Audiophile : Akwitz

From A to Z: Discovering new music so you don't have to…


Leave a comment

The Audiophile: Top Tracks of 2015


Musicheads,

Now that we are through the first week of January we are beginning to see how 2016 will shape up musically and it is exciting to hear all the anticipated albums to drop this year and I, for one, am eagerly awaiting all the new music.  But before we get to that, we first must close out 2015.   My first post of 2016 was with the Top Albums of 2015, now let’s really close out 2015 by naming the Top 10 Tracks of 2015.  On this list you might see some surprises, but all of these tracks are incredibly strong and it was a difficult task to organize and order it.  Without further ado, let’s get to the Top 10 Tracks of 2015:


 

10. CHVRCHES – Leave A Trace

We start off the top 10 with one of many stellar tracks from the sophomore effort from Scottish trio CHVRCHES.  This track is equally catchy and upbeat and high-energy.  The lead single on an album that had a lot to live up to, which it succeeded in doing.

9. Ratatat – Cream On Chrome

I said it on the Top Albums list and I will say it again here.  It is incredibly surprising to have an instrumental track (or entire album in this case) make a “Best of…” list, but Ratatat’s Magnifique is a definite exception.  This album was stellar and well-deserving of praise, and their lead single Cream On Chrome was no exception to that.

8. Jamie xx – I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)

On an album full of top-notch “driving music”, there is one outlier among that tracklist, and it is this track.  Super catchy, this cross-genre track is a masterful blend of rap, dancehall, an Afro-a cappela sample and electronic remixing and production.

7. Best Coast – California Nights

From the first note, this track oozes the California lifestyle.  Huge, soaring vocals, West Coast nostalgia-filled lyrics and a mixture of low-fi surf-rock and dreamy atmospheric riffs drive this song ever upward.  While nostalgia and yearning to travel to the West Coast again and live the portrait painted by Bethany and Bobb of Best Coast from the song may personally have driven this song so high up the list for 2015, it remains an incredibly powerful song that will be forever linked with 2015.

6. Courtney Barnett – Depreston

There are a lot of tracks to choose from on Courtney Barnett’s début full-length album, but we decided to pick the ironic and sardonic track Depreston.  Low-key in its format and delivery, the track itself is masterful lyrically and epitomizes the writing style of Barnett, which has been highly praised all around.


Now as we crack into the rarefied air of the Top 5, all of these tracks have one thing in common; these songs just don’t seem to ever get old.  Each of these 5 songs were in my head from the get-go of this “Best Of…” to be in the top 5, it was only a question of in what order they would lie.  Well here it goes:

5. Tame Impala – Let It Happen

Kevin Parker and company deserve all the praises they receive for Currents, as it truly was a defining album of both the band and 2015.  With that said, the album’s opener which kicked everything off may also be the best track the group has ever written.  The almost 8-minute track is a dance-friendly tune which blends bits of the old Tame Impala sound (found on previous albums) and the new which has moved away from being purely psychedelic rock.  This track not only is a great track by itself, but what it does to transition the listener to the group’s new sound is equally as impressive.

4. Foals – Mountain At My Gates

There is one thing that UK act Foals does best, and that is write big, progressive, massive tracks that absolutely explode with emotion.  Mountain At My Gates is no exception to this.  The track is built around a fantastic guitar riff and Yannis Philippakis’s raw vocals.  Foals have often utilized Nabil as their go-to director for their unique and often epic music videos for a creative edge, and the music video to accompany this earworm was equally as original, having been shot in a 360 degree environment with a GoPro Sphere.  You also know your track is good when it gets remixed and that remix also is honorably mentioned in that same “Best of…” list.

3. Cold War Kids – First

This group has come a long way from 2006’s Robbers & Cowards and their breakout first single Hang Me Up To Dry .  Now in their 11th year as a band, Cold War Kids have truly hit their stride.  Although First came from their 2014 album Hold My Homethe album was a late release and the track was a huge hit in 2015, especially exploding over the summer.  The track itself is beyond catchy and just incredibly enjoyable and relatable for anyone who has been in an up-and-down relationship. This song does not seem to get old.

2. Saint Motel – My Type

Catchy doesn’t do this track justice from California indie pop group Saint Motel. 2015 was a tremendous year for this quintet, even without a full-length album to their names.  Despite the track itself being released on an EP in 2014, 2015 was the year of its rapid ascent. This track truly was a buzz track, but at the same time, it was incredibly well produced, unique enough in comparison to the rest of the musical environment of 2015, and that horn section absolutely made the track such a memorable piece of the musical framework of the year.

1. Beck – Dreams

Who needs a music video to accompany the biggest song of 2015?  Not Beck, that’s who!  This standalone track is a legitimate earworm that doesn’t seem to get old or lose any of its bite.  Right now, it has no music video or album to accompany it, but we are highly anticipating this track to be included on the California multi-instrumentalist’s next album which will most likely drop in 2016. Well done, Beck and let’s hope you kick Kanye’s ass once again in 2016 as there may be another head-to-head battle on the album front.


 

Don’t Miss out on the Album of The Year as well!

Once again, here is a recap of the Audiophile’s top 51 tracks of 2015:

Feel like we missed someone or left them off the list or picked the wrong tracks?  Let us know.  Discussion is always appreciated.

Don’t know some of these tracks, don’t worry, we’ve got a curated playlist just for you!

Playlist: The Audiophile: Top 51 Tracks of 2015

Here are a few others that barely missed the list this year but are definitely worth mentioning.

2015 Honorable Mentions:

and don’t forget to follow on Facebook, Twitter at @AudiofileAkwitz  and Instagram @Audiophileakwitz to get even more music updates that don’t make the posts.

Akwitz

Now Playing: The Audiophile: Top 51 Tracks of 2015


Leave a comment

The Audiophile: Top Albums of 2015


Musicheads,

 

We have now made it to 2016 and therefore let’s put 2015 to bed with a recap of the best 2015 had to offer musically.    In this now my third edition of the Audiophile Top lists since the blog’s inception, I would have to rank the music of 2015 with a grade of B and 2nd behind 2013 which would definitely be considered a high-water mark for music so far in this decade.  In my previous post I provided the Top 51 Albums of 2015. Now, we whittle that original list of 51 down to a size much more manageable and easier to consume, a top 10.   These albums consumed the Audiophile’s ears this year as they were compelling on multiple levels and had numerous tracks to hear on repeat.  So who won the year?  It was a tough and close fought battle (with everyone being a winner thanks to the quality music), but without further ado, I give you your top 10:


 

#10

SOAK – Before We Forgot How To Dream

It’s quite an accomplishment for an artist’s début album to break the top 10 of the year.  It’s even more so when you accomplish this at the tender age of 19 like that of SOAK.  Ireland’s very own Bridie Monds-Watson put together a compelling and inspiring album.  Heartfelt, evocative and incredibly relatable, the youngster’s lyrics are far beyond her age, be it on the tracks B a noBody, Blud, Shuvels  or Sea Creatures.  Her breathy voice and the indie folk she creates was worthy of a 2015 Mercury Prize nomination and equally worthy of this place here on the countdown.  Not only that, but when you can get a fellow artist who is also on this list (CHVRCHES) to remix your tracks, you know you’ve got some definite traction.


 

#9

Leon Bridges – Coming Home

“A return to an old and familiar sound and style” may be the words best to describe another début on this countdown from Fort Worth, Texas.  Leon Bridges‘ album is a wonderful mix of Soul, R&B and Gospel and has a very recognizable quality to it.  Along with the quality of his voice and overall compilation of his work on the album, this album deserves all the credit it is due.  The tracks Coming Home, Smooth Sailin’, Better Man and River are all standouts on a very strong release.

 

 


 

#8

Ratatat – Magnifique

It isn’t very often that you have an instrumental album make a “Top…” list, but Ratatat’s return with their fifth studio album Magnifique after a 5-year absence was down right awesome.  Be it the lead single Cream On Chrome, second single Abrasive or the industrious and industrial Nightclub Amnesia, this album delivers over and over without a single lyric.  Artfully crafted licks and dance-paced tracks make this a great listen at any time of the day.

 

 

 


 

#7

Purity Ring – Another Eternity

The Canadian duo’s sophomore effort was well deserving of a Top 10 spot this year.  Purity Ring’s début album was strong on its own, and what better way to follow that up than with another equally strong, (if not even better) album?  That’s exactly what they did in 2015 with Another Eternity.  Whether your favorite track was push pull, bodyache or begin again, you really couldn’t go wrong as the album is a complete one from start to finish.  Their sound and style is quite unique and they are part of a string of musicians coming out of the Great White North with a ton of quality new music lately.

 

 


 

#6

Tame Impala – Currents

A lot of other music sites,writers and panels have placed this album much higher on their charts than we do here, but to tell you the truth, it was not my favorite Tame Impala album.  Don’t get me wrong, Kevin Parker and company put together quite the solid album, but Currents was a departure from previous albums’ style which I thoroughly enjoyed.   For what it was though, it truly is an excellent piece of work.  The opening track Let It Happen is an almost 8-minute long dance track that is equal parts compelling as it is trippy and dance-friendly.  Meanwhile, other singles like Cause I’m A Man (which got the remix/rework/cover treatment from an Audiophile favorite, HaimEventually and The Less I Know The Better are all equally compelling in their own right.  There is much to discover on this album and a complete listen through from start to finish is much needed to truly grasp the quality of this album.

 

 

 


 

We now break into the upper echelon, the Top 5.  In truth, these albums could all be tossed around and reordered depending on the day, but they were by far the most complete and thoroughly enjoyable albums of 2015 in our minds.


 

#5

CHVRCHES – Every Open Eye

Glaswegian’s Lauren Mayberry, Iain Cook and Martin Doherty who make up the trio known as CHVRCHES had a lot to live up to with their sophomore album after the meteoric success of their début album The Bones Of What You BelieveWere the banded destined for a sophomore slump with Every Open Eye?  Common sense pointed to yes, however what the group delivered was not to be the case.  This album delivers on every front cover to cover.  Beginning with Never Ending Circles and seeing its way through to the closer Afterglow, the album is track after track of uplifting, energetic and exciting Synthpop.  The album is incredibly dancey and enjoyable.  There are many tracks vying for personal favorite on the album too: Leave A Trace, Clearest Blue, and Empty Threat are all definite contenders worthy of this honor, while Make Them Gold and Bury It are close behind.  You really can’t miss listening to any track on this album.

 

 

 


 

#4

Foals – What Went Down

There is a special place in my heart for the music that UK act Foals make, and maybe this is why they are ranked so highly on this year’s Top Albums of 2015.  But then again, when you actually get into and listen to What Went Down in its entirety, there is good reason this album landed where it did.  The lead single Mountain At My Gates is an absolute CRUSHER of a song that I have yet to get tired of (nor do I think I ever will).  Outside of the lead single though you still have plenty to look forward to, whether it is the opening and title track What Went Down, or closer A Knife In The Ocean, or any one of the numerous tracks in between such as Birch Tree, Albatross, Night SwimmersLondon Thunder or Give It All, the album is track after track after track of quality.  The 10-track album is jam-packed with music that just swells over and over with increasing tenacity and fervor, washing over you with walls of auditory bliss.

 

 

 

 


 

#3

Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit

Aussie Courtney Barnett has had a tremendous 2015.  Not only did she release her official début LP Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit (Ignoring the double EP release in 2014), but she has also been nominated for a Grammy award for “Best New Artist” (albeit it is the Grammys and many people don’t put very much stock in the award itself), won 4 ARIA Awards as well as Triple J’s J Award (Australia’s Album of the Year) all in 2015.  These accolades are WELL deserved though, as this album is killer.  The lead single Pedestrian At Best is a garage rock anthem while less high energy tracks such as Depreston are cutting and lyrically brilliant.  Barnett’s music is consistently of the storytelling variety and her lyrics are both cutting and poignant.  Add into the mix that she’s a lefty and this girl oozes cool.   You don’t want to sleep on the tracks Dead Fox, Elevator Operator, Aqua Profonda!, Nobody Cares If You Don’t Go To The Party and album closer Boxing Day Blues.  This album has a lot to offer and lots of different styles that you really must listen to if you haven’t explored it just yet.  It is #3 for good reason!

 

 

 


 

#2

Jamie xx – In Colour

 

Jamie xx’s debut solo album was by far my biggest surprise of the year in terms of quality.  One third of the down-tempo UK band The xxJamie xx absolutely crushed it out of the park with In Colour This album is absolutely perfect driving music with the right beats and pace.  Whether you are listening to the massive album opener Gosh (with equally massive music video) or the closer Girl the album flows smoothly from track to track with numerous inflection points and differences of style.  Familiar faces show up on the album to assist in its creation including  the likes of Romy and Oliver (of The xx) on a number of the tracks including the  lead single, Loud Places.  SeeSaw is another enjoyable piece of music as well as The Rest Is Noise.  Last  but not least, probably what surprisingly enough was my personal favorite (and is by far the biggest outlier on the album) was the second single and lights out track I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times) which also features dancehall artist Popcaanrapper Young Thug and a sample from Afro a cappella group The Persuasions.  This album may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it was definitely a big winner here at The Audiophile!

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

And finally we get to The Audiophile’s top album of 2015…

 


 

#1

Modest Mouse – Strangers To Ourselves

What is there to say about Modest Mouse’s first album in 8 long years?  The group’s return with Strangers To Ourselves hits on so many levels.  The album is lyrically cutting, culturally relevant, is heavily Pacific Northwest-influenced and overall incredibly unique to the garage rockers turned fully alternative artists known as Modest Mouse.  The album varies in styles throughout the album, sharing with listeners different phases of the band’s musical expression and delivery through its history of being.  The album begins with the title track, Strangers To Ourselves, a slow and melancholy piece that lulls you into a false sense of calm before breaking into the lead single Lampshades On Fire.  Follow this with Shit In Your Cut, Pistol (A Cunanan, Miami, FL. 1996) and Ansel, each vastly different and dynamic in their own ways while still epitomizing the sound that can only be labelled as from the minds of Isaac Brock and company.  The band released a handful of tracks before the album officially dropped in March and the second single The Ground Walks, with Time in a Box was one of the four tracks released prior to this.  This track is a psychedelic freak out if I’ve ever seen one, and comes equipped with a trippy music video to match. The track that follows has to be my favorite on the album, Coyotes.  Surprisingly down-tempo and incredibly revelatory, the track delivers on multiple fronts with tremendous success.  As the album progresses further down the rabbit hole of sorts different directions are taken and lyrics appear which are even more out there and plaintive.  The band has always had base, pessimistic and downright heart-rending lyrics pertaining to their view of the world and man’s impact on it, but this album drives hard on that theme whether in Pups To Dust, Wicked Campaign or God is an Indian and You’re An Asshole.  Be Brave is among the muck and the mire of the middle tracks but should not be overlooked.  The final track to be released prior to albums actual release was the album’s fourth single The Best Room.  Equally impressive as the other singles although it comes as a very deep cut on the album.  Just as the album opened with a slow and melancholy track, the bookend track to close it out,  Of Course We Know, is equally slow and melancholy and the perfect way to cap off what can only be considered a musical journey in that of Strangers To Ourselves.  It is for reasons like that, that this album is rises to the top of 2015.  From beginning to end, the 15-track album offers something different with each track, equally compelling, evocative and interesting.  Each track may not be your favorite, but each track is deserving of a place on the album and for that reason, also deserving of the title of Top Album of 2015.

 

 

 

 

 


Now with our Top 10 finally delivered, we look forward to an optimistic 2016 with many returns from acts we have loved from the past as well as numerous new discoveries.  One can only hope 2016 trumps 2013 in terms of music, as the world would no doubt enjoy it!

Also, don’t miss out on the results for the Top Tracks of 2015 as well!

Once again, here were your top 51 albums of 2015:

 

Was something omitted from the list?  Speak up and share your opinion! Discussion is always appreciated.

If you haven’t heard some of these albums, have no fear! I’ve made a playlist with them all in it for your listening enjoyment right here:

Playlist: The Audiophile: Top 51 Albums of 2015

and don’t forget to follow on Facebook, Twitter at @AudiofileAkwitz  and Instagram @Audiophileakwitz to get even more music updates that don’t make the posts.

Akwitz

Now Playing: The Audiophile: Top 51 Albums of 2015


Leave a comment

The Audiophile: Top 51 Tracks of 2015 – VOTE


Musicheads,

Not every artist who has a hit track makes a hit record.  In today’s musical environment, more and more artists are, in lieu of releasing a full-length album, choosing to release multiple singles or short 3 or 4-song EPs.  Should these folks be forgotten in the annals of 2015 music simply for this choice?  Here at The Audiophile, we think not!  It is for that reason that we provide you with a list of both the top albums and top tracks of 2015 because being on either one of those lists does not necessarily mean they will make the other.

Creating this list is always the most difficult.  With a plethora of music being released on a daily and weekly basis over the course of a year, it is difficult to identify only the “best” 51 quality tracks that will, in the end, make the list.  Unfortunately, some quality songs didn’t make the cut, but that’s why we make lists, right?  Then, there is always the question of a song being released in a previous year, and then “making it big/breaking” in the following year (much like two tracks on this list that can’t be ignored, Saint Motel’s My Type and Cold War Kids’ First) if it should be included.   In these circumstances, yes.  Also, as a guideline for creating this list, if an artist may have had a huge year and had multiple singles this year, only one track will make this list.  So, for instance, Jamie xx had two big singles this year, Loud Places and I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times).  You may like one or both, but only one will make this year’s cut (and I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times) is that track this year).  This year’s tracks run the gamut in terms of style, with both up-tempo and down-tempo sharing the scene.  Dance-centric and electronic music was fairly prevalent this year, but at the same time, more subdued tracks from artists like Modest Mouse, SOAK and Courtney Barnett also were quite good this year.  You have songs of summer and world-wide phenomenons, and you have much lesser heard of acts and tracks who have made this list.  Enjoy the diversity!

Once again, I am putting it into you, the reader’s, hands (and ears) to vote for what you believe is the top track of the year.  The voter’s choice along with the Audiophile’s Top 10 will be revealed at the end of the year, so get your votes in now!

Share with your friends and let’s get as many votes in for this and the Album of The Year!

Now, without further ado, in no particular order, your top 51 tracks of 2015:

Vote for your favorite:

Feel like we missed someone or left them off the list or picked the wrong track?  Let us know.  Discussion is always appreciated.

Don’t know some of these tracks, don’t worry, we’ve got a curated playlist just for you!

Playlist: The Audiophile: Top 51 Tracks of 2015

Here are a few others that barely missed the list this year but are definitely worth mentioning.

2015 Honorable Mentions:

and don’t forget to follow on Facebook, Twitter at @AudiofileAkwitz  and Instagram @Audiophileakwitz to get even more music updates that don’t make the posts.

Akwitz

Now Playing: The Audiophile: Top 51 Tracks of 2015

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 386 other followers