2015 has been jam-packed with stellar records from Title Fight, Viet Cong, Kendrick Lamar, Panda Bear and even the return of Sleater-Kinney.
There are even more albums that have yet to be released this year from Chromatics and Kanye West himself, including others.
With all this good music being released, it’s terrifying how easy it can be to overlook some great tunes.
Courtney Barnett—Sometimes I Sit and Think, Sometimes I Just Sit
Courtney Barnett hails from Australia and makes folk-pop influenced garage rock, wherein she writes about the mundane and ordinary details of everyday life, commenting on what she sees with her sharp, clever and dry sense of humor.
She’s not ironically detached from it all. Instead, the non-committal, matter-of-fact way she describes her cream-colored wall at three in the morning on the track “An Illustration of Loneliness (Sleepless in New York)” reveals the deep subtext behind it all.
It’s an impressive trick she pulls off repeatedly throughout Sometimes I Sit and Think, Sometimes I Just Sit, released on March 23. Musically, Sometimes is jam-packed with loud guitar-riffs, deft guitar solos and catchy-but-soft folk-pop.
On the raucous “Small Poppies,” Barnett admits in her loudest but still deadpan voice, amidst a crescendo of guitars, “I don’t know quite who I am, oh but man I am trying / I make mistakes until I get it right / An eye for an eye for an eye for an eye for an eye / I used to hate myself but now I think I’m alright.”
On the quasi-folk ballad “Depreston,” Barnett begins the song by telling her audience how she is saving $23 a week by buying a new coffee percolator.
This might seem like a weird way to begin a song about the pressures of adult life and the choices you have to make, but it’s the way Courtney Barnett fills her songs with the minute details that truly make them come to life.
Just over a minute into Quarterbacks’ self-titled LP, lead singer Dean Engle sings, “I’m in love as usual,” on the opening track “Usual,” only to sing right back “I’m not in love with anyone / What’s wrong with me?” on the very next song “Not in Luv.”
Released on Feb. 10, every song on Quarterbacks’ 22-minute running length is ostensibly about a girl, or holding hands with a girl, or about being in love with a girl, with every song running at a blisteringly fast pace.
On “Center,” Engle quietly ends the song ruminating “As I get older / I recognize that love is mostly situational.” Quarterbacks make the sort of twee-punk that could almost be mistaken for hardcore or pop-punk because of the jangly guitar pieces or the blistering pace at which they play most of their songs.
But the aforementioned guitar is detuned slightly, pushing Engle’s nasally voice and lovelorn lyrics to the forefront of every song.
Originally started as a minimalist pop-punk group in upstate New York, Quarterbacks successfully merges their straightforward (and admittedly very cute) K-Records influenced twee-pop with the intense velocity of pop-punk songwriting à la Modern Baseball or Joyce Manor.
Folk-rock multi-instrumentalist Aly Spaltro, who takes the moniker of Lady Lamb (formerly known as Lady Lamb the Beekeeper) makes folk-rock tunes that captures the best of both the folk and rock spheres, namely the acoustic intimacy of folk and the big, life-affirming power of rock.
On her sophomore LP released on March 3, After, Lady Lamb’s best songs are the ones where she does both.
On the psychedelic-shoegaze tinged “Heretic,” she alternates fuzzy guitar riffs with melodic fingerpicking, while also singing, “Let’s learn about black holes and plug the television set / Let’s ponder the true builders of the Pyramids / And then let’s order in” before saying of her lover, “If you’re a heretic then so am I.”
Lyrically, After is an album about heartbreak and the many different feelings that come after. On After, Spaltro makes folk-rock that is playful, experimental and childlike in nature.
The album remains grounded because of solid songwriting, deep metaphors and an impressive vocal range that rewards multiple listens.
Released on March 3, Revisionist is the second LP from metal-instrumentalist trio Sannhet. Rather than stick to one subgenre of metal, Revisionist has Sannhet intertwining elements of black metal, sludge and post-rock to create huge waves of crushing sound throughout the album’s 37 minute runtime.
Revisionist sounds like the half-cousin of an Explosions In The Sky album combined with shockingly beautiful black metal akin to Deafheaven (minus the screaming vocalist).
It’s an extremely impressive feat, as the band weaves their own brand of metal into the cinematic, emotional framework of post-rock without all the waiting around usually associated with the genre.
Sannhet doesn’t waste any time with drone or empty space in the songs; instead they pack dense textures, feelings and melodies inside songs ranging from three to six minutes at the most, exemplified best during the track “You Thy_”, wherein Sannhet tackles romance, loneliness and fear all without uttering a single word.