Rough Trade Albums of the Year 2015

By 77island 77island
updated over 3 years ago

  1. Björk - Vulnicura

    Bjork returns with her ninth, arguably finest album, co-produced by Bjork and Venezuelan producer, Arca. Bold, defiant, personal, with signature kaleidoscopic exuberance, this is a truly extraordinary work of art. In a male-dominated music business, Bjork is an inspirational game-changer, someone we hugely respect and admire, an artist we can't recommend highly enough.

  2. Father John Misty - I Love You, Honeybear

    'I Love You, Honeybear' is the highly-anticipated follow up to his acclaimed debut, 'Fear Fun'. The album, featuring 'Bored In The USA,' 'Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins),' 'True Affection,' and the title track, was produced by Josh Tillman and Jonathan Wilson, mixed by Phil Ek, and mastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound. There's a case to be made that it sounds and acts a bit like solo-era John Lennon, Scott Walker, Randy Newman, Harry Nilsson, and Dory Previn, while taking more than a few cues from Woody Allen, Kurt Vonnegut, Alejandro Jodorowsky and Muhammad Ali. Nearly every tune is augmented by something special, be it orchestral strings, a mariachi band, questionable electronic drum solos, ragtime jazz combos, soul singers, or what have you. 'I Love You, Honeybear' is a concept album about a guy named Josh Tillman who spends quite a bit of time banging his head against walls, cultivating weak ties with strangers and generally avoiding intimacy at all costs. This all serves to fuel a version of himself that his self-loathing narcissism can deal with. We see him engaging in all manner of regrettable behaviour.

  3. Courtney Barnett - Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit

    Following the runaway success of her EP collection, 'The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas', Courtney Barnett returns with her debut album. Recorded in the Autumn of 2014 in an intense 10 day session at Head Gap studios in Melbourne, the album finally brings Barnett's incisive vision into stark, unflinching focus; her wit sharpened to a knife edge, her melodies more infectious and addictive than ever. 'Sometimes I Just Sit and Think, and Sometimes I just Sit' cements Barnett's standing as one of the most distinctive voices in indie rock. Mixing witty, often hilarious observations with devastating self-assessment over a beguiling collection of songs that reveals her as an ambitious songwriter with an ear for clever turns of phrase and an eye for story-song details that are literate without being pretentious. Depressing rentals and dead foxes, go-nowhere relationships and dead end suburbs, even her own fears, doubts and insecurities - nothing escapes Barnett's caustic sense of humour. If 'The Double EP' announced the arrival of a major new talent, 'Sometimes...' consolidates that promise and marks Courtney Barnett as one of the best and most unique voices around, period.

  4. Ezra Furman - Perpetual Motion People

    Ezra Furman releases his new album 'Perpetual Motion People', on Bella Union. At it's heart. this is a pop record, just one that's being delivered in gloriously manic fashion, taking in ballads, garage rock and Doo wop. The album delivers a cascade of memorably bristling hooks driven by a unique splicing of timeless influences with a restless urgency and combative spirit that shines through the American's vocals and lyrics. Having taken his time to work his way into the public consciousness, Furman's moment is unquestionably now, as he finally faces an expectant audience hungry for the next stage of his thrilling approach, on record and on stage. 'Perpetual Motion People' was recorded with Furman's current band The Boyfriends - comprising Jorgen Jorgensen (bass), Ben Joseph (keyboards, guitar), Sam Durkes (drums) and saxophonist Tim Sandusky - at studio Ballistico in Furman's home city of Chicago (though he's currently based in San Francisco). The album kicks off with 'Restless Year'. In it there's the rebellion of '90s indie rock, a string of sunshine-y '80s pop, and the snarl of '70s punk.

  5. Max Richter - From Sleep

    One of Britain's leading contemporary composers, Max Richter, has written what is thought to be the longest single piece of classical music ever to be recorded: 'Sleep'. It's an eight-hour lullaby that is intended to send the listener to sleep. The landmark work is scored for piano, strings, electronics and vocals - but no words. It's his personal lullaby for a frenetic world. A manifesto for a slower pace of existence. This release is a one hour adaptation of the full work and is called 'From Sleep'. Richter has most recently enjoyed acclaim at the Royal Opera House in London for his "lavishly atmospheric score" for Wayne McGregor's ballet Woolf Works. Influenced equally by post-rock, classical music and the electronic avant-garde, he has composed and released five solo albums and 'recomposed' Vivaldi's 'Four Seasons' for a best-selling album in 2012.

  6. Wolf Alice - My Love Is Cool

    Long-awaited and feverishly anticipated, Wolf Alice's debut album 'My Love Is Cool' comes with lofty expectations. Fittingly, then, it's a record that reaches for the stratosphere. Equal parts gigantic guitars and wistful, wilting beauty, 'My Love Is Cool' is a timeless collection of songs that outways any preconceived notions of what Wolf Alice are, or can be. The ambitions of Ellie Rowsell (guitar / vocals), Theo Ellis (bass), Joff Oddie (guitars) and Joel Amey (drums / vocals) are fully realised in stunning widescreen.

  7. Kamasi Washington - The Epic

    A brazen release from young Los Angeles jazz giant, composer and bandleader Kamasi Washington. 'The Epic' is unlike anything jazz has seen and not just because it emanates from the boundary-defying Brainfeeder. 'The Epic' is a 172 minute, three volume set (across three CDs or LPs) that includes a 32-piece orchestra, a 20-person choir and 17 songs overlaid with a compositional score written by Washington. Pulsing underneath is an otherworldly ten-piece band, each member of which is individually regarded as among the best young musicians on the planet, including bassist Thundercat and his brother, drummer Ronald Bruner Jr. Recommended if you like Flying Lotus, John Coltrane, Fela Kuti. Flying Lotus has featured Washington on his albums 'Cosmogramma' and 'You're Dead!' and he also plays on the new Kendrick Lamar album 'To Pimp A Butterfly'

  8. Royal Headache - High

    Stunning second album from Royal Headache and 2015's underground pop sensation. Royal Headache's follow-up, retains that swagger, pop hooks and grace but adds extra romance and instant appeal. The amount of emotion and range of Shogun's vocals and the whip-smart counterpoint provided by the band - drummer Shortty, guitarist Law, and bassist Joe - present a dash through decades of pop history, recombining not just the music but all of the feelings of pain and joy elicited from audiences, supercharged and ready to explode once more. Shogun's voice and lyrics aren't so much a secret weapon in Royal Headache's arsenal as they are the front line, happiness and hurt soaring above the songs, driving home all the feelings within. For fans of the Buzzcocks, The Strokes first album, Marked Men and The Undertones.

  9. Romare - Projections

    Great dance music albums - albums that sound as good on headphones and home speakers as they do on club sound-systems - aren't easily made. In a form whose primary aims have been to move dance-floors and to move on, full lengths that thrill the head, heart and the feet with equal power are few and far between. We believe Romare has made one. With the gripping shock of the new that announces the best records of the genre - from Entroducing through Blue Lines to Ambient Classics - Romare has both a singular style, and great deal to say with it. 'Projections' comes off like Voodoo Ray reworked by DJ Shadow. The songs on 'Projections' are an homage to elements of American / African culture in the USA - which Romare studied academically. Taking his name from Romare Bearden, the well-known cut'n'paste artist / collagist, and applying similar techniques to music. Romare re-imagines the profound cultural impact of the collage technique for a new generation of music listeners. With his signing to Ninja Tune, coming hot on the heels of his excellent 12"s on underground institution Black Acre, and compilation inclusions by Tiga, Bonobo and Brownswood, the stage is set for his debut album

  10. Jamie xx - In Colour

    The release of 'In Colour' comes on the back of an incredible six year creative period for Jamie xx, which has seen him alternate effortlessly between his role as founding member and producer of The xx, and creator of more electronic and club orientated music as Jamie xx. A string of acclaimed productions in recent years including debut solo single 'Far Nearer', remixes for the likes of Adele, Radiohead and Florence & The Machine, production work for Drake and Alicia Keys plus We're New Here - Jamie's seminal reworking of Gil Scott-Heron's final studio album - hinted at what was to come. With In Colour - a bold, celebratory, emotional record that features collaborations with The xx band mates Romy Madley Croft ('Seesaw' and 'Loud Places') and Oliver Sim ('Stranger In A Room'), Young Thug and Popcaan ('Good Times') and Four Tet ('Seesaw') - Jamie delivers his definitive artistic statement.