Slow Thrills albums of 2015: solo acts

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Last year I was ridiculously pleased to get my list down to a tidy top 20, and this year I stretched it to a top 25. Many fine albums just missed inclusion, and they are so close together in quality that I thought that a longer post would be the only way to do them justice. I have bunched together these forty or so albums into four vague categories in order to escape the monotony of an unwieldy chart.

Solo acts 1 - experimental approaches (s)=stream via Spotify (r)= my review
Colleen 'Captain of None' (s) | Anna Von Hausswolff 'The Miraculous' (s) | Eric Chenaux 'Skullsplitter' (s) | Holly Herndon 'Platform' (s) | Chelsea Wolfe 'Abyss' (s) | Lonelady 'Hinterland' (s) | Circuit des Yeux 'in Plain Speech' (s) | Jenny Hval ‘Apocalypse, Girl’ (s)

Is it a coincidence that seven of these eight albums are made by female acts? Anna von Hausswolff and Chelsea Wolfe (distant cousins perhaps?) did a great job of incorporating heavier elements into their cathartic music. Colleen made a comeback of sorts with a haunting dub-influenced record performed solely on the viola de gamba, whilst Lonelady built on the strengths of her first few singles to release a full-length which delivered an infectiously funky take on post-punk. Eric Chenaux mangled his guitar into strange but beautiful shapes, Holly Herndon embraced ASMR for an album of challenging electronica which never seemed to sound the same twice. Jenny Hval took similar sonic leaps and moved further away from the rock influences of Innocence is Kinky and Circuit des Yeux pitched herself somewhere between Scott Walker and Nico foe her engaging In Plain Speech.

Solo acts 2 - the singer and the song

Sarah Cracknell 'Red Kite' (s) | Jessica Pratt 'On Your Own Love Again' (r) | Ryley Walker 'Primrose Green' (s) | Dan Mangan & Blacksmith 'Club Meds' (r) (s) | Ezra Furman 'Perpetual Motion People' (s) | Jeffrey Lewis and Los Bolts 'Manhattan' (s)

Dare we call this lot singer-songwriters? The craft of songwriting was still alive and kicking in 2015, with the likes of Courtney Barnet and Fr John Misty dominating many end-of-year charts. For whatever reason, those two acts didn’t click with me in the way that these others did. Jessica Pratt continued write some oddly beautiful psychedelic folk tunes and Ryley Walker mined the same period of musical history, paying faithful tribute to Tim Buckley along the way. Ezra Furman also dug deep into rock n roll’s past glories and made a record that got close to the energy of his remarkable live shows. A similar point could be made about Jeffrey Lewis whose lovingly packaged Manhattan was packed full of folk songs with a post-punk flavour. Sarah Cracknell broke away from her long term home of Saint Etienne to deliver a lovely record of gentle folk-pop, and Dan Mangan brought his backing band Blacksmith on to equal footing on the bleak, downbeat and sadly overlooked Club Meds.

Coming next>>>> comeback special - and some who never went away.... >>>>

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