Friday, December 11, 2015

My Albums of the Year (from Other Years)

Next week, I'll be compiling a list of what I feel to be the best albums released this year. Which artists will make my top ten? Which outstanding LP will follow in the hallowed footsteps of MEN by Quiet Marauder and Days of Abandon by The Pains of Being Pure at Heart? Will Sun Kil Moon's Universal Themes do as well as Benji did last year?

These questions will be answered next Friday (although Mark Kozelek, if he's reading this, probably shouldn't hold his breath on that last one). In the meantime, I have a different sort of list to share with y'all: a list of superb albums that weren't released in 2015.

You see, my CD-buying budget isn't exclusively reserved for brand new releases, and many of the albums that touched my soul this year were released...y'know, in the past. The five records listed below would be ineligible for any self-respecting 'Best of 2015' list worth its salt, but they've nonetheless brought me a lot of enjoyment this year, and I feel that this deserves to be recognised in itself.

So, without further ado, here are my Top 5 Albums of 2015 (That Weren't Released in 2015):

5. Wishmaster by Nightwish
Released May 2000
I was given this album as a Christmas present back in 2013, but I only really discovered the full extent of its brilliance this year. I particularly love Bare Grace Misery, which should have been the theme for Gladiators, and FantasMic, a mind-blowing multi-part metal odyssey about, um, Disney movies. Trust me, it's far more epic than I've just made it sound.

4. The Football Albums: National Conference by DiskothiQ
Released October 1999
I know next to nothing about American football, but what little I do know, I know because of National Conference. This album was well worth the zero pounds I paid for it, not least because it's home to Falcons, one of the most irresistibly annoying songs I've ever heard (it used to drive Vicky up the wall; now she sings along with me every time. Atlaaanta! Faaalcons!)

3. Lupercalia by Patrick Wolf
Released June 2011
A far cheerier album than I'd come to expect from its author, Lupercalia remains the most recent step on my long-belated discovery of Mr Wolf's back catalogue. The second half of this set (everything from Time of My Life onwards) is damn near flawless, a trait it shares with Echo & The Bunnymen's Ocean Rain; if that's not high praise then I'm not sure what is.

2. Flux Capacitor by The Burning Hell
Released May 2011
The Burning Hell may well be the best band I discovered this year, although the album that spearheaded their rocking of my world in 2015 is actually a solid four years old. Flux Capacitor is a gem of a record, and a colourful one at that - I adore its blend of upbeat stompers (e.g. Bedtime Stories, Pirates, Nostalgia) and gentler, more emotive tracks (I challenge you to find a more gut-wrenching one-two than Kings of the Animal Kingdom and One Works Days, One Works Nights).

1. Down the River of Golden Dreams by Okkervil River
Released September 2003
Wow. I thought I liked Okkervil River before I bought this album, but now...jeez. It boggles my mind that people consider Black Sheep Boy to be their magnum opus; I mean, I haven't *heard* BSB yet, but surely it can't be better than this? Can it?

Can it?

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