It’s list season. Christmas shopping lists come first, but there’s also snowman-related gif lists, lists for the best ways to cook brussel sprouts. And then there’s the all important end of year, tracks and albums of the year lists.
But for a band to go from small concern to Oh My God Massive, it usually takes more than an album. Triumphant festival slots, ridiculous videos, regrettable tweets - these all come into the equation. At DIY we’re obsessed with bands. We follow their every move and laugh at their shit jokes. The best acts go way beyond releasing a record before going back into hibernation. They play surprise gigs, they form best mates with their tour buddies. Sometimes, they steal copies of The Sun from a service station before throwing them in the bin.
The DIY List is our look back at the year’s defining artists. Albums and standout tracks obviously have an impact, but we’ll also be explaining why an act’s made the cut by picking out their other eye-catching moments. Last year, St. Vincent topped The DIY List 2014 by transforming into a musical superhero. Across this week (14th-18th December), we’ll be running through the year’s finest. Follow everything here.
HOW THE DIY LIST WAS DECIDED
The DIY List is a combination of DIY writers’ favourite albums and tracks, and the stunning pinch-yourself moments that took place throughout the year. We’ve sat down and tried to take stock of the past twelve months, whether it’s a bizarre news story or an unforgettable headline slot.
Nothing ‘earns’ more ‘points’. This isn’t a deep analytical discussion or a frog-leaping competition. It’s a collection of the best and most bonkers acts, all ranked in a list (because lists are fun, let’s face it).
Let’s get on with it, then.
100. Jack Garratt
More than a beard, 2016’s choice has also had a big impact on 2015.
He’s the sound of now. The choice of the critics. The ultimate in pop stars who also have beards and hats (outdoing James Bay’s hat antics from 2015). If anything, Jack Garratt deserves credit for maintaining a constantly consistent level of beard length throughout the year. But he’s also progressed from blog pop favourite to actual 2016 contender, all thanks to the earnest warbling of ‘Weathered’ and the synth electro-shock ‘Breathe Life’. Honestly the video below does him no favours whatsoever, but he’s a skillful musician of one-man bravado, capable of going way beyond hype. The jury’s still out on whether Jack Garratt is more than a box of tricks, but there’s every chance he’ll be Wembley Arena huge by the time next year’s out. Jamie Milton
99. Palma Violets
Raucous is their game, and they’ve upped it with songs about coats.
They may not be quite as fresh-faced as the Lambeth boys who graced us back in 2013 with debut album, ‘180’. There wasn’t much chance of a trademark mass stage invasion at August’s Reading and Leeds Main Stage slot. But, Palma Violets’ 2015 proved they’re every bit as raucous three years on – second album ‘Danger in the Club’ drips with British rock folklore (“when you’re away on tour in America, you just need to put on the Kinks’ albums and then you’re back home,” explains Chilli of their own ‘English Tongue’) and features a song about a coat. That’s a song, about a coat. Emma Swann
98. James Blake
No-shows, radio silences - it’s been a quiet but effective year for Blakey boy.
‘Radio Silence’, that supposed title of that supposedly-coming-out-at-some-point new album, may still be a cruel joke, but despite the lack of any new material James Blake continues to commandeer headlines. From a show-stopping set at Latitude, to (finally!) finishing tinkering with those new tracks he’s been playing live, it’s been another year of slowly-building hype for the floppy-fringed fellow. Sure, he might have stumbled a little with that whole ‘Frank Ocean / 1800-Dinosaur’ debacle (still waiting for that London venue to be announced, eight months later, mate), but it’s proof that Blake’s every move is every bit as vital even when he takes his foot off the pedal. Tom Connick
97. Alessia Cara
A Swifty-approved star that’s here to stay.
Taylor Swift started up a right little tradition this year - inviting various pop stars up on stage with her throughout her ‘1989’ world tour. With everything from Stevie Nicks to Nelly hopping up to the occasion, it was hardly a half-arsed affair; making her endorsement of total newcomer Alessia Cara all the more significant. The 19 year old’s anthem for anti-social pessimists who hover in the corners of house parties everywhere - ‘Here’ - recently left the 30 million play mark well behind. Things look set to get stratospheric. El Hunt
96. The Weeknd
The Weeknd has been Abel to progress this year.
Few transformations were as unpredictable as The Weeknd’s shift from moody R&B crooner to fully-fledged pop superstar. One Max Martin-produced giant in ‘Can’t Feel My Face’ changed the game, but it’s something Abel Tesfaye’s been building up to for years. Idolising Michael Jackson, he began to see himself as someone who could legitimately sell millions of records for life, shifting the agenda with every move. ‘Beauty Behind the Madness’ wasn’t perfect, but it was one of pop’s boldest moves - and one of the year’s most successful turns. Jamie Milton
Knock knock? Hozier.
Photo: Phil Smithies.
He worships like a dog at the shrine of your lies. He’ll tell you his sins so you can sharpen your knife. Just take him to sodding church, for god’s sake. Make the man calm down.
Hozier won the official ‘Saucy Warbler of the Year’ DIY poll at this year’s BRIT Awards, but he didn’t get any mention in the end of year readers poll of the same category. So it’s difficult to know where this man stands in the saucy warbling ranks. But ‘Take Me To Church’ is a certified lung-bursting banger and for that he deserves credit. Jamie Milton
Creeping their way to the top.
Creeper may have only released two EPs so far, but they’ve already managed to become one of the most exciting prospects in the UK. Born from the ashes of Southampton outfit Our Time Down Here, the quintet have spent 2015 making their mark. Already, they’ve toured alongside the Misfits, Frank Carter and Funeral For A Friend, and have signed to Roadrunner Records. With another musical offering up their sleeve for early next year, the past twelve months have been something special for Creeper, but there’s no doubt that 2016 will see more of the same. Sarah Jamieson
93. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizzard
Productive tricksters with their eye on the next move.
Releasing two full-length records in the space of a year would be quite enough productivity for most bands, but the King Gizzard aren’t like most bands. Nope; between May’s ‘Quarters!’ and November’s ‘Paper Mache Dream Balloon’, they tore apart their own rulebook entirely, swapping spiralling psych-rock jams for sub-three-minute, flute-led acoustic pop like it ain’t no thang. Better yet, they used that fluffy new dressing to disguise some of their darkest tracks to date. In making it all look so effortless, they proved that there’s far more to their genius than that flat-out bonkers band name. Tom Connick
Read: DIY’s King Gizzard interview.
92. Django Django
Born to invent, it’s been a vintage year for Django Django.
Photo: Mike Massaro.
Earlier this year, for some godawful reason, we headed round Latitude asking festival-goers about new food stall ideas, and whether any of these tickled their tastebuds. Most of them went for ‘Django Mango’. This could be because mango is a delicious refreshing snack for the health-conscious festival type. Or it’s because Django Django are wonderful chaps and they’ve made an ace record with ‘Born Under Saturn’. This year, they were truly Django Unchained. Jamie Milton
91. Thom Yorke
He’s had an un-bell-ievable year.
Photo: Sarah Louise Bennett.
Thom Yorke’s been busy. He hitched up to the Latitude forest to play a bleepy bloopy solo set. That same night, he joined Portishead on stage for a spellbinding version of ‘The Rip’. More recently, he regrettably compared streaming giants to a Nazi Germany policy on the arts (the tosser). And while all this has been going on, he’s supposedly been recording a Radiohead album.
But if there’s one moment that sums up Thom Yorke’s 2015, it arrived midway through a bus-top DJ set for Greenpeace. Never has a man been so frightened by the sound of a bell, so shaken to the core by a sudden, chiming shockwave. His reaction is mixture of utter fear and persistence (the way he returns to the decks to scratch aimlessly at a Caribou song is unreal). What actually made him so alarmed? Was it the bell, or was it the realisation that he’s been ignoring Jonny Greenwood’s texts about going into the studio? Only time will tell, but Thom is the bell of the ball. Jamie Milton
Playlist - # 100-91: