Best albums of 2015: top 10

AOTY 2015 10-1 college: Ghostpoet, Andreya Triana, Little Boots, Blur (1448x815)Here we are: after 40 albums, we’ve reached 2015’s top 10. Before we get to the albums themselves, allow me to briefly reflect on the year that was and what it meant for music.

In more ways than one, 2015 has been a year of conservatism: UK voters elected the Conservative party for its second consecutive term; acts of terror have caused many to adopt conservative, even prejudicial, attitudes towards those that do not share their skin colour, beliefs or culture; and, in the world of music, known quantities continue to attract the most marketing dollars, media attention and consumer sales. On the surface, it would seem that the nonconformists, the mavericks, the idealists and those that would dare to dream have all been ignored.

Accept they haven’t. From the millions of artists and creators honing their talents and sharing them with the world via the numerous online avenues, to musicians and technologists combining their expertise to change the business of music royalties, and perhaps make it easier for people to make a living off of their creativity in future, 2015 has been a year of perseverance.

Hopefully these final 10 albums will express what I mean by that, each in their own way.

10. Ibeyi – Ibeyi
9. Benjamin Clementine – At Least for Now
8. Little Boots – Working Girl
7. Blur – The Magic Whip
6. BadBadNotGood & Ghostface Killah – Sour Soul
5. The Skints – FM
4. Ghostpoet – Shedding Skin
3. Denai Moore – Elsewhere
2. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly
1. Andreya Triana – Giants
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Blur – The Magic Whip first impressions

Blur - Graham Coxon, Damon Albarn, Mode, London, Mar 20, 2015, by HelDavies, 01 (1280x720)On Friday, March 20, 2015, Blur played the entirety of The Magic Whip, the band’s first new album as a four-piece in over 10 years, for fans, competition winners and selected media at Mode, London.

A one-time video stream of the concert was broadcast tonight, so I thought I’d scribble down some impressions as I watched it. This is a summary of those impressions. Continue reading

Jam of the Week: Blur – Go Out

Blur - British Summer Time, Hyde Park poster (1416x797)As if news of Gorillaz return in 2016 wasn’t enough already. Yesterday, Blur announced their first new album as four-piece in 16 years. Should the rumoured The Good, the Bad & the Queen follow-up somehow be in the mix, I’ll be doing back flips down the street. Blur’s new album, titled The Magic Whip, started from jam sessions in the “claustrophobic and hot” confides of a Hong Kong studio, following a cancelled show in Japan. Guitarist Graham Coxon and long-time Blur producer Stephen Street developed these sessions until, as drummer Dave Rowntree put it, “we all realised we’d done something quite special there”. Continue reading