2015 Readers Poll - The Results

Sunday, 03 January 2016 00:00 Staff Opinions and Editorials - Annual Readers Polls
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Once again thanks to everybody who participated in the 18th Annual Brainwashed Readers Poll. It's an honor to be able to do this every year and we appreciate everyone who contributed to the nominations and voted.

All the best wishes for 2016.

Album of the Year

    http://brainwashed.com/brain/images/carter_tutti_void-fx.jpg
  1. Carter Tutti Void, "f(x)" (Industrial)

    I liked this album, but it is an odd choice for album of the year.  Is everyone belatedly trying to make amends for not liking Transverse enough back in 2012?  - Anthony D'Amico

    Not the typical album of the year winner, however nobody could disagree that they enjoyed this album... a lot! Myself included. - Jon Whitney

  2. Sunn O))), "Kannon" (Southern Lord)

    I think in many ways Sunn O))) became a victim of their own hype back when Monoliths & Dimensions came out, so people were quick to disregard this stripped down, back to their roots record.  The fact of the matter is Kannon is a much deeper record than it may seem on the surface, and with its excellent production, comes together as one of their strongest offerings overall. - Creaig Dunton

    This was such a massive regression.  I honestly don't know how anyone can love Kannon after hearing Monoliths & Dimensions.  I suppose I could probably convince myself that this is an expertly crafted plunge into an amorphous black void if I wanted to, but it mostly just sounds like a couple of guys in cloaks playing a bunch of interchangeable power chords for half an hour.  - Anthony D'Amico

    Regression isn't necessarily a bad thing. Kannon is the closest thing yet to the live sound of Sunn O))) (more so than any of their live albums) and felt like a return home after their excursions with Ulver and Scott Walker. - John Kealy

    Still wrestling with this one. I don't know that regression is the right word. Some other bands have stripped their sound back and won people over because they sounded "rawer" or "more focused." This is just one of the sounds Sunn O))) can make. Maybe not as florid as Soused or Monoliths and Dimensions, but then why would going backwards be any better than burrowing inwards? - Lucas Schleicher

  3. Drew McDowall, "Collapse" (Dais)

    After years of various projects such as Screwtape and Captain Sons and Daughters, McDowall finally has presented the album everybody has been impatiently awaiting, and the results are well worth the wait. With the surfacing of a cassette-only release this year and numerous live dates, let's keep our fingers crossed with hope that the productivity continues to flourish. - Jon Whitney

  4. Swans, "The Gate" (Young God)

    I look forward to these Swans live/demo albums almost as much as the "proper" studio albums. As great as the finished products are, hearing the group whittling the pieces down (or extending them to the stars) is a thrilling experience. There is a bittersweet feeling to this knowing that this iteration of Swans is coming to a close but I'm delighted that not only did I get to experience this work live but that there are such great documents of their live sound to cherish. - John Kealy

  5. Benoit Pioulard, "Sonnet" (Kranky)

    This was the album that finally made me a Thomas Meluch fan in a big way (especially the last several songs).  Some of my happiest memories of the last year are of wandering around cities alone at night listening to this or one of the similarly fine Stanza albums.  - Anthony D'Amico

  6. Christina Vantzou, "No. 3" (Kranky)

    A brilliant mix of the big and the small, the epic and the intimate.  Vantzou's melding of synthesizer textures and lush, orchestral arrangements blends together seamlessly into a powerful, yet delicate ambient record that stands out as extremely unique.  - Creaig Dunton

    I'm pleased and pleasantly surprised this scored this high with Brainwashed's readers, given the album has not received the wide-scale recognition it deserves. However, it is at the top of my personal list for albums of 2015. - Jon Whitney

  7. William Basinski, "Cascade" (2062)

    I am delighted that so many other people preferred this to Deluge as well.  Both are great, but the loop here is truly so wonderful that Basinski didn't need to do anything else to it. I suspect that he released the more composed Deluge solely because he felt bad that it had been so effortless for him to make a perfect album.  - Anthony D'Amico

  8. Thighpaulsandra, "The Golden Communion" (Editions Mego)

    This should be at number one and for me as it is the definitive album of the year. Considering it has been worked on for so long, it is amazing that it still sounds as forward-thinking and mind-bendingly current as it does. Like his earlier albums and EPs, there is so much going on here that it will keep me guessing and listening carefully for years. - John Kealy

    This record should come as no surprise to anyone following his solo career beginning with I, Thighpaulsandra. The album plays like a film composed of a variety of scenes depicting the various stages of the life of Mr. Lewis, all which take the form of songs which pay tribute to a number of his favorite genres while maintaining a solid forward momentum. It can be thick at times but it is very rewarding. - Jon Whitney

    Definitely the most ambitious record of the year.  - Anthony D'Amico

  9. William Basinski, "The Deluge" (Temporary Residence)
  10. Prurient, "Frozen Niagara Falls" (Profound Lore)

    Yeah, yeah, Tony D'Amico and I are probably the only Fernow apologists left, but I thought this was a well done, if bloated record.  It didn't rock my world by any means, but I enjoyed much of it. - Creaig Dunton

    I guess now is as good a time as any to ask for that reissue of Pleasure Ground. It's become an annual event. Never could get into Fernow's synth-pop-noise thing and this just seems like more of the same. - Lucas Schleicher

  11. Wolf Eyes, "I Am A Problem: Mind in Pieces" (Third Man)
  12. Beach House, "Depression Cherry" (Sub Pop)
  13. Jim O'Rourke, "Simple Songs" (Drag City)

    I couldn’t wait for this album to come out, but was never able to fully warm to it when it finally did.  It sounds weirdly like a Jim O’Rourke album that was focus-grouped, then punched-up to have more mass appeal.  Too muscular and purposeful?  I don’t know.  Something is off.  The songs are good, but the magic is just not there.  - Anthony D’Amico

    I like about half of this record. The coldness of the whole thing, the pretense of "simple songs," the stylistic jumps, it all feels like an O'Rourke rock record with the subtext turned up to 11. Unfortunately, the pretense and jumpiness work against it too. Cut it in half and put a little space between the songs and most of the spottiness washes away. - Lucas Schleicher

  14. Low, "Ones and Sixes" (Sub Pop)

    With every new Low album it feels like most people dismiss it as not being as good as their peak but no one can agree what their peak is. Like any of their albums in the past decade, Ones and Sixes initially feels lighter and less adventurous than the ones before but with every listen, I fall further and further under its spell. It's disarmingly beautiful and they continue to be one of my favorite bands. - John Kealy

    Another one where about half the record worked for me and the other half didn't. Low is one of my favorite bands though, so hearing the bits that don't work is just as interesting to me. Ones and Sixes opens with three gorgeous songs, then floats off aimlessly in an uncharacteristically uninteresting Mimi track (is "Congregation" her first meh production? I love the instrumentation but could do without the chorus). And then there's "No End," which sounds like it belongs on a new Low Christmas record. Things kind of go nutty from there, with a mish-mash of solid, familiar songs and weird, not quite polished experiments. Maybe that's why people didn't like this one as much as Trust or whatever they claim the best Low album is: the band is still screwing around with what they can do instead of getting complacent. And for the record, Mimi is still one of my favorite vocalists, whether she wrote "Congregation" or not. - Lucas Schleicher

    This is another slow builder from Low. I wasn't crazy about it at first but it keeps drawing me back. My only complaint is a technical one: with the resurgence of vinyl, can you please not force us to flip the record after only 3 songs? Jeebuz make the 4th side blank or something if the album's not long enough! - Jon Whitney

  15. Chelsea Wolfe, "Abyss" (Sargent House)
  16. Alva Noto, "Xerrox Vol. 3" (Raster-Noton)
  17. Colin Stetson & Sarah Neufeld, "Never Were the Way She Was" (Constellation)
  18. Disappears, "Irreal" (Kranky)

    Easily my favorite cover artwork of the year. - Jon Whitney

    Disappears are on a serious hot streak the last few years. -Anthony D'Amico

  19. Godspeed You! Black Emperor, "Asunder, Sweet and Other" (Constellation)

    This material definitely worked better live but they don't slack in the studio either. It's not as immediate as Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! or as deep as their classic albums but they still pack a punch. It would be great to hear them explore new grounds rather than just go for the anvil and hammer approach but I'll take what I get. - John Kealy

    I still haven't heard this one. I want to feel energized by a Godspeed record, but I can't make myself put this on over basically anything of theirs recorded before 2012. - Lucas Schleicher

  20. Lightning Bolt, "Fantasy Empire" (Thrill Jockey)
  21. Nurse With Wound/Graham Bowers, "Mutation ...The Lunatics Are Running The Asylum..." (Red Wharf)

    It was immensely sad to lose Graham Bowers this year to motor neuron disease. Mutation was a fitting finish to his career, uncompromising and utterly wonderful. His run of collaborations with Nurse With Wound are by far and away some of the most exciting music I have heard in recent years, giving me the same sense of surprise and joy that I got from the first time I heard many of my favourite artists. - John Kealy

  22. Rafael Anton Irisarri, "A Fragile Geography" (Room40)
  23. Wire, "Wire" (Pink Flag)

    Wire sans Bruce Gilbert is unlikely to reach the same highs they did for me in their original quartet line-up, but this self titled record edged closer to their peak moments than most of theirs have in recent years.  - Creaig Dunton

  24. Alessandro Cortini, "Risveglio" (Hospital Productions)
  25. Helm, "Olympic Mess" (Pan)
  26. Sarah Davachi, "Barons Court" (Students of Decay)

    To label this a synth or drone album is an insult. Davachi has created an incredibly robust soundtrack full of textures and melodies by modern and classical instrumentation which move, breathe, and are full of life. - Jon Whitney

  27. Robert A. A. Lowe & Ariel Kalma, "(We Know Each Other Somehow" (rvng intl.)
  28. The Necks, "Vertigo" (ReR Megacorp/Northern Spy)
  29. Boduf Songs, "Stench of Exist" (The Flenser)

    "Modern Orbita" and "My Continuing Battle with Material Reality" are easily two of the best songs that anyone released this year.  -Anthony D'Amico

  30. Vainio & Vigroux, "Peau Froide, Leger Soliel" (Cosmo Rhythmatic)
  31. Evan Caminiti, "Meridian" (Thrill Jockey)
  32. Locrian, "Infinite Dissolution" (Relapse)

    Return to Annihilation was not an easy record to top, coming together at the time as the fullest realization of the trio's career to date, but this one ups the ante even more, a progressive suite of songs that conveys their influences but retains their own distinct identity. - Creaig Dunton

  33. Natural Snow Buildings, "Terror's Horns" (Ba Da Bing!)

    This was quite a bold reinvention of Mehdi & Solange's aesthetic, resembling Alejandro Jodorowsky and Ennio Morricone collaborating on a Western soundtrack while besieged by a series of relentless, vibrant nightmares.  I loved it.  –Anthony D’Amico

  34. Norman Westberg, "13" (Room40)

    Surprised 13 isn't higher on the list. Anyone who voted for William Basinski or Christina Vantzou (or Swans) would love this record. Granted, top 50 isn't exactly a poor turn out, but Norman's work is beautiful and unsettling and a nice step away from the sounds with which he is usually associated. - Lucas Schleicher

  35. Stephen O'Malley, "Éternelle Idole" (Shelter Press)
  36. The Legendary Pink Dots, "Five Days" (self-released)
  37. Anna Von Hausswolff, "The Miraculous" (City Slang)
  38. Ramleh, "Circular Time" (Crucial Blast)

    The return of "rock" Ramleh was an event I was extremely excited for, yet still held a bit of skepticism that they could truly capture that era almost two decades later.  Thankfully my cynicism was unnecessary, as Circular Time was a sprawling, yet gripping two hours of the blackened psychedelic sound that only they (and in a similar way, Skullflower) can do. - Creaig Dunton

  39. Stephen O'Malley, "Gruidés" (DDS)

    This was much, much better than the Sunn O))) album.  -Anthony D'Amico

  40. William Basinski + Richard Chartier, "Aurora Liminalis" (Line)
  41. William Basinski + Richard Chartier, "Divertissement" (Important)

    Both of these records albums do an exceptional job at showcasing Basinski's ear for unconventional sonic beauty, with Chartier's nuanced, clinically precise electronics complementing brilliantly.  - Creaig Dunton

  42. Container, "LP (3)" (Editions Mego)

    I love the punishing, no-frills single-mindedness of this project. -Anthony D'Amico

  43. Daniel Menche and Mamiffer, "Crater" (Sige)

    Menche has turned down the loudness in recent years, but his well developed ear for natural field recordings shines through here, and with production and musical assistance by Faith Coloccia and Aaron Turner of Mamiffer, the results are exquisite. - Creaig Dunton

  44. Esmerine, "Lost Voices" (Constellation)
  45. Follakzoid, "III" (Sacred Bones)
  46. Nils Frahm, "Solo" (Erased Tapes)
  47. Philip Jeck, "Cardinal" (Touch)
  48. Pye Corner Audio, "Prowler" (More Than Human)
  49. 23 Skidoo, "Beyond Time" (Les Disques Du Crepuscule)
  50. Alessandro Cortini, "Forse 3" (Important)
  51. Four Tet, "Morning/Evening" (Text)
  52. Hox, "Duke of York" (Editions Mego)

    Extending from his solo albums from last year, Graham Lewis again does his experimental, off-kilter electronic pop thing with Andreas Karperyd with amazing results.  Few people can put together such unconventional and bizarre noises, yet make them catchy, earworm laden songs, and for that Lewis deserves eternal respect.  - Creaig Dunton

  53. John Carpenter, "Lost Themes" (Sacred Bones)
  54. Land, "Anoxia" (Important)

    This was such a radical and unexpected evolution from Night Within.  I love viscerally pummeling surprises.  This should have placed much higher.  –Anthony D’Amico 

    This is in my top list of albums of the year. It's an magnificent record. - Jon Whitney

  55. Oren Ambarchi, "Live Knots" (Pan)
  56. Tom Carter, "Long Time Underground" (Three Lobed Recordings)
  57. A Place To Bury Strangers, "Transfixiation" (Dead Oceans)

    "Supermaster" and "Now It's Over" are seriously bad-ass songs. -Anthony D'Amico

  58. Beach House, "Thank Your Lucky Stars" (Sub Pop)
  59. Bill Fay, "Who Is The Sender?" (Dead Oceans)
  60. Death & Vanilla, "To Where the Wild Things Are" (Fire)
  61. Flying Saucer Attack, "Instrumentals 2015" (Drag City)
  62. Helen, "The Original Faces" (Kranky)

    Derivative as hell in all the right ways. -Anthony D'Amico

  63. Julia Kent, "Asperities" (Leaf)
  64. King Midas Sound/Fennesz, "Edition 1" (Ninja Tune)
  65. Laura Cannell, "Beneath Swooping Talons" (Front & Follow)
  66. Matana Roberts, "Coin Coin Chapter Three: River Run Thee" (Constellation)
  67. Sufjan Stevens, "Carrie & Lowell" (Asthmatic Kitty)
  68. The Inward Circles, "Belated Movements for an Unsanctioned Exhumation August 1st 1984" (Corbel Stone Press)
  69. Ekoplekz, "Reflekzionz" (Planet Mu)

    There's scarcely any room left in electronic music nowadays for a record like this, save of course for those who were around and integral to IDM's glory days. Yet here Ekoplekz managed to nudge forward a once forward-thinking sound that had otherwise grown ironically stagnant. Sometimes a nudge is all it takes. - Gary Suarez

  70. Julia Holter, "Have You in My Wilderness" (Domino)
  71. Oren Ambarchi/Jim O'Rourke, "Behold" (Editions Mego)
  72. Panda Bear, "Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper" (Domino)
  73. Shit and Shine, "54 Synth-Brass, 38 Metal Guitar, 65 Cathedral" (Rocket Recordings)
  74. Steve Hauschildt, "Where All Is Fled" (Kranky)
  75. The Body & Thou, "You, Whom I Have Always Hated" (Thrill Jockey)
  76. The Legendary Pink Dots, "Five Days Instrumentals" (self-released)

    This is here on name-recognition alone.  You guys should feel deeply ashamed of yourselves for liking inessential LPD outtakes so goddamn much.  This is why democracy does not work.  - Anthony D'Amico

  77. Viet Cong, "Viet Cong" (Jagjaguwar)

    Concern trolling and armchair outrage over the name aside, the main thing I took from this record was how a bit of controversy can still trick people into liking middling indie rock. - Gary Suarez

  78. Andrew Liles, "Cover Girls" (Dirter Promotions)
  79. Blanck Mass, "Dumb Flesh" (Sacred Bones)
  80. Consumer Electronics, "Dollhouse Songs" (Harbinger)

    As a grizzled fan of the old confrontational days of Whitehouse, it's a relief that Phil Best continues William Bennett's nasty work in his absence. Admittedly, this isn't quite as strong as some prior Consumer Electronics releases, it does the job nobody else cares to do nowadays. - Gary Suarez

  81. Felicia Atkinson, "A Readymade Ceremony" (Shelter Press)
  82. In Gowan Ring, "The Serpent and the Dove" (Les Disques du 7eme Ciel)
  83. Jenny Hval, "Apocalypse, Girl" (Sacred Bones)
  84. Ken Camden, "Dream Memory" (Kranky)
  85. Mike Cooper, "Fratello Mare" (Room40)
  86. Perils, "s/t" (Desire Path)
  87. Pinkcourtesyphone, "Sentimental Something" (Important)

    Richard Chartier has been more active on this side project than the work under his own name, and likely because of that Pinkcourtesyphone's sound has evolved rather quickly.  No one else does a sonic Valium and wine cocktail with the same gripping ennui as he can. - Creaig Dunton

  88. Wrekmeister Harmonies, "Night of Your Ascension" (Thrill Jockey)

    I can always rely on J.R. Robinson to compose fascinating, macabre, thoughtful, complex, and ambitious albums, but it is starting to seem like it is also always a variation of the same thing.  This the least of his three Thrill Jockey releases.  -Anthony D'Amico

  89. *AR, "Memorious Earth" (Corbel Stone Press)

    This is a goddamn masterpiece that absolutely belongs in the top ten.  -Anthony D'Amico

  90. Anthony Child, "Electronic Recordings From Maui Jungle Vol 1" (Editions Mego)
  91. Celer, "How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Loved You When You Know I've Been A Liar All My Life" (Two Acorns)
  92. Christopher Bissonnette, "Pitch, Paper & Foil" (Kranky)
  93. Fossil Aerosol Mining Project, "The Day 1982 Contaminated 1971" (Helen Scarsdale)
  94. Johann Johannsson with Hildur Gudnadottir & Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, "End of Summer" (Sonic Pieces)
  95. Kid606, "Recollected Ambient Works Vol. 1: Bored Of Excitement" (Tigerbeat6)
  96. Robert Haigh, "The Silence Of Ghosts" (Siren)

    Stunning as always. - Jon Whitney

  97. Shit and Shine, "Everybody's a Fuckin' Expert" (Editions Mego)
  98. Six Organs of Admittance, "Hexadic" (Drag City)

    I pre-ordered this one based on the merits of the prior Six Organs album from 2012, which took the band into groovy psych rock. This one was rougher around the edges, and not quite as enjoyable. - Gary Suarez

    I definitely prefer older Six Organs albums as well, but Hexadic was still quite a cool experiment.  It was a delight to hear Chasny totally ripping it up on "Wax Chance." -Anthony D'Amico

  99. Strategy, "Noise Tape Self" (Further)
  100. Valet, "Nature" (Kranky)

    One of the best albums on this list turns up at the bottom. I was totally blown away by Nature, in part because I assumed Valet was done for and in part because I had no idea they would sound like this if they ever decided to record again. This one got play all year long, pretty much any time I wanted to hear a good song and was sick of playing the United Bible Studies or Low albums. The Miracles Club was a fun excursion, but I sure would be happy if Valet just kept working at what they do, whether it's psychedelic or sunny or shoegazy or whatever strikes their fancy next. - Lucas Schleicher

    I don't have anything to say about Valet, but I would like to note that we have reached the end of the list and Heather Leigh and Jasmine Guffond are not on it.  That makes me want to scream.  -Anthony D'Amico

Single of the Year

  1. Tropic Of Cancer, "Stop Suffering" (Blackest Ever Black)
  2. Loop, "Array 1" (ATP)

    Loop in 2015 sounded exactly like I hoped they would.  Even though Robert Hampson amassed a new band, they came together on these four songs in a way that is remarkably consistent with where they left off with A Gilded Eternity.  - Creaig Dunton

  3. *AR, "Diagrams for the Summoning of Wolves" (Corbel Stone Press)

    A solid, but unexceptional addition to Richard Skelton's oft-brilliant oeuvre.  I'd like it a lot more if it at least summoned wolves.  -Anthony D'Amico

  4. Demdike Stare, "Testpressing #007" (Modern Love)
  5. ANOHNI (fka Antony Hegarty), "4 Degrees" (Secretly Canadian)

    Recalling ANOHNI's early connections with apocalypse folkster David Tibet, this global warming culture jam fuses the personal with the political in a rather jarring way. Much of that has to do with the bombastic maximalism of its producers Oneohtrix Point Never and Hudson Mohawke, though the lyrics are distressing and bold. I've got it on repeat. - Gary Suarez

  6. Loscil, "For Greta" (self-released)

    Loscil does no wrong. Ever. - Lucas Schleicher

  7. Meat Beat Manifesto, "Kasm02" (Skam)

    Not nearly enough fuss was made over Jack Dangers' return to the dancefloor. Even less fanfare went to Skam itself, for putting out several very interesting records in 2015 and starting the Kasm series. - Gary Suarez

  8. The Legendary Pink Dots, "Christmas Special 2015" (self-released)
  9. Pye Corner Audio, "Stars Shine Like Eyes" (Death Waltz Originals)
  10. Aphex Twin, "Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments pt2" (Warp) 

    When Syro dropped in 2014 my biggest gripe with it was its reliance on old rave notions and dated dance forms. This one somehow made me miss Syro. - Gary Suarez

  11. Ulaan Passerine, "Light in Dust" (Worstward)

    Steven R. Smith also does no wrong. I listened to a ton of his music this year thanks to the Worstward Bandcamp site and was blown away by how consistent he's always been (I sort of half-knew this based on the albums of his I already had, but now I can confirm it with even more more material). I managed to snag a copy of Salt just before the year ended, but somehow missed Light in Dust. Looks like I will have to correct that immediately. - Lucas Schleicher

  12. Edward Ka-Spel, "The Space Station Chapel" (self-released)
  13. Boduf Songs, "The Witch Cradle" (The Flenser)
  14. Emptyset, "Signal" (Subtext)
  15. Errorsmith & Mark Fell, "Protogravity" (Pan)
  16. Colder, "Turn Your Back" (Bataille)

    Colder's return is a lot more subtle than where Marc left off. I was hoping for something a bit more bombastic but I was still quite pleased. - Jon Whitney

  17. The Inward Circles, "I Have Heard a Music and It Is Delirious" (Corbel Stone Press)
  18. Youth Code, "Anagnorisis" (Dais)
  19. Black Zone Myth Chant, "Mane Thecel Phares" (Editions Gravats)
  20. Father Murphy, "Lamentations" (Backwards)
  21. Amnesia Scanner, "Angels Rig Hook" (Gum Artefacts)
  22. Benoit Pioulard, "Noyaux" (Morr)
  23. Broken English Club, "Scars" (Cititrax)
  24. Cavern of Anti-Matter, "Other Voices 06" (Ghost Box)
  25. Jane Weaver / Suzanne Ciani / Andy Votel / Sean Canty, "Neotantrik Globes" (Self-Released)
  26. Josh Mason, "Alone in the Kingdom" (Sunshine Ltd.)
  27. Laetitia Sadier, "Dry Fruit" (Drag City)

    This one packed so much into its engrossing two minutes. May it keep Stereolab fans content for at least twice as long. - Gary Suarez

  28. Laurel Halo, "In Situ" (Honest Jon's Records)
  29. Personable, "New Lines" (Peak Oii)
  30. Pye Corner Audio, "Other Voices 05" (Ghost Box)

 

Vault/Reissue of the Year

  1. Carter Tutti, "Plays Chris & Cosey" (Conspiracy International)
  2. Nurse With Wound, "The Sylvie and Babs Hi-Fi Companion (with bonus bits)" (United Dirter)

    Long overdue, it is disappointing that this didn't get the vinyl treatment but it was great to get the second disc of extra material even if most of it is available elsewhere. - John Kealy

  3. Ride, "Nowhere (25th Anniversary edition)" (Ride Music)
  4. Bourbonese Qualk, "Bourbonese Qualk 1983-1987" (Mannequin)

    This launched me on an epic Bourbonese Qualk bender this year and for that I am thankful.  Most of their best work came after the period that this compilation covers, but this is certainly an enjoyable overview. -Anthony D'Amico

  5. Severed Heads, "City Slab Horror" (Medical Records)

    Medical Records absolutely killed it this year with reissues.  I am amazed that Laika and Bal Paré are absent from this list. -Anthony D'Amico

  6. Steven Stapleton & Christoph Heemann, "Painting with Priests" (Robot)

    Understated and cavernous, just as I expected it would be. Not the highlight of either artist's career but a satisfying meeting of minds. - John Kealy

  7. William S. Burroughs, "Nothing Here Now But the Recordings" (Dais)

    One of the highlights of 2015 was my trip to Lawrence, Kansas, where I made it a point to see William S. Burroughs' house. It sits on a quaintly pretty albeit unremarkable street and it doesn't look like the sort of place befitting the man who conjured up Interzone and its shady subhuman denizens. But the experience sent me back into the various audio reissues of his work, including these mesmeric tape experiments. - Gary Suarez

  8. Aine O'Dwyer, "Music for Church Cleaners Vol. I & II" (MIE Music)

    I had no idea who Aine O'Dwyer was before October, but now I can't get enough of her music. Music for Church Cleaners is superb and her performances on The Ale's What Cures Ye are also beautiful. She's someone I'll be anxious to hear more from in 2016. - Lucas Schleicher

    This is currently #1 on my personal "Albums That I Stupidly Slept On and Need to Get Immediately" list. -Anthony D'Amico

  9. Etant Donnes, "Aurore" (Penultimate Press)
  10. Rose McDowall, "Cut With The Cake Knife" (Sacred Bones)

    There's something amazing in the purity of these recordings. It's probably for the better these songs weren't recorded with a bloated synth production and have remained untouched. - Jon Whitney

  11. Muslimgauze, "Izlamaphobia" (Staalplaat)

    One of the few truly essential Muslimgauze releases. -Anthony D'Amico

  12. Nature And Organisation, "Snow Leopard Messiah" (Trisol)

    I miss Michael Cashmore.  That guy really needs to start making albums again.- Anthony D'Amico

  13. Severed Heads, "Since The Accident" (Medical Records)
  14. Giancarlo Toniutti, "La mutazione" (Black Truffle)
  15. Vatican Shadow, "Death Is Unity With God" (Modern Love)

    My opinion of Frozen Niagara Falls pretty much applies here too.  There were moments where Fernow regressed nicely back to the rawer elements that he began with as Vatican Shadow as opposed to the overly techno Garageband loops, but at around three hours it definitely dragged at times. - Creaig Dunton

    I bet I'd like this if I someday heard it, but I could never make it past that first 25-minute song.  I've tried several times and it seems highly unlikely that I will ever succeed. - Anthony D'Amico

  16. Arthur Russell, "Corn" (Audika)

    Although I had expected more out of this release, I accept that the best parts of the original scrapped Corn album made up Calling Out of Context. Perhaps the title is a misnomer. - Jon Whitney

    "Keeping Up" is great.  I could easily do without the rest though.  -Anthony D'Amico 

  17. Peter Christophersson, "Live at L' Etrange Festival 2004: The Art of Mirrors (Homage to Derek Jarman)" (Black Mass Rising)

    This live recording bridges the gaps between Sleazy's work in Coil (as evidenced by the use of the same source material in some sections) and where he would go later with The Threshold HouseBoys Choir and SoiSong. It's more interesting than a lot of his post-Balance Coil releases even if it lacks the stylistic experimentation of his subsequent work. - John Kealy

  18. Tom Ellard, "80s Cheesecake" (Dark Entries)
  19. Current 93, "This Ain't the Summer of Love" (The Spheres)
  20. Regis, "Manbait" (Blackest Ever Black)
  21. Six Organs of Admittance, "Dust and Chimes" (Holy Mountain)
  22. Egisto Macchi, "Il Deserto" (Cinedelic)
  23. Muslimgauze, "Zilver/Feel The Hiss" (Staalplaat)

    I liked this album a lot, but I am dismayed that I have to start paying attention to Muslimgauze vault releases again.  I was enjoying the blissful indifference of thinking that there was no longer anything particularly good lying around unreleased in Bryn Jones' back catalog.  -Anthony D'Amico

  24. Renaldo & The Loaf, "Arabic Yodelling / Grain by Grain (For Accuracy)" (Klanggalerie)
  25. The Legendary Pink Dots, "The Wednesday Mass" (self-released)

 

Various Artist Collection of the Year

  1. "In a Moment... Ghost Box" (Ghost Box)
  2. "My Heart's In My Hand, And My Hand Is Pierced, And My Hand's In The Bag, And The Bag Is Shut, And My Heart Is Caught." (Nero Collins)
  3. "Bollywood Bloodbath: The B-Music of the Indian Horror Film Industry" (Finders Keepers)
  4. "Cease and Desist: DIY Cult Classics From the Post-Punk Era 1978-82" (Optimo)

    Optimo did some truly stellar digging for this compilation, finding lots of wonderful and deep obscurities that are probably familiar to absolutely no one.  Tesco Bomber's "Break the Ice at Parties" is my new anthem. -Anthony D'Amico

  5. "Wandering II Compilation" (Silent Season)
  6. "Strategies Against The Body: A Contemporary Survey" (DKA)

    Other than current EBM darlings High-Functioning Flesh, many of the artists on this compilation have a relatively low profile, yet any one of them have the potential to be the next big thing.  The DKA label has done an exceptional job in their small catalog with curating amazing work from current industrial and synth pop artists, and this is yet another testament to that. - Creaig Dunton

  7. "Hanoi Masters: War is a Wound, Peace is a Scar" (Glitterbeat)
  8. "Songs of the Humpback Whale" (Important)
  9. "Calendar Customs Vol. III: Mid-Winter Rites and Revelries" (Folklore Tapes)
  10. "La Musique Dans Le Film D'Alain Resnais" (Doxy Cinematic)
  11. "The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears Re-Score" (Death Waltz Originals)
  12. "This Record Belongs To ________" (Light in the Attic)

    How is this NOT #1? It came with a record player! - Jon Whitney

  13. "Calendar Customs Vol. II: Merry May" (Folklore Tapes)
  14. "Remembering Mountains: Unheard Songs by Karen Dalton" (Thompkins Square)
  15. "Total 15" (Kompakt)
  16. "Ork Records: The Complete Singles" (Numero Group)
  17. "Coxsone's Music: The First Recordings Of Sir Coxsone The Downbeat 1960-62" (Soul Jazz)
  18. "Music Of Tanzania" (Sublime Frequencies)
  19. "Punk 45: Burn Rubber City Burn! Akron, Ohio : Punk And The Decline Of The Mid West 1975 - 80" (Soul Jazz)
  20. "Punk 45: Extermination Nights In The Sixth City! Cleveland, Ohio : Punk And The Decline Of The Mid West 1975 - 82" (Soul Jazz)
  21. "Thai Pop Spectacular (1960s - 1980s)" (Sublime Frequencies)
  22. "Nostra signora delle tenebre" (Backwards)
  23. "Cumbias Chichadélicas: Peruvian Psychedelic Chicha" (Pharaway Sounds)
  24. "Disco 2 (A Further Fine Selection Of Independent Disco, Modern Soul & Boogie 1976-80)" (Soul Jazz)
  25. "Radio Vietnam" (Sublime Frequencies)

 

Boxed Set of the Year

  1. Swans, "White Light/Love of Life" (Young God)

    These two records have held an odd place in Swans' discography ever since their release, yet some twenty-plus years later, a major portion of the sound Michael Gira and crew have been working with in recent years can be heard here in its embryonic form.  While the bonus disc may be lacking for the longer-term Swans fan, having these two albums in their original forms after all these years is what's most important. - Creaig Dunton

    Even if I already own most of the music included in this set, this reissue was worth it alone for restoring the magnificent cover art by Deryk Thomas to its former glory. - John Kealy

    More bunnies! Seriously, guys, couldn't you have just included Omniscience as a bonus with all that bunny artwork and left the Skin stuff to the Skin albums? - Jon Whitney

  2. Harmonia, "Complete Works" (Grönland)
  3. Nurse With Wound/Blind Cave Salamander, "Cabbalism I, II, & III" (ICR)

    This has been one of my favourite NWW-related releases ever, so to see a 3CD expansion of it so soon after its initial release is fantastic. While the material on all three discs covers very similar ground, instead of becoming tedious it becomes even more immersive. - John Kealy

  4. Volcano the Bear, "Commencing" (Miasmah)

    A massive set, meticulously assembled, lovingly packaged. This is truly what boxed set dreams are made of. - Jon Whitney

    This totally made me a Volcano The Bear fan.  The perfect summation of a singularly prickly, unhinged, brilliant, and uncategorizable band.  -Anthony D'Amico

  5. Eleh, "Homage" (Important)
  6. Goblin, "Profondo Russo/Deep Red Original Soundtrack" (Rustblade)
  7. Red House Painters, "Red House Painters" (4AD)

    I did not buy this because I already have all of these albums and have been playing them to death for roughly twenty years now. -Anthony D'Amico

  8. Lush, "Chorus" (4AD)

    The major criticism of this set is one that I echo, namely that the sizable bonus material appended to the band's three albums and two compilations seems to have been haphazardly applied simply to maximize the amount of material per disc, making for awkward listening.  However, the improved mastering and aforementioned additional songs outshine this limitation by far. - Creaig Dunton

  9. Surgeon, "Tresor 97-99" (Tresor)

    I owned most of this material back when Tresor was still a prevailing techno imprint alongside Force Inc. and a few others of note. It's great to see these records get reissue treatment given how influential Surgeon turned out to be. - Gary Suarez

  10. The Necks, "Necks Box" (ReR Megacorp)
  11. Unwound, "Empire" (Numero Group)
  12. Mogwai, "Central Belters" (Rock Action)
  13. Richard Youngs, "No Fans Compendium" (VHF)
  14. Dungen, "Ta Det Lugnt" (Subliminal Sounds)
  15. Half Japanese, "Volume Three: 1990-1995" (Fire Records)

 

Artist of the Year

  1. Nurse With Wound  

    With few exceptions, this could be the exact same list as we had 15 years ago, in more or less the same order. It's actually pretty distressing that this list fixates primarily on artists with decades of experience under their belts. Have Brainwashed reader tastes stagnated, or are younger artists not delivering what these geezers did? I suspect the former. - Gary Suarez

    I suspect there will eventually be a year where Steven Stapleton does not release anything new at all and still manages to win this category from the comfort of his couch. - Anthony D'Amico

    There are so many artists who could and probably should be here instead. I doubt it's worth getting into, and yes, Steven Stapleton makes some cool music, but I suspect people's tastes freeze after a time and they just vote for what's familiar. Greg Stuart had just an unbelievable year in 2015, as did Joseph Clayton Mills, Jason Lescalleet, Kevin Drumm, Steven R. Smith, Ryoko Akama, Michael Pisaro, Coppice, Graham Lambkin, Olivia Block... the list goes on. Now I'm just a cranky old man I guess, but how did these names not pop up at all? - Lucas Schleicher

    To answer your question, it's just a matter of numbers and points awarded by the amount of reader votes. - Jon Whitney

  2. Swans

    Ditto for Michael Gira, obviously.  -Anthony D'Amico

  3. Carter Tutti
  4. William Basinski
  5. The Legendary Pink Dots
  6. Benoit Pioulard
  7. Sunn O)))
  8. Drew McDowall
  9. Severed Heads

    I suspect that Tom Ellard would be hugely amused to learn that he was one of the hottest artists of 2015. - Anthony D'Amico

  10. Current 93

Label of the Year

  1. Important

    And to think the massive Harry Bertoia box didn't even surface in 2015 yet. - Jon Whitney

  2. Kranky
  3. Editions Mego

    Incredibly, Mego's endurance as an experimental imprint transcends its pre-2006 incarnation, with a new generation of avant garde types both listening to and recording for it. Chalk that up to great partnerships and a willingness to explore a wide range of innovative sonics. - Gary Suarez

  4. Young God
  5. Room40
  6. Sacred Bones
  7. Dais

    I am hugely impressed with number of fringe niches that Dais manage to find crucial releases in.  The Burroughs and Drew McDowall albums by themselves would make this a great year, but there are at least four other albums that I still need to check out.  -Anthony D'Amico

  8. Thrill Jockey

    This was a banner year for Thrill Jockey. Dommengang, Golden Void, Dave Heumann, Holy Sons, and Wreckmeister Harmonies released some of the best albums of 2015. That Gagakiriseye record was aces too. - Gary Suarez

  9. Drag City
  10. Pan

    Pan is probably the label that best succeeds in making me feel uncool, as roughly half of everything Bill Kouligas puts out is both well worth hearing and totally new to me. -Anthony D'Amico

 

New Artist of the Year

Sarah Davachi

Sarah Davachi



Despite being under 30, Vancouver's Sarah Davachi has the musical pedigree of someone twice her age, as she has a master's degree in electronic music from the famed Mills College, a history of residencies all over the world, and a successful career as an archivist and music researcher.  Of course, none of that would matter much if her music was not good, but Davachi's full-length debut on Students of Decay expertly and assuredly blends her love of vintage modular synthesizers with a host of organic instruments (cello, harmonium, oboe, etc.) to forge something quite timeless and distinctive. - Anthony D'Amico

In the span of only a limited amount of recordings, she has created a distinct identity. Threading the organic with the synthetic isn't revolutionary, however Davachi's academic discipline and achievements in composition and sound creation is apparent. This is the high quality stuff. Both of this year's releases are dedicated and focused but they are also vibrant and thematic. She has managed to make serious music enjoyable. - Jon Whitney

Lifetime Achievement Recognition

Chris Carter & Cosey Fanni Tutti

They have already got a (virtual) gong from their service to music with Throbbing Gristle but they truly deserve recognition separately from their early work. Either together as Chris & Cosey/Carter Tutti or solo, they continue to create new soundworlds and new experiences for listeners. Re-visiting their older material could have been the sign that they were through with new ideas but the end result proved otherwise as they persist in challenging conventions. - John Kealy

33 Chris & Cosey albums + 16 CTI albums + 6 Carter Tutti albums (without counting singles, collaborations, collections, live albums, solo records, etc) = a massive contribution to music (even without including TG!). For four decades, the duo has not taken a break from recording and performing, all the while evolving, destroying expectations and establishments, and transcending trends gracefully. 2015 was another active year for the duo with multiple releases and live shows, and with the re-invention of Industrial Records, there is no sign of slowing down yet.  - Jon Whitney

Chris & Cosey started out as pioneers and ended up as living legends. That they're still making gripping new music sets them apart from all the new wave goons still riding the '80s wave on the retro circuit. Fortunately the majority of their discography is currently available digitally, which means there's no excuse for anyone to overlook their catalog at this stage. - Gary Suarez

Worst Album of the Year

  1. Slayer, "Repentless" (Nuclear Blast)

    Say what you will, but no one is more fiercely loyal to Dave Lombardo and the late Jeff Hanneman than the Brainwashed electorate. – Anthony D’Amico

  2. Arca, "Mutant" (Mute)

    Dear Arca, please go back to making albums with FKA Twigs. God, I love that album so much and there was nothing in 2015 that even came close to hitting those notes. - Lucas Schleicher

  3. Father John Misty, "I Love You Honeybear" (Sub Pop)

    Not Liking Father John Misty is the new Liking Father John Misty. - Gary Suarez

    Was there an "Oh oh oh, oh oh oh" chorus on this one too? - Lucas Schleicher

  4. Future Brown, "Future Brown" (Warp)
  5. Hot Chip, "Why Make Sense?" (Domino)

    I keep trying to like an album of theirs from start to finish and I can't. There's always 1 great song surrounded by tons of forgettable filler. - Jon Whitney

  6. Purity Ring, "another eternity" (4AD)
  7. Sleater-Kinney, "No Cities to Love" (Sub Pop)
  8. Hudson Mohawke, "Lantern" (Warp)

    I fiercely disagree with those whose snobbery and inability to enjoy themselves landed this highly entertaining record on this list. The only people who should have found Lantern polarizing are rap fans expecting more Kanye West and Pusha T bangers. - Gary Suarez

  9. Jam City, "Dream A Garden" (Night Slugs)
  10. James Blackshaw, "Summoning Suns" (Important)

    Wow-I never expected to see James Blackshaw on this list.  This album was a bit of a mess, but I still think the good songs outweighed the bad.  – Anthony D’Amico

    Thanks. I will always remember this as the year that James Blackshaw ended up in the "worst" bucket, but somehow Fernow and Beach House broke the top 20. I am officially as out of touch as I have ever been. - Lucas Schleicher
Last Updated on Sunday, 17 January 2016 21:12