This is a list of albums that came out this year. Albums that I think deserve more love than they got from the writers and content farms that informed us, as fans of music, in 2015. I purposely didn't try to pick out the most obscure bands in the world - I just picked albums that I really love listening to that didn't get the attention I felt they deserved. No agenda, just a filter that is based on artistic merit and my own humble opinion.

This fickle industry is built upon a foundation of nepotism, so it's perfectly reasonable to expect great albums to fall between the cracks. The point is, it should be part of our job to search for those albums, to help people like you to discover them. I believe music deserves to be treated differently based on merit, that each publication builds identity and trust on the back of the quality of music it supports, or indeed, the music that it doesn't support at all. What has happened though, for sites that cannot afford to pay for objectivity, is based on the perfectly natural desire of writers wanting to write about the things they like. As a result, instead of differentiating between music that is good and bad, you have a system where fans write about the things they are fans of. Not everything is great, incredible, or indeed the best yet... but you can find someone who likes pretty much anything. Everything gets hyped equally, everything gets equal space, everything gets drowned out, and every single solid word that is published slowly loses any value it had.

Instead of opting out entirely, the only way I can think to counter this trend is to focus on the things that have been left behind. Music that I believe in, that for whatever reason, missed out on love and/or critical attention. The problem comes when you try to assemble a list like this, because of the angle of it, you focus on the reasons why they missed out and forget to explain why they deserved it in the first place. The first draft could've easily been titled "What the fuck is wrong with you, this is great" but that wouldn't have helped anyone.

I guess this is the point. We have access to so much, we either focus on a few albums that grab us, or we try to focus on everything at once. Either way, we as fans cannot give every piece of music the attention it warrants on our own, there's too much. We're inundated and we need help to find the best music, this is my attempt to help you do that. I hope this list serves to remind you of some albums that you've been meaning to revisit, and maybe some albums you hadn't heard, most of all I hope you find something you love.

- William Caston Cook



Lonelady - Hinterland

I've tried and failed to write about Lonelady's Hinterland, failed mainly because I can't keep my concentration whilst it plays, I lose myself in the intricate patterns and before I know it the beat has got me, my eyes are closed and I'm dancing in front of my laptop. The technique that Julie Campbell uses works without fail: establish the bassline/beat and then build on top of it with layers and layers of instrumentation, swirl in ever increasing circles until we're all caught up in it. I can't help but feel that if Hinterland was released in any other time than now that it would be lauded as a classic album.



Kill The Vultures - Carnelian

It's rare for hip-hop as cerebral as Carnelian to make you engage with it in the way that it does. For god knows how long, the smartest hip-hop has seemingly been drifting towards the most boring. Kill the Vultures, however, have taken their nearly 20 years of experience and made the most concise and rewarding album of their career. It's all chopped up jazz samples and heavy beats, it's a hip-hop album that makes you want to dance without a small part of your soul dying inside you.



Deradoorian - The Expanding Flower Planet

I'd wager that Angel Deradoorian has played on several of your favourite albums over the last few years, now she's made an album of her own, that is better than the sum of all of those parts. I rate this much higher than Bitte Orca - which is the pinnacle of albums you say you love but hardly ever listen to. The Expanding Flower Planet however, is not just complex and beautiful pop music, it's complex and beautiful and for once it's also easy to listen to. Once it gets under your skin it will stay there, I don't know how long for, because I'm four months in and still not at that point.



Good Moon Deer - Dot

On Dot, Guðmundur Ingi Úlfarsson takes you on a 44 minute trip through electronic music that sits somewhere between Prefuse 73 and Pantha Du Prince. Anxiety fuelled to the point that it makes you restless, but enjoyably engaging enough to make you want to disappear for its duration, each time you start listening. It's so great that young Icelandic artists aren't just pandering towards the already successful, that they are creating music like this and pushing the boundaries even further, it's great and we should be celebrating it more than we are.



Pat Jordache - Steps

Steps took Pat Jordache three years to make, and all the way through it you can hear reasons why that was a good and valid use of his time. Essentially, it's all the best things about music from the eighties, but produced really well. The guy used to be in a band with Merrill from Tuneyards, which I have to mention, or else I get thrown under the bus and fail music twattery 101. Bullshit aside, it's a great album that nobody seemed to get hyped about, which is a massive massive shame.



Elvis Depressedly - New Alhambra

One thing I hate more than everything is how the music of Elvis Depressedly is consistently labelled as being lo-fi. Fuck that. New Alhambra is a goddamn sonic dream wtf is wrong with you. It's an album full of beautiful indie pop music so perfect that it can make any scene seem like a dream, or like you're in some montage from a film that you never felt cool enough to star in, it's just this makes you feel like you are. I want nothing but sweet sweet self sufficiency and no struggle for this band.



Ian William Craig - Cradle For The Wanting

This is not your average ambient album. As every review will tell you, all sounds are made by human voice, tape loops, and techniques I don't care to understand. Although I am very interested in the results, because it is unique, for as much as it matters. Filled with the nuances inherent in the human telling of what we are conditioned to expect as a digital story. The way it ebbs and flows, building and collapsing with each intake of air, render it incomparable. It's a special album that really needs to be shouted about, the issue is that it probably appeals most to introverts, and they are the least likely to stamp their feet and yell about anything.



The Declining Winter - Home For Lost Souls

Richard Adams of "holy shit it's the guy from Hood" fame, released this album earlier in the year and although the vinyl keeps selling out, it didn't get the critical attention that an album of its quality deserved. An album of layered guitars, soft vocals, of slowly growing soundscapes. It's been described as melancholic, but I think that's disingenuous. It's a machine that stops time and allows reflection for its duration, whether you are uplifted or saddened by the things your brain presents is up to you, the music simply gives you the opportunity to find out and dwell on it.



Urvanovic - Amateurs

Urvanovic are homegrown, and they make beautifully orchestrated, perfectly tempered, indie pop music that activates both the feelings and the brain. The songs on Amateurs compare to Anathallo, Efterklang, Idlewild, Sufjan at a push. It's not as immediate as we demand pop music to be, but simply, it is one of the most rewarding albums to emerge from the UK this year.



Perils - Perils

Perils are the duo of Kyle Bobby Dunn and Benoit Pioulard, who both have their own passionate fan base within the drone/ambient scene, which probably makes this some sort of ambient supergroup if you need those kind of labels to engage with things. Their styles blend together so naturally on this album that you couldn't begin to pull them apart, the human voice and drone, together as one. As a singular journey, I've found it more rewarding than Pioulard's solo album, Sonnet, which itself is a wonderful thing to listen to.



Rival Consoles - Howl

In a similar way to Immunity by Jon Hopkins, Howl is deep, a cerebral dance album of staggering scope, full of humanity and richer for it. It's not an album I talk about regularly but I listen to it all the time, it's a transformative piece of music, it allows your brain to draw a line under whatever is consuming it. You can dwell on those things here, or you can forget about them entirely, the point is that it'll be ok. Maybe just turn the music up louder.



Jaga Jazzist - Starfire

Jaga Jazzist are so fucking everything it hurts, honestly, they should be revered as one of the greatest instrumental bands of all time, but they're not. I would wager that if they were born in Brooklyn instead of Norway then the record would show as such. Starfire is their fourth album on Ninja Tune and one of the most criminally overlooked albums of the year. It's got to the point where they're now victims of their own longevity, they've been typecast by folks who judged them years ago and moved onto the next thing. They've already been consumed. Which is kind of ridiculous, but regardless, please listen to Starfire as loud as your system allows. Just give it the first four minutes and see how you feel.



Danielle Fricke - Moon

On Moon, the silence is as important as the sound, the subtle strength of the music is heightened by the space surrounding its sparse soundscapes. Danielle Fricke creates another world for us to stare at in wonderment. Like a slowcore Sharon Van Etten, or Keaton Henson's acoustic songs with added payoff, or any other comparison that helps to make you want to engage with this album. I'll say whatever works, whatever hooks you in, because ultimately the experience of listening to this music is all that I'm hawking. I've listened at least once a day for the last couple of months and each time is still as rewarding as the first time I heard it. I want to invent new ways of talking about music this good so that it stands apart from the noise of hyperbole.




Obviously, there are loads of artists and albums that didn't make this list that deserve more love. I could've written about Bones by Son Lux, which is one of the most engaging pop records of recent years and seems to have been forgotten from the end of year parade. Similarly ignored was The Good Fight by Oddisee which is an incredible hip hop album. Or the output of Memphis Industries, who put out notable records by Slug and Dutch Uncles this year. Audio Antihero, who released Kind Of Blah by Frog and Last by Low Low Low La La La Love Love Love which will forever be one of my favourites. The list goes on etc etc forever and ever amen. Feel free to share links to music you think deserved more in the comments section.

Oh, I made a spotify playlist with a few more on if that's your thing.