2015 Favorite Tracks

I haven’t written here in a long time, but I’m back! I want to talk about this year in music. I know that no one gives a damn, but how is that any different from the other times I open my mouth.

2015 was an interesting year in music for me. I started playing drums in October, and feel like I got more aware of the local music scene through my drum instructor. It made me really begin to listen to music in a different way, paying more attention to the pieces that make up each song, instead of simply the entirety as a whole.

In no particular order, my top 25 tracks of 2015 are:

Dreams – Beck : Beck is fucking weird. I’m still not sure if he’s weird in a good way or not, but damn do I love some of his music. This tune makes me tap my foot every time I hear it.

S.O.B. – Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats : This song is like your drunk Uncle took you to a secret barn dance in the Kentucky woods. That sentence means nothing, but describes the feel of this song so well. The greatest song about getting the DTs from alcoholism I’ve ever heard, with an old school hum and stomp that just plain makes me want to dance.

The Next Storm – Frank Turner : Frank Turner’s new album is entitled Positive Songs for Negative People, and you can’t get more apt. I like to put this on when I’m feeling like a horrible fat man; it reminds me that it can get better tomorrow (because we’re not dead yet, to steal from another song of his.) Open the shutters, raise up the mast, rejoice, rebuild, the storm has passed!

The Party Line – Belle and Sebastian :  Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance is a pretty typical Belle and Sebastian album in that it’s good and it’s twee, but this time they brought some dance to it and stretched out a bit. I think they do this best on The Party Line, which is a little funky if you can imagine funky Belle and Sebastian.

Black Lake – Björk : I almost went with Lionsong here, but something about Black Lake hits me harder. Vulnicura is all about the loss of her relationship, but to me nothing brings that feeling of being stripped out of the warm protection of a relationship quite like this song.

Gray Duck – Doomtree : I really love this local hip hop crew, and this song displays them very well. Spitting and rolling, this brings it from start and never stops running.

Motherfucker – Faith No More : I’m sure part of this is nostalgia for having back a favorite band of my youth, but hearing this as the first single just made it stick in my head. It’s so damned good I don’t give a fuck. The entire album is a return to their old form, while maintaining a reflection of all the changes that the band went through in the intervening years.

Laughing in the Sugar Bowl – Veruca Salt : While we’re on the subject of nostalgia…Veruca Salt. Back after all these years. I loved their stuff in the 90’s, for no good reason whatsoever. It’s good to have them back, sugar sweet harmonies, growly guitars, and all.

Random Name Generator – Wilco : Wilco have been a longtime companion of mine, always in my play rotation. They’re consistently good, without ever really doing anything so grossly standout that you can take it to someone and have them understand what you’re so excited about with a single play. They continue that string of quiet excellence with the hilariously named Star Wars album. Listen to it, if you’ve not already done so.

Wide Open – The Chemical Brothers featuring Beck : The Chemical Brothers continue to do things with crazy noises in a computer that make me want to dance around. This time they bring Beck along for the ride, who seems to have brought along some of the zany swooping feel he had in Dreams that makes Wide Open feel like it really does encompass acres of space.

Can’t Feel My Face – The Weeknd : Usually the really big pop chart songs slide right past me unnoticed, but this one caught. I’ve no desire to try cocaine, and if it’s as easy to get hooked on as this song that’s for the best.

Phone in a Pool – Ben Folds with yMusic : I’m an unabashed Ben Folds fan. Something about his tired everyman songwriting appeals to me. It really comes through with Phone in a Pool, which is sort of the diary entry of the everyman songwriter getting so tired of it all that he just had to tell us about it.

Never Ending Circles – CHVRCHES : This band just hits it out of the park with album openers. The Mother We Share was a knockout, and here Never Ending Circles does it again. I never tire of Lauren Mayberry’s voice and the sense of urgency all their songs carry.

The Answer – Savages : Savages always live up to their name, with anger and a rollicking raw edge. Here they tell us about the savage side of love and what it brings. I can’t wait for the new album.

I Feel Love (Every Million Miles) – The Dead Weather : I love Jack White as a drummer. I know a lot of people dislike him for a variety of reasons, but I just love to listen to him. I also still think Alison Mosshart needs to eat a damned sandwich.

The Audience – Coheed and Cambria : As someone who loves progressive rock, comic books, and sci fi stories, I was destined to love Coheed and Cambria. On their new album they break out of the story they’ve been telling for over a decade and just write some music, and in this song they talk about their relationship with their audience – the love, the hate, the comments. It’s well done, and a great listen.

A New Wave – Sleater-Kinney : Welcome back Sleater-Kinney! Man oh man did I miss you. That growly-girl voice paired with that spooling guitar sound never gets old, and their lyrics keep it fresh.

Saint Cecilia – Foo Fighters : Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters are like a well worn rock blanket. It’s safe and warm and cuddly, but sometimes that’s exactly what you want. I loved them last year with Sonic Highhways, and they keep that feeling rolling. Also, I can listen to Taylor Hawkins all day, and he’s not even the best drummer in the band. (That is so not fair.)

Raise a Wreck – Skinny Lister : Half punk rock, half sea shanty. That really sort of sums up Skinny Lister, and the nautical undercurrent of the song’s lyric just brings it to mind even more.

Sedona – Houndmouth : I’ve been to Little Hollywood myself (for work) and this song sums up the feel of the place perfectly. Trying to be bigger than it is so badly, the town loses all the things that makes it special. Bright but sleepy, the red sandstone and glitter surrounds you.

Love Me – The 1975 : This band is so well named. The first time I heard this song, I thought they were some kind of Talking Heads clone band. That may be closer to the truth than they want to hear, but they certainly do it well.

Downtown – Macklemore and Ryan Lewis featuring Eric Nally, Melle Mel, and Kool Moe Dee : This song is just plain stupid, and I absolutely admit that I love it and sing along every time it comes on.

High By The Beach – Lana Del Rey : Despite being a sort of one trick pony, with her sultry voice and dreamy arrangements, I still like Lana Del Rey songs, and this year I especially liked this one.The lyrics are pretty good, and it’s somehow not trite. Well, not too trite.

Lady of Stone – The Vitrolum Republic : The other side of the dreamy arrangement coin, The Vitrolum Republic make lush and smooth sound like the most genuine thing you could ever imagine.

Blackstar – David Bowie : Finally, David Bowie brings the whole year home with a song that’s almost indescribable. Textural experiments that call upon everything he’s done since the mid-70’s make for the greatest thing Bowie has done since Warszawa. Fantastic.

If you’d like this entire playlist (On Google’s Play music service) it’s available here.


~ by Benjamin Kenneally on December 30, 2015.

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