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Best Of Music 2015 Staff Picks – Mike Gallagher

How long have you been with Live in Limbo and what do you do for the site?

I’ve been doing concert reviews for 4 and a half years now.

How many concerts did you go to in 2015?

93

Favourite Concerts of the Year:

1.Stars of the Lid/Lustmord @ Hearn Generating Station June 19

The ultimate off-the-grid venue hosted a massive (and that’s an understatement) walls of sight and sound.  Not only my favourite of the year, but top 5 of all time.

2. Godspeed You! Black Emperor @ Danforth Music Hall Spetember 25

The Montreal group’s first of two sold out shows was every bit epic, apocalyptic and beautiful all at once.

3. Florence & The Machine @ Osheaga Festival July 31

I saw Florence twice this year and she really brought her A Game for both but this night sent shivers down my spine, made me euphoric and even dance a little.  All in the first song.

4. Swans @ the Phoenix February 20

My first time seeing the legendary noisy band on their victory lap for my favourite album of 2014.  Not as frightening as I was expecting, but as immense as one can imagine.

5. Jamie xx @ Danforth Music Hall August 6

I hadn’t danced in years and Jamie xx restored my love on the sweatiest night I’ve ever experienced at the Music Hall

What was your favourite festival of the year?

Bestival – beautiful and colourful set-up with an immense amount of potential if they iron out the kinks with logistics.

Who was your favourite festival headliner?

The Prodigy @ Riot Fest

Who won 2015?

Adele

Favourite new musical discovery of 2015?

Protomartyr

Who do you hope goes on tour next year?

New Order, the Chemical Brothers and Primal Scream – together.

Festival 2016 Predictions?

Alabama Shakes, M83, Coldplay, Royal Blood

Biggest Music Story

Attack at the Bataclan, Paris – I won’t lie, this horrified me and still affects me.  Something I never thought could happen, chances are had I been in Paris with my friends, we would likely have been at that gig and likely standing towards the back.  Since the attack my instinct now is to suss out where the emergency exits are located.  I don’t like it.  Gigs have been the place to let my guard down, meet new friends and enjoy the company of old ones, my personal nirvana much as it is to many.  I feel that innocence got ripped out that night.

Favourite Songs of 2015

1. Jamie xx – “Loud Places”

2. Beck – “Dreams”

3. The Weeknd – “Can’t Feel My Face”

4. Kendrick Lamar – “King Kunta”

5. Protomartyr – “Ellen”

Favourite Albums of 2015

1. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly (Aftermath/Interscope)

Not a pop album that some might have expected following the success of his previous platter, but this album will stand as an important document of its time.  

2. Jamie xx – In Colour (Young Turks)

The XX man releases his solo debut, an intoxicating ode to the dancefloor and a version of aural crack to me.  Stunning from the first listen on.

3. Grimes – Art Angels (Nazgul)

I came with fangs for first listen to this album, mostly because of the reaction to “Go”.  The song is boss and should have been on this album.  That being said, this album don’t need it either.  The most energetic and interesting pop album this year.

4. Vince Staples – Summertime ’06 (DefJam)

Long Beach rapper gets ambitious, releases double disc debut and slays with an ambitious album.

5. Protomartyr – The Agent Intellect (Hardly Art)

If Joy Division were raised in Detroit they might sound like this.

6. Shamir – Ratchet (XL)

High-NRG disco to make your own personal Studio 54.

7. Modest Mouse – Strangers to Ourselves (Epic)

Isaac Brock has never disappointed me.  I feel in the future we can just jam in the old folks home.

8. New Order – Music Complete (Mute)

Manchester legends return with their most vital album since 1989’s Technique. 

9. Bjork – Vulnicura (One Little Indian)

Bjork’s “divorce” album is a difficult listen lyrically but is her most sonically beautiful since Vespertine.

10. Enter Shikari – The Mindsweep (Hopeless)

Highly underrated Brits on this side of the pond deliver a molten mix of hardcore and Black Holes and Revelations-era Muse.

11. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit (Mom + Pop)

Aussie’s debut full length is the witty, peppy and entertaining rock album of the year.

12. Torche – Restarter (Relapse)

This Florida band in my opinion is the one of the most overlooked bands pumping out immense guitars with just the right amount of pop hook without going overboard.  This is big fun from start to finish.

13. Foals – What Went Down (Warner)

English band, initially overlooked by myself make yet another cause of being the most underrated band with the most exciting and interesting rock album of the year.

14. Sleater-Kinney – No Cities To Love (Sub Pop)

After a ten year hiatus the Olympia ladies return and deliver their best album yet, not losing any of their bite with age.

15. Everything Everything – Get to Heaven (RCA)

Acclaimed in the UK shouldn’t scare you.  This one came from left field and immediately tucked into my memory.  Some great arty pop.

16. Four Tet – Morning/Evening (Temporary Residence)

It’s only two tracks but the only two times Four Tet has nearly reduced me to ears.  Amazing Sunday music.

17. Julia Holter – Have You In My Wilderness (Domino)

Missing Julee Cruise?  This LA native’s album is an intoxicating mix of beauty.  As serene as I’d like to be.

18. Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress (Constellation)

Montreal collective releases another sprawling cinematic beast.  As vital now as they were 20 years ago.

19. Beirut – No No No (4AD)

I’ve never realized what a big fan I was of this indie-folk band, but this album has reminded me to dig further

20. Tame Impala – Currents (Modular)

On their third album the Aussie psych rockers hit a 70s FM radio vibe, reigning in their jammy recording tendencies.

21. Joanna Newsom – Divers (Drag City)

I’ve always seen this name but have avoided her for some unknown reason.  But this harpist’s latest beautiful album scratches the itch left by Kate Bush.  Absolutely in love with this.

22. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell (Asthmatic Kitty)

A heartbreaking album about a heartbreaking loss, but so atmospherically beautiful.

23. Chvrches – Every Open Eye (Glassnote)

Scottish trio make good on their promising debut with another platter of electro pop guaranteed to burrow into your consciousness.

24. Wilco – Star Wars (dBpm)

Surprise release is atmospheric, to the point and reliable durable Wilco.

25. Florence & The Machine – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful (Universal)

Bombastic and refined disc from Florence showing she’s comfortable in her own skin.  The shows that accompanied this album were epic.

26. Deafheaven – New Bermuda (Anti)

San Francisco metal troupe shed some of the shoegaze and go for the throat with almost an hour of intense metal.

27. Leon Bridges – Coming Home (Columbia)

Texas soul singer-songwriter released a debut defying his age and the year with a smooth throwback to the soul of the 60s.

28. Low – Ones and Sixes (Sub Pop)

Duluth slo-core outfit release their most muscle-y release, possibly inspired by opening up for Slowdive and “Landslide” is a worthy addition to their epic canon.

29. Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear (Sub Pop)

Lyrically a little TMI for me, but an enjoyable musical document of a man in love with his woman.

30. Django Django – Born Under Saturn (Because Music)

Another snoozed on album that should have been huge.  These quirky indie-poppers can make your head now, but also mix beats in that ensure the hips get involved too.

31. Belle & Sebastian – Girls In Peacetime Want to Dance (Matador)

Scottish indie folkers discover their disco side and it works!  Long time fans rest assure their intelligent pop still remains.

32. Christine and the Queens – Christine and the Queens (Atlantic)

Christine and her Queens first wowed me in Montreal this past summer (thanks Hoss!), and her English debut is both catchy and sublime.

33. Lupe Fiasco – Tetsuo & Youth (Atlantic)

Lupe has consistently released original and compelling hip hop albums and his fifth is no trippy exception.

34. Miguel – Wildheart (RCA)

California R&B futurist injects some rock into his randy numbers.  How this got lost in the shuffle is beyond me.

35. A$AP Rocky – At.Long.Last.A$AP (RCA)

New York rapper releases dark sophomore album is a psychedelic and intoxicating trip.

36. Public Service Broadcasting – The Race for Space (Test Card)

Where old public service broadcasts are sampled over music that I can only compare to “Elegia”-era New Order or M83.  

37. Dan Deacon – Gliss Riffer (Domino)

Baltimore’s Dan Deacon has consistently released enjoyable albums that fuel an unbelievable  show.  This is his most accessible effort and follows a year supporting Arcade Fire.

38. Beach House – Depression Cherry (Sub Pop)

The first of two albums they released in rapid succession sounds like all the pretty bits of My Bloody Valentine without the vertigo-inducing distortion.

39. Kurt Vile – B’lieve I’m Goin’ Down (Matador)

Vile doesn’t stray too far from his template but this is another winning combo of Vile’s chilled out Americana.

40. Kamasi Washington – The Epic (Brainfeeder)

3 hours is a bit much to digest in one setting, but Washington’s jazz opus is just that, Epic.  

41. Jason Isbell – Something More Than Free (Southeastern)

Former Drive By Trucker continues along his sober country road with some beautiful playing and lyrics that are real.

42. Leftfield – Alternative Light Source (Infectious)

16 years after their last album, the duo is down to one and this is a worthy successor to Rhythm & Stealth.

43. Action Bronson – Mr. Wonderful (Vice)

So Canada wasn’t so welcoming due to lyrics from a past song, but this is an enjoyable, funky slab of an ode to food.

44. Panda Bear – Meets the Grim Reaper (Domino)

Animal Collective member unleashes another opus of psychedelic pop.

45. The Chemical Brothers – Born In The Echoes (Astralwerks)

Tom and Ed have now been on a roll for the last couple of albums.  Born in The Echoes sees the return of guests and they don’t weigh the album down.  Wasn’t too chuffed about it but have warmed to it with repeated listens.

46. Pond – Man It Feels Like Space Again (Caroline)

Tame Impala relatives make an opus as big and trippy if you’re not feeling Currents’ 70s vibes.

47. Metz – II (Sub Pop)

Toronto outfit’s sophomore effort loses none of its predecessor’s bite and fury.

48. Simian Mobile Disco – Whorl (Anti)

This was my soundtrack to flying over the Rockies with a Gravol and a drink.  Their high energy vibes are tempered here to their version of a chillout album.

49. Best Coast – California Nights (Harvest)

This is the first album from the Los Angeles duo that I’ve jumped on.  Not being familiar with their past I’m largely ignorant to the blow back on this band but this is a solid rock album full of hooks.

50. Oneohtrix Point Never – Garden Of Delete (Warp)

If there’s ever an update made of A Clockwork Orange, this should be the score.

About author

Concert reviewer at Live in Limbo.