If there’s one thing I love, it’s music.
Often not a day goes by for me without listening to it. I’d say I’ve listened to more music this year than any other (mostly thanks to getting reacquainted with my old pal, Spotify). 2015 has been full of new releases from some of my favourite bands, as well as some new discoveries. So, I thought I’d roundup the albums I’ve loved this year. Starting with…
Young Guns – Ones and Zeros
Release Date: 8 June 2015
Favourite Track: “Ones and Zeros”
I remember the exact moment I found Young Guns. It was 2009 and they were supporting Fightstar at the O2 ABC in Glasgow. Six years on and they’re absolutely my favourite band. They’re the band I’ve seen live the most. They’re the band I turn to when I don’t know what I want to listen to. They’re the band I turn to when I know exactly what I want to listen to. They’re also the only band whose merchandise I’ve actually bought (represent!)…
This year saw the release of their third studio album, Ones and Zeros. Expectations were high after the brilliant Bones (2012), which even saw the title track used in Wrestlemania 29 promos (kind of a big deal, right?). Three years in the making, Ones and Zeros is anthemic. Gustav, John, Fraser, Simon and Ben have poured their heart into this record and it shows. Okay, I’m biased, but I couldn’t be prouder of these boys. Their songs are bigger, their riffs harder, and their lyrics smarter.
My favourite track has got to be “Ones and Zeros”. It’s a journey of a song that grabs you from the gang vocals at the beginning and doesn’t let you go until the very end. The build-up to the second chorus (looking at you, Ben) gets me every time. The song is exciting and relentless; a fitting title track to epitomise the album. Other standouts include “I Want Out” (‘cause if this is love, baby I want out’ – preach), “Rising Up” (for its fierceness, if nothing else) and deluxe bonus track “I Don’t Need God” (you can’t beat a good bit of piano). This is my most listened to album of the year by a mile and I’m excited to see what these guys get up to next.
The Prodigy – The Day Is My Enemy
Release Date: 30 March 2015
Favourite Track: “Roadblox”
Yes, yes, yes! A thousand times yes! This album is an absolute beast. The Prodigy are legendary, there’s no doubt about it. The Day Is My Enemy wipes the floor with 2011’s World’s On Fire and shows why they are still one of the UK’s greatest dance acts – despite being in the game for over 20 years. I travelled to Manchester to see The Prodigy for the first time in November and it was without a doubt, one of the best gigs of my life.
It’s hard to choose a favourite track off this album, but I’d say “Roadblox” is up there. Over five minutes of pure trance, it’s one of the best songs to listen to with an open stretch of road in front of you (‘drive on straight through the roadblox, let me see, let me see what you got’). The thing with Prodigy albums, as I’ve learned, is they make you drive like a maniac. Title track “The Day Is My Enemy” is also fantastic, with one of the best adrenaline-fuelled intros of the album. Special shoutout goes to “Ibiza”, the most mental song The Prodigy has come up with in years (‘I’M ON THE BUCKY MATE!’).
In fact, there’s not a single song I dislike on this album. It can see you through the gym. It can make a long drive fun. It can get you pumped for a night out. “Beyond the Deathray”, the only purely instrumental track on it, is majestic and could easily be played on a loop without getting bored. “Destroy” is straight out of a video game. “Nasty” has that 90s “Firestarter” feel to it. Just when you think the album is over, “Wall of Death” smacks you in the face. An unbelievable album from an unbelievable band.
Shinedown – Threat To Survival
Release Date: 18 September 2015
Favourite Track: “Asking For It”
Shinedown have been around for a long time. But, it’s only in the last couple of years that I’ve listened to them constantly, their back catalogue becoming a staple in my playlists. The power of Brent Smith’s voice simply demands your attention. I was so excited to find out they were releasing their fifth studio album in 2015, Threat To Survival.
I have to admit, it took me a couple of listens to love this album. But, it grew on me fast. It’s definitely a lot more hard-hitting than most of their previous material, as demonstrated by my favourite song “Asking For It”. As the first track on the album, it’s unapologetically in your face and sets the tone for the rest of the record. “Cut The Cord” is equally as vicious and comes a close second. But, Shinedown have a soft spot as well and showcase it on “Thick As Thieves” (extremely relatable for me recently) and “Misfits” (‘it didn’t matter that we weren’t on the list, cause we were misfits’). Threat To Survival is rock at its best from one of the most underrated bands around.
PVRIS – White Noise
Release Date: 4 November 2014
Favourite Track: “My House”
I’m a bit late to the PVRIS party. But, I’ve had their debut album on repeat all year. As a Paramore loyalist, it’s always refreshing to hear a female vocalist front a rock band. At just 21-years-old, Lynn Gunn is a force to be reckoned with. Her voice can be strong or soft; fierce or feminine; and I love it.
I have a few favourites on White Noise, but if I had to choose one it’d be “My House”. The whole song is so badass and powerful, with the most relatable lyrics about moving on from that one person who keeps dragging you down (‘haven’t you heard? I’m not yours anymore, I’m not yours anymore’). “St. Patrick” is also a song I keep coming back to because it’s upbeat and catchy, but has that sharp edge to it courtesy of Lynn’s vocals. “Let Them In” is relentless and akin to “My House” in power. But, not all of White Noise is as aggressive, such as “Holy” and “Eyelids”, which provide welcome intermissions. With only 10 songs, it’s a short album that leaves you wanting more. I can’t wait to see these guys in Glasgow in April!
Imagine Dragons – Smoke + Mirrors
Release Date: 17 February 2015
Favourite Track: “Shots”
Imagine Dragons have grown and grown on me. I’ve liked them since their debut album Night Visions (2012), but seeing them live this year has really cemented their place in my heart. Smoke + Mirrors has a completely different vibe to their first record, which took me a few listens to appreciate. There are noticeably less drums on this one, for one thing. This album has a more experimental, mythical feel to it. It’s definitely one of the more laidback albums I’ve enjoyed this year.
My favourite track from this one constantly changes, but right now it’s the opener, “Shots”. The chorus demands to be sung (‘I shot, shot, shot a hole through everything I loved!’). It’s a happy tune, but the lyrics are actually really apologetic. Still, it’s fun to dance to and that’s what counts. Speaking of fun, “Trouble” is the best song to jump around to. It’s fast and catchy and carefree. “I’m So Sorry” can only be described as sassy, with a side of sass.
There’s a good mix of styles on this record for different moods. I find listening to it from start to finish less enjoyable than dipping in and out of certain songs when I want to. Take “Dream”, for example, which is a stunningly sad and beautiful song. It’s on a completely different wavelength to “Friction”, which is angry and edgy and needs a particular mood to appreciate it. The deluxe version offers no less than 18 songs, so it makes sense that there’s a variation in style. It just shows the versatility of the band and I’m looking forward to what they try next.