What a year it was – 2015.
Now, the top 10 is chosen by all of us here at Sound of Aarhus, and it’s never easy to pick out only 10 releases when you’re presented with that many albums and EP’s during the year. As always, we’d love to hear your opinion, so feel free to share what you consider the best releases from last year.
Before we get on with the top 10, this is our chance to put some words on what we experienced last year, what kind of music scene we witnessed. On the local matter, we witnessed more and more interest in live music. That’s really important to us, as we’ve been struggling with the idea of Spotify and discount beer taking over from the experience of being at a concert. The local scene only survives if we’re making use of it, so thanks!
When looking at the entire Danish scene, last year was sort of … weird? There’s been many debates going on, especially on who has the power, and how they’re making use of it.
We’ve got so many talented musicians in this small country, and it’s up to all of us who enjoy it to make sure that these guys are heard. It’s time to realize, that some of those who hold the power aren’t experiencing music the same way as we are. They aren’t using music in the same way, and they aren’t touched by music in the same way.
The many debates are important, and they remain important in 2016.
Here’s the Top 10 in no specific order:
Mew – ‘+/-‘
Mew’s original (and even expanded) original line-up came back in a big way with their brilliant 5th LP. SOA seemed to have the definitive review on it earlier in the year – and Mew engaged audiences new and old worldwide with their timeless blend of indie/Prog/Math rock. The more I listen to this album – even still – the more layered and complex it reveals itself to be. If this band is capable of more material as good or even as better than this, the world will collectively lose their shit.
Vinnie Who – ‘Harmony’
Vinnie Who released this LP (most notably on vinyl) via a label that sells exclusively for Tiger – I think we’ve covered that – but what really blows my mind is that it’s actually really good. It seems like he totally ditched the retro-disco thing of previous work for a more mellow Beatles-gone-solo vibe. It’s a masterfully written and produced album from top to bottom and certainly the best value for money of any record you could buy in this country – no small wonder it sold well and is currently wall-art in every fake ass hipster’s apartment. If you actually manage to play it – you will be rewarded.
Yung – ‘These Thoughts Are Like Mandatory Chores’
Yung are Aarhus – Aarhus is Yung. The rest of the critical world is currently enamored with Yung too – so it’s nice that they actually put out a good record. If anything, this EP serves as a palette cleanser between their harder (and out of print) first LP – “Alter” – and was released on Fat Possum in the USA (home to The Black Keys etc.) and what is to come next – hopefully a full album that everyone can sink their teeth into. There are some bangin’ tunes on here and really shows that Yung is capable of a range of sounds and emotions – lets just hope they remember us when they are gazillionaires.
ONBC – ‘Crash, Burn & Cry’
They might have a shitty name (shortened from “Oliver North Boys Choir”), however these guys and dolls put together a fantastic record in this year’s “Crash Burn & Cry”. The sound is – to be honest – reminiscent of once-fellow-label mates – Raveonettes, but nonetheless, you can’t go wrong with melancholy dream pop. This album really affected
me – maybe it’s because I’ve been coming home and getting ripped on cheap wine
and writing ironic reviews of Rema 1000’s finest on Vivino, maybe because it’s even a great record sober.
Communions –‘Communions EP’
I know there’s a LOT of 80’s inspired, Danish music out there right now, and everything seems to be drowning in synth sounds, guitar strokes and tunes simulating the ‘30 plus’ year old vibe. Despite this, I still think that Copenhagen-based Communions brings something new to the table with their second EP.
I admit it… I’m an incarnated The Cure fan, so I cant’ help liking the Communions for their forthright 80’s sound with electronic, echoing guitars and crisp boy-ish vocals. Especially ’Forget It’s a Dream’, ’Summer’s Oath’ and ’Out of My World’ are songs that inevitably will catch your attention if they have not already. With this EP, Communions delivers an additional definition to the soft punk rock genre, and in a very talented way, even.
Go Go Berlin – ‘Electric Lives’
The Danish rock group proves that rock’n’roll can live on in popular music without compromise. With catchy tunes, well played riffs and playful vocals, Go Go Berlin convinced me that rock is still alive in Denmark. The album varies from ballads and more progressive expressions to straight out feel good songs, perfectly supplemented by the music video for ‘Kids’. At least for my part, Electric Lives stood out as a good listening experience and a hope for rock’n’roll.
Benal – ‘Opstigning’
The dark, electronic tones and texts of Benal in the album ’Opstigning’ really prove that Danish hiphop has moved and shape-shifted quite a bit the last year. Benal mixes the electronic sounds and deep bass of Albert with Benjamin’s masculine and low-pitched vocals. This creates a nice harmonic mood that stems throughout the album. The album is filled with energy, and especially the single ’Hiphop’ has lead the album to the list of best Danish releases in 2015. Other successes on this album are ‘Hun’ and ‘029’ where the lyrics are also rough, written with a mix of everyday references and slang, but swept in hard rhythms and danceable beats. It all makes you love this album for its dark tones and honest expression
Blaue Blume – ‘Syzygy’
We’ve been around this band quite a lot here at Sound of Aarhus, and I feel certain we’ll stay fans of Blaue Blume for a long, long time. Jonas Smith is, IMO, the most gifted singer we’ve got, but it seems like they’ve grown as a band with this album, since their hit ‘Lost Sons of Boys’. The album is filled with atmosphere and nerve, something you could miss every now and then doing what we do.
Several songs on the album has been played heavily on Danish radio, but it is ‘Sky’ and ‘Thinking Of Roxy’ that turned out to be the two hits from this record. Obvious, as they are extraordinary songs. However, we owe it to ourselves to play the ‘Syzygy’ as a whole.
Den Sorte Skole – ‘Indians & Cowboys’
It was a great surprise to suddenly hear from Den Sorte Skole again, but as with several artists from this list, there was a great deal of expectations. Their last record was somewhat of a masterpiece, so to me it seemed almost impossible to maintain that level – however, that’s just what they’ve done. ‘Indians & Cowboys’ is creative and challenging, but still easy listening. It can be used in almost every situation, mood or activity. I guess what I’m trying to say is, that they’ve done it again! Besides listening to their music, I strongly recommend following them on Facebook, you might learn a thing or two.
The Minds of 99 – ‘Liber’
I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing this band many, many times now. Venues, festivals (back to back) and I’ve had their first record as a go-to album, when I couldn’t find something new to listen to. Their first record turned The Minds of 99 into this established name and created this incredible hype. It gave them the opportunity of playing anywhere they wanted, and it even gave them the opportunity to open the Orange stage at Roskilde Festival.
A year and a half after their first album, ‘Liber’ is released, and it turned them into stars.
It’s refreshing to finally have a band that challenges the way we think, how we consider ourselves and others. It’s refreshing to have a band that most people can gather around, no matter what genre you usually prefer listening to. It’s refreshing to have a band that can reach this status, but still show their audience that they really appreciate them and appreciate being on stage. It’s refreshing to have a band that can release an album like ‘Liber’.