It’s a New Year, time to make your resolutions that you’ll keep till the 5th, and worry about all that Christmas weight you put on (don’t worry we think you look great with a bit of meat on your bones). But more than anything it’s time for reflection on 2015, the year grown men became ‘Beliebers’, we got a new Star Wars film that didn’t suck and we had a year of amazing music from so many incredible artists. Most importantly to me, this blog started, nearly a year ago and it was away for me to express how I feel about music and gain some control. I never thought anyone would read this thing, but it’s crazy how many of you did check this out and how many people wanted to be a part of Shoplifters Union, so thank you so much for that. And if you’re based in Manchester I hope you can help us celebrate our first birthday at Fallow Cafe on January 29th (tickers here). So here are the tracks Shoplifters Union enjoyed most in 2015, let’s hope 2016 is just as amazing for new music.
Author: Jake McGloin (Unless Stated)
- EL VY – Return to the Moon
The National’s Matt Berninger and Brent Knofp of Menomena came together to give us EL VY, ‘Return to the Moon’ is a snap beat track with a jiggered riff and nice addition of keys coasting it along. It’s a departure from former glories for EL VY members but theres hints of their previous work that gives it a familiar vibe but it’s a sidewise evolution from the likes of The National.
- Orlando Seale and The Swell – ‘Wrestling’
Orlando Seal always finds away to pull at your emotions and new single Wrestling is no different, with a feel that’s reminiscent of the National with a strange smattering of Editors. A thumping beat and an encapsulating hook, Wrestling invites us to view into the collapse of Seale’s personal life and share the heartbreak.
- Southern Holiday – Stay the Night
Who say’s you need to be in the same place to create awesome music, Brooklyn artist Morris and Montreal singer Laura Ohayon started creating their music via email for months before recording their debut EP in Jersey. The result is devastatingly addictive pop; our first taste ‘Stay the Night’ is filled with country vibes, big drums and heavenly riffs and hooks through out. Flawless vocal lines of winning melody resting atop an instant country-pop classic.
- Xylaroo – Sunshine
The sisters from London hit us with this folk pop tune that’s packed with good feels and sunny vibes. Acoustic excitement that’s as bright as these girls future, it’s happy sounds getting you ready for the summer already.
- The Maccabees – Marks To Prove It
One of Britain’s most under sold bands was back with an incredible track that surfed through tempo and noise. It was every thing we’ve come to expect from The Maccabees with a little more Garage rock in for good measure. An absolute guitar gem dictated by Orlando Weeks vocals that had us excited about British Indie again.
- The Crookes – The World Is Waiting
At the end of 2015 we got a taste for what to expect from the new Crookes album, ‘The World is Waiting’, melody driven, hard hitting punk pop. It’s what you’d expect from a band turning out stellar tunes for the past few years, exactly what a single should be. An unstoppable pop masterclass from Sheffield’s finest.
- Landmarks – Bones
From the bands EP ‘Fighting Gravity’ released this yeah, Bones is Landmarks latest single. Slow guitars and lead singer Brad Shea’s heart wrenching vocals build into an epic piece of music, particularly the huge drums at the end, that accompany this heart breaking video perfectly
- Womps – Live A Little Less
Glasgow two-piece dropped a track that’s dressed in 90’s style and fuzz. Masterfully stylish, it’s a throw back to skate grunge that touches on Dinosaur Jr. and Pixies vibes.
- The Starkins – Wasted
A rock steady beat and dreamy guitars that blend magically through verse and chorus in a gentle barrage of licks hooks and riffs. It’s powered indie pop that thunders down the tracks in parts, but it’s balance of melody and seamless vocals just make it a ready for radio belter. They’re a band of the verge of a big career and they’ve proved with ‘Wasted’ they have what it takes, writing songs this catchy isn’t easy but The Starkins make it look painless.
- Courtney Barnett – Depreston
This melancholy ditty really sums up the nomadic state of mind this generation has become accustomed to. This was the stand out track on the album for me – witty and slightly nostalgic for a rumoured past of financial security. (Beth de Cent)
- Mike Gary – St. Anthony
Mancunian poet Mike Gary with the help of Joe Duddle, took us through a history of Manchester’s culture and more than anything a beautiful tribute to Tony Wilson and all for a good cause.
- Kevin Rotherham – New York Love
Working on his new music in New York has really rubbed off on Kevin Rotherham’s sound; the first single from his up coming EP is the aptly named ‘New York Love’. It’s a tune that radiates cool, starting softly with tinny guitar stabs as more layers ease into the track. Lead by Kevin’s big rock vocal that track comes to life before your ears into an Indie floor filler. Riddle with small nods to act’s from the big apple, a beat that’d feel at home on a strokes single and a Television guitar tone, New York love is an exciting glimpse into an artist on the verge of mastering his craft.
- Wolf Solent -Hold On
At first glance, this lo-fi infused pop song bares a strikingly obvious resemblance to The Velvet Underground, but it’s more like a New York Beatles. This charming tune is a fuzzy, folk work of art, radiating good vibes!
- Hop Along – Waitress
Hop Along were finally back in 2015 , as Francis Quinlan and co’s Philly folk rock trio fire out this emotional charged, melody packed single that gives just a taste of the Hop Along evolution.
- Hey Bulldog – Making Friends Not Millionaires
Manchester three-piece, Hey Bulldog’s latest effort is a bass driven, psych rock master class, ‘Make Friends Not Millionaires’ is a slick, grooved out five minuet lesson in how rock & roll is made. Garage beats, and fuzzed up bass coupled with an array of genius hooks make this track unstoppable. Dark and stormy vibes that bring to mind BRMC and Black Keys at their finest, Hey Bulldog are a band that are growing with no end insight.
- The World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am No Longer Afraid To Die – Chest & Shirt
Taken from a split single, TWIABP teamed up with Rozwell kid who provide the other stellar tune but there is no doubt for me they steal the show with ‘Chest & Shirt’. It’s a much different set of feelings the Connecticut Emo Indies emote, with more hope than despair, powerful and heartbreaking as ever from a band never afraid to take chances in this hook packed, beat jammed new track.
- Broken Hands – Death Grips
It sounds filthy and beautiful. It pulsates, dictating your heartbeat. It is an awesome Drone-Rock track that proves all of Broken Hands credentials are up to scratch. People have had big hopes for the band who played support for The Rolling Stones, and this sounds like these hopes could finally come into fruition.
- San Francisco – Globelamp
Musical smackdown by Elizabeth le Fey mercilessly parodies the Foxygen hit that brought her and Sam France together. Vocals reminiscent of Bowie and Bush ambush the listener with such raw truths it makes you want to TP your ex boyfriends house. (Beth de Cent)
- Foals- What Went Down
The saying goes that you either evolve or you perish, and if there is any band out there that lives by this mantra it is Foals. They seem to be able to expand on their sound with every new album that they write. ‘What Went Down’ showcases their latest album brilliantly, stadium filling, massive, rocky riffs with Yannis’ usual lyrical prowess. (Thomas Durkan)
- Drake – Hotline Bling
Memes aside, and there were some great ones, Drizzy took a chilled beat and masterful hook that wouldn’t leave your head. A love story for modern times.
- The Brittanys – Want To Be
‘Want To Be’, is a jangley, beat heavy tune that seems to see’s the bands lo-fi garage roots blend with East Coast surf and British Indie rock. The tinny, guitar heavy track takes you away from your cares and worries in a haze of lo-fi that sounds just as lo-fi should, effortless.
(The track’s been taken down, but check the band out here)
- The Wonder Years – Cigarettes & Saints
The Wonder Years moved away from pop punk with fourth album No Closer to Heaven in 2015 and ‘Cigarettes & Saints’ shows just how capable the band is at writing a mid-tempo, Alt. Rock tune. Frontman Dan ‘Soupy Campbell’ has never sang with more passion. (Bradley Shea)
- Weekender – Floaty, Feeling Blue
Philadelphia chill rockers Weekender have had a pretty sweet year, support for Future Islands and Peace, and now gaining complacence to the likes of The Stone Roses and War on Drugs, it’s pretty impressive. But it’s all very much deserved. As the name suggests the latest the titles track from their EP, released in January, is jam packed with floaty vibes and indie pop guitars John Squire him self would envy, with under tones of Ash it’s got a real Brit Pop feel dipped in a fuzzy haze of magic.
- Little Racer – Montevideo
It’s a beautifully melodic tune littered with hooks and riffs that echo perfectly through your ears till they hit that part of your brain that makes you want to move your feet. Bouncy garage drums and a pulsing bass seamlessly layer throughout, coupled with Elliot Michaud’s smooth, reverbed vocals to top it off, out It’s surf pop at it’s finest.
- . Delta Palms – Do Ya, Don’t Ya
Manchester based multi-instrumentalist Delta Palms showcases his new track that’s laced in Rock & Roll from the tight beats to distorted vocals, it sounds loud and dripping with Miles Kane vibes. The one-man band manages an enormous Indie rock sound with west coast riffs for good measure.
- Gold Jacks – Take It Back
Stepping into your ears straightening it’s bow tie like a Bond theme song, Gold Jacks, ‘Take It Back’ is a seductive, swarve piece of Rock ‘n’ Roll with filthy undertones that have essence of QOTSA. Sleek guitar tones that ooze cool, rock solid beats and wintry ice-cold vocals that’ll send chills.
- Lois – Before You
Guitarist and vocalist of Trajano, Madrid based musician Louis went solo in 2015 his lo-fi sound was draped in captivated licks that came from retro roots, ‘Before You’ is like a cross between west coast surf and 60’s doo wop.
- The World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am No Longer Afraid To Die – January 10 2014
‘January 10th, 2014’ is not just a song, it’s a story. The World Is A Beautiful Place… play around with song structures a lot but this track is perhaps the best example of that, slowly building and dropping throughout until the ending explodes with punk energy. (Bradley Shea)
- Liam McClair – Honest
Manchester’s Liam McClair’s stunning acoustic pop single ‘Honest’ is an emotionally charged work that draws in ears and hearts a like. Feel good pop at it’s finest, McClairs vocal grows through out building like timbre around him in this folk pop master class that’s packed with heart.
- Lusts – Mouth Wash
Ever wondered what would happen if you took a song, covered it in glue and threw it into a pool of post punk? Leicester two-piece, Lusts, have- and it works beautifully. Mouthwash is a consistently riled up pop tune dressed in fuzz, synth and Stephen Morris style beats. There’s just something about this song that gives you the urge to move, or at least slowly sway your arms by your sides.
- False Advertising – Dozer
From the Manchester Fuzz trio’s amazing debut album which stole the show in 2015, Dozer, In true FA style, was packed with big riffs and heavy cymbals adding up to a real Sonic Youth esc pile of noise.
- Turnover – Hello Euphoria
Turnover’s second album, Peripheral Vision, saw the band tone down the Alt. Rock inspired sound that featured on their debut and head into a much more subdued direction with interesting dynamics. ‘Hello Euphoria’ is the pick of the bunch but the albums 11 tracks could all have featured somewhere in this end of year list. (Bradley Shea)
- Horsebeach – Disappear
Back in February Horsebeach dropped the first track from their brilliant second album, it’s a wavy guitars work with live drums that was showing even back then that the Manchester maestro Ryan Kennedy had something a little different planed for album number ‘II’
- Knuckle Puck – True Contrite
Knuckle Puck showed that pop punk isn’t all about pizza and posi-vibes with this mature offering from their debut album, Copacetic. These guys are one of the most exciting bands in the genre right now and will continue to grow in 2016. (Bradley Shea)
- Richard Lomax – Hotel X
Staring off like something out of Pulps ‘This Is Hardcore’ it’s a tune layered with beautiful guitar riffs and enticing lyrics from the Mancunian artists album ‘Down There For Dancing’. Just one excerpt from a great album but a perfect way to set the tone with a racing dynamic showcasing some of the best new Indie rock around.
- Cheap Haircuts – Madeline
Texas band Cheap ‘Hair Cuts’ seem to have had a pretty good 2015, topping it off with the single Madeline, like a wired fusion between Pavement and Modern Baseball, the Tweemo (Tween/Emo, can we make that a thing?) mix witty lyrics and grabbing melody to give one of the sounds of the year.
- Hayley Kiyoko – Girls Like Girls
Finally, a decent song for the LGBT community to replace the embarrassing I Kissed A Girl. The moving and cinematic music video is what really makes this catchy pop song stand out. Full length movie please. (Beth de Cent)
- States Champs – Secrets
Proving that the poppier side of pop punk doesn’t have to be all about All Time Low and 5 Seconds of Summer, State Champs crafted one of the catchiest songs of the year with the lead single from second album Around the World and Back. (Bradley Shea)
- Modern Baseball – The Thrash Particle
The post emo Philadelphia bands new EP this year takes a different approach to their last album ‘You’re Gonna Miss It All’. It’s a little more low-key to start with but just as witty as anything these guy have written before, lyrically and musically. Bursting into an explosion of noise like nothing else ‘The Thrash Particle’ is just a perfect taste of what to expect from the future of Modern Baseball.
- Father John Misty- Chateau Lobby #4 (in C For Two Virgins)
Tillman has been around for 11 years, whether that’s been drumming for Fleet Foxes or playing his own brand of folk. But in 2015 he took his act to a whole new level. Singing about love whilst being both Ironic and deeply honest, he has chiseled out a sound that is quite unique. Chateau Lobby is an ode to past love and it also has mariachi horns. Nuff said. (Thomas Durkan)
- Bring Me The Horizon – Throne
2015 saw BMTH secure their highest position in the UK album charts to date when That’s the Spirit went to number 2 in September. ‘Throne’ is the band at their most accessible, featuring electronic heavy instrumentation and a chorus hook catchier than most pop songs. (Bradley Shea)
- Justin Bieber – What Do You Mean?
With probably the best use of pan pipes all year Justin Bieber seemed to turn everything around performing a complete T-Swift and then some. With the album purpose turning everyone that would listen into a Belieber ‘What Do You Mean’ became an anthem for anyone in their mid 20’s admitting it’s cool not to be cool.
- Feed The Kid – Coming Back For You
Manchester’s feed the kid release ‘Coming Back For You’, it’s slick, cool and littered with nods to glam rock. A retro sound that feels more current than ever the single is a powerhouse from start to finish with it’s pumping bass, strong beats and audacious riffs. Melody heavy through out it’s a stunning three minuet wonder.
- Landmarks – 40mg
The Manchester Pop Punk band returned to the fold this year with their new show stopping EP ‘Fighting Gravity’ released on ‘Ship Records’. 40mg is a huge pop tune that fires beautifully crafted melody straight to the heart. The big drums and guitar riffs hold subtle nods to American emo bands like Taking Back Sunday, while still showing us really what the British pop punk scene is all about.
- Horsebeach – It’s Alright
Another Hightlight from ‘II’ was this dreamy guitar working featuring some of the finest boy/girl vocals of the year. A heavenly melody to match it was a dream when it landed in August.
- Ryan Adams- Bad Blood
How do you become a genius like Ryan Adams? You take one of the biggest selling pop albums of all time and song by song you make it better. It’s simple. Or at least that’s how he made it look. There are not many artists out there that would be able to conquer such a feat, but Adams did and his stripped back, dreamy cover of Bad Blood is the biggest example of that. (Thomas Durkan)
- Fabric – Jungle
Derry two-piece Fabric’s debut single ‘Jungle’ is a modern post-punk master class; imagine early Joy Division with added cowbell. Rock solid beat and a steady bass from Lorcan Hamilton and Ruairi Coyle with beautiful tremoring ambiance, it’s bloody exciting.
- Kendrick Lamar – King Kunta
‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ dropped in March and set the standard for every hip-hop album to come after it. Compton’s finest proved that he is the best rapper to come out since Kanye West with songs such as ‘King Kunta.’ It’s funky, fierce and has an empowering message behind it. What more can you ask for? (Thomas Durkan)
- Worst Party Ever – Kicking (My Self In The Face)
WPE just kind of showed up on my lap one day, someone recommended another band to me and I loved them, but through that I found these guys, and something about their scrappy, give it all but don’t give a fuck sound hit home with me, and this song just sums it up. Taken from their EP released at the end of February, which is frankly one best things we’ve heard this year, ‘Kicking’ is an energetic example of just what the underground American scene is capable of right now. This songs tinny guitars and awesome lyrics bring to mind bands Modern Baseball and Los Campesinos!. WPE are Florida based and creating exciting honest music that’ll leave you needing more.
- False Advertising – Wasting Away
This is the song that got me the most excited this year, the one when I first heard it I thought, this band are onto something special, so there’s no doubt that it had to be my number one. False Advertising had so music hype building around them, as if from nothing and it all started, for me at least, from this track. A shower of guitar fuzz, a kick ass beat and a thick bass line like a vein through the song, ‘Wasting Away’ is a breath of fresh air. Manchester’s newest alt gods, False Advertising, feel a little different from all the false idols we’ve seen lately, this is the real deal.