Kill It Kid – You Owe Nothing
Kill It Kid’s third album steps things up more than a notch. The stomping, bluesy strut of Black It Out and Sick Case Of Loving You, the rifftastic I’ll Be The First and Don’t It Feel Good and the epically anthemic heights of Caroline and Hurts To Be Loved By You give this album absolutely no weak links. It is a versatile mixture of distortion, slide guitars, sexy organs, quality song writing, great musicianship and dirty, filthy, bluesy atmosphere. Put simply, it is a fucking belter and I have no idea why Kill It Kid aren't much, much bigger than they are.
Alt-J – This Is All Yours
Alt-J’s 2012 Mercury Album Of The Year winning first record took the country by storm and left many of us wondering “how they fuck are they going to follow that?” The answer, it would seem, is by producing a genuinely beautiful and original body of music that, if anything, makes the first album look a bit shallow. This Is All Yours has a depth and complexity that makes it hard to find any faults at all. It is less immediately rewarding than their début, but stick with it - it gives way to a record that seems to tiptoe between delicate, raw loveliness and crunchy, catchy pop hooks with complete fluidity.
Lonely The Brave – The Day’s War
Some albums are good, some are great, some feel immediately timeless. I find it hard to believe that Lonely The Brave’s début only came out in September 2014 because it feels like I grew up with it. Its washy guitars and beautiful melodies, heart-breaking melancholy, affirming optimising and outstanding lyrics feel so familiar already. It is one of those albums that makes you feel like it was written just for you and (obviously) produces a quite emotional response from its listener. For my money, this is exactly the way a rock album is supposed to be.
Death From Above 1979 – The Physical World
Two piece dance influenced noise punks Death From Above 1979 broke up unceremoniously in 2006 after releasing just one album which, in my opinion, was one of the best of the decade. Apparently they didn't speak for some time, so when they announced that a new album was on the way their fans general excitement was mixed with widespread apprehension: would this be a horrible, reputation marring mistake?
We needn't have worried. The Physical World is every bit as groovy and catchy as their début. Whilst it isn't quite as anarchic and noisy, it does have a couple of unexpected, progressive and swaggering extra gears that their first album did not. It is blisteringly wonderful, exactly what it needed to be and was well worth the wait.
Code Orange – I Am King
This second album by sickeningly young and talented hardcore punk outfit Code Orange (formally Code Orange Kids) is a more-than-worthy follow up to their outstanding 2012 début Love Is Love // Return To Dust. Within the record there is almost nothing sonically consistent: it jumps unsettlingly between doomy, sludgy post-metal, thrashy, abrasive hardcore punk and some very progressive, deeply atonal insanity. It manages to forego the silliness of so much black metal and meaningless grindcore but maintain the relentless brutality and straight up heaviness of such genres. It is a punishing record that simply doesn’t let you get comfortable – as soon as you think you have worked out roughly what to expect it changes, mutates and throws you entirely off balance. The varying low, high, frantic and downright evil screams of three of the members are matched by off kilter guitars, pounding drums and obscure feedback, all blend into an outstandingly well-crafted record.
Honourable Mentions (in even less order)
Solids – Blame Confusion
Kate Tempest – Everybody Down
Jack White – Lazaretto
Royal Blood – Royal Blood
Crippled Black Phoenix – White Light Generator
Owls By Nature – The Forgotten And The Brave
I Break horses – Chiaroscuro
Mogwai – Rave Tapes
This Will Destroy You – Another Language
Glass Animals - ZABA