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DaveyBoy's Top 50 Albums Of 2015

No, that's not a typo... I was beginning to put together my year-end list for 2016 and realised that I had yet to post my 2015 list... So for the sake of just having it somewhere on Sputnik, here it is. Personally, I thought it was one of the deepest years for quality releases that I can recall... Or maybe it was because I had more time to listen to many artists that I previously had yet to encounter. It should be noted that these were my original rankings as of last December. You should probably be thankful that there hasn't been an update, since BMtH would probably be #2 if there had been!
1Too Close to Touch
Nerve Endings

Read my review here: http://www.sputnikmusic.com/review/66504/Too-Close-to-Touch-Nerve-Endings/
Last Forever

Following a promising but rough around the edges EP, Swedish band Westkust impress on debut LP 'Last Forever'. Playing an up-tempo combination of shoegaze, post-punk, noise-pop/rock & even surf rock, the quintet's secret weapon is melody (a trait not usually associated with those genres). Despite the fuzzy wall-of-noise guitar distortion & some awesome bass-lines, this album is extremely accessible & immediate (again, not usually associated with the aforementioned genres). The boy/girl vocal dynamic of Gustav Andersson & Julia Bjernelind is the cherry on top of this succinct 33 minute revelation. Recommended Tracks: Swirl, Jonna, Summer 3D, Drown & Another Day.

On his major label debut 'Mansion', it's difficult not to compare Nathan "NF" Feuerstein to fellow Michigan rapper Eminem. A metaphor for the 24 year old's mind, he tackles a number of issues in authentic, vulnerable & thought-provoking fashion. Raw & intense, NF's flow is impeccable, with a haunting & cinematic musical backdrop. Versatility is key here, with Feuerstein being able to spit rapid-fire rhymes or sing his own hooks, allowing the 3 featured vocalists to add genuine variaton. "When I write, I produce passion" is an understatement on this triumphant revelation. Recommended Tracks: All I Have, Mansion, Wake Up, Intro & I'll Keep On.
4Strung Out

Six years after their previous album, Californian punk rockers Strung Out release their long-delayed 8th studio LP 'Transmission.Alpha.Delta'. A sort of encapsulation of their entire career in one record, there is no great reinvention here, but the balance of modern & nostalgia is undoubtedly satisfying. As pacy as ever, the technically proficient quintet showcase some marvelous guitar leads, while Jordan Burns' drumming is always on point. Slickly produced (by Kyle Black) to emphasize its melodic qualities, this consistent & cohesive LP is up there with the bands best! Recommended Tracks: Go It Alone, Tesla, The Animal and the Machine, Black Maps & Rats in the Walls.
5Bring Me the Horizon
That's the Spirit

British rockers Bring Me The Horizon go for the jugular on their 5th LP 'That's the Spirit' & come out with the most anthemic release of 2015. The quintet's most accessible album, it is unabashed in its targeting of a larger audience. Sounding like a hybrid of Linkin Park, 30 Seconds to Mars & LostProphets, the odd cringeworthy moment still exists, but there's also a multitude of shout out loud choruses that could see the band heading for stadiums. The electronica of Jordan Fish (who also produced) continues to play a prominent role, most notably on the massive sounding 'Throne'; a genuine song of the year contender! Recommended Tracks: Throne, Drown, True Friends & Avalanche.
Into the Sea

Out Dear Huntering The Dear Hunter, Raleigh progressive rockers Attalus serve up a behemoth of a 3rd LP with 'Into the Sea'. A nautically based concept album whose 16 tracks last 78 minutes, this release is extremely diverse & dynamic, yet pleasingly cohesive. Just like the sea, the record ranges from being quite heavy at times - Chris Sierra's drums especially hit hard - to calm at others - including some majestic piano melodies. It's undoubtedly overlong & the faith-based lyrics do get a little oppresive, but this is ultimately a bold & stirring collection of expertly performed tunes. Recommended Tracks: This Ship is Going Down, Desolate Isle, Coming Clean & O the Depths.
7Atlas Losing Grip

Swedish punk rockers Atlas Losing Grip ambitiously expand their sound to include melodic hardcore & multiple metal sub-genres on 3rd LP 'Currents'. The technically proficient quintet then take the additional step of producing a nautical concept album over 14 tracks & 66 minutes! While overlong, it gives the band extra opportunity to showcase variety, with some catchy choruses that often recall Rise Against. Versatile guitar-work is backed by some stunning bass-lines, while the meaningful lyrics & striking vocals from Rodrigo Alfaro are always on point. Self-indulgent? Maybe. Epic? Definitely. Awesome? Hell, yes! Recommended Tracks: Sinking Ship, Nemesis, Cast Anchor & The Curse.
What Went Down

Continuing to refine their distinctive style of indie-rock, Foals deliver another excellent release with 4th LP 'What Went Down'. Produced by James Ford, the quintet are truly in synch with each other here, yet each member regularly gets to shine. The rhythm section especially deserve special praise, while it's heartening to know the band haven't forgotten their mathy roots. Engrossing & intense, no matter what the tempo of the track, all 10 songs will undoubtedly go down a treat live. Arguably their most consistent set of tunes, there may be no obvious standout, but there is also next to no filler. Recommeded Tracks: Mountain at My Gates, Albatross, London Thunder & Lonely Hunter.
9Our Last Night
Younger Dreams

Performing alt-rock leaning post-hardcore with an emphasis on melody, New Hampshire's Our Last Night hit pay-dirt on their 5th LP 'Younger Dreams'. Despite being very catchy throughout, even the poppier tracks here still hit hard. The dual vocal dynamic of the Wentworth brothers enhances diversity (as does some effective use of keys), while it's especially pleasing to see the band nail the slower tunes. It's not exactly an innovative record, but is undoubtedly satisfying to its target audience. With next to no filler, it's just a shame that the medley outro doesn't quite work. Recommended Tracks: Home, A World Divided, Road to the Throne & Forgotten Souls.
10Florence and the Machine
How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

Despite a shift in tone & approach, the captivating vocals of Florence Welch still highlight Florence & the Machine's 3rd LP 'How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful'. The horn-heavy front half is as grandiose as its predecessor, but the latter half is more restrained, with Welch's vulnerable side taking over to mixed results. Produced by Markus Dravs, there is a downplaying of rhythms, but the well-crafted melodies are simply sublime. Ultimately, this is not only a dynamic record which should bode well for the act's future, but is also a darn fine album on its own merits. Recommended Tracks: What Kind of Man, Delilah, How Big How Blue How Beautiful & Ship to Wreck.
Of Beauty and Rage

Following the divisive 'Release the Panic', Nashville alt-metal outfit Red return to longtime producer Rob Graves for their grand 5th LP 'Of Beauty and Rage'. Not only are the band's trademark orchestral arrangements restored, but the quartet get rather ambitious over the album's bloated 60 minute duration. Not exactly immediate, this dark & brooding record is a real grower that includes some genuinely heavy - & menacing - moments. Diversity is high, sounding like Muse one moment & a doom metal act the next. One thing's for certain; longtime fans will be pleased. Recommended Tracks: Darkest Part, Falling Sky, Shadow and Soul & Gravity Lies.
Behind the Devil's Back

Following a surprise hiatus, English quartet Fightstar return with a vengeance on their 4th LP 'Behind the Devil’s Back'. Including metallic riffs & thunderous drumming, this is their heaviest record yet; the raw aggression on display being astounding. Thankfully, they've far from sacrificed those killer melodies, with the dual vocal dynamic & some nifty synth additions a genuine strength. It takes a few listens to differentiate some tracks & may lack the diversity of their previous 2 albums, but with no filler over an extremely lean 37 minutes, fans are sure to love this. Recommended Tracks: Sink with the Snakes, Sharp Tongue, Animal & Overdrive.
Condition Human

Following the triumphant comeback that was 2013's self-titled release, Washington metal crew Queensryche continue to please fans with their 14th LP 'Condition Human'. Beginning as strongly as their very best albums, this accessible & deceptively catchy Chris Harris produced record has a mix of old & new; speed & progression; and heaviness & melody. Not everything works perfectly & the mid-section sags, but the quality of the dual guitar harmonies, thunderous rhythm section & Todd La Torre's soaring vocals mostly satisfy. One thing's for certain; Queensryche are well & truly back! Recommended Tracks: Arrow of Time, Guardian, Hellfire & Selfish Lives.
14I the Mighty

Read my review here: http://www.sputnikmusic.com/review/67304/I-the-Mighty-Connector/
15Icarus the Owl
Pilot Waves

Technically proficient Portland act Icarus The Owl continue to refine their distinctive sound on 4th LP 'Pilot Waves'. Reverting back to producer Stephan Hawkes, the quartet rein in their quirky time signatures a little, if far from eradicating the intricate melodic hooks. Joey Rubenstein continues to improve as a vocalist, pulling off some seriously soaring choruses here, while the superb rhythm section is ever-present. The result is that this is undoubtedly their tightest (at 40 minutes) record yet, and somehow their most diverse! Basically, these are 10 well-crafted tunes. Recommended Tracks: Skysweeper, I Am the Delorean, Prague 1842 & The Mad Machine.
Inside Out

After the passing of screamer Eric Gentry, A Feast For Kings rename themselves XXI & switch their sound from metalcore to alt-rock on their debut LP 'Inside Out'. It's a style that suits the Kentucky quartet, with their melodic sensibilities being a genuine strength. Ex-drummer Carson Butcher especially impresses on lead vocals; able to successfully lend some emotional angst to the relatable lyrics. It's far from innovative & could have done with a little more of the progressive lead guitar lines from their EP, but this is ultimately a consistent debut with some satisfying shout-along moments. Recommended Tracks: Say It Again, All I Want, Wasn't Enough & Hanging By a Thread.
17Knuckle Puck

Following a string of EPs, Chicago's Knuckle Puck finally release their much-anticipated debut LP 'Copacetic'. A nice blend of old & new, the quintet play an emo-heavy brand of pop-punk, where angsty introspective lyrics combine interestingly with predominantly upbeat music. The passionate dual vocal dynamic works well, but can still be improved, while the instrumentation is deceptively well-crafted in amongst Seth Henderson's occasionally murky production. Most impressive, however, is the variety on offer here - especially on the latter half, which closes with the excellent highlight 'Untitled'. Recommended Tracks: Untitled, Disdain, Swing & True Contrite.
18Zella Day

At just 20 years of age, LA based singer-songwriter Zella Day showcases a great deal of potential on her debut LP 'Kicker'. The Arizona native specializes in a dreamy, yet catchy, brand of indie-pop that is sufficiently diverse. Containing a retro vibe that often recalls Lana Del Rey, Day's delightfully versatile & enchanting vocals stand out amongst some fairly strong songwriting. It's fairly front-loaded & not all tracks are winners ('Mustang Kids' especially stands out like a sore thumb), but when they're preceded by a gem such as 'Hypnotic', then the missteps are easily overlooked. Recommended Tracks: Hypnotic, High, Sweet Ophelia & 1965.
19Beautiful Bodies

'Battles' is the rather exciting debut LP from Kansas City based trio Beautiful Bodies. Playing a lively & energetic brand of dance-rock, the band undoubtedly have a knack for explosive & infectious choruses. Former Get Up Kids & Gratitude drummer Thomas Becker (who doubles on guitar here) helps give the sound a solid back-bone, while Alicia Solombrino's vocals have sufficient range to suit each tune. It's fairly front-loaded & the band need to work on restraint & diversity, but ultimately this is a very enjoyable debut with next to no filler. Recommended Tracks: September 1973, Lies, Capture & Release & War Inside Your Heart.
20No Devotion

'Permanence' is the intriguing debut LP from the super-group of sorts that is No Devotion. Comprised of Thursday's Geoff Rickly fronting the Lostprophets musicians, this rhythm-heavy record is influenced by the likes of Joy Division & The Cure. Best labeled as post punk with new-wave flourishes, the atmospheric & ambient soundscapes aptly back Rickly's ethereal vocals. It takes a few listens to determine the sextet's aim, but for all of its bold diversity, this is deceptively consistent. Alex Newport's production also knows when to be raw & when to be slick, taking this multi-layered LP to the next level. Recommended Tracks: Addition, Permanent Sunlight, Eyeshadow & Stay.
Ghosts Again

Female-fronted Indianapolis based rockers ForeverAtLast refine their hard-hitting sound on 2nd LP 'Ghosts Again'. Toning down their post-hardcore influences for something a little more punkier & alternative, the quartet deliver this relentlessly energetic record at a furious pace from start to finish. This does mean that diversity is at a premium on this tight 37 minutes worth, but it also results in a very consistent & cohesive album. Lead vocalist Brittany Paris has one helluva strong voice & is ably assisted by male backing vocals on occasions. At the very least, this is a fun & promising LP. Recommended Tracks: Bad Blood, Machines, Mr. Whitecoat & Shoreline.
22Melanie Martinez

'Crybaby', the debut LP from former 'The Voice' contestant Melanie Martinez, is a dark & ambitious concept album that is very cohesive. The quirky 20 year old New Yorker interestingly uses childlike metaphors for very adult topics, making this a unique, creative & occasionally creepy record. Utilizing multiple producers, there is a cabaret-like theatricality evident here. It's a track or 3 too long & gets a little too repetitive by the end, but there is enough here to differentiate Martinez from the likes of Lana, Lorde, Gaga, et al. It really shouldn't work, but it does. Recommended Tracks: Dollhouse, Mrs. Potato Head, Alphabet Boy & Pity Party.
23Frank Turner
Positive Songs for Negative People

English singer-songwriter Frank Turner - with his backing band The Sleeping Souls - use an extremely apt title for their 6th LP 'Positive Songs for Negative People'. Arguably the inverse of predecessor 'Tape Deck Heart', most of the 12 tunes present on this Butch Walker produced album are energetic, Springsteen-influenced rockers with anthemic choruses. Rather unsubtle, the utterly direct lyrics used will turn off some listeners. As earnest as they come, the feel-good nature of this consistent & cohesive record borders on cheesy, but there's something just so engagingly likable about it all. Recommended Tracks: The Next Storm, Josephine, Get Better & Song for Josh.
Old Bones

It may not contain anything that you haven't heard before, but Broadside's debut LP 'Old Bones' could well contend for the best pop-punk record of 2015. The themes may be cliched, yet the lyrics are eminently relatable & wrapped up in impressively mature songwriting. Ollie Baxxter has a voice just made for the genre, while the dual guitar attack & driving drums are both notably versatile. All the while, infectious hooks are everywhere, with some songs feeling as if they have 2 choruses. Add sufficient diversity & you have a tight & concise 34 minutes worth that is a very enjoyable listen. Recommended Tracks: Human Machines, Coffee Talk, Come & Go and A Better Way.
25Wearing Scars
A Thousand Words

Combining both classic & modern metal influences, UK act Wearing Scars impress on their debut LP 'A Thousand Words'. Hard rock & metalcore are also explored on this 50 minute release, but there are no harsh vocals. The soaring voice of former Mutiny Within front-man Chris Clancy fits the band perfectly, while the proficient musicianship is headed by some searing Andy James guitar solos. Diversity of song structure is unfortunately at a premium, so the album does get a little samey... But there is next to no filler & many addictive choruses mean there is definitely some crossover potential here. Recommended Tracks: Become Numb, Butterfly, Waiting For the End & I Could Never Say.

Following a neglected debut, talented Californian post-hardcore act Dayseeker return with excellent 2nd LP 'Origin'. Well-produced by Nick Ingram, the sweet & sour dynamics are pulled off masterfully by the quintet. Impressive front-man Rory Rodriguez seamlessly transitions from aggressive screams to soaring melodies, while the musicians also adapt to each song with skill & precision. The heartfelt & engaging lyrics are delivered passionately, with this record just oozing atmosphere & emotion. Detailed & intricate, this is a relatively consistent & very cohesive 47 minutes worth. Recommended Tracks: The Earth Will Turn, Never See the Sun Rise, A Cancer Uncontained & Spotless Mind.
27Of Monsters and Men
Beneath the Skin

It won't sell anywhere near as well as its predecessor, but Of Monsters & Men's 2nd LP 'Beneath the Skin' is almost as good. Refining their sound, rather than reinventing it, the Icelandic quintet are not so joyous this time around, showing a lot of restraint (relatively speaking). The lush instrumental build-ups, tribal rhythms & sweet boy/girl vocal dynamic all return, while the lyrics range from deeply contemplative to absolute nonsense! It gets a bit repetitive as it progresses, but there are ultimately enough involving hooks to keep most listeners interested throughout. Recommended Tracks: Wolves Without Teeth, Crystals, Hunger & Empire.
28Four Year Strong
Four Year Strong

Read my review here: http://www.sputnikmusic.com/review/67240/Four-Year-Strong-Four-Year-Strong/
29Beach Slang
The Things We Do to Find People Who Feel

Following 2 acclaimed EPs, Philadelphian punk-rockers Beach Slang unleash their debut LP 'The Things We Do to Find People Who Feel Like Us'. Delivering more of their fuzzy 90s influenced sound, the quartet define youthful energy, with practically every track here being a relatable sing-along. And yet, lead vocalist James Snyder is in his 40s; able to pen some wise, retrospective lyrics that feel very much of-the-moment. Diversity & complexity are still at a premium & the 27 minute duration is hardly substantial, but it's difficult not to get wrapped up in such thrilling punk anthems. Recommended Tracks: Bad Art and Weirdo Ideas, Dirty Lights, Noisy Heaven & I Break Guitars.
30Lana Del Rey

Refining her nostalgically retro sound, Lana Del Rey finds a comfort zone on 'Honeymoon'. More extroverted & hooky than predecessor 'Ultraviolence', Del Rey's mesmerizing vocals return to being mixed to the forefront. Also more consistent & cohesive than 'Born to Die', the aim is seemingly to find the middle ground between those previous 2 albums. This is especially the case with the cinematic music, while the lyrics here are a little more personal than usual. It won't convert the cynics & the bloated 65 minute duration was a bad call, but this solidifying record is otherwise satisfying. Recommended Tracks: High By the Beach, Music to Watch Boys To, The Blackest Day & Salvatore.
31Neck Deep
Life's Not Out To Get You

Old-school pop-punk is the name of the game on Neck Deep's 2nd LP 'Life's Not Out to Get You'. Far from innovative, the Welsh quintet's influences are obvious, successfully taking listeners back to the early 2000s. Produced by genre stalwarts Jeremy McKinnon, Tom Denney & Andrew Wade, this is a fun & energetic record that is jam-packed full of infectious choruses. The lyrics may be cliched, but are competent & relatable, and while the album is undoubtedly front-loaded, the sufficient diversity on show during the back half is a positive sign for the band's longevity. Recommended Tracks: Can't Kick Up the Roots, Gold Steps, Lime St. & Rock Bottom.
32The Dear Hunter
Act IV: Rebirth in Reprise

After a detour or 2, imaginative multi-instrumentalist Casey Crescenzo & his band The Dear Hunter return to their ambitious concept series with 'Act IV: Rebirth in Reprise'. The broadway feel from 'Act III' is restored, in amongst the usual diverse array of genres & bold experimentation. As creative as it is grandiose, there are some truly majestic moments contained within these arrangements. The elephant in the room, however, is the 15 track, 75 minute duration, which feels a bit overwhelming at times, and results in some filler. 'Act II' remains the best in the series, but this moves into 2nd place. Recommended Tracks: A Night on the Town, Waves, Wait & The Old Haunt.
33The Weeknd
Beauty Behind the Madness

Following his divisive - & under-rated - debut LP proper, The Weeknd (Toronto's Abel Tesfaye) returns with 'Beauty Behind the Madness'. Loaded with numerous hit-making vocalists & producers, this is another crack at mainstream pop & contemporary R&B, but with Tesfaye's signature dark atmosphere & salacious lyrics. The blend of ingredients still clash a few times, but otherwise the compromise is a fascinating evolution of a talented artist with a captivating voice. It's overlong at 65 minutes in length, but for the amount of diversity evident here, it's also a fairly cohesive listen. Recommended Tracks: Can't Feel My Face, Angel, In the Night & The Hills.
34Meg Myers

Read my review here: http://www.sputnikmusic.com/review/68619/Meg-Myers-Sorry/
35Agent Fresco

5 years after their superb debut, Icelandic prog-rockers Agent Fresco deliver more of their dynamic genre-meshing on 2nd LP 'Destrier'. While it never reaches the heights of its predecessor, this front-loaded album is a real grower as its atmospheric qualities eventually take hold. There's also some genuinely heavy moments included, but they're promptly counter-balanced by some gorgeous piano melodies & Arnor Dan Arnarson's majestic voice. It's kind of disappointing that this talented quartet haven't released the classic that they're capable of, but it's difficult to dislike a record so diverse, ambitious & creative. Recommended Tracks: Dark Water, Howls, See Hell & Destrier.

Proving that 'All I Was' was not a one-off, Alter Bridge guitarist Mark Tremonti & his band are back with the moniker's 2nd LP 'Cauterize'. This is a lyrically darker & more introspective beast than its predecessor, but that doesn't stop the now quartet (having added bassist Wolfgang Van Halen) from combining its 2 paramount traits of heaviness & melody to good effect. Not only has Tremonti's vocals improved markedly, but as has Garrett Whitlock's punchy drumming. There's still a predictability to the song structures, but this satisfying record contains no filler & suggests that the act are here to stay. Recommended Tracks: Another Heart, Cauterize, Radical Change & Sympathy.

Following a 6 year studio absence, tricky to classify Danish act Mew return with their 6th LP '+-'. Back to being a quartet with the restoration of bassist Johan Wohlert, this may be the versatile acts most refined & accessible record yet. Of course, that's all relative, since this grower is still almost an hour in length, includes esoteric lyrics & contains meticulously detailed melodies. While Jonas Bjerre's distinctively angelic falsetto lends a dreamy & shimmering aesthetic, the musicians equally play their part to make this a charming & endearing album. Recommended Tracks: Satellites, My Complications, Witness & Water Slides.
38The Wonder Years
No Closer to Heaven

While it doesn't best ‘The Greatest Generation’, Pennsylvanian veterans The Wonder Years continue to evolve on 5th LP 'No Closer to Heaven'. Not as immediate as usual, the sextet siphon out more of their pop-punk roots, resulting in a real grower. Dan Campbell's emotional vocals deliver many thought-provoking lyrics, most of which somberly relate to death. While Steve Evetts' rather raw production fits the mood, it does mean that some tracks blur together & don't stick in the memory as much as they should. This record, however, is worth spending time with. Recommended Tracks: I Don't Like Who I Was Then, Cigarettes & Saints, A Song for Ernest Hemingway & I Wanted So Badly to Be Brave.
39The Story So Far
The Story So Far

Unlikely to win over many new fans, Californian pop-punk act The Story So Far don't attempt to flip the script on their self-titled 3rd LP. Another concise & predictably consistent 30 minutes worth, the quintet occasionally enter cruise-control mode, but are almost always deceptively catchy. Never-smiling front-man Parker Cannon continues his enraged & resentful narration of his relationship woes, while the musicians successfully keep along to the rapid-fire pace. Diversity may be at a premium here, but this record will ultimately satisfy the band's growing number of fans. Recommended Tracks: Nerve, Heavy Gloom, Distaste & Solo.
40The Early November

New Jersey rockers The Early November appear to have found their natural sound on 4th LP 'Imbue'. Continuing to evolve since their career-defining hiatus, the quintet play accessible power-pop with enough energy & diversity to stand out from the pack. Not only have the vocals of Arthur 'Ace' Enders improved, but his production here is also notable, especially when it comes to highlighting some fantastic guitar tones. The album begins well, but is ultimately an extremely consistent & cohesive record, even if it could do with a home run hit. Recommended Tracks: Narrow Mouth, Nothing Lasts Forever, Magnolia & The Negatives.
41Dance Gavin Dance
Instant Gratification

Line-up change plagued Californian quintet Dance Gavin Dance feel like they've settled down on 6th LP 'Instant Gratification'. Following a divisive predecessor, the mathy post-hardcore act wisely reunite with producer Kris Crummett & almost look to summarize their entire career here. Tilian Person's piercingly high clean vocals mesh well enough with screamer Jon Mess, while the technically proficient guitar-work pleasingly includes a jazzy progressive nature. Diversity may well be at a premium & some of the lyrics border on cringeworthy, but this is ultimately a fairly strong record. Recommended Tracks: We Own the Night, Lost, The Cuddler & Stroke God Millionaire.
Run Wild

Seven years on from their cult hit 'Illuminate', Arizonan indie outfit Lydia continue their progression to a slightly poppier sound on 5th LP 'Run Wild'. Co-produced by Aaron Marsh & Colby Wedgeworth, the band use a variety of techniques to fill out their deceptively layered soundscapes. Meanwhile, out front, one can't help but be drawn into the lyrics by the distinctive soothing vocals of Leighton Antelman. A tight 36 minutes worth, this is a consistent & cohesive record that may not be immediate, but seems to grow on the listener with each subsequent listen. Recommended Tracks: Past Life, Georgia, The Sounds In Your Dream & Riverman.
Every Open Eye

Scottish outfit Chvrches refine their 80s influenced synth-pop on their self-produced 2nd LP 'Every Open Eye'. Getting off to a cracking start, the first 2 tracks go close to matching the highlights from their darker debut. With a brighter sound here, this is a consistent set of 11 tunes, where the trio sound especially confident & comfortable. There aren't too many risks taken & the production may be a little too slick for its own good at times, but with Lauren Mayberry's sweet vocals continuing to endear, this is still better than the majority of the band's peers. Recommended Tracks: Leave a Trace, Never Ending Circles, Playing Dead & Clearest Blue.
You Were Never Alone

Taking pieces from their entire discography, post-hardcore veterans Emery continue to satisfy fans on their 6th LP 'You Were Never Alone'. Beginning in schizophrenic fashion, the record soon settles down & is all the better for the return of co-vocalist Devin Shelton. Produced in relatively raw fashion, the trademark overlaying vocal harmonies initially mask some fantastic guitar & bass-lines. It may not be as immediate or memorable as their best work, but there are melodies everywhere here, resulting in yet another strong record with excellent lasting value. Recommended Tracks: Taken for a Bath, Hard Times, Rock Pebble Stone & To the Deep.
45The Getaway Plan
Dark Horses

One of the more unexpected turns of 2015 is The Getaway Plan's 3rd LP 'Dark Horses'. Independently recorded & released, the Melbourne rockers have made absolutely no compromises whatsoever on this mature & extremely ambitious album. Expansive soundscapes, unpredictable song structures & rather dark lyrics make for an absorbing listen for the most part, although the record is undoubtedly overlong at 62 minutes. Difficult to rate since not everything hits the mark, the whole is better than the sum of its parts here, on an LP which the quartet have clearly poured their blood, sweat & tears into. Recommended Tracks: Exodus, Battleships, Last Words & Landscapes.
Deep In The Iris

Read my review here: http://www.sputnikmusic.com/review/66913/Braids-Deep-In-The-Iris/
47Mayday Parade
Black Lines

Eschewing comfort & familiarity, Floridian quintet Mayday Parade look to branch out on their 5th LP 'Black Lines'. Produced by Mike Sapone, this is a surprising evolution that unapologetically leans more to raw & intense emo, than slick & catchy pop-punk. Recalling the likes of Brand New & Taking Back Sunday, this is a gritty, emotional & aggressive record, with front-man Derek Sanders sounding as if he stepped right out of the 90s. It's uneven (the slower songs need work) & it could alienate loyal fans, but this brave LP includes some genuinely dynamic song-writing that is too good to ignore. Recommended Tracks: One of Us, All on Me, One of Them... & Keep in Mind....
I Am Alive In Everything I Touch

Prolific post-hardcore veterans Silverstein continue to deliver on 8th LP 'I Am Alive in Everything I Touch'. Taking parts from their entire discography, this is unmistakably Silverstein, with the quintet not reinventing the wheel. That said, variety is sufficient on this loose 4 part concept album that is genuinely heavy at times & almost always catchy. The musicianship is proficient without seeking attention, while vocalist Shane Told is as versatile as ever. The rather flat production, however, is both a pro & a con, lending some raw grit, but also inhibiting crossover potential. Recommended Tracks: A Midwestern State of Emergency, Je me Souviens, Milestone & Face of the Earth.
I, No Longer

Buffalo quartet Pentimento mature & progress on their 2nd LP 'I, No Longer'. Recalling Jimmy Eat World at their most moody, this record took a while to sink in, but is a real grower. The raw, emotional & vulnerable lyrics will resonate with many, while there are some gorgeous guitar tones evident. The album is far from catchy & it's back half fades into the background a little, but the band occasionally integrate some memorable hooks in seamless fashion. If Pentimento can harness this combination in the future - as they do on 'Sink or Swim' - then a classic could well be the result! Recommended Tracks: Sink or Swim, Clever Reason, Stuck Forever & My Solution is in the Lake.
50City and Colour
If I Should Go Before You

Canadian singer-songwriter Dallas Green continues to refine the full band sound of his City and Colour project on 5th LP 'If I Should Go Before You'. Using his touring band as musicians, this stil cohesive record is quite diverse from a genre standpoint, with both blues & country being strong influences. On the downside, the tempo rarely deviates through its 51 minutes, while the lyrics might have taken a slight quality dip. That's more than made up for instrumentally, however, while Green's vocals are as flawless as ever. Always consistent, Green wouldn't know how to serve up filler. Recommended Tracks: Blood, Wasted Love, Woman & Mizzy C.
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