The Top 50 Albums of 2015: #50-#41

We’re back! Just like last year, we’ll be spending the next two weeks unveiling our 50 favourite albums of the year. It’s been an absolute whirwind of a year for music, and we’ve spent the majority of it slowly but surely compiling this list. Today, we’re starting off our countdown by announcing which records occupy positions 50 through to 41. Read on for more.

50. The Story So Far – The Story So Far
Best song: Phantom
What we said: “Although pop-punk has never been the most unique genre (in terms of instrumentation and structure), The Story So Far have proved their worth as a credible band in a scene which is slowly but surely becoming rife with band upon band, sound-alike upon sound-alike, cover band upon cover band. So hat’s off to Parker Cannon and co. for putting out a record which could go down as one of the best released this year.”

49. Mumford & Sons – Wilder Mind
The Wolf

What we said: “To be fair, Mumford & Sons were always going to get a lot of criticism for their third album. If they’d put out Babel or Sigh No More part 2, people would criticize them for their repetitive sound. Yet if they’d change their sound even a little bit, which in this case is a lot, they would get criticized for changing what people love most about them. Nobody wins in this situation, because Mumford & Sons are a band who people love to hate. However, Wilder Mind is by no means a bad record. Yes, it may follow a traditional stadium rock sound for the most part, but with Mumford’s recognizable vocals and some distinct Mumford & Sons elements it makes for an interesting listen. Mumford & Sons’ new direction may not be to everyone’s liking, yet it’s sure to open the eyes (and ears) of many former doubters of the band.

48. Drenge – Undertow
We Can Do What We Want

What we say: “On Undertow, Drenge showed us their ability to mature as a band whilst still retaining the same sonic elements which accompanied their raw debut. Featuring the occasional inclusion of a bassist, Undertow’s standout track We Can Do What We Want envisioned everything which Drenge are about – raw fun. The gloomy Never Awake lit a spotlight on Drenge’s percussive aspect, whereas the rest of Undertow sprawled in and out of consciousness like a midnight ride on the M61.”

47. The Maccabees – Marks to Prove It
Spit it Out

What we said: “It may not be the most powerful ending ever, but it’s definitely enough to prove that The Maccabees are slowly but surely entering the UK big league of indie rock. Marks to Prove It may not have its own Toothpaste Kisses or Pelican, but the apples definitely aren’t falling too far from the tree.

46. In Hearts Wake – Skydancer
Skydancer (ft. Jonathan Vigil)

What we said: “Skydancer is an album which In Hearts Wake can, and should, be proud of. Despite the record following similar structures for the most part, In Hearts Wake have just the right amount of power and edge to make them stand out from their contemporaries. Skydancer is one of the best metalcore records in a long time, yet if it will stand the test of time in this ever-changing musical landscape remains to be seen.

What guitarist Ben Nairne told All Things Loud about Skydancer’s underlying concept: “We recorded a double album back in 2013, the first half, Earthwalker, was released last year and Skydancer was the second half to the project. The idea behind it was Mother Earth and Father Sky, one cannot exist without the other and we cannot exist without either. Skydancer, being based on Father Sky, was the more masculine side to the project and the lyrical content was darker and accompanied by over-all heavier tracks in comparison to Earthwalker.

45. State Champs – Around the World and Back
All You Are is History

What we said: “Now, it’s worth nothing that although State Champs may well be one of the best pop punk bands of the year, their music is nowhere near unique or outstanding. Okay, the songs are really good and they know what they’re doing, but if you put it in a firing line amongst the rest of this year’s albums, you wouldn’t be able to single it out. Having said that, though, Around the World and Back is by no means a bad album – it features everything you’d want from a pop punk band. Discanio’s vocals are pulled off with razor sharp intensity and wit, the guitars are (at times) merciless, the bass pulsates and the drums pound. Within their scene, State Champs are going to be very, very big.

44. Alabama Shakes – Sound & Colour
Gimme All Your Love

What we said: “Three years after the release of their debut album, Alabama Shakes have proven that they are still at the top of their game, producing an album which is as good, if not better, than the critically acclaimed Boys & Girls. 2015 will be a massive year for Alabama Shakes, with Sound & Colour proving to be the perfect weapon in helping them to tackle countless festivals, club shows and trips the world over.

What guitarist Heath Fogg said about the recording process: “The process was really sporadic; as the songs came we decided it was time to start focussing on a record. However, I can’t think of anything in particular that made us say, ‘oh let’s make it like this, or let’s do it like this’. Most songs basically came out of rehearsals and old demos.

43. The Vaccines – English Graffiti
Dream Lover

What we said: “On English Graffiti, The Vaccines have proven themselves to be born again. Never has a band come back from two fantastic records to top both of them simultaneously. Justin Young & co. sound rejuvenated and re-energized on English Graffiti, even if its quality does unfortunately fall back in certain areas. Come this time next year The Vaccines will be one of the biggest bands in the world – watch this space.

42. Ryan Adams – 1989

What we said: “On 1989, Ryan Adams has proven himself to be one of the best musicians of our time in various different ways. It’s one thing taking a song and putting your own spin on it, but it’s a whole other thing to take a complete record and chucking it into a blender filled with classic rock, Americana and influences from the likes of Bruce Springsteen and U2.”

41. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit
Pedestrian at Best

What we said: “On the whole, Barnett’s debut album is a very strong record, even if it does wander off at times and doesn’t show signs of coming back. Her lyrics are witty and smart, something which is seldom seen today. She may not be a household name just yet, but that day looks set to come someday soon. “Put me on a pedestal and I’ll only disappoint you” she sings on Pedestrian at Best, yet it couldn’t be further from the truth.

Check back on Monday for #40-#31.