Review

2015 in Review: Day 3 – Rock and Alternative

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[The 2015 in Review Series]

1. Prelude (Best Album Art)
2. R&B and Soul
3. Rock and Alternative
4. Rap and Hip-hop
5. Dance and Electronic
6. Pop and Ballad
7. Folk and Country
8. Jazz and Blues
9. Crossover and Other
10. Best Collaborative Work
11. Rookie Artist of the Year
12. Artist of the Year
13. Song of the Year
14. Album of the Year
15. Staff Picks
16. Other Recognition
17. Concluding Remarks

Difficult, most difficult to pick this category – but what’s new? As always, there were more like 30 albums and songs that could have been included in that first “ten” out. I’m reasonably happy with how the list looks now, though all the excellence on display does mean that there is a lot of room for argument.

Important: as in previous years, the Album of the Year and Song of the Year (and their runner-ups) are not included in the genre categories. This means that, for example, there could be a rock album that isn’t being recognized on this page because it’s the album of the year. Also, note that all “First Ten Out” and “Honorable Mention” picks are sorted by artist name.

Albums

Best Rock and Alternative Album 2015

The Koxx - The New Normal

The Koxx – The New Normal

It’s rare to see a band so completely take control of their potential as the Koxx have done with The New Normal. This sophomore studio album was an improvement over Access OK (2011) in every way, harnessing the band’s insatiable but raw explosiveness and refining it into focused vitality and creative adaptations. “Echo”, “Mad Ashley”, and “Heart and Mind” were perhaps the best three-song stretch of the year, offering three wildly different but equally exhilarating experiences ranging from solemn harmony to frantic pulsing synths. With unexpected sounds and other experimentation lurking in almost every track, listening to this album was an act of discovery.

Runner-up Rock and Alternative Album 2015

Bye Bye Badman - Authentic

Bye Bye Badman – Authentic

Awash in synths and ambience, Authentic sounds more like a Glen Check album than a Bye Bye Badman one. (Indeed, Glen Check’s Kim Jun-won served as producer here.) The total stylistic conversion illustrates this team’s versatility, but even ignoring that context, this was an incredible piece of work. BBB captures the fleeting exhilaration of dreams and youthful moments in opener “Young Wave” and hold tightly onto it: the entire rest of the album develops this theme of youth and dreams. It’s a truly remarkable feat that, despite the subject matter and the consistent musical mood, the band found ways to eliminate any hint of repetitiveness. Rather, peaks like “Moon” and “Island Island” were some of the year’s most unique moments.

The First Ten Out

 

Songs

Best Rock and Alternative Song 2015

Loro’s – Time (Featuring Yi Sung-yol)

If this was the swan song for Loro’s, it’s a fitting one. The now-dissolved band delivered another emotionally stirring number in “Time”, a six-minute epic occupying that trademark sweet spot between ballad and post-rock. Debt, penitence, and a distance that can’t be closed color Do Jae-myeong‘s words, sung soothingly by Yi. Cloudy guitar distortions lead into an expansive soundscape in the climax, as if to reach out at peace. When the music finally ceases, it leaves behind a certain kind of acceptance. The band spoke to us this way.

Runner-up Rock and Alternative Song 2015

Lowdown 30 – 더뜨겁게 (Hotter) (Featuring Kim Oki)

The opening guitar riff has some of that Ray Charles and “I Got A Woman” in it, no? The vibrant funk from that riff, the punctuated rhythm, and Yoon Byeong-joo‘s carefree delivery is irresistible. Throw in Kim Oki‘s unpredictable and even violent saxophone solo to close the track out, and “Hotter” had more than enough juice to power the summer.

The First Ten Out

Blocs - Maze

BLOCS – 미로 (Maze)

Bye Bye Badman - Authentic

Bye Bye Badman – Young Wave

Faulocity - Fuzzy Nation

Faulocity – Big Crunch

The Black Skirts - Hollywood

The Black Skirts – Hollywood

Hyukoh - 22

Hyukoh – 와리가리 (Comes And Goes)

The Koxx - The New Normal

The Koxx – Echo

Ludistelo - Flashpoint

LudiSTELO – 2nd Wind

Mot - Trivia

Mot – Trivia

Silica Gel - Weightless Deer

Silica Gel – II (Featuring Nam Sang-ah)

The Solutions - No Problem

The Solutions – Love You Dear

Honorable Mentions

Albums

18GRAM – 18GRAM
88 – Page
April 2nd – Plastic Heart
Asian Chairshot – 소나기 (Rain Shower)
A’Zbus – MONOmobile
Billy Carter – Billy Carter
The Black Tongues – Resumption
Bamspicnic – 어지러진 (Strewn)
Blue Velvet – Fell, Fall, Foolish
Crash – Untamed Hands In Imperfect World
The Crows – Caw Caw
DTSQ – Dig Out From A Box In The Basement
Earthbound – Hangover
Ego Function Error – Ego Function Error
Faulocity – Fuzzy Nation
Fling – Alive Young
From The Airport – You Could Imagine
Galaxy Express – Walking On Empty
Green Dolphin Street – Green Dolphin Street
Hail – 세계관 (Worldview)
Hello Stranger – 안녕의 시작 (Beginning of Hello)
Hologram Film – Cosmic Color
Kim Feel – Feel Free
LayBricks – Take A Rest
Method – Abstract
MITM – 고분한 날 (Obedient Day)
Patients – 18
Pia – Pia
The Pony – I Don’t Want To Open The Window To The Outside World
Silica Gel – 새삼스레 들이켜본 무중력 사슴의 다섯가지 시각 (Five Viewpoints of a Weightless Deer Inhaled Suddenly)
Sugar Donut – Polyverse
Slow Baby – Pages & Sketches
The Solutions – No Problem!
Soul Train – 2nd Station
Stray – Fever
Tierpark – 두 세계가 만나는 순간 (The Moment When Two Worlds Meet)
Wasted Johnnys – Cross Road
We Are The Night – 별, 불, 밤, 이런 것들 (Star, Fire, Night, and Such Things)
we hate jh – The Naïve Kids
Wicked Solutions – Immortal Invitation
WhoWho – Oh Yeah
Windycat – 고양이는 항상 이긴다 (Win The Cat)

Songs

18GRAM – Secret Forest
Ahn Da-young – Waves, Smoke, River
Ain – 이별을 걷다 (Walk The Parting)
A’Zbus – The Story
Billy Carter – 침묵 (Silence)
The Black Tongues – 따뜻한 감촉의 (Of Warm Touch)
Blueness – 너의 어둠이 머물다 간 자리 (The Place Where Your Darkness Dwelled)
Cranfield – 파랗네 (It’s Blue)
Crash – Blistering Train
The Crows – Perfect Lady
Day6 – Congratulations
Dear Cloud – Silver Lining
DTSQ – Ding Dong Ditch
Earthbound – 서서히 끝나는 노래 (The Song That Ends Gradually)
Eastern Sidekick – 낮 (Day)
Ego Function Error – 몽유병 (Sleepwalking)
Faulocity – 안드로이드는 전기기타를 꿈꾸는가? (Do Androids Dream of Electric Guitars?) (Featuring Cho Dong-hee)
From The Airport – Sight
FT Island – Pray
Gogostar – Lovein
Green Dolphin Street – Blind
Guckkasten – 도둑 (Thief)
Guten Birds – 구경 (Watching)
Hail – 세계관 (Worldview)
Hammering – Breach of Trust
The Hayim – 사랑이야기 (Love Story)
Hoochus – 배신당한 청년들 (Betrayed Youth)
Hoonch – Hit Me (Featuring Yi Sung-yol)
Hyukoh – Hooka
Ironic Hue – 선택 (Choice)
Kim Feel – Stay With Me
Kitsch Record – 내안의 정원 (Garden Inside Me)
The Koxx – Ice Cap
The Koxx – Trojan Horse
Jisan – 너는 그대로 빛난다 (You Shine Still)
Life And Time – 급류 (Rapids)
Loro’s – Time (Featuring Yi Sung-yol)
Lucy’s Quiet Friends – 루시 (Lucy)
LudiSTELO – Blossom
MITM – 불길한 꿈의 그림자 (Ominous Shadow of Dreams)
The Monotones – Into The Night
Mot – 먹구름을 향해 달리는 차 안에서 (Inside The Car Headed Towards Rain Clouds)
Nell – Star Shell
Oh My Captain – 초여름 (Early Summer)
Park Gyuri & From The Airport – 어린왕자 (The Little Prince)
Phonebooth – 숨바꼭질 (Hide And Seek)
Pia – Storm Is Coming
Poe – I Know You Know
The Pony – Waiting For The Day
Rocoberry – 항해 (The Voyage)
Seoul Electric Band – 꿈이라면 좋을까 (Would It Be Better A Dream ) (Featuring Jang Jae-won)
Silica Gel – Sister
Sultan of the Disco – SQ (We Don’t Need No EQ IQ)
The Vane – Moon Like The Star
Vidulgi Ooyoo – Love? Green? Rollin’?
we hate jh – 바다 (The Ocean)
Windycat – 그날처럼 (Like That Day)
Whistles – YET

Sources: header image and album covers from Bugs Music

(Editing by Adrian Cheng)

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