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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

Now Playing: The Audiophile: Top 51 Tracks of 2015

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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 – Squawk-worthy Edition


Musicheads,

It’s been a minute since the last #NewMusicFriday post, but frankly until this week, August’s releases were nothing to squawk about.  This final week of August provided the world with not one, but 6 solid new albums to discuss, including the likes of Foals, Beach House, Destroyer, Atlas Genius, The Weeknd and Yo La Tengo.

While it is a lot of quality new music and there hasn’t been a New Music Friday post in a while, I will only highlight briefly the albums I picked up this week (with the exception of my personal favorite of the week).  And with that, we will start with said favorite, UK band Foals with their fourth album What Went Down.

What Went Down follows what may be labelled as the band’s best album to date Holy Fire which included the singles Inhaler, My Number, Bad Habit and Late NightWhat Went Down features a burner of a single with Mountain At My Gates.

I have loved this song from the first instant I heard it and it has yet to grow old each time I listen to it, but rather amp up whatever my energy level is at the time.  This track is far from the only track on the album though.  Lucky for us, there is much more to enjoy as well.  The album’s opener and title track, What Went Down, is the album’s second single and the closeout track A Knife In The Ocean, which also released prior to the album, might be considered the third.  The first is one of the harder tracks from the group, but does come equipped with a strong driving rhythm to keep it going.  The closeout track is an expansive build up jam of a track and the lyrics are both dark reminiscent of a simpler time where one regrets all that has been lost to the fires of one’s fickle memory.

The album is chock full of great guitar riffs.  Birch Tree, the third track on the album, is one such example of a building a song on a killer riff.  Give It All follows this and is an even stronger track both dynamically and musically. Maybe I just love this band’s sound and how it plays on a solid sound system, or maybe their live performance has given me a subjective bias to which I now cater all my thoughts to how they will sound performed live, but I could really go on about every song on this album.  Snake Oil, apart from being a killer title for a number of reasons, breaks up the album after a number of tracks seemed to be heading in similar direction.  This break up does tend to feel a bit like a return to the beat of What Went Down, but is welcome as a change of pace and you can just tell Yannis and company would just go totally wild on it performed live.  The next song  on the album is Night Swimmers.  Not only does the title evoke a memory of the R.E.M. track, but the track is built on any amazingly bouncy guitar riff that both keeps up the energy of the track and makes the track incredibly easy to dance to, especially since the band break into a bit of a jam halfway through.  Be sure not to miss out on that one for sure.  I realize I have covered practically all of the band’s latest 10-track album, but my final highlight is probably the slowest and more reserved track on the album, and as a result I love it’s subdued atmosphere.  That track is London Thunder and for some reason, reminds me a lot of U2 (let me know if you hear it too).  If you are a fan of progressive jam rock, make sure you catch all of What Went Down.


Baltimore’s very own Beach House and their much-anticipated album, Depression Cherry, also arrived this week.

This was a hotly talked about release, and incredibly hyped by a number of sources, including a massive release event on Sirius Satellite radio channel 35, SiriusXMU which included an entire weekend of promotion of the album by playing all of the tracks on the album and accompanying interview excerpts on the hour, every hour.  Personally, I think that is incredibly over-the-top, especially from an album that is more dream-like and more background music sounding than any previous album from the duo.  While I must give the duo credit, and even more props for hailing from Baltimore and promoting the Baltimore music scene, the album isn’t without worth.  The album comes equipped in a suede-like album cover to enhance its overall sensory impact.  There are a number of tracks worth listening to, and the album as a whole is pretty decent; the music itself though is better suited for the colder seasons of the year. The lead single from the album is Sparks and it is an enjoyable track at that.

I also want to draw attention to a few other tracks, the opener Levitation, the second single PPP, and lastly a deep cut track Bluebird.  If you enjoy these tracks, feel free to dive into the rest of the album as you are going to like it.

 


Next, Australian rockers, Atlas Geniusreturned to the scene this week with their sophomore effort, Inanimate Objects.

The sophomore slump may effectively have occurred on this album in the sense that this album will fail to strike the same chord the début had made, but it is not without its quality music.  In reality though, this may in fact be an overall better and more well-rounded album then the duo’s début, but will fail to make as much of a commercially successful impact.  The album is led by a very catchy track in that of Molecules.

Other songs worth highlighting here on this brief introduction include Stockholm and A Perfect End.  I also deeply enjoyed Friends With Enemies for everything it isn’t.  The track does not follow the traditional Atlas Genius mold in pace or energy and that is exactly what makes it so refreshing on the album.  The album does tend to be a bit more produced then When It Was Now and maybe this is why the album will be slightly less successful.


We follow this with Yo La Tengo’s latest album Stuff Like That There which is an interesting addition to the discography of the band.

The Hoboken natives have put together an album the tends to mirror their live performance, utilizing the semi-acoustic somber moods with a careful blend of original music and carefully worked covers.  One such cover that the album has received a lot of hype for is their acoustic version of The Cure’s Friday I’m In Love.

The album is an enjoyable mellow mixture of tunes that require little thought and even less energy.  That being said, this is another lazy Sunday morning album, or that which best suits with a calm and reflexive Winter afternoon spent in a coffee shop or other similar atmosphere.


Lastly, I will briefly cover the newest album from Destroyer, Poison Season.

Dan Bejar’s solo project Destroyer is a very enjoyable album a long time in the making.  Bejar, who is also a member of The New Pornographers, hadn’t released a full-length album since 2011’s Kaputt.  This new album has been coined by a few outlets as “wandering artist” music and I tend to agree with that assignment.  There is a certain sense of wanderlust felt in the music on the album, in particular in the three-part track Times Square, whether it be the track above or Times Square, Poison Season I (the album opener) or Times Square, Poison Season II (the album closeout).

The album utilizes a tremendous assortment of instruments and sounds to create the 13-track album for a diverse and gratifying listen.  Often Bejar’s voice, when speaking more than singing, (like on Forces From Above) sound very similar to that of Lou Reed, of which I’m sure he doesn’t mind the comparison in the least.  This is definitely an understated yet highly enjoyable album that you really should not miss.

 


In the singles world, its been a very strong couple of weeks so I’m going to be playing a bit of catch up and weigh you down with a ton of tracks for you to enjoy.  We start with two big names in Four Tet and CHVRCHES.  The former delivered a fabulous remix while the latter supplied the original tune.

Next, you’ve got a track I’ve been enjoying for the past couple of weeks for its retro sound and feel. That artist is Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats and their 2015 self-titled album includes this very catchy track, S.O.B.  The track follows in that familiar Southern Gospel Soul and Blues path (much like The Blues Brothers or more recently St. Paul & The Broken Bones).

Then, you’ve got another new track from Greek group Keep Shelly In Athens, Now I’m Ready.

Another hot track that I’ve heard of late is the remix of Saint Motel’s Cold Cold Man by Lost Kings.

Since Foals have now released their album, this remix by Jono Ma (of Jagwar Ma) is entirely relevant and a totally different take on the band’s energetic lead single.

Deerhunter’s latest track Snakeskin also received a lot of hype in the indie music news outlets, although the group’s music has never been my favorite.

Then you’ve got a new track from Skylar Spence (formerly known as Saint Pepsi) titled Affairs.

Next comes the surprisingly good new track off the surprise EP from FKA Twigs, In Time.  While I have never been wowed by FKA Twigs, this track is pretty hot.

Lastly, I will leave you with a band whose sound feels straight out of the 90’s, Potty Mouth.  Enjoy their track Cherry Picking.


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: Potty Mouth – Cherry Picking