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).
Catch up with the top 100 below:
90. The Magic Gang
Casting a spell over hordes of fans.
Photo: Mike Massaro
The Magic Gang have hundreds of crazy fans and they’re still not even signed. They can hitch up to a crowd of thousands (as they did when supporting Swim Deep at London Roundhouse) and cause bedlam. But best of all they’re willing to talk about Ross Kemp on demand, as they did in the new issue of DIY. And any band happy to talk about Ross Kemp is good in our books. Jamie Milton
Read: DIY’s Class Of 2016 interview with The Magic Gang.
He’s gonna let you finish.
Beck respects artistry and he’s not diminishing art. That much is clear ten months after the poor bloke was scuppered from winning the Grammy for Album of the Year by Kanye West. Yeezy simmered (and apologised) after his kind of stage invasion, but there was still a consensus that ‘Morning Phase’ wasn’t vintage Beck, instead a dreamy laid back collection. He showed a completely different side with ‘Dreams’, one of the singles of the year and a timely reminder that Beck’s best when amped up and spinning shapes out of new tools. Classic artistry. Jamie Milton
88. Hot Chip
Relentlessly shifting gears and incorporating alien elements.
To call Hot Chip’s ‘Why Make Sense?’ “more of the same” would be a disservice. But the group’s sixth album does stick to a trend of this five-piece relentlessly shifting gears and incorporating alien elements into their work. More than anything, 2015’s seen their live reputation go up a few gears. At Glastonbury, they dished out a surprise cover of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Dancing in the Dark’, before combining it with LCD Soundsystem’s ‘All My Friends’. They also played a timely show at Casino de Paris, just a few days on from the tragic Le Bataclan attacks. It felt like a breakthrough moment for the city, a way to simply begin to contemplate going back to reality. Hot Chip are a fitting band to mark that kind of moment. Jamie Milton
A culturally-aware, unashamedly opinionated slant on the notion of a modern pop star.
Finding a fanbase before she ever found fame, every step of Halsey’s rise has been taken backwards. ‘New Americana’, her anthemic slice of perfect alt-pop, was a late-blooming single, chosen only after Zane Lowe spun it about a bajillion times on Beats1, just because he could. Oh, and because it’s ace. ‘Tri-bi’ by her own description (that’s bi-sexual, bi-polar and bi-racial), she’s brought a culturally-aware, unashamedly opinionated slant to the notion of a modern pop star, and looks set to continue her massive rise long into 2016 and beyond. Tom Connick
Read: DIY’s Halsey interview.
86. Jamie T
The Comeback King.
Photo: Emma Swann
He returned as a ‘Zombie’ in 2014 and he closed out 2015 as a hero. Jamie T is the Comeback King, one of the few acts who can disappear for years and still sound just as vital when they return. His standout moment? Glastonbury, where he received a hero’s welcome beyond anyone’s expectations. Jamie Milton
85. Hop Along
At the start of the year, Hop Along were somewhat of a hidden gem. Not anymore.
There’s no shame about it - at the beginning of 2015, Hop Along weren’t exactly a household name. They’re still not, obviously. Nobody is saying they’re anywhere near daytime radio rotation; they’re not really that kind of band. But still, those that sung their praises were ‘in the know’. At the end of the year they’re the kind of band that, if you haven’t already been converted, you really need to get your head out of the sand. Their second album (or third, you can debate that one if you want), ‘Painted Shut’, is something both special and rare. Like with contemporaries Bully, Frances Quinlan’s lyrics seem to come from a place of unconditional truth. Check out the remarkable ‘Powerful Man’ for an instant catch up. Stephen Ackroyd
Photo: Jonathan Dadds
Brash lo-fi thrashers get introspective.
Photo: Carolina Faruolo
After their earlier material took down slut-shaming, gender stereotypes and the patriarchy with an onslaught of teeth-gritted yells and discordant guitars, Girlpool’s debut album came as a more introspective surprise. Their politics - ever present - get more personal on ‘Before the World Was Big’; a quietly touching record about growing up and realising the world can be an unkind crock of shit most of the time. Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker also get top marks for managing to shoehorn both Hilary Duff and Fergie into a single DIY interview.
83. Frank Carter
Unhinged, chaotic, but brilliant.
Photo: Sarah Louise Bennett
When Frank Carter’s post-Gallows project Pure Love took their final bow in early 2014, it felt like the story hadn’t quite ended just yet. An icon unto himself, the ferocious frontman fell quiet for some months but earlier this year, his silence was punctured with ‘Fangs’, an exhilarating return to form. Since then, joined by his Rattlesnakes, Carter has released his debut solo album ‘Blossom’ and secured his place as one of the most unhinged, chaotic but brilliant live performers of recent times. Sarah Jamieson
82. Parquet Courts
Angrier, more frustrated, fuming at the fucking state of this world.
Photo: Emma Swann
Angrier, more frustrated, fuming at the fucking state of this world, Parquet Courts haven’t shifted one jot in 2015. They released tour EP ‘Monastic Living’, another constant churn of amped-up dissatisfaction. Were it not for a fumed and thrashing set at this year’s Reading Festival, Andrew Savage and co. could be called recluses by their prolific standards, but there’s no doubt they’re still a special band, pissed off for fair reasons. Jamie Milton
He dances - we get it. But can he play the flute while dressed as a hobbit?
Photo: Carolina Faruolo / DIY.
Drake’s video antics might be over-egged, but he’s had an incredible year, putting faith in the idea that you can still dominate a year without releasing an actual record. ‘Views From The 6’ remains, err, out of view, but ‘If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late’ was an early jolt to 2015’s system. It was matched by Drake’s visit to Wimbledon, a tour de force of publicity that involved a very casual tracksuit that completely ignored the tennis staple’s dress code. For that, it’s been Drizzy’s year. Jamie Milton