End of Year Review: Ben Tipple

Finally to review the year we have our Editor and Overlord Ben Tipple, who went to so many shows this year and is stoked for 2016.

End of Year Review: Ben Tipple

By Ben Tipple

Jan 1, 2016 16:18

People have released music in 2015. Fact. Some of that music has been good, some bad, some great, some barely listenable and just the occasional release has proved a cataclysmic audible milestone. The same as any other year then, really. I struggle to think back to a time when I could confidently describe a year as lacking in creativity. That simply doesn’t happen.

That creativity has seen lines blurred and bands shift. Now, more so than ever, bands are looking to either generate their own defining sound or to experiment with the new. As I mentioned in our recent podcast (plug), traditional genre boundaries are being stretched to breaking point, and rightly so. Right back in January Fall Out Boy released a pop opus that sits alongside Bieber, Jepsen and Grimes, but does little for my alternative taste buds. Still, their Islington Assembly Hall show was fun, to say the least.

Album releases were strong, straight off the bat. Turnstile further blended hip-hop and hardcore on the impressive ‘Nonstop Feeling’, whilst the criminally underrated Meet Me In Montauk revealed one of the best full-lengths of the year, ‘Where The Grass Meets The Pavement’. Even Sleater-Kinney made a triumphant return with the stunning ‘No Cities To Love’. From thereon in, the year was filled with strong releases from Adventures, Woahnows, Brawlers, Gallows, Bully, War on Women, and heaps more. And I mean heaps.

British bands fared well in 2015. As well as some of the aforementioned acts, Hindsights released the incredible ‘Cold Walls / Cloudy Eyes’ in February, a now bittersweet record following their disbandment announcement as the year drew to a close. Frank Carter also made a triumphant return alongside his Rattlesnakes, shaking the foundations of various UK venues throughout 2015, not least an absolutely destructive appearance at London’s Borderline – easily my favourite show of the year.

Rolo Tomassi released the thunderous ‘Grievances’, with an equally monolithic appearance at Takedown Festival towards the start of the year. Spine-tingling doesn’t even begin to describe it, and that’s looking back at it some nine months later. Black Foxxes, looking towards big things in 2016, proved equally as atmospheric at their ridiculously early slot at Reading Festival later in the year. Let’s face it, if a band can make an awe-inspiring festival appearance, they are the real deal.

Thrice, arguably (entirely dependent on my mood) my favourite band ever, returned to a triumphant headline set at Hevy Fest. It was a big ask to live up to Coheed’s absolutely brilliant ‘In Keeping Secrets…’ run-through the night before. Still, despite my other half’s complete disregard to the Thrice set, it remains phenomenal in my mind. Although, Dustin Kensrue could probably have come onto stage and covered the entire Wurzels back-catalogue and I still would have been in hysterics.

FIDLAR and Bully brought one hell of a debauched party to the Kentish Town Forum as the year began to draw to a close, as did Bring Me The Horizon to Alexandra Palace. The latter surprised me, as until that moment I had considered their newer material marginally overhyped. Live wise though, excluding Mr Carter, the year belonged to Milk Teeth and Black Peaks. The former evolving into a ferocious beast in front of audience’s eyes as the year progressed, not least their storming support slots for Pianos Become The Teeth and Refused in recent months.

Black Peaks continued to surprise and memerise with their innovative style cocktail. Although I missed them on their tour with Lonely The Brave, their appearances at Takedown, 2000trees (my favourite of the UK festivals), and Hevy cemented them as a force to be reckoned with. Of course, singing along to The Early November at Groezrock (my favourite of all the festivals) was also quite the moment, as anybody in my vicinity will testify to. And there’s Against Me! at Reading, of course. A definitive good-time memory.

Ultimately, my 2015 was about musical discovery. Describing myself as an advocate of new music sounds ridiculous, but I’ve done it now, so deal with it. Although what can be classed as “new” is always debateable, my favourite record of the year was by a band that had, until 2015, completely passed me by: Hop Along’s ‘Painted Shut’. Lyrical storytelling at its finest. But some of the more underground releases that blew me away came from mainland Europe, not least City Light Thief, LAGS and After Words.

Conveniently all three are available to listen to in our new POV section, my personal highlight of 2015 here at Punktastic. Having wanted to build a section of the site that allowed the team to better publicise new music that may otherwise be missed, or that wasn’t necessarily directly related to “news”, POV was a long-time in the making. It’s still in its early phase, but come 2016, it really should provide a one-stop-shop for new music, which is exactly what I am personally looking for when scouring the net. So bring on 2016, and all the new sounds it has to offer. My ears are ready and willing, so to speak.