Hoof
Ride Of The Hoof moves up a spot on this list with each listen. SO MUCH FUZZ! This has me jumping around one minute then sinking into the doom the next, and now feels like wrapping up in a big fur coat and going on an adventure. As a whole, it feels so expansive and strikes the perfect balance between hypnotic and exciting where I just get completely lost it, rather than it losing me! They’ve made a big step up from the previous album (which was already pretty damn awesome) and here’s hoping they ‘ride the hoof’ all the way up to the recognition they deserve.
3 : Big Red Panda – Grand Orbiter
As I said in my review, 30 minutes of pure psych bliss. Since it came out I’ve played this album on long night time drives, I’ve cranked it when friends are round, had it on in the background at work, on train journeys…and more than a few playthroughs when floating with the clouds 😉 . It’s got a great mix of fuzzy and clean guitars, spacey keyboards and most importantly has great pacing for listening in full. This album puts a smile on my face every time, and I don’t think High Ride will ever get old.
2 : Snarky Puppy – Sylva
Before a very good friend showed me these guys earlier this year, there were quite simply a lot of things I didn’t know you could do with music. I didn’t know Jazz could have so much groove and funk. I didn’t know that a saxophone solo could sound sexy enough to warrant a NSFW warning. I didn’t know it could work to go from a crazy-weird bass solo, straight into dual action, dovetailed keyboard solos and then drop everything out for a stunningly emotional piano section. That is what Snarky Puppy do. Oh, and incase all that wasn’t enough, this whole album was recorded live with a full orchestra behind it. Mesmerising.
1 : FIDLAR – Too
For those of you who don’t know about FIDLAR, it stands for Fuck It Dog, Life’s A Risk. This blissfully care free sentiment was paramount in their self titled debut from 2013. Every song was about getting drunk and partying with friends. On the follow up, ‘Too’, the album feels like a realisation that maybe you’re spending a little too much time drunk/stoned with the guys, and maybe you might have a problem. But instead of reinventing themselves, FIDLAR simply reevaluate. Their charmingly simple fun is the bath their coming of age is soaked in, and it just completely won me over. Its an album that will forever remind of this point in my life, and it’s claimed a spot in my heart because of it 🙂
Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats – The Night Creeper
Augustine Azul – EP
Ghost – Meliora
Waingro – Mt Hood
Intimissimo – The Opponents
My Sleeping Karma – Moksha.
Finally, a very special mention for Rubikon. Their album Delta is solid, especially if you like your smooth classic rock – a la Free, Bad Company and Cream. There is this one song though, unlike anything else on the album, that just moves my soul. Live That Lie is my pick for best song of 2015.
Keep it groovy,