Author Various

The Best 35 Albums of 2015: 10 – 1

It’s come to that time of year again where we have the mammoth task of summarising a years worth of quality rock, metal and punk. It’s been tough task as 2015 has been a blinding year across the spectrum of major label, independent and fan funded releases. Enjoy and check out any you’ve missed. We’ll take any thanks in the form of pints of cold beer.

Contributions from: Nix Cooper (NC), Tom Mimnagh (TM), Steve Brixey (SB), Dan Stent (DS), Andy Close (AC), Mark Granger (MG) and Karl Eisenhauer (KA).

10. Frank Turner – “Positive Songs For Negative People”

Following on from 2013’s Tape Deck Heart, Positive Songs for Negative People marks a leap forward for Frank Turner’s already distinctive sound, opting for a more Springsteen-esque vibe, capable of filling increasingly large venues, as witnessed by his recent triumphant performance at Alexandra Palace. Positive Songs for Negative People has a number of stand-out tracks, with The Next Storm, Get Better, Josephine, and Out of Breath providing particular highlights. However, perhaps the track most emblematic of Turner’s widespread appeal is Silent Key, a fictional narrative of the final moments of the lives of the crew of the doomed Challenger space mission in 1986, showing his ability to weave brilliantly unique ideas into his songs, coupled with a an honest and raw emotion that permeates every corner of the album. A much more positive, uplifting affair than TDH, Positive Songs for Negative People showcases another string to Turner’s already very accomplished bow. (TM)

9. Faith No More – “Sol Invictus”

Oh, it’s good to have them back. Picking straight up where 1997’s Album of the Year left off, Sol Invictus is every bit as twisted, funny and uncompromising as you dared dream it would be. Always innovative and always experimental, Faith No More succeed so completely on the eleven tracks here because they still sound like nothing else on this planet. There is something truly special about the music these five make together and tracks like the schizophrenic Superhero or the oddball Cone of Shame show exactly why Mike Patton remains one the most unique vocalists in rock. An album truly worthy of the Faith No More name. Hello, motherfuckers. (SB)

8. The Amorettes – “Game On”

Barrelling out of the northlands like there’s no tomorrow, the Amorettes set themselves up as Scotland’s answer to first album Airbourne with a stormer of a second album. The song titles are almost AC/DC level obvious but when you’ve got such a knack for killer riffs and tunes, that really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that this is a damn good rock album and if it doesn’t induce you to nod your head and grin like an idiot then you’re probably dead. (AC)

7. The Scaramanga Six – “The Terrifying Dream”

One of the British underground’s best kept secrets, The Scaramanga Six returned this year with their eighth studio album and it’s an absolute corker. Multi-layered, brooding and overflowing with atmosphere, this is not a conventional record, despite what your first impressions may be. Tracks like Citadel are epic beasts which suddenly head off on unexpected tangents, while even the poppier moments like Out Of My Tiny Mind have hidden depths. Make no mistake, this is not a straightforward listen as the Six’s ‘evil pop’ is accompanied by lyrics covering a whole host of nightmarish topics including death and haunting visions. Having said that, their lyrical nous and song-writing talent is abundantly clear. This is an album you’ll keep coming back to time and time again. (DS)

6. God Damn – “Vultures”

‘Vultures’, the début album from this Wolverhampton duo, delivers on all the promises their EPs made and then some. From the moment ‘When The Wind Blows’ tears out of the gates you know that you’re in for something special. Ash Weaver’s titanic drumming and Thom Edwards wall of sound guitars are something that will be familiar to those who’ve witnessed the band’s tear your face off approach to the live experience, but here a new dimension is introduced. Throughout ‘Vultures’ their sound runs the sonic gamut, fully utilising Thom’s live experiments with feedback and pedals and wrestling them into an aural cornucopia, ranging from odd psychedelic moments to beautiful art-noise. One minute these boys are in your local sweat-box, the next they’re playing with the Foo Fighters or on showcases for the BBC. See them live, buy the album, then get everything they’ve done and discover a band that are going places. (MG)

5. Role Models – “The Go To Guy”

It’s been a long time coming, but the debut album proper from Rich Rags’ mob certainly delivers the goods. A handful of singles and a good half a decade on the live circuit have seen Role Models hone their craft to the point where there are few bands who deliver this kind of punky, bar room rock as well as they do. The Go to Guy captures Role Models sound in all its brilliant, whiskey soaked glory. If you’re a fan of bands like The Replacements, you’ll find a lot to love here on raw, melodic tracks like Cherry Dear, Saturday Night Sailor and Lie For Today. And just to reinforce their rock ‘n’ roll pedigree, The Go To Guy even features guest appearances from The Loyalties Rich Jones and Hanoi Rock Sami Yaffa. Get your mates round, grab a drink and turn this one up. You know where to go. (SB)

4. The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing – “Not Your Typical Victorians”

Third album from Britain’s premier steampunk band and it shows that they’re continuing to grow in confidence and ability all the time. From the straightforward punk of the title track (albeit with a serious message about stereotyping behind the humour), “Not Your Typical Victorians” takes in everything from lurching Tom Waits style observations through British invasion style pop rock to thundering doom metal in one weird, wonderful and warped package. Lord only knows where they go next but we’re sure as hell looking forward to finding out. (AC)

3. Therapy? – “Disquiet”

“Disquiet” sees a welcome return to the much nastier, angrier and cutting side of Therapy?. Cairns has described Disquiet as Troublegum’s 20 year older cousin, and there’s definitely a few riffs that are semi-recognisable here – Helpless Still Lost and Insecurity definitely bear a slight resemblance to “Unbeliever” and “Isolation” respectively, while “Good News Is No News” could almost be “Turn”’s more cantankerous older relative. (AC)

2. The Darkness – “Last Of Our Kind”

That The Darkness have now reached album number four should in theory see of the skeptics who still think it’s all a joke. Then again, it was, just not one they were ever in on. Last of Our Kind, save for its rampaging opener about invading norsemen, is a grimmer record that the band’s previous efforts, it’s also more adventurous, explicit and naked effort than its predecessors. Fans of Justin’s wordplay and cabaret act may be disappointed by the more sedate approach, but in place comes a diversity and a range of influences outside the realm of retro glam rock revivalism. Rarely has the band sounded quite so nasty as on the pulsating Mighty Wings, as epic in scale as the guitar-driven Roaring Waters or as stripped back as Hammer & Tongs. The gloves are off and The Darkness have come out swinging. (KE)

1. Eureka Machines – “Brain Waves”

They’ve done it again. Eureka Machines kicked off their 2nd fan funded album effort last year and hit their target within a couple of hours. As a standalone album, it’s utterly stunning but with the additional extras that were available in the fan funded campaign, you can’t help but think that EM’s truly have got the Midas touch (even making the likes of Taylor Swift palatable to a rock crowd with a cover of ‘Shake It Off’). Not for the first time in their career, Eureka Machines have set the bar high for their next effort. Brain Waves has got everything we’ve come to expect from the band – killer melodies and hooks, thought provoking lyrics and the ability to experiment, while never straying from being ultra-listenable. Top stuff. Top tunes: “Brain Waves”, “The Golden Lonely” and “Welcome To My Shangri-La”. (AC/NC)

The Best 35 Albums of 2015

It’s come to that time of year again where we have the mammoth task of summarising a years worth of quality rock, metal and punk. It’s been tough task as 2015 has been a blinding year across the spectrum of major label, independent and fan funded releases. Enjoy and check out any you’ve missed. We’ll take any thanks in the form of pints of cold beer.

Contributions from: Nix Cooper (NC), Tom Mimnagh (TM), Steve Brixey (SB), Dan Stent (DS), Andy Close (AC), Mark Granger (MG) and Karl Eisenhauer (KA).

The Best 35 Albums of 2015: 35 – 25

It’s come to that time of year again where we have the mammoth task of summarising a years worth of quality rock, metal and punk. It’s been tough task as 2015 has been a blinding year across the spectrum of major label, independent and fan funded releases. Enjoy and check out any you’ve missed. We’ll take any thanks in the form of pints of cold beer.

Contributions from: Nix Cooper (NC), Tom Mimnagh (TM), Steve Brixey (SB), Dan Stent (DS), Andy Close (AC), Mark Granger (MG) and Karl Eisenhauer (KA).

35. The Crunch – “Brand New Brand”

Now expanded to a five piece, the Crunch’s second album “Brand New Brand” saw them concentrating on their strengths as a band as it veered from fired up gutter-punk through laid back country rock with even the odd reggae rhythm turning up. Overall it was a solid and consistent album and a worthy follow up to its predecessor. (AC)

34. Trucker Diablo – “Rise Above The Noise”

Trucker Diablo hail from Armagh in Ireland. Which on listening to their latest album may come as something as a surprise, as the ten tracks on offer here boast the sort of colossal riffs and don’t give a fuck attitude that would sound more at home in the deep south of the US of A – and I mean that in a good way. “Rise Above The Noise” is loaded with outrageously huge hard rock tunes, from beer guzzling monsters like “Party Like They Started The End Of The World” to defiant anthems like “We Stand Strong”. They even find time to throw in a few lighters in the air moments for good measure, like the touching “Where Angels Fly”. After they nearly called it a day last year, it’s great to see the big truck still rolling. (SB)

33. Diamond Dogs – “Quitters and Complainers”

Unfortunately, “Quitters And Complainers” would turn out to be the Diamond Dogs’ final album after a twenty year plus career but at least they went out on a high note by delivering something well up to their usual standards. Good time bar room rock ‘n’ roll with a bluesy tint and songs aplenty. They will be missed. (AC)

32. Imperial State Electric – “Honk Machine”

Having previously established a reputation as being raw stripped down garage rock ‘n’ rollers, Imperial State Electric’s fourth album proved that they’ve got more strings to their bow than folks were giving them credit for. From the Monkees style pure pop of “Maybe You’re Right” to the big Elvis style gospel singalong of “Walk On By”, this was a good varied effort and the band’s strongest album to date. (AC)

31. The St Pierre Snake Invasion – “A Hundred Years A Day”

Longtime readers of Pure Rawk will likely have seen some of the many live reviews we have put together on The St Pierre Snake Invasion, who have been quietly (or not so quietly I suppose) gaining a cult following on the UK Independent music scene. As such, their debut album A Hundred Years A Day, released earlier this year, was a very welcome sight, and it does not disappoint. Filled with the sort of venom and we have come to expect from them A Hundred Years a Day is a fantastic record, incorporating live favourites like If The Only Way is Essex You Can Kill Me Now, Rock ‘n’ Roll Workshops, Jesus Mary and Joseph Talbot, and Sex Dungeons and Dragons, with the fury of new tracks like Thanks, But the Answer’s No, and the brilliantly named David Ickerumba. It’s an album with something to say, which is something all too rare these days, and even rarer still an album that manages to distill the live experience of one of their gigs onto a record without losing the energy and action the band produce every time they take to the stage. (TM)

30. The Sick Livers – “Mid Liver Crisis”

First full length effort from Rumney’s answer to Turbonegro and it proved that they’re a band getting leaner, meaner and just out and out better all the time. Dark, deranged and full of killer riffs and tunes, make no mistake this was the Sick Livers announcing their arrival as serious players on the scene in the sort of fun ‘n’ filthy way that only they can. (AC)

29. Love Buzzard – “Antifistamines”

If you’re looking for a polished, clean sound you’re definitely in the wrong place. Scuzzy, frenetic and relentless, the Love Buzzard debut album “Antifistamines” is a triumphant slab of intense, psychedelic, garage rock. From the punk-Sabbath in a garage (Cash), to the acid-scuzz of Origins, Love Buzzard deserve to be up there with the likes of fellow two-piece acts, God Damn and Slaves. Over these 13 tracks they mix it up just enough to keep you interested throughout. They’re certainly one to keep a close eye on. (DS)

28. Electric Six – “Bitch, Don’t Let Me Die!”

Eleven albums in and there’s still no sign of Dick Valentine and co growing old gracefully or getting even remotely sensible. And let’s be honest, we wouldn’t have ’em any other way. From demented rockabilly to glammed up stadium rock, Electric Six pretty much cover all the bases in their own inimitable style. Did we mention there’s a six minute concept rock opera on there about a Santa imitator falling to his death on a bed of spikes called “Big Red Arthur” on there? Well, now you’ve got another reason to go and buy it. (AC)

27. InMe – “Trilogy: Dawn”

‘Trilogy:Dawn’ is an example of how a band can release an album that barely puts a foot wrong and still remain inexplicably un-massive (yep, I’m making the choice of using the phrase un-massive). Progressive, hook filled, epic, heavy, poppy, glorious, a masterclass in dynamic song-writing. In a world where Muse sell out stadiums and InMe essentially do a much better version of what Muse do, they should be conquering the universe. This is the best thing the band have ever done, with songs ranging from electronica influenced pop rock (Amnesty: Bonsai Forest) to heavy prog (Hymn: Ivory Elder) and all out epic rock (Reverie: Aquarium). Join the InMe army and help make sure that one day, they do conquer the universe. (MG)

26. Steak Number Eight – “Kosmokoma”

The youthful Belgian atmospheric sludge, noise merchants pop out an utterly stunning fourth effort. There’s a lot of push and pull on this record with aggressive, technical metal sections to almost proggy, epic soundscapes. Top tracks are “Return of the Kolomon”, “Your Soul Deserves To Die Twice” and “Gravity Giants”. Slap them with all the descriptive labels you want – the only thing that matters is this lot know what they’re doing and it’s bloody exciting to see where they’re taking it. Meaty as fuck. (NC)

25. And So I Watch You From Afar – “Heirs”

Possibly one of the most unique bands to make it onto this list (and that really is saying something) And So I Watch You From Afar released their fourth studio album, the follow up the brilliant All Hail Bright Futures. Heirs is a different beast, taking the signature sound of ASIWYFA and boosting it into the stratosphere, with big hooks, catchy choruses, and managing to traverse that most tricky line of being credible but still making music that people can dance along to. There is a certain euphoric quality to some of the tracks on Heirs which I think really marks it out as a very different proposition, such as on Redesigned a Million times, where they sound almost like a cross between Cardiacs and The Polyphonic Spree. Whereas on tracks like Fucking Lifer, they demonstrate an ability to cater to a wider audience with something more akin to Two Door Cinema Club, but better. Heirs has a real positive energy to it, but they still manage to rock out on the likes of A Beacon, A Compass, An Anchor, while Animal Ghosts is frankly unlike anything I’ve ever heard before. They are such a unique proposition, and while this may be their most accessible album to date, I would argue it is by far their best. (TM)

The Best 35 Albums of 2015: 24 – 11

It’s come to that time of year again where we have the mammoth task of summarising a years worth of quality rock, metal and punk. It’s been tough task as 2015 has been a blinding year across the spectrum of major label, independent and fan funded releases. Enjoy and check out any you’ve missed. We’ll take any thanks in the form of pints of cold beer.

Contributions from: Nix Cooper (NC), Tom Mimnagh (TM), Steve Brixey (SB), Dan Stent (DS), Andy Close (AC), Mark Granger (MG) and Karl Eisenhauer (KA).

24. Danko Jones – “Fire Music”

Tight, fast and vicious with attitude oozing out of every lyric and riff, it’s everything you’d want in a rock album to put a smile on your face after a bad day. All eleven of the songs on “Fire Music” are pure energy, from the sinister Danzig-indebted “I Will Break Your Heart” and “She Ain’t Comin’ Home”, to the pure punk energy of “Watch You Slide” and “Piranha”. 35 minutes of pure energy which doesn’t think of letting up for one second. (AC)

23. Michael Monroe – “Blackout States”

Solo album number three from Mr Monroe and it’s up to the same high standards of his previous two – tight as you like garage rock ‘n’ roll from the heart. While the likes of “The Bastards’ Bash” and “This Ain’t A Love Song” were pure in your face rock ‘n’ roll, “Old Kings’ Road” and “Dead Hearts On Denmark Street” were a regretful look at a London that doesn’t seem to exist any more and all the more poignant for it. All in all, Monroe hit a hat trick with all the ease of Phil “The Power” Taylor netting 180 on the dartboard with this one. (AC)

22. Atomic Suplex – “14 Inches of Fist”

“When I say I’m a dick, you best believe I’m a Dick. D.I.K.”. I defy anyone not to be instantly intrigued by that as the opening line of an album, and the breakneck pace of the riff, and the twenty odd minutes that follow is something very special indeed. There’s something wonderfully dirty, sleazy, and absolutely punk about Atomic Suplex, and it’s everywhere on 14 Inches of Fist. From that incredible opening through tracks like Set it on Fire, Firing Line, S.U.P.L.E.X, and Ass Technica, every song moves at frankly breakneck speed, really packing a punch. Imagine a band like The Hives cross pollinated with The MC5, and then set alight, and the ashes shot up intravenously and you get a beginning of the filth and the fury that are Atomic Suplex. Every track oozes an anti-authoritarian swagger, and reckless, exhilarating energy that makes for one hell of a record. (TM)

21. Quireboys – “St Cecilia And The Gypsy Soul”

Although there’s not a lot in terms of surprises here, that was never the point with The Quireboys. Ultimately, St Cecilia And The Gypsy Soul is a nice relaxed laid back affair that you can just imagine soundtracking a lazy summer evening sat in the back garden firing up the barbecue with some friends and a crate of cold drinks on standby to keep you all ticking over. Honestly, what’s not to like about that? In a nutshell, another great Quireboys album. (AC)

20. Dirt Box Disco – “Only In It For The Money”

Now on their fourth album, “Only In It For The Money” saw Derby’s most deranged denizens slinging out another prime time slice of old school rock ‘n’ roll just like it was Soho circa 1985 all over again. While the song titles might suggest a bunch of boozed-up boneheads, the key is that these guys have a way with a catchy hook and tune that reminds you of the Buzzcocks back in their prime. Definitely a band that you urgently need to check out if you’ve not done so already. (AC)

19. Dan Reed – “Transmission”

Abandoning the dog-eat-dog world of corporate rock for something altogether more zen, Dan Reed’s retreat into solo album territory is proving a wise career change. Transmission like so many great records, frees itself of its creator and instead invites the listener to lose themselves in the music. Transmission is an organic, warm and lush forest of thought-provoking lyrics and soft melodies. (KE)

18. GUN – “Frantic”

It’s not quite the greatest comeback since Lazarus, but the reformation of 90s rockers Gun into modern day guitar heroes is one of the highlights of the year. Uplifting opener ‘Let it Shine’, singalong charmer ‘One Wrong Turn’ and the stalwart optimism of ‘Hold Your Head Up’ are all tracks which one heard will feel like they’ve been with you for years. Frantic is a ten-track marvel of resolute and ego-free songwriting. In these troubled times, music remains our greatest saviour. Do yourself a favour and introduce this one to your stereo. (KE)

17. Europe – “War Of Kings”

War of Kings represents the band’s fifth new release since reuniting in 2003, and like their surprisingly spunky comeback album Start From The Dark, it’s a record you won’t see coming. This time around the Scandinavian high rollers have gone full circle, with a sound inspired by their childhood heroes Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin. The album’s blues rock roots reveal both a spiritual and emotional link to the album-oriented approach of its elders. These are songs constructed not for instant gratification, but intended for the long play. Great stuff. (KE)

16. Brawlers – “Romantic Errors of Our Youth”

Energy, hooks, brevity. That’s what you get with Brawlers. Romantic Errors of Our Youth is less than 30 minutes long and each song is a burst of melody fuelled pop punk carnage. Clearly sticklers for the ‘Don’t bore us…’ rule of song-writing, no sooner do we get into a verse do they ram huge hook of a chorus in your brain. Highlights? ‘Annabel’, ‘Drink and Dial’, ‘High Again’, hell every song on this album will put a smile on your face and have you dancing like a loon. This album is a highlight in an increasingly dreary world. Unless you listen to Norwegian black metal exclusively. Then you’ll probably be a bit disappointed. (MG)

15. Vennart – “The Demon Joke”

The Oceansize frontman (and Biffy Clyro live guitarist) Mike Vennart is a very talented chap. If you’re familiar with his work you don’t need any proof from me, but if not, “The Demon Joke” – his first solo album, is a great place to start. It’s progressive and ethereal, but never to the detriment of the songs. This is what Vennart does so well – he serves the song, not going over-board on the complexity and oddness merely for the sake of it. Tracks like Operate are big, pop numbers and could be massive radio hits. Of course the weird time-signatures and interesting, atmospheric numbers are still here too, like the scuzzy Cardiacs-esque Doubt. It’s a difficult album to summarise in such a short space, but it’s top notch throughout and well worth a listen. (DS)

14. The Cesarians – “Pure White Speed”

For those who like their bands with a flair for the theatrical, The Cesarians will certainly be of interest. While not perhaps the most ‘traditional’ rock band, they have crafted something truly wonderful with their new album Pure White Speed. The use of the all female wind section who also operate as vocalists alongside lead singer Charlie Finke is an inspired one, especially on She Said, and Control, which traverse the traditional ‘indie sound’ but with an all new spin. The re-working of live favourite ‘Woman’ was somewhat jarring at first, but it has benefitted in the bigger picture, incorporating a more rousing, rambunctious chorus, while Meltdown has some of the most unusual, yet brilliant lyrics you will hear anywhere. A wonderful album, dark and brooding at points, and full of manic energy at others, every song is a joy to behold. A wonderful album. (TM)

13. Raketkanon – “Rktkn#2”

Belgium-based rockers Raketkanon certainly sound like no-one else. Their influences are drawn from far and wide, and this is apparent in their latest offering “Rktkn#2”. It’s an experimental record with elements of doom, noise and psychedelic rock combining to create a blistering, noisy, discordant, feast of an album. Highlights include the stoner-esque Suzanne, crazed groove-rock Harald and the single Florent – a sinister, deranged number which is always threatening to go completely crazy but never does. That’d be too easy. If you’re a fan of experimental music definitely check this one out. (DS)

12. Hawk Eyes – “Everything Is Fine”

The artists formerly known as Chickenhawk have struck gold again in 2015 after their much-lauded previous releases, Ideas, and Modern Bodies. However, Everything is Fine offers a more refined sound, but also demonstrates the ability the band have to move into more expansive territory, as shown brilliantly on tracks such as The Trap, which is perfect as a huge, epic opener setting the tone for what comes next, and TFF. While singles Die Trying and The Ballad of Michael McGlue were rightly celebrated on release, it’s incredibly difficult to pick particular highlights due to the consistency throughout the album. Everything is Fine is bold, intricate, and loud from start to finish, marrying big riffs, with perfectly balanced dual vocals, and a truly unique sound. (TM)

11. Baby Chaos – “Skulls, Skulls, Skulls, Show Me The Glory”

Surely one of the most underrated bands to come out of the heady days of nineties Britrock, there was a lot of goodwill for Baby Chaos when they returned to live action towards the end of last year. But in all honesty, nineteen years after the last record to feature the Baby Chaos name was released, no one could have expected a new album from the Glaswegian quartet to be this immense. Skulls, Skulls, Skulls, Show Me The Glory is all at once melodic and skull crushingly powerful, with hooky, infectious tunes like Poison Ivy Girls and We Were Youth sounding every bit as epic as riff laden, complex beasts such as You Can’t Shut Us Up and Blackbirds. Chris Gordon has lost none of his passion or his ear for a tune and twenty years in, Baby Chaos have just made a career best. (SB)