Lee Bains's Top Several of 2015, IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER
Waxahatchee - Ivy Tripp
Bold in its minimalism, heartrending in its plainspokenness, this record finds Alabama-born Katie Crutchfield doing her adoptive home of Philadelphia proud, summoning Ezra Pound's and William Carlos Williams's economic use of language, but imbuing it with the melancholy and magic of a dying Birmingham summer.
PUJOL - Kisses EP
Sort-of like Terminator's human resistance from the Terminator movies created a bubblegum-snapping rock'n'roll band instead of a robot assassin, PUJOL, on Kisses, shouts down paranoid neoliberal hypercapitalist machinations via glitched-out spoken-word pieces scattered amongst twanging swaggering pop gems.
State Champion - Fantasy Error
A band whose members are strewn across the Midwest and Upper South, State Champion's long midnight hours at Will Oldham's remote recording bunker resulted in this reeling exploration of America from its backyards, basements, and travel plazas.
Mark Steele - History Repeats EP
Not wasting a single bar of its 21 staggering minutes, this upstart North Carolina MC's paean to black America's centuries-long struggle for human rights is charged with a masterful command of language, history, and Southern rap's most adventurous and evocative melodic tropes.
Sleater-Kinney - No Cities to Love
The guitar-rock saviors of the early 2000s return from the Pacific Northwest to show the '10s what for, bringing an angular jaunt and menacing theatricality to the strutting, hollering, tough-yet-lean anthems that emboldened a generation of smart rockers.
Flesh Panthers - S/T LP
Scuzzy as the greasy film covering the counter of a West Town Italian-beef joint, this Chicago four-piece toasts its caterwauling Midwestern forebears with its debut LP of scrappy party rock for the WWIII generation.
Bohannons - Black Cross Black Shield
With Black Cross Black Shield, Chattanooga, Tennessee's Bohannons let their guitars clang like weapons, calling out modern-day usurers with the righteous rage of coal-mining organizers and the sobering rumble of an imminent thunderstorm.
Longings - S/T EP
As if Thoreau had allowed himself a Joy Division record at Walden, this Western Mass trio creates a sonic wall belying its three members, deliberately charging through songs as bleak and beautiful as a snow-driven New England landscape.
\\GT// - Beats Misplaced
Like a warm crawling night at the Morris Avenue trainyard, this heavy, sprawling debut LP by Birmingham's \\GT// marries driving rhythms with blaring psychedelia, hollered vocals, and a restless melodicism.
Big K.R.I.T. - It's Better This Way Mixtape
Following up last year's brilliant Cadillactica, this mixtape serves as crucial evidence that Mississippi's Big K.R.I.T. refuses to rest on his laurels as the young king of Southern storytelling rap, each beat as evocative as it is tough, each verse as direct as it is artful.
Courtney Barnett - Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
The incisive eye and winking humor in Courtney Barnett's lyrical stance, her deadpan delivery, and her attention to the power of mundanity all have substantial precedent in Britain's best songwriters, but her guitar-heavy stomp and earnest commitment to having fun signify Aussie rock at its best.
Titus Andronicus - The Most Lamentable Tragedy
While each of this record's 29 songs serve as poignant, clear-eyed glimpses into psychological instability, they work in concert to articulate the swirling, confounding nature of neurosis -- all through the highly personalized musical lens of a Jersey punk kid, looking over his shoulder at youth as he takes his first steps into his thirties.