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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 – A Month-long Sabbatical Edition


Musicheads,

It’s been over a month since my last post and it is more than overdue.  However, with everything that has occurred in the last month, one might understand why the content has truly fallen off as of late.  Starting this Thanksgiving week, I begin a new job with a new company and will be commuting to the DC suburb of Bethesda daily. 50 miles each way and an hour commute each way without traffic (unfortunately there is always traffic) will limit my capacity to post as often as I want.  Either way, I have no intention of shutting down or stopping altogether and am very excited for this new chapter.  All that being said as well, as the year begins to wind to a close, the number of releases tends to also taper off as the Holiday season picks up.  In light of the Holidays, it looks like the music world wanted to give us some early gifts.  Just this week we received not one, but TWO  big music festival lineup announcements for 2016, the returns of both Firefly and Hangout Music Fests with lineups for both!  Both lineups are quite strong and offer enough distinct acts between the two, you could easily go to both and see completely different acts, which is a welcome response to 2015’s pretty much boilerplate lineups across all festivals.  I’ve already purchased tickets for myself for Firefly so I look forward to seeing who else intends on joining.

Firefly Fest 2016 Hangout Fest 2016

Then, if that was not enough, what better way to kick off the impending Holiday season with a blockbuster release from Adele!  Her return with 25 marks her 3rd album and follows in the same naming pattern as her previous releases, a time stamp of her age for when the music was written.

Adele has chosen not to place the album on streaming services, so all you fans will need to find alternative ways of listening to the album.  I went and bought the physical CD myself, like I do all my music on a weekly basis.  The album kicks off immediately with the first single that was released for the album, Hello.  This track is the perfect opener; expansive, elaborate and vocally evocative.  The track lives and breathes on Adele’s voice over simple piano chords and a bass drum which builds ever larger as the track progresses.

This is then followed up by Send My Love (To Your New Lover), a bouncy R&B track that is much more fun, although forgettable.  The third track is I Miss You and once again the track is built around a drum beat pushing the song forward.  This track also includes some ominous supporting vocals that sound more like spirits than a backing choir.  When you move on to When We Were Young, you get a surprisingly spiritual song from Adele with fairly cliché lyrics that will probably become the send single, but shouldn’t be.

Remedy marks a return to the simple piano-led track for Adele, and with it, a successful ballad that falls right in her vocal wheelhouse.  Water Under The Bridge follows this track and once again returns the big production built around a massive percussion section, simple guitar riff and supporting choir.  River Lea, in my opinion, could be the 3rd single off the album albeit a deep cut from the album.  Both the organ and vocal harmonies play very well together and the guitar that shows up later in the track plays a perfect counterpoint for the success of the track.  It also strangely reminds me of Florence + The Machine a bit.  The second single however follows that up without a doubt, Love In The Dark.   It is built perfectly for radio and pop success.  Typical Adele vocals, a string section, and piano ballad all make this a winner.  If this is not the 2nd single, XL Recordings and Columbia will have made a major misstep.  Million Years Ago steps back a bit, but in the best way possible.  With a very Mediterranean guitar rhythm, the track is incredibly emotional and plays with the heartstrings in a very traditional way.  As we come to the end of the album the 10th track, All I Ask has diva-esque tendencies.  This track is simply a showcase of Adele’s vocal talent, and is reminiscent of tracks that can be found on any diva album.  the final track is Sweetest Devotion and is both uplifting and warm.  While the engrossing theme of the album is about love, loss and breakup, the album closer feels like she has made a turn and moved on to a new love.

While Adele is the big release from this week, I don’t want to miss out on telling you briefly about previous week’s releases worth picking up and listening to.  There were a number of notable releases since my last post but not all were really worth your attention.  The first, which was heavily hyped was the latest album from Grimes, Art Angels.  In my opinion, this album was a tremendous flop.  I really don’t enjoy most of the tracks on this album and find them both annoying and tedious with the exception of the only track that had been released previously before Grimes stated she was going to scrap her current work and start again, Realiti.  Outside of that track however, it is unimpressive, unoriginal, and just poor.

Now that I’ve gotten that putrescence out, let’s move onto the other notable releases that ARE worth listening to.  The first of which is a group with a classic sound, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats with their album of the same name.

The album is a return to the vintage rhythm & blues, gospel, soul and blues sound and style which incorporates vocal harmonies, hand claps, horn sections and bouncy beats that you can’t help but tap and dance along too.  Fronted by the strong tenor voice of Rateliff (sometimes compared to Van Morrison), the band has an easily recognizable style.  The album is bolstered by a fantastic single S.O.B. but the album has plenty more to offer as well.

The Van Morrison vocal comparison is incredibly visible on the track Wasting Time while other tracks like Look It Here has a completely different feel that is almost Tom Jones-ish.  Don’t sleep on this album!

 

Also acquired earlier in the month was the latest album from UK songstress Ellie Goulding with Delirium.

This album is a bit of a change of pace from where the singer had released previously.  While facing the unrealistic negative connotation of being a pop album, there are a number of tracks worth giving a listen to.  Whether it is the lead single On My Mind, or the track featured in Fifty Shades Of Grey, Love Me Like You Do, the album has mature tracks that are far from canned bubblegum pop.

Other tracks, like Codes and Keep On Dancin’ are also worth giving a listen and although the album may not be as indie or dark as her original releases or as EDM-heavy as her more recent collaborations, Ellie does succeed in the delivery of her newest album.


Since it’s been a month, let me focus on some of the singles that have caught my attention since mid-October.  Since it is Adele release week, let’s start with a cover of her by Wet.

At the beginning of October, The 1975 released a new single to mark their return, Love Me, which is incredibly reminiscent of another former UK star, Peter Gabriel, and his 80’s hit single Sledgehammer.

Then, you’ve got a trailer (albeit not a true full-length track) for upcoming new music from instrumental act Explosions In The Sky which is very exciting to hear about new music from the group.

We also received a fantastic video for the CHVRCHES track Empty Threat off the band’s latest, highly enjoyable album.  The video depicts “rebellious youth” who are having the enjoyable and memorable adventures a teenager should engage in during that time in their life.

Weezer also released two singles in the past month, the first of which, Thank God For Girls, is a return to the band’s classic style, with both witty, yet goofy lyrics and a standard track progression that is highly enjoyable to listen to.

Lastly, I will leave you with a new single released this week from Texas soul artist Leon Bridges which will be featured in the Will Smith film Concussion, titled So Long.


And now, as always, here was everything acquired over the pasty few New Release Fridays:

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: Leon Bridges – So Long