Sunn O))) - Kannon & Ball
This project saw the hooded drone duo lighten their mood somewhat by hooking up with Lancashire comedy legend Bobby Ball. The results were every bit as epic as their 2014 collaboration with Scott Walker, if not quite as amusing.
Sufjan Stevens - Carey Lowell
Who would’ve thought that Sufjan Stevens’ most contemplative and emotional record to date would be a concept album dedicated to the actress best known for playing Jamie Ross in the television drama Law & Order? Carey Lowell was also a Bond girl in the 1980s and was married to Richard Gere for a number of years, so there was plenty of material for Stevens to draw on, much of it unbearably sad.
Wu-Tang Clan - Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
I’m happy to report that this is easily the greatest Wu-Tang record since A Better Tomorrow. GZA spits rhymes about science, RZA raps about chess and a posthumous sample of ODB makes a throaty, coughing sound throughout. Inspectah Deck capitalizes on the success of his game-changing 8 Diagrams line “Wu-Tang keep it fresh like Tupperware” by recommending a host of further food-preservation products: “cling film, jam jar, foil, flask or biscuit tin / Hello Kitty lunch box, that’s what I keep my sandwich in ... And don’t forget fridges, bitches!” The album features guest-spots not only from Cher but also Chrissie Hynde and Neneh Cherry, reprising their 1995 charity single ‘Love Can Build A Bridge’, this time transformed into ‘Love Can Build An Affluent Street-Drugs Cartel’. And having lifted dialogue from every vintage kung fu movie ever made, RZA resorts to sampling Steven Seagal’s 2002 box-office flop Half Past Dead.
Sunn O))) - Gammon
A mouth-watering drone-metal tribute to cured pork-leg steak.
Sleater-Kinney - All Sleaters To Love
Some predicted that Carrie Brownstein would never return to music after the success of Portlandia, yet she and comedy partner Fred Armisen eventually realised that you can’t go on forever tediously mocking hipster culture, perpetuating right-wing stereotypes of feminist bookstore owners and pretending to be Japanese. You can go on forever playing in a band though, as The Rolling Stones continue to prove. Like your typical reformation album, All Sleaters To Love paled in comparison to past glories such as 2005’s The Woods but everybody loved it anyway because it’s Sleater-Kinney, it’s 2015, and who else is there to write about?
Courtney Love’s Barnet - Sometimes I Sit And Think, “Live Through This Was Good, Wasn’t It?”
While its owner was busy making cameos in TV dramas and starring in a critically-acclaimed experimental opera, Courtney Love’s hairdo grew tired of waiting for another Hole album and decided to take matters into its own follicles by recording a solo album. It was quite a lo-fi affair but then it is difficult to play your instrument or competently operate a mixing desk when you’re made out of hair and perpetually high off peroxide fumes. ‘Elevathair Operathair’ and ‘Nobody Really Hairs If You Don't Go To The Parting’ were just two of the project’s many highlights.
Sunn O))) - Mmm Danone
A triple-album ambient-noise reimagining of the celebrated yoghurt brand’s iconic jingle.
Mark Lamarr - To Pimp A Buzzcock
Many wondered what had become of ex-The Word presenter Mark Lamarr since he ceased presenting his Radio 2 programme five years ago. Turns out he was only making the greatest hip-hop opus all time. Every bit as powerful as Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, Curtis Mayfield’s There’s No Place Like America Today and Des O’Connor’s Sing A Favourite Song, the album’s densely packed lyrics explored US race relations, white capitalism, slavery and the social perils faced by ‘50s throwback rockabilly quiff-wearers.
Godspeed You! Black Graperer - It’s Great When You’re Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress, Yeah!
2015 finally saw the release of the long-awaited collaboration between Canadian post-rockers Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Madchester legend Shaun Ryder’s second best band. Featuring tracks such as ‘The Helicopter’s Blades Preempt The Woeful Chalk Parable’, ‘#34-88-eta-FAQ’ and ‘Check Me Shakin’ Me Maracas, Luv’, the music swooped from thin drones to awe-inspiring cinematic crescendos, almost Wagnerian in their power and pomp, making Bez’s ability to dance to it all the more impressive.
Swans - A Very Swans Christmas
This December, Swans’ career reached new levels of success with the release of their first Christmas album. Alongside renditions of ‘Silent Night’ and ‘Ding Dong Merrily On High’ and covers of Slade, Wham! and Mariah Carey were original yuletide compositions, such as the tree-themed ‘To Be Kindling’, a jolly sleigh-bell ballad called ‘You Fucking People Make Me Saint Nick’ and a two-chord industrial noise track on which Michael Gira screamed the words “MOTHER”, “CHRIST” and “LAMENTABLE SPROUTS” for 38 festive minutes. Still, this Xmas LP proved more listenable than that Bob Dylan one.