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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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New Music Tuesdays – March’s Madness Edition


Musicheads,

We are four weeks into March and the music just keeps coming.  While most of the US spent this past weekend fretting over basketball brackets, the music industry was scheduling music delivery for today.  Am I complaining? Heck no!  This week marked my biggest haul of the year so far, with 7 albums purchased (5 of which released this week).  I felt the urge to buy everything that came out this week, and that’s a great thing to say for the music industry.  Well, who needs a long introduction, let’s just get into the music already, right?

We start with what has to be the album of the week, and a definite Album Of The Year contender, Courtney Barnett’s début full-length LP, Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit.

The Australian songstress is just that.  Exploding on the scene in 2013 and releasing a double EP last year, her first official LP hits with as much ferocity as the previous releases.  Courtney has already become known for her deadpan storyteller delivery and her imaginative, self-deprecating lyrics.  Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit follows in the same footsteps in terms of writing style and maintains that fuzzy garage-styled aesthetic sound.  The album is an enjoyment to listen to and features the lead single Pedestrian At Best.

There is much more than just that track however.  I thoroughly enjoyed An Illustration Of Loneliness (Sleepless In New York) and the track Depreston is getting a lot of airplay which will probably result in it being named the second single (if not already).

The entire album is a work of master craftsmanship for something that has been termed “slacker rock”.  Courtney is far from lazy on the album and apparently was the talk of the town this past week at SXSW.  I also can’t pass up the opportunity to talk about a song on the album named Debbie Downer.

http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/debbie-downer/n11825

When you pen a song and name it after a familiar trope that spurned a hilariously over-the-top SNL skit, how can you not succeed?  The most ironic part of the track is that it is quite the uplifting and happy song, completely counter-intuitive to its title.  It’s simple things like this that show off Courtney Barnett’s wit and clever songwriting.  She doesn’t utilize complicated licks or even instrumental solos, but prefers simple transitions and easily replicated riffs to aid the listener in honing in on the important parts of her music, the words.  In perfect contradiction to my previous sentence, I also enjoyed the track Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go To The Party, which sure enough, has a small (yet still there) guitar solo in it.  Discover the rest of the album for yourself, I can assure you, it won’t be a waste of your time.

 

Next on the list today is another début full-length album.  This one comes from Big Data with their album 2.0.

Yes, that is in fact the album cover pictured above.  The début features the tracks you no doubt have more than likely heard on major radio by now, Dangerous (feat. Joywave) and possibly even The Business Of Emotion (feat. White Sea).

There is much more to this album however.  The electro-pop producer intended to capture a humans vs. technology theme on the album, and he pretty much succeeded.  Loaded with features, including the likes of Jamie LiddellRivers Cuomo (of Weezer), KimbraTwin Shadow, Bear Handsand even Jenn Wasner (of Flock Of Dimes and Wye Oak) each track has a unique feel to it.  The underlying connection however is the supporting instrumentation, put together by Harvard grad and primary creative lead for the group Alan Wilkis.  The lone track not including a feature is the track Big Dater and is a effects-laden track, computerized bass-heavy track which even includes a bridge featuring the original internet dial-up sound (remember those AOL disks anyone?)

 

Next, we’ve got the “next big thing” in the terms of the potential of following in the footsteps of a Phillip Phillips or Vance Joy type musical character (although Spotify wants to tie him to Foy Vance, Ed Sheeran and Ben Howard), Mr. James Bay.  His début album out this week is Chaos And The Calm.

His foot-stomping début features the lead single Hold Back The River which has (as of  03.24.2015) over 41 million streams on Spotify already.  Based on those numbers, if you have yet to hear him on radio, you aren’t listening.

The album is much more than just that single track however.  The opening track Craving is a high-energy heartfelt track that gives the listener an immediate example of what to expect on the entire album.  Let It Go (no it’s not a Frozen cover) was the buzz track from his EP of the same name that truly broke the English boy onto the scene.

The boy really has some pipes on him, and just enough rasp to add a bit of sex appeal.  Meanwhile, tracks like If You Ever Want To Be In Love and When We Were On Fire add a wholesome and happy summer vibe to the album.  The album ranges from softer, soulful ballads like Move Together and Scars to the upbeat romps like Best Fake Smile and .  The album is folk/country pop through and through.  It’s been produced in a way that it is easily digested by the mass audiences that you can hear in similar music from the likes of Ed Sheeran and Kid Rock.  Is this a bad thing?  Yes and no.  James Bay is talented, without a doubt, and it is a bit of a shame that he has been shaped into this pop mold, but you can tell his live show has to be top-notch.  He sings with too much raw emotion not to perform well live.  Outside of the out-and-out singles from the album (which are stellar), my next favorite track is probably Collide.  It has that classic Rhythm & Blues feel to it with the keys that takes you back to all the great original rockers.  This album is definitely a Summer album and going to get a lot more spins as the weather heats up and more time is spent outdoors.

Lastly, we’ve got the physical release from everyone’s favorite kooky Icelandic lady, Björk with her album Vulnicura.

The album featured two images (shown above) with the first one being the official album cover, and the latter being the cover sleeve.  After the album leaked online more than a month ahead of the official release, Björk released it online for purchase, but refused to post it publicly on Spotify for streaming purposes.  The album itself features the lead single and kickoff track Stonemilker.  The track features a full orchestra and utilizes classical volume transitions to add a level of depth that is too often forgotten about in the new music of today.  The album features only 9 tracks, but the album comes in at just under an hour in length (0:58) with all but two songs being 6 minutes or longer.  In reality, a majority of the album is orchestral based, and this is personally a welcome change of pace to listen to in today’s Indie/Electronic/Underground/Pop/Rock environment.  I also thoroughly enjoyed the tracks Lionsong, FamilyAtom Song (which is the only track on the album which features additional vocalists) and Black Lake. If you can find them online, I strongly urge you to listen to them.

Björk is definitely not for everyone, and I did not really take a liking to her music until relatively recently, but if you do quirky, complexly comprised musical structures outside of your standard 4/4 meter, you could definitely find joy in this album.

At this time, I will skip over the other albums I picked up today, but that is not because they are not worth mentioning.  Each of the remaining purchases from today is worth more than one listen and could easily make the end-of-the-year Best Of… lists.  Also, in an apparent oversight, I missed out on picking up the new album from Washington all-girl group Chastity Belt but did listen to it today on Spotify and it is definitely worth a listen as well.

Finally, I will leave you with a track that will be featured on the upcoming new album from the Brooklyn-based band San Fermin which, from the sound of the single, may go in a vastly different direction than their début album.

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: San Fermin – Jackrabbit