A sixth form computer room in 1998, and it’s hard to imagine how excited I was to hear a low-quality 30 second clip of a song by Brazilian-American metal band Soulfly. It was the first time I had used this new-fangled internet thingy people were so excited about, and of course the first thing I wanted to use it for was to listen to music. I sat, headphones on, in awe and wonder at the idea that I could hear a bit of a song without buying the CD or waiting for it to come on the radio. Little did I know where it would lead.
Stepping back a bit, to 1993, when music began to truly matter to me, options for hearing the kind of music I loved were very limited. Evenings on Radio 1 were pretty much the only place you could hear indie or alternative music and I listened religiously to the Evening Session, John Peel and Mark & Lard. MTV existed (and was still primarily a channel that played music videos), but not in my house. You might get the occasional band or video I liked on Top of the Pops or The Chart Show (the first place I heard Nirvana incidentally), but you could hardly rely on it.
I knew that 2015 was going to be a good year for music when Sleater-Kinney, Belle & Sebastian and Bjork had all released albums within weeks of its’ start. Pretty much every artist whose albums I look forward to released one in 2015. The only downside to which is that there were many new (or new to me) artists who released great albums but couldn’t quite squeeze into my top 10. Haiku Salut, Ultimate Painting, Kendrick Lamar, Holly Herndon & Sleaford Mods are all albums well worth checking out. But on to the list (Spotify playlist of all ten albums below)
10. Joanna Newsom – Divers
Joanna Newsom is one of my all time favourite artists, and the person whose song this site is named after, so after waiting 5 and a half years for a new album, expectations were high to say the least. So, for Divers to simply be a very good album was a slight disappointment. It lacks the epic scope of Have One On Me or Ys, and the direct melodies of The Milk Eyed Mender, but is intricate, always interesting and more musically varied than anything she has produced before. Released late in the year, it may have time to grow on me yet. Even a slightly underwhelming Joanna Newsom album is better than most albums released any year.