I hate it when people complain about the state of modern music. “It’s not like it was ‘back then’”, they say, as their eyes nostalgically glaze over. “In the 60s and 70s they had Led Zeppelin and The Beatles and now all we’ve got is Justin Bieber.” If you think like that, as Pearshaped’s Spotlight columnist, I’m happy to prove you very very wrong. Here’s a list of my favourite debut albums released in 2015.
Music is as good as it’s always been, and it’s in safe hands.
10. Little Simz – A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons
What it sounds like: Terse, snarling rap; brimming with intelligence and insight, but with a straight-up no BS delivery. At the age of 21, Little Simz takes the throne as the UK’s best female rapper.
Highlight: Dead Body
For fans of: Azealia Banks, Angel Haze, Kendrick Lamar
9. Adventures – Supersonic Home
What it sounds like: Fun emo indie pop which, while hardly original, excels in catchy songwriting. Like a long lost emo relic, but doused in sugar.
For fans of: Tigers Jaw, Yuck, Pity Sex
8. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit
What it sounds like: Witty, ballsy, but poetic rambling lyrics over 90s style indie rock with flares of grunge, blues, and Americana.
Highlight: Pedestrian At Best
For fans of: Waxahatchee, Patti Smith, Torres
7. Tobias Jesso Jr – Goon
What it sounds like: Warm piano pop ballads, but sung by John Lennon. If you like Tom Odell, stop it. Listen to this instead.
Highlight: Can’t Stop Thinking About You
For fans of: John Lennon, Randy Newman, Supertramp
6. Viet Cong – Viet Cong
What it sounds like: Cold and bleak post-punk and art-rock, with a subtle playful theatricality. The music sounds haunted with the scratchy, echoey production, and the mournful ghost-like vocals.
Highlight: Continental Shift
For fans of: Women, Protomartyr, This Heat
5. Vince Staples – Summertime ’06
What it sounds like: Direct and angry hip-hop; Staples has an amazing way with words, expressing complex ideas with simplicity, delivered with a wide eyed urgency which demands your attention. One to watch. He could well turn out to be a genius.
For fans of: Earl Sweatshirt, MellowHype, Isaiah Rashad
4. Jamie xx – In Colour
What it sounds like: Jungle house and garage electro, pristinely and meticulously produced, fluctuating between downbeat minimalism to massive dance floor bangers. It’s artistic and creative enough to appeal to the discerning music critic, but colourful and catchy enough to appeal to everyone.
Highlight: I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)
For fans of: Mount Kimbie, Disclosure, SBTRKT
3. Joey Bada$$ – B4.DA.$$
What it sounds like: Genius lyricism over jazzed-up boom-bap hip-hop instrumentals. An album that you can listen to again and again. Aged just 20, Bada$$ is one of those precocious prodigies so talented that you can’t help but feel jealous.
Highlight: Paper Trail$
For fans of: Nas, Notorious B.I.G., Action Bronson
2. Girl Band – Holding Hands With Jamie
What it sounds like: Beating your head against a wall for thirty-eight minutes. Unforgivably noisy, relentless, tuneless, but strangely danceable. Makes you want to break stuff and fling yourself at the ground, but simultaneously makes you excited to be alive, and excited about music.
For fans of: (early) Sonic Youth, (early) Swans, White Suns
1. Kamasi Washington – The Epic
What it sounds like: A three-hour long orgasmic jazz explosion — synthesising classic jazz tropes with funk and soul. Its ambitious in every sense, and ridiculously massive sounding, but it definitely pulls it off. Rarely does an album’s title so accurately describe its content.
Highlight: Miss Understanding
For fans of: John Coltrane (Giant Steps era), Miles David (Bitches Brew era), Kendrick Lamar (Washington wrote all the jazz instrumentation for Kendrick’s To Pimp A Butterfly)
Check out our PearShaped playlist for the Top 10 Debuts of 2015 below.