2015 has been a year blessed with excellent quality music from a plethora of artists each doing their own unique thing.
In America, Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly has been rubber-stamped indefinitely as universally acclaimed and unrivaled as not only the best album of the year, but possibly one of the best and most important works of the decade. Over in the UK/Europe, a number of artists have made huge waves with astonishing releases that have made their way on to many end of year lists, but it’s time for The Source now, to count down the top 5 albums of 2015 in UK/Europe. Here goes…
Onra – Fundamentals
Onra has been a beatmaker for around about the last 10 years; with his debut release ‘Tribute’ in collaboration with friend and fellow producer Quetzal instantly turning heads for its distinct sound.
This is now the Paris native’s third studio album, yet the creativity and passion clearly hasn’t dried up with an LP packed full of though provoking compositions and hard-hitting guest spots.
Onra’s sound was always characterized by his recycling of the past, particularly on Chinoiseries and Chinoiseries Pt.2 where the love and dedication of his Vietnamese heritage crafted an album of genuine originality. This album however sounds more current and relative to the society we live in, and also distinctly West Coast. It’s raw yet tight production highlights the matureness of Onra and his ability to break the boundaries of Hip-Hop.
Golden Rules – Golden Ticket
Golden Ticket is the debut album from the shockingly underrated and unknown, Golden Rules made up of Paul White on music/production and Florida vocalist Eric Biddines. The 2-piece reside in the UK, however their sound is merely a reflection of their surroundings, rather a coming together of two like minded music lovers raised on a diet of Hip-Hop’s golden age.
Eric Biddines borrows heavily from Andre 3000’s style of rapping, that southern slang laid back delivery of vernacular which sounds of so sultry sweet when backed up by White’s production of blasting horns and jazzy melodies.
The track, Never Die, with guest rapper Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def) is the highlight of the album, a soulful punch of penetrating horns and chilled out rhythm that sounds straight out of ‘94 territory. Expect these guys to blow up real soon.
Floating Points – Elaenia
Elaenia was an album that had a deep emotional impact on many of listeners, combining the experience and influence of over ten years of playing music around the world into a compact narrative of subdued jazz and classical groove.
Floating Points (AKA Sam Shepherd) is renowned as the thinking mans DJ, a digger of the highest standards, taking influence from virtually every corner of the earth, from the medleys of Brazilian 60s Bossanova pop, to the Trip-Hop, acid house juggernaut of the 90s.
Each song sounds different and enthralling upon every playback, discovering something innovative and alluring to add to its already solidified status as a stone-cold classic.
It’s hard to describe the effect of this album and its repercussion on the listener. One things for sure though, its meditative quality will somehow change your perception on music. Guaranteed.
Young Fathers – White Men Are Black Men Too
Many felt, like a lot of Mercury Award winners, that Young Fathers were merely one trick ponies and it would be virtually impossible to follow up 2014’s Dead with an album that exceeded their debut.
The Edinburgh trio justly did that however, flying to Berlin basically straight after their Mercury win a year ago to hide away from the impending limelight and to start making that often-cursed second album.
They stuck to their roots, emotionally charged lyrics of political and social unrest with a large hint of sarcasm and a solid two fingers up to the Murdoch monopolising press. It also alludes to the controversial topic, as the title suggests, of race and in particular the need for the white man to show solitude and unity towards the black man.
This album feels more organic and personal than Dead, even though it keeps to the same musical values of thumping percussion and almost punk like bass. It’s a follow up that does exactly what a follow up should do; furthering the musical and songwriting capabilities to a whole new level.
Jamie xx – In Colour
Making a name for himself as one third of the critically acclaimed group The xx, Jamie Smith has steadily established himself as possibly the most appealing and inventive characters on the British scene.
His debut release, In Colour, sees Jamie culminate the sub sections of the London underground scene into an album full of club bangers for people who ultimately detest dancing in clubs.
From the wonderful sampling of the Idris Muhammad classic ‘Could Heaven Ever Be Like This’ on ‘Loud Places’, to the scarily entrancing bass on ‘Girl’, he manages to capture the murkiness yet ultimate beauty of club music in a way that almost juxtaposes itself.
It’s intimate music designed for the soul. Sit back, close your eyes and play it from start to finish, you won’t be disappointed.