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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 – How Big, How Bold, How Beautiful Edition


Musicheads,

Oh my gosh, what a stupendous New Music Tuesday today has become. Not only were we graced with a handful of FANTASTIC albums, but the singles, remixes and everything else released today has been absolutely on point!  On the album side, the acts across the pond really killed it today as the multiple areas that make up the UK were each represented effectively.

I am gonna jump right in because I’m that excited about today’s releases.

First, let’s start it off with an absolute bang, with the début full-length from master producer (and one-third of UK act the xxJamie xx with his stellar release In Colour.

Oh my gosh, let’s start on a high note.  The album was artfully crafted by Jamie Smith (aka Jamie xx) with the earliest contributions to the album dating back to 2009 and works both as a complete piece as well as individual tracks.  The album features multiple instruments, numerous samples and a handful of featured performances including other members of the xx and others.  The electronic album is spectacular all the way through, beginning with the opener Gosh.

Sleep Sound swiftly follows and then the first feature from Romy of the xx on SeeSaw.  After a pair of instrumentals (minus the occasional sample), we get Stranger In A Room which features the other the xx band mate Oliver.  After another sample-heavy track in Hold Tight, we get to my absolute favorite track on the album and lead single (and candidate for song of the year) Loud Places which once again features Romy.  The track builds and has a tremendous vibe to it.  Pair that with Jamie’s unique use of banging on wine glasses to create the primary beat of the track along with a 70’s disco-era sample for the chorus and you’ve got a BIG winner.

When you move on to the next track, there is no step back in level with I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times).  The track features Young Thug and Popcaan and a sample from The Persuasions.

Follow that up with the expansive track The Rest Is Noise and the good vibes keep coming.  The final track Girl closes out the album on a calming, low-key note.  Surprisingly I did find one track absent from the album, the single All Under One Roof Raving.  Either way, the album is a definite contender for Album of The Year and will definitely get a lot of airplay this summer with its chill vibes perfect for the summer.


 

Next, we dive into the much-awaited third album from Florence + The MachineHow Big, How Blue, How Beautiful.

The album leads off with the instantly catchy single Ship To Wreck.  This is followed up with the hard-hitting lead single What Kind Of Man.  The track is built around a powerful guitar progression and a backing horn section as Flo’s voice stays in the foreground.

The title track How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful follows this with a more subdued response, (well, at least initially) before a peppy horn section flourish awakens the track into its much more flamboyant butterfly-esque personality.  Queen of Peace comes next with the horn section leading the charge once again.  The next track, Various Storms & Saints, is a lyrically deep track accompanied by strings.  Probably the most hard-hitting line is when Flo sings “You sing it out loud, “Who made us this way?” Delilah precedes this smack dab in the middle of the album with a fast-paced beat laid down the drums and piano.  The album finally slows down a bit on Long & Lost for a welcome reprieve from the high energy efforts on the front half of the album.  Caught is even more subdued, but Third Eye brings back the liveliness with rich interwoven vocal harmonies.  St. Jude, a deep cut on the album could also be a sleeper pick for one of the better songs on the album.  The track that follows it, Mother, is probably the most unique of all the tracks on the album structurally. Equipped with a bass riff leading the track, it is the most rock-and-roll track on the album with Flo’s voice not being the primary component to it.  This is the closeout track on the regular album, but I went for the deluxe edition with 5 additional tracks. The first of which is Hiding, a fairly vanilla Florence + The Machine track.  Make Up Your Mind on the other hand could have easily made the regular album release. Which Witch is the third bonus track and is considered a Demo track as part of the bonus music but it too has a lot of firepower built into it. It still is a bit rough and disconnected and understandably considered a demo. The final two additional tracks are demo versions of tracks that did make the album, Third Eye and How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful which are nice stripped-down versions lacking the major production scrub of the final piece.  These tracks are interesting perspective pieces to show off the roots of the song and sharing with the audience where each song could have potentially gone.

One thing that is surprisingly missing from this new album of Flo’s is the harp.  What had been such a critical and unique piece in the previous two albums is suspiciously lacking on How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful.  Instead it is replaced with harder guitar riffs and horns, which unfortunately don’t have the same kick.  The first half of the album is much stronger than the latter, yet there are surprise tracks that could venture to be audience favorites that should not be overlooked.


 

Lastly, I want to harp on the début album from yet another Irish artist, the 18-year old SOAK with album Before We Forgot How To Dream.

The début is an incredibly strong one.  The 14-track album features the buzz track/lead single B a noBody which is a fantastic piece of craftsmanship.  The music created from this 18-year old is well beyond her years, while her breathy vocals and emotional lyrics hit home.  SOAK is primed to break out in 2015 with the release of this album

Another highlight on the album is the second single Blud, which was actually remixed by CHVRCHES and can be found on SOAK’s SoundCloud page.

Lastly I’d like to draw attention to the track Sea Creatures, another poignant piece with an equally poignant video to accompany it.

I strongly suggest you do not overlook this album, as the lyrics are powerful, the vocals are breathy and soulful, and the music is a bit acoustic-folky.

 

As always, I will leave you with a few one-off tracks.  This week’s post has two; a throwback to a Jamie xx collaboration with the legendary Gil Scott-Heronand second, a remix of a collaboration between Brooklyn-based groups Great Good Fine Ok and St. Lucia by Paperwhite.


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: Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie xx – NY Is Killing Me

Great Good Fine Ok – Something To Believe in Feat. St. Lucia (Paperwhite Remix)