best of 2015 playlist | half of part two

So, here we are, in 2016. And it's time for (half of) part two of my crazy best of 2015 playlist post. Just a reminder: the post features part III (if you missed I and II, go here | if you want to listen to the list in its entirety, go here), the album name is contiguous to the song, and I wrote a bit of an album review for each one I mentioned. Again, they are in no particular order. Here we go.

New York // Polaroid Memories | Urban Cone
Dust and Bones // Everything's Coming Up Roses | Night Terrors of 1927
Stream // Wellness | Last Dinosaurs
Break // Howl | Night Riots
Dug My Heart // Dopamine | BØRNS
Lost // Mister Asylum | Highly Suspect
Battle Lines // The Helio Sequence | The Helio Sequence
Ocean // Sounds EP | Flor

21. All Signs Point to Yes (EP): Does that voice sound familiar? It should, if you've listened to Tokyo Police Club.  All Signs Point To Yes is Dave Monks' solo project. This charming album is a bit of a break from TPC's sound, not in a lyrical sense, but in an instrumental one. Those heavier sounds belonging to (TPC's) songs like "Gonna Be Ready", "Juno", and "Cut Cut Paste" are traded in for bright and airy and abundant acoustics and pianos. The result is a loveable and folksy EP that exposes an even more personal side of Monks. 

22. Polaroid Memories (LP): Polaroid Memories is Urban Cone's second LP. The album retains the usual, feel-good bright and synth-drenched pop/rock that formed their (catchy) debut album, Our Youth. Every second of this LP is sure to plaster a smile on your face and fill you with a sense of elation--one which Urban Cone knows how to generate with unquestionable triumph. The eleven, danceable songs are pleasantly familiar, but introduce variations unique to only the group. Polaroid Memories appears to be another major step in the right direction. It's as if Urban cone will blow up at any moment (especially on account of "Come Back To Me", a collab with Tove Lo). 

23. Everything's Coming Up Roses (LP): The song, "Dust and Bones", is one that seized my attention (back in 2013, on the Guilty Pleas EP); it's the song that caused me to instantly become a fan of the group. The music Night Terrors of 1927 creates is fairly guitar-heavy, coupled with a well-balanced spread of '80s synths. Rather upbeat instrumentals are often juxtaposed against gloomy--sometimes haunting--lyrics to create an ominous air about the group. Their debut album consists of eleven songs, strategically crafted to intrigue and attract large audiences by presenting just enough pop influence for the band to grow in popularity with ease. 

24. Wellness (LP): Following a (long) 3 year break, Last Dinosaurs finally delivered their sophomore album, Wellness, and it is interlaced with a sense of well-polished perfection. Second albums tend to be either displays of little progress or of maturation . I'm thrilled to report that Wellness is definitely one of the latter. Last Dinosaurs stick to their tried and true formula which they invented with their debut, In A Million Years, but they seem to grow better. The guitar riffs, the bulky sections of bass, the variations in percussion are all still present and occasionally make way for echoed vocals and electronic influences. The lyrics are still personal and relatable. But, it seems as if the boys are attempting to stretch further out (and in all of the right directions). The song "Wurl" proves to be the greatest stretch, featuring a larger range of sounds than ever before. The album is easy to listen to and sure to satisfy.

25. Howl (EP): With the creation of this EP, Night Riots have firmly established their sound--a bold, propelled sonic exploration clouded with a thin layer of darkness. The six songs are certainly accomplished with shameless and fearless aspirations, sure to hit a multitude of listeners, regardless of preference. Howl is packed with mysterious fluctuations, yet it still manages to retain the sense of optimism an audience normally craves. 

26. Dopamine (LP): That falsetto voice. The dreamy synths. The distant chorus. All of these elements conjoin to fashion something unconventional and pleasing to the ear. BØRNS forged high expectations with the release of Candy, their second EP, and effortlessly surpassed any with this debut album. Dopamine possesses all of the right ingredients--cohesion, enchantment, enigma--for finding itself in the minds of many, many eager listeners. Relatively neutral lyrics are ingeniously overpowered by punchy sounds and, of course, very unique vocals. Though the album is nothing shocking, its celestial-like qualities make it another delectable one from 2015.

27. Mister Asylum (LP): Well, it's safe to say that Mister Asylum is a grand revival of rock and roll. This record isn't an experiment of new courses, instead, it's the breathing of new life into tried and true tactics. And it's beautifully executed, too. The LP strings you along on a restless journey--willingly or not--through some agonizing themes which not very many are brave enough to address. Stevens' crooning is able and resolute, without being overpowering; the lyrics are fearless and honest. Though Mister Asylum isn't an innovative record, it's far from ordinary. Highly Suspect may not be experimenting with today's novelties, but the band is definitely not bent on imitating predecessors. The boys, in a time of dependency on mainstream ideals, conceive something bitingly original. The ten songs serve as a refreshing slap in the face, waking the world up to change. Without a doubt, this attitude follows Highly Suspect onto the stage. The restlessness, the uncontrollable emotion. It's all there.

28. The Helio Sequence (LP): No, this isn't The Helio Sequence's debut album; it's actually their sixth. With each album released, I become more awe-struck and this one is no exception. When bands release a self-titled album this far into their career, they are usually looking to begin anew. Now, I wouldn't say that The Helio Sequence abandoned their old identity. Instead, the band immersed itself further into their signature sound, established by prior records and better refined it. The LP is full of the lush, kaleidoscopic sounds they are know for. The ten songs flow, one after another, in an uninterrupted, brilliant chain. "Upward Mobility" begs for attention with its wandering guitar riffs and dazzling sonic revelations. The following songs complete the notion and leave room for the concluding "Never Going Back"--a song consumed by a motley haze of floaty guitar, synthetic noises, and luminous, dizzying vocals.

29. Beverly Hells (EP): What's special about this EP is its versatility and cohesion. Every song is different, yet each sounds like it belongs to Swimm. Beverly Hells shows off the boys' wide range of skills, all neatly packaged and exploding with immense potential (which is impossible not to notice in concert). Swift tempo changes, psychedelic elements, and rock influences all contribute to a recipe for easy and enjoyable listening. "Suddenly" is a superb example of the band at its best; the closing song opens slowly and with the help of a harmonica before exploding into sinuous, ever-changing guitar riffs and disparate sounds, all flowing and plunging into changes in pace.

30. Sounds (EP): I discovered Flor when the band opened for Colony House and COIN. I was caught off guard (in the best way possible ) by their incredible sound and moved by Zachary Grace's gentle  vocals. The quartet creates delicious, whimsical indie pop layered with originality that is just pleading to be heard. Sounds is an EP meant to pull you in from the start and leave you looking for more than the four songs it includes.   

// I will post the last ten songs (Best of 2015: Part IV) next Wednesday, as I did not have an adequate amount of time to finish writing its set of reviews. I hope you enjoyed reading and listening. Until next week. xx

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