This year, there was quite a lot of good music released. Here's my shortlist of things that I bought, and a few words about each. Most of these were released this year, but some were just things that I discovered this year. In chronological purchase order:
- January 4th: TR/ST - Joyland (released March 2014).
Very dark. Very synthy. Completely unintelligible male vocals. Good background music, but also can be dancey, too. Recommend. Standout tracks: Capitol.
- January 20th: Above & Beyond - We Are All We Need (released January 20th)
Yep, that sure was a modern Above & Beyond album. It was not terrible, but it didn't get much airplay from me. Felt around 130bpm most of the way. I think I listened to it once or twice; even more EDM-feeling than Group Therapy. Track notes: Hello was not as bad as the club version (less obnoxious EDM drop, and is actually listenable on the album); the Justine Suissa track, Little Something was very Justine Suissa, and she stands out as one of the better collaborators (both male and female) from A&B's work; Making Plans was a *super* emotional track when Tony McGuinness sang it live in the Acoustic show, but you don't have to worry about crying on the album version because Alex Vargas completely butchers it (mostly it's just that it's something that only Tony can do, I think); and Excuses is a Tony McGuinness track and it is cheesy and it is probably the best thing on the album because I grin every time I hear it.
- February 27th: Gareth Emery - Drive (released March 2014)
Trance. EDM. Recommend.
Yep, it's a Gareth Emery artist album, but thankfully, that means far better things than an Above & Beyond album. I think I have fewer words to say about it because it was less disappointing. I really liked it, and probably bought it because I discovered his radio show, Electric For Life, this year. (More on that later.) Standout track is probably Long Way Home, but it really only makes sense in album context (it's the last track). Go listen to the entire album; you'll have a little bit of EDM fatigue at the beginning, but by the end, you'll be so glad you stuck it out. Failing that, other standout track is the single with Bo Bruce, U.
- February 27th: Aly & Fila - The Other Shore (released October 2014)
Electronic. Uplifting trance. Oh my god, uplifting trance. Like, 138bpm uplifting trance. Recommend.
If you like 138bpm uplifting trance, you probably already know about Aly & Fila, and you'll like it. Probably bought this because I discovered their radio show, Future Sound of Egypt, sometime late 2014. I went to their mini-festival this year celebrating the 400th episode of their radio show. Generally solid all the way through (recommend listening to the entire album), but standout track that makes me stand up on the bike pedals, bike faster, and sing until I run out of breath is Running.
- March 12th: Infected Mushroom - Friends On Mushrooms (released January 6th)
Electronic. Psytrance, nominally, but really dubstep. Mostly an "assorted things" album. Die-hard Infected Mushroom fans should buy it, others can probably skip it. Standout track: Now is Gold.
- April 6th: Four Tet - Beautiful Rewind (released October 2013)
Electronic. Downtempo. I think I bought it and listened to it once because I like Four Tet, but then forgot about it and never really had cause to listen to it again. I feel like if I'm in the mood for Four Tet, I just go listen to Pause or Rounds instead.
- April 17th: Kyle Kinane - I Liked His Old Stuff Better (released January 27th)
Stand-up comedy. Recommend, if you like stand-up comedy. Recommend, actually, even if you don't. Standout sketch: This Track is Not Called If It Ain't Ruff ("God bless you, cat.").
- April 23rd: Delerium - Rarities & B-Sides (released April 21st)
Electronic. Delerium; mostly synthpop, some more or less so. Recommend for Delerium fans, everyone else can skip.
It's an album of "stuff we found". Some of it is good (Glimmer is a new track that would be completely in place on Music Box Opera, and how can you not like an Emily Haines track). Some of it is, uh, not (W&W, frankly, should be shot for what they did to Silence). Standout track is still Daylight, which was originally on Poem, but is still a fantastic track.
- June 8th: Muse - Drones (released June 8th)
Rock. Borderline recommend.
It's actually a good album, ok? Like, there are a few tracks that would be in-place on The Resistance (i.e., Mercy, which is totally a Muse-goes-Queen number)... and a bunch more feels like it would not be completely out of line even with the old Absolution sound! So it's a really good return to form compared to The 2nd Law, which I bought and then was disgusted by and listened to only once. Of course, I've only listened to this one once, too, maybe with a few singles once or twice, and I think the problem is that there's just so much other good Muse that you could listen to.
Anyway. Maybe it will get some car airplay on the way up to Tahoe this year. We'll see. Catchiest track that makes me sing the loudest in the car is probably Mercy.
- June 15th: Jamie xx - In Colour (released June 2nd)
Electronic. Downtempo. It's a Jamie xx album (of The xx fame). Bought it, listened to it once. Realized that if I want The xx, I'll listen to The xx.
- July 12th: Seeming - Worldburners EP (released July 10th)
Alex Reed, whatever you classify Alex Reed as. Not really goth, but that's the closest sweeping label. Recommend if you are a die-hard Alex Reed fan.
It's an EP with a bunch of stuff that I don't really like and a few tracks that I do like. The title track was not great ("Worldburners Unite"); maybe the two mixes of it summed up to one good one. The Iris remix of Everything Could Change is very Iris, and therefore is very good. Standout track: Holy Fire.
- July 23rd: Symphony X - Underworld (released July 24th)
Progressive metal. AH'VE BEEN TO HAIL AND BACK, AH CAN'T JUSTIFAH, BELEEVIN' THA LAH. Recommend if you like prog metal.
Better than SymX has been in a long while, which isn't saying much. But actually pretty good. I think my feeling about it is that it's what Paradise Lost should have been: PL was supposed to be a heavier album, but the problem was that it was also a *bad* album. This is heavier than they used to write, but also is not terrible. It has appropriate doses of cheese (Swansong), and ballads (Without You), and heavy stuff, and brain catchy stuff. Standout track: To Hell and Back.
- August 14th: Nada Sadhana - Brooklyn Sessions, Vol. 1 (released August 2011)
Yoga music. Came by way of my teacher. Probably mostly of meaning to me because it is tied in my brain to one class that I took once as part of my teacher training. But it's good stuff, in general, and actually probably decent background working music. Standout track: Three Aums.
- September 21st: Infected Mushroom - Converting Vegetarians II (released September 11th)
Electronic. Psytrance. Recommend.
It is *totally* a worthy successor to the original in name, Converting Vegetarians. It is all over the place, but all of it feels like Infected Mushroom. I love it and have listened to it a bunch and will listen to it a bunch more. The beginning of the album is super strong, and the end is mostly forgettable... but the beginning of the album is basically strong enough to make up for the rest of it. Standout track: Demons of Pain.
- September 21st: Metric - Pagans In Vegas (released September 18th)
Synthpop. Dancey. Recommend.
If you were looking for another Metric album, this sure is one. I think I like Synthetica a little better (tracks from those get stuck in my head, but not a whole lot from this yet), but there's a lot of good stuff on this album. Lots of bleeps and bloops. Standout track: The Shade.
- October 9th: BT - Electronic Opus (released way later than BT promised)
Orchestral, in theory. Actually electronic. Anti-recommend.
I know. I know, I know. Above & Beyond Acoustic was super strong, and you really want orchestral and acoustic versions of a bunch of BT's stuff. You were really looking forward to Simply Being Loved orchestrally, and Forget Me, and Skylarking has so much potential, and actually all of it has huge amounts of potential and this is awesome! And here I am to tell you, god what a total waste. The mix is really, really bad -- like, I think These Silent Hearts (or something on there) has little *skips* in the left channel, even in the 24/96 mix. The orchestra is completely hidden under all the electronic stuff. It is the biggest waste of a fantastic idea that I've seen in a while. I just wanted it to be so good, and it just makes me so, so, so angry.
- November 6th: Beborn Beton - A Worthy Compensation (released September 4th)
Electronic. Goth. Synthpop. Kind of dark, but not super dark. Recommend.
It's a new Beborn Beton album! It's great! It's got all the cheese that you expect. It's not the same style as Another World, but it's still really good. A bunch of it sticks in my head. The more I listen to it, the more I like it, really. Standout track: Last Day on Earth, which was the single. It makes me want to dance.
- November 19th: Conjure One - Holoscenic (released November 20th (finally!))
Electronic. Atmospheric. Kind of dark. Recommend, mostly.
It's a new Conjure One album! It doesn't feel as Conjure One as everything else Conjure One; a lot of it is more atmospheric than the previous albums, and some of it almost feels EDMish. It has grown a bunch on me; at the beginning I didn't totally love it, but I do quite like a bunch of it now; some of it get stuck in my head, and some of it gets into rotation on my playlist, too. A favorite track at the moment: Miscreant (more atmospheric). More vocal and dancey: Kill the Fear.
- December 31st: Armin van Buuren - A State of Trance Yearmix 2015 (released December 18th)
It's Dutch trance, it's all the goddamn same. It sure is an ASoT yearmix. The intro is hilarious. It just gets weirder and weirder every year. But I don't think I'll listen to it again, I suspect.
So that's what I bought this year. Some honorable mentions for extra credit -- not things that I bought, but things that happened this year:
- CHVRCHES - Every Open Eye. It's a CHVRCHES album. I didn't like it enough to buy it. It all kind of blends together for me. But if you want more CHVRCHES, there you go.
- Ashbury Heights - The Looking Glass Society. Goth, dark synthpop. Came out this year. Jeff bought it. I like it. Has good stuff on it.
- New Order - Music Complete. Hee hee! It's a new New Order album! I didn't know they were still making music! I really should buy it. It's a fun album.
- Aesthetic Perfection - Blood Spills Not Far From The Wound. EBM (#EBMnotEDM!). Aesthetic Perfection did a cleaner rerecording of his old Necessary Response stuff. I like the original better, but if you're a fan of the old material and his new style, you probably want it.
- Older Delerium! I discovered Poem and Semantic Spaces (ambient, trance). I actually listen to them more than I listen to Nuages du Monde or Chimera now. Go listen to these albums. You won't regret it. Daylight is a great track. A Poem for Byzantium is a great track.
- Some older Conjure One. I really really like Extraordinary Ways and Face the Music.
- The BBC Proms did an Radio One Ibiza Prom, which is everything that Electronic Opus absolutely should have been. All your favorite electronic music, fully orchestrated. The highlight is them doing the bridge of Faithless - Insomnia for like five minutes. It's the best thing.
- Gareth Emery - Electric For Life 2015. I haven't listened to it, or bought it yet, but I should. His radio show, Electric for Life is amazing. If you don't listen to it, you should. As much as Trance Around The World -- er, I mean, Group Therapy -- has gone downhill, I really love Gareth's show. If you used to listen to my friend Lee's podcast, Eclectic Electric, this is basically like that, except every week, and done by a professional. He did a six hour open to close set a few months ago, which I listened to on a road trip to Tahoe and back, and it made me really wish I was there.
So there's, in a bunch of words, last year in music. What have you got? What did I miss?