4 Great Albums I (And Maybe You) Missed in 2015

I know, I know, it's February, leave 2015 alone. But some things are too good to let lie. So another mini list, four great albums from last year. Get them into your life.


Shye Ben Tzur, Jonny Greenwood & The Rajasthan Express – Junun (Nonesuch)

A thrilling cross cultural project involving the Israeli singer and composer Shye Ben Tzur, Radioheader and composer in his own right Jonny Greenwood and a bunch of fantastic musicians from Rajasthan in India (the making of the album was also documented by Paul Thomas Anderson in the film of the same name released last year).

Who contributes what can get a bit fuzzy at times (the sign of a true collaboration, perhaps) but the guttural, percussive vocals of Ben Tzur in Hebrew are a joy, Greenwood’s electronic interventions intrigue and the brass and string and mass vocals of the Express uplift and entrance.

Fantastic and playing at the Barbican Theatre in London in March which qualifies as a must if you’re anywhere near the area.

Cork Gamelan Ensemble – The Three Forges (Diatribe Recordings)

A world music delight, an alien soundscape, a triumph of pop fusion.

All this and more is the debut album by this ensemble built around graduates of UCC’s School of Music and lead by the head of that department Mel Mercier.

In which native Javanese instruments are brought together with traditional, classical, jazz, avant garde and pop styles for a truly groundbreaking set.

The collaborators include Irish traditional Irish singer Iarla Ó Lionáird, cellist Kate Ellis, saxophonist Nick Roth, dancer Colin Dunne, singers Duke Special & Julie Feeney and West Cork Ukulele Orchestra.

This music might take a bit of getting your head into but once you do, it’s a searching, adventurous series of rhythms and tunes - meditative here, stirring there - and a wonderful all round experience.

Various Artists - The Wrecking Crew (Original Soundtrack)

The soundtrack to the film of the same name from 2008, a must see for students of 1960s pop music, about the legendary bunch of session heads who crop up Zelig-like through so many of that decade’s American pop music highpoints, this release was managed through a Pledge campaign last year.

Featuring well known nailed on classics from The Ronettes, Ritchie Valens, The Byrds, 5th Dimension, Jan & Dean, The Mamas & The Papas, The Beach Boys, Harry Nilsson, Herb Alpert, Glen Campbell (in fact Campbell was a member of the crew before breaking out into a solo career), The Monkees, Sonny & Cher, Sam Cooke, Wayne Newton, Lee Hazlewood...the unbelievable list goes on.

There are some less well know gems. I love the counter culture cut from Paul Revere & The Raiders, ‘Indian Reservation’. Or what about the sweet girl group vibe of ‘Johnny Angel’ by Shelly Fabares.

Disc 4 also has the wonderful curio of a collection of the crew’s recordings in their own time – Tommy Tedesco, Hal Blaine, Billy Strange, Al Casey, Chuck Berghofer et al covering jazz, surf instrumentals, Latin soul, soft classical, and more.

A superb reminder and an essential document of a golden age of pop music.

The Apartments – No song no spell no madrigal (Riley Records/Microcultures)

Peter Walsh, native of Brisbane and one time Go Between, briefly, has produced a glorious album of late night yearning and loss, with songs of sweet regret in muted chamber pop or smoky jazz settings.

Walsh’s voice in particular would remind you of The Blue Nile’s Paul Buchanan, which itself is one of the sweetest instruments known to humanity.

Wallow in the sheer beauty and melancholy.


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