The 2015 Nully Awards

The Good

Album of The Year
Chvrches – Every Open Eye
I cannot overstress how much I love this album. Hell, I even like the tracks where Lauren Mayberry doesn’t sing. It is an extremely catchy album from start to finish.

[youtube https://youtu.be/QpFXXPruuqU]

Don’t Call it a Comeback award
New Order – Music Complete
Dogged by rumours of a breakup, a public (and frankly kind of childish) rift between a few of the founding members, and a few decent-but-not-great albums since their glory days of the late 80’s, I really didn’t expect much from New Order anymore. But Music Complete is probably their most solid work since 93’s Republic. A few weird tracks, sure, but “Singularity” and “Plastic” remain some of their best work since the 80’s.

[youtube https://youtu.be/THwp-hWtC5Y]

Okay, Call it a Comeback award
Conjure One – Holoscenic
Rhys Fulber’s solo project had a stellar debut, a sort of “meh” second album, a decent but forgettable third album, and the new fourth album seems to represent more of a return to what made the first album interesting – pop hooks and vocals interspersed with the ambient synth bleeps.

[youtube https://youtu.be/G063JME_4yA]

Cover Album of the Year
Ryan Adams – 1989
I won’t lie, I enjoyed Taylor Swift’s mega-blockbuster “1989.” It was pure pop, and not especially deep, but it was damned catchy songwriting. I also generally find Ryan Adams somewhat annoying. HOWEVER. His front-to-back cover album of Swift’s album is astonishing. “Out of the Woods” and “Welcome to New York” play like lost Smiths tracks, and there’s a distinct, low-key Springsteen vibe to “Shake It Off.”

[youtube https://youtu.be/i65kX8cnswg]

Best Album By A Guy Who Stood Up At My Wedding
The Dark Clan – Hall of Fame
As usual, Dan, Mercy and Lane run a dizzying gamut of genres, rolling soaring power-pop with industrial dance, gritty synth-funk and arena rock, and yet it all flows and makes sense. It’s some of their best work yet, a fun singalong album with a distinct vein of melancholy.

[youtube https://youtu.be/tPH9SEtOovA]

Second Album Reinvention Award
Purity Ring – Another Eternity
I really enjoyed their first album, “Shrines”, but the claustrophobic pseudo-witch-house production didn’t leave a lot of directions in which to go. Instead, for their sophomore effort, they made an angular synthpop album. Elements of pop-EDM creep in, but are twisted in odd ways; a rave-cliche hoover lead becomes a distant accent, and trap-like beats take a backseat to sweet vocals and shimmery pianos.

[youtube https://youtu.be/PPh51zP0UhA]

Noise.
HEALTH – DEATH MAGIC
If you had told me last year I’d think an album by an experimental noise-rock band was one of the year’s best, I would’ve thought you were crazy.  But this assault of screeching noises, hammering beats, and distressed guitars is anchored by melodic vocals, odd little depeche-mode-y synth flourishes, and tempered by some solid hooks.

[youtube https://youtu.be/G1qvEr9bC6c]

Best Single I Released All Year
Null Device – Wardrobe
[cough]

[youtube https://youtu.be/lH8tJFOeqXo]

Mirror Universe Award
Grimes – Art Angel

In the “Mirror Universe” of Star Trek, it’s likely that Claire Boucher’s project has multiple #1’s on the radio, and Taylor Swift is some sort of indie darling.  And they both have goatees.  But Art Angel is weird, wonderful, off-kilter pop music, as though a normal radio hit were slightly modified and then sung by a pixie coming down from a cocaine jag.

[youtube https://youtu.be/Lveqodcepjs]

Slow Burn Award
Metric – Pagans In Vegas

Every Metric album has slightly underwhelmed me at first listen, but always proven to be pretty great on subsequent listens.  Pagans in Vegas is no exception.

[youtube https://youtu.be/3WftsqQGCi4]

Old Guys Makin’ Beats
JM Jarre – Electronica One: The Time Machine/Giorgio Moroder – Deja Vu

Two venerated giants of electronic music’s formative years came out of semi-retirement with remarkably good albums.  Moroder continues to do what he’s always done – make infectious dance music with a driving bassline.  Jarre collaborated with everyone from Pete Townshend to Vince Clarke and M83.

[youtube https://youtu.be/7u5c-Qndqio]

[youtube https://youtu.be/hhcveYXKZTY]

Best Matt Fanale Album
Beauty Queen Autopsy – Lotharia

Somehow, a guy with two kids and two jobs managed to release 5 albums this year.  And my favorite was his collaboration with Erica “Unwoman”  Mulkey, a gritty, noisy electronic noise-pop album.  Like a funhouse mirror reflection of shoegaze and industrial rock, Lotharia features a lot of adult topics, and naturally, a Placebo cover.

Honorable mentions:
Disclosure – Caracal
Young Galaxy – Falsework
MS MR – How Does It Feel
Shamir – Ratchet
IAMX – Metanoia

The Bad

The Continuing Commodification of Ellie Goulding
I really liked her first album. She has a unique voice, and the vaguely alt-synthpop sensibilites of that album made it stand out from other radio-friendly pop of the time. “Halcyon” was decent, and had a few really good tracks, but ultimately it began to sound like a lot of EDM-inflected pop music. The tepid “Love Me Like You Do” and “On My Mind” continue to iron out anything unique about her voice and music and shove it into a bland template.

The Ugly

The feud between Peter Hook and the rest of New Order
Man, that got nasty quick.

Morrissey’s Sex Scene
“Bulbous salutation?”  The hell?

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