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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

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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


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#NewMusicFridays – Autumn Kick-off Edition


Musicheads,

Let me reiterate how much I dislike the release date of new music to Fridays.  Not only are Fridays jam-packed with the kickoff of the weekend and other events that may disrupt or make one unable to purchase new music physically, but the weekend in general is usually just as busy and therefore hinders writing in a timely manner that I would like to relatively stick to.  Well, rant now over, it was another big week in terms of releases.  What better of a way can one kick off the beginning of Autumn than with lots of good new music worth your ears’ attention?  Among the groups releasing music this week we have Kurt Vile, Silversun Pickups, Disclosure, Arcade Fire, Jr. Jr. (formerly Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.), The Dead Weather and my favorite from the week, CHVRCHES.

While all these artists released new music, I only purchased a few, with intent to listen to all at a later date.  That being said though, I was incredibly excited for the sophomore effort from Scottish trio CHVRCHES, with Every Open Eye.

After the album was hosted on NPR the entire week prior to the album’s release for listening (which I listened to a handful of times), the band paired their album release with a live broadcast performance at Rough Trade in NYC which streamed on Sirius XM and was rebroadcast all weekend.  Then performance was a mix of tracks from the new album and the group’s début release with excellent banter in between.  If  you get a chance, I’d strongly urge you to try to find it.  Anyway, all that aside, the new album is a relentlessly upbeat, bouncy album.  Kicking off with Never Ending Circles, the album starts on a high note and never sways from that spot.

Lauren Mayberry’s unique voice rises above the electronic trills and beats created by Iain Cook and Martin Doherty on synthesizer and sampler.  The next four tracks are all single worthy tracks as well.  The second track on the album is the lead single Leave A Trace and although it is no The Mother We Share, it has a lot of kick.

Then we’ve got Keep You On My Side, Make Them Gold and Clearest Blue which all were performed during the live show in Brooklyn.  This is followed by a track titled High Enough To Carry You Over where Lauren takes a vocal reprieve and Iain takes the vocal reins.  After that slight rest, the album gets right back into it with the bouncy and very 80’s bubblegum pop beat of Empty Threat.  After a more somber track in Down Side Of Me, Lauren and company kick it back into high gear for the final set of tracks.  Playing Dead is a confident vocal track with a lot of heart-felt throughout the recording, even with the sampler usage.  Bury It relies on a heavy synth beat that gets you moving and dancing and would have just as easily fit on the first album.  We then come to the closing track on the 11-song 42 minute album, Afterglow.  This final track is just the right pace and energy for a closing track.  The album had been high energy and fast-paced throughout and this track slows it down with a more ethereal feel to it before finally drifting away to its close.

The album breathes synthpop success over and over.  The album is all aspirational and inspirational and the group doesn’t miss a beat throughout its entirety.  I have already placed the album in my car with heavy rotation online as well.  This album will no doubt make top 10 lists for 2015.

 

After an album like that, where does one go?  To The Dead Weather, that’s where!  The band’s third album Dodge and Burn is an interesting one and a distinct change of pace after listening to CHVRCHES.

The album kicks off with the lead single I Feel Love (Every Million Miles) and immediately you can feel the energy.  The track has a heavy blues rock feel to it along with a less than crystal clear production feel to it.  This lack of crispness in the recording may have been intentional to give it a distinct edge apart from most of today’s releases which are often over produced into perfect sound (which can never be recreated live, mind you).

The rest of the album maintains the intensity found in the lead single.  Whether you are listening to Let Me Through with its raucous guitar solo or the odd track Three Dollar Hat which is sung by Jack White and feels like an odd blend of 90’s Beck, Grunge and Hip-hop.  Allison Mosshart’s (of The Kills) vocals throughout most of the album are raw and full of feeling.  You can tell Jack White had a major influence on the writing as his similar musical progressions and instrument sounds  are prevalent which have been heard over and over in his other projects.  Despite the previous comment, I did thoroughly enjoy the rambunctious track Open Up.  I will let you discover the rest of this rock album for yourself.

 

Lastly, in terms of acquisitions today we have Silversun Pickups latest album, Better Nature.

This album kicks off with its title track, Cradle (Better Nature) and immediately one can notice that the group has maintained its familiar sound and feel, choosing to stay in its comfort zone rather than venture into uncharted territory.  The album is championed by two tracks in particular, which arrive back-to-back in the middle of the album, Nightlight and Circadian Rhythm (Last Dance).  Both of these tracks follow previously used patterns of the band’s other singles, so it is easy to single them out, quite literally.

Outside of these tracks however, the band is pretty much on a familiar musical path.  I do want to draw particular attention to the track Friendly Fires which did stand out to me in particular.  I am not sure if it is because of the track’s pace or the fact that it is reminiscent of other artists (in particular Cold War Kids and The Smashing Pumpkins), but I was oddly enthralled by this track.  Another catchy track was that of Tapedeck with its original xylophone resembling rhythm.

If you enjoy the Silversun Pickups previous albums, I can’t see why you would not like this album.  I am just disappointed they didn’t try to diversify their discography with something a bit different.

 


When it comes to singles, this week was a bit sparse in the new music department.  I only have three tracks for you, and one isn’t even new, it just got a music video.  This track is  from Jamie xx’s 2015 album In Colour and one of my favorite tracks from the album, I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times) feat. Young Thug and Popcaan

The other track that did release this week was a new track from Sam Smith, Writing’s On The Wall, who also shared with the world that this would be the latest James Bond theme song and posted it on Spotify.

Lastly, we have a new track shared by Sia, who had originally written the song to be performed by Adele, but instead she kept it for herself.  You can listen to that below.


And now, as always, here was everything acquired on this New Release Tuesday:

and be sure to follow on Facebook and on Twitter @AudiofileAkwitz to get even more music updates that don’t make the posts.

Spotify Playlists:

-Akwitz

Now Playing: SiaAlive