Best Albums of 2015
selected by William Griffith

Chinese Football <BR>“Chinese Football”

Chinese Football
“Chinese Football”

Perhaps the year’s most consistently engaging album, one whose influences are loud and proud – and yet that doesn’t take away one ounce of how frigging entertaining the whole package is. Midwest emo rock at it’s finest.

A jangly mess of emotions and track after track of warm indie pop sensibility with bite, pathos, and gut that never dips into shtick. An album that demands repeated listen, and one that puts Wuhan’s Chinese Football on the map in a big way.

Chinese Football on Bandcamp, FacebookDouban – and beehype.

Chui Wan <BR>“Chui Wan”

Chui Wan
“Chui Wan”

There is some beautiful mischief going on in psychedelic trope of Chui Wan’s wonderful and intoxicating new album.

With inspirations ranging from “southeast Asian folk tunes” to “sufi music” to “20th century avant-garde composition”, the Beijing-based troupe’s music is simply hypnotic.

Their self-titled album is a delicate, lavish psychedelic playground that garners as much from its restraint to its complex arrangements.

Chui Wan on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook – and beehype.

Horse Radio <BR>“Horse Radio”

Horse Radio
“Horse Radio”

What a pleasure it is to hear a band finding new ground with an arguably overplayed genre. That’s exactly the case for Inner Mongolian Beijing-based outfit Horse Radio and their debut.

While the album does contain it’s share of knee-slappers – reggae-infused rock-tilted jams that one can imagine would ignite a crowd at just about anywhere – there’s an inherent exploration within their sound.

An improvisational vibe that elevates the material and truly feels organic and made in the grasslands.

Horse Radio on Douban, Xiami.

iimmune <BR />“Ocean”


Blissed out indietronica that feels like the anti-thesis to the dark, steely, cynical world of electronic music that we live in today.

Don’t get me wrong – I love my beats dark and malevolent too. But there’s something so triumphant and endearing about music that goes for broke and isn’t afraid to slap on the gloss and let that sun shine through and bright.

A leap of joy and the best electronic album of the year.

iimmune on Soundcloud, Facebook, InstagramSpotify – and beehype.

Jia Huizhen <br>“Demos”

Jia Huizhen

Perhaps one of the scene’s most underrated acts, ethereal elecro pop artist Jia Huizhen has been hanging on the margins of underground success and mainstream stardom.

Back in March she promised that every month she would release a new single. And not only did she keep on her word, but surprised listeners with one glorious hit after glorious hit.

What I find most refreshing about the tracks is how vulnerable they are. It’s beautiful, powerful and abrasive, and sounds a million times more authentic than any of the much-lauded female stars of the indie scene.

Jia Huizhen on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Douban – and beehype.

Li Xiaolu <BR>“The Land of Many Pots”

Li Xiaolu
“The Land of Many Pots”

Golden Melody Award nominee singer and a classically trained theater performer, Li Xiaolu has created a lusciously delirious piece of chamber pop that demands ones attention.

Sprawling and transcendent, the artist’s robust and classically trained vocals, combined with the sparse yet dense arrangements (the production on this beast is top of the line) create once again one of the year’s most pleasant surprises.

An avant-grade substitute to the sugar-coated indie pop world most singer-songwriters reside in.

Li Xiaolu on XiamiQQ Music

Mr. Trouble <BR />“Nice”

Mr. Trouble

2015 has been a flagship year for hip-hop and rap. From the bubbly soulful jazz rifting of j-fever, and the anarchistic jaded marathon of MC Daiwei, China has been making its mark on the hip-hop scene this year.

Most prominent was Shanghai producer and rapper’s Mr. Trouble’s early 2015 release Nice, which blew the competition out of the water, with its stellar production, which jumps all over the map, to the MC’s fluid almost effortless flow.

A raw, confident barnburner of hip hop triumph.

Mr. Trouble on Douban, Xiami.

Tom Cruise & Katie Holmes <BR>“A Million Farewells”

Tom Cruise & Katie Holmes
“A Million Farewells”

Emotions run high on the bombastic, spellbinding swan song of Tom Cruise & Katie Holmes, the little band that never was.

There’s a driving urgency within the album’s framework that’s raw, insecure, and adolescent in nature. A tangled, dreamy, sprawling journey through the ups and downs of love that’s at once claustrophobic and cathartic.

Love is a wreck, and this is truly a breakup album for the ages.

Tom Cruise & Katie Holmes on Bandcamp.

Wan Xiaoli <BR>“The Sun Looks Round”

Wan Xiaoli
“The Sun Looks Round”

Wan Xiaoli clearly has a way with words – scattered phrases, poetic and mundane all at once, that linger and burn into the background – are prominent throughout the folk renegade’s latest.

But what I’m more impressed by is how well the mandolin, old school keyboard, and his terse folksy melodies fit in with his more indie, downright experimental sensibilities.

It’s an album that flows together so seamlessly so effortlessly, that has altogether breathed live in the often times rudimentary genre.

Wan Xiaoli on Douban, Xiami, Weibo – and beehype.

Wu Tiao Ren <BR>“Canton Girl”

Wu Tiao Ren
“Canton Girl”

A glowing sanguine rollicking night out – there’s something universal about the way Wu Tiao Ren sings about urban life.

The Guangzhou-based outfit who hail from Haifeng, Guangdong switch to the more universal Mandarin language on their latest, but that doesn’t change the warmth that pours out all over this thing. Like a southern Chinese version of Billy Joel, it’s in love with the act of storytelling.

The type of music that would light up bar with equal amounts of tears and cheer.

Wu Tiao Ren on Facebook, Douban, Weibo – and beehype.