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 boddies. 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:
70. Will Butler
His brother might be Win, but it’s Will Butler who won 2015.
Much was made at the time of James Murphy’s contribution to the shift in sound on Arcade Fire’s ‘Reflektor’, but after the release of Will Butler’s solo debut it was immediately evident those post-punk stylings didn’t necessarily come from the DFA main man: ‘Policy’ is stripped-back proto-punk, 21st Century style. Direct as hell, repetitive in the best way possible and coming in under a mere half-hour, it’s not quite the opposite of his day job, but it has a good go. Out of his brother’s shadow, the ‘strange man with the drum’ done good. Emma Swann
69. Hudson Mohawke
It’s been a busy year for Ross Birchard - does this man ever sleep?
Hudson Mohawke is a busy man. It just so happens that, until this past year, he’s spent more time on his array of differing projects – we’re talking collaborating with Kanye West and touring the world with TNGHT - than his own solo endeavours. Having made his mark in the late Noughties with his 2009 debut ‘Butter’, it’s taken him six years to finally put the finishing touches on its follow-up. But what a follow-up it is; ‘Lantern’ shows Ross Birchard at his euphoria-building finest. Sarah Jamieson
68. The Japanese House
Newcomers like Amber Bain are few and far between.
Every so often a new act emerges with an alien sound. “Every so often” might be overstating it. This is extremely rare, to be honest. But Amber Bain isn’t your everyday newcomer. On her first two EP’s, she’s given a futuristic slant to pop that could easily be borrowing parts from outer space. She gets to the point, never shunning a big chorus for a fancy trick, but there’s a bright and inventive spark to The Japanese House, something that hasn’t been witnessed elsewhere all year. Jamie Milton
67. Leon Bridges
A bridge over troubled water? Not on Leon’s watch - 2015’s been a decidedly trouble-free blinder.
This Forth Worth, Texas newcomer’s timeless hybrid of Motown and soul was a no-brainer for 2015 success. But few imagined it’d take on such huge form. The peak of Leon Bridges’ year arrived just two weeks back, when he took on the Saturday Night Live musical slot, joining the likes of Lorde, Sia, Miley Cyrus and Adele. Not exactly small fare, but Bridges was more than up to the task. His stripped back performance of ‘River’ is a late contender for one of the year’s telly highlights (way better than an Eastenders omnibus, actually). He’s become a fully-fledged star way ahead of anyone’s predictions. Jamie Milton
66. Tobias Jesso Jr.
The tallest man in music just keeps on getting better.
From a goofy ‘Goon’ to Adele’s best mate - Tobias Jesso Jr. has had quite the year. Back in 2014, he remained a fairly elusive figure, the voice behind ghostly demos that carried a fleeting timelessness. Since then he’s exposed a different side, one that headbangs on a piano when accompanied by a full band, one that finds the idea of Adele liking his songs laughable before actually working with her. With a potential Haim collaboration in the works and goodness knows what else, this previously struggling musician has been given his deserved big break in 2015. He’s not far from becoming a fully-fledged star in his own right. Jamie Milton
After seventeen years away, blimey, it’s good to have this lot back.
For many, Refused were the band who would never release another record. With their legacy signed and sealed with the infamous phrase ‘Refused are fucking dead’, it became one of the unwritten rules of punk law that we would never see a follow-up to the iconic 1998 album ‘The Shape Of Punk To Come’. Three years ago, there was a shift: the band reunited for a slew of shows, to finally give their masterpiece the live airing it deserved. Turns out, things can change, and legends can be unwritten. This year, Refused released their first album in seventeen years and proved – with ‘Freedom’ – that they’re still one of the most politically-charged punk forces we’ve ever witnessed. And that never goes out style. Sarah Jamieson
Read: Refused’s DIY interview.
64. Best Coast
Bethany and Bob head into bolder territory
By the time that Best Coast released their newest full-length ‘California Nights’, it had been two years since their last offering. Turns out, a fair bit can change in that amount of time. While previously, the duo – Bethany Consentino and Bobb Bruno – had dealt more in the laid-back, sun-drenched charms of lo-fi pop, with their new album, they seemed bolder and brighter. A hint of nostalgia here, a spark of light there, in 2015 Best Coast have found themselves in a much braver, confident place. Sarah Jamieson
63. The Big Moon
The stars are the limit for this lunar lot.
In the space of less than a year, The Big Moon have gone from nobodies (once called The Moon) into a newfound treasure. They’ve starred in the Neu Tour, conquering UK cities and making mates for life with INHEAVEN and VANT. They came up with a slightly rubbish dance routine in their ‘Nothing Without You’ and still didn’t look like pillocks. They came up with the year’s best Twitter handle (@commoonicate) and they’ve speedily risen into one of 2016’s best prospects. They’re basically the best new band around, and to think they didn’t actually exist this time last year is mind-boggling. Jamie Milton
2016 is Savages’ for the taking.
Parading around in their customary all-black band garbs, with spoken-word cries to ‘Shut Up’ and ‘Silence Yourself’ Savages already had the cool and confrontational thing completely nailed back in 2013. This year, the gears began to shift towards something more connective, Jehnny Beth flinging herself into surging crowds with an extra spring in her step; steadily deploying a growing stash of new material. Hungry and urgent, ‘The Answer’ heralded the official start point for Savages amping up for second album ‘Adore Life’. Still an unforgiving powerhouse, but honed and more inhabitable, 2016 is this lot’s for the taking. El Hunt
61. Everything Everything
Everything Everything got political this year, with honed, aggressive results.
When Everything Everything decided to follow-up their curveball album ‘Arc’, they realised they needed to inject it with more energy, feed it more aggression. The results, then, seem to have lived up to their aims perfectly. ‘Get To Heaven’ is, at times, ferocious in its assault of the current political landscape. There are horrors embodied within their third album that just aren’t being addressed by other bands, in turn making this their most outlandish and ballsy album yet. Luckily, the Manchester four-piece can pull it off. Sarah Jamieson