Another year. Another collection depicting the 10 best songs of 2015.
I'm not Billboard or Pitchfork. Therefore, this list is based on very different "metrics" that will certainly not render results including Adele, Kendrick Lamar or "(insert artist here) feat. Drake".
These are some of the songs I listened to the most in 2015. When it came to arbitrarily selecting only 10 of them, these are the songs that made the list (in no particular order).
"WARM" - SG LEWIS
I heard this song playing on Beats 1 radio right after it launched in July. I was in the middle of Tuscany at a yoga retreat one hot summer evening and thought the tempo and overall arrangement of the song was hypnotic. It was probably my very own "Song of the Summer".
It's heavy on the Side Chaining (which is a technique I love using when making music but is quickly getting overdone by just about everyone in EDM & Pop --including those making music for Justin Bieber).
SG Lewis doesn't have much music out yet, but I sure hope to listen a lot more from him in the coming years.
"THE MOMENT" - TAME IMPALA
For what is without a doubt one of the best albums of 2015, it was difficult to pick ONE song from this modern-day trippy-psychodelic-cosmic-kid masterpiece. Yet, I had to make room for other 9 well-deserving tracks, so I chose this.
If a piece of music hooks you from the beginning and it's able to further draw you in without letting go until the very end, something special is happening. This song does this to me.
With perfectly-timed ups-and-downs, and the right amount of synth pitch-bending as sonic decor, this is a proper full-on journey of a track.
"SOMOS DOS" - BOMBA ESTEREO
Amanecer, the Colombian "electro/champeta" band's latest release displays an intriguing evolution into their signature fusion sound. The album displays a well-balanced amount of fast, energizing tracks along with slower tunes, worthy of descriptors like "World Music" and "Chill".
This track sits right in between these two extreme moods in the "emotional sound" spectrum. It's somewhat subdued, yet danceable. It's basically a sonic wildcard that will fit just about any mood and any occasion.
Guaranteed to be enjoyed by Spanish & non-Spanish speakers alike.
"WATER SLIDES" - MEW
In my eyes (and ears), Mew can do no wrong. This incredibly unique Danish band came out with a new album this year and it has a clear spot in my "Top 10 Albums of 2015" list.
I had the chance to see them again in Austin, TX during SXSW this year and this is one of the new tracks they played that had not been released as a new single yet (as "Satellites", another great track, already had).
To hear a song for the first time LIVE and love it, speak volumes. Naturally, the studio version backs it up perfectly.
Water Slides is one of the slower songs in "+-", and as Mew fans know, they do "slow, mellow & melodic" very well. A total sonic escape with Jonas' vocals layering towards the end in his very own signature way. A perfectly well-balanced track right in the middle of a perfectly-well balanced album.
"AIRWALK" - DAN LISSVIK
I don't actually remember how I came across this track, but however it reached my audio-frequencies, it stuck and it stuck well. For a while.
When I heard it, it very much reminded me of the sound coming from a phenomenal Swedish band called Studio. When a piece of music immediately grabs you and tells you "this is sounds like ____", you can tell a proper signature sound is in existence. I'm sure this is what most music artist strive for in their careers.
You can essentially play this track on repeat anywhere for anything. It's over 7 minutes of perfect doses of beats and beautifully-crafted side chaining (there it is, again), all glued together with a killer bass line.
P.S: Sometime after endlessly listening to this track, I found out that Dan Lissvik was indeed one half of Studio. Go figure.
"PATTERN" - OTHER LIVES
I didn't know anything about this band until I saw them open for none other than Radiohead during the "King of Limbs" tour in Austin, TX a couple of years ago. They are indeed an incredible band that fits Radiohead's vibe very well. Not many bands fit this characteristic.
In 2015, Other Lives came out with an album called Rituals, out of which this track is the one that stuck out the most for me. I liked it so much that it prevented me from listening to the rest of the album for some time (Pattern is the second track on the album).
A hypnotic combination of arpeggiated piano notes and tribal-like percussion with Jesse Tabish's wide vocal range make for am exceptional piece of music. Finally, a healthy dose of violins and wind instruments finish giving this track a unique flavour of "epicness" worthy of a triumphant movie scene in The Lord of The Rings.
"TRUE AFFECTION" - FATHER JOHN MISTY
I could go on about Josh Tillman and the incredible blend of original sounds paired with truly unique lyrics for a long time. The Father John Misty persona (and everything it embodies) is one of my favourite things in all of music in recent years.
Even though his style is mostly recognized as "folky", sometimes even scratching the realm of Country, this song (part of his latest album I Love You, Honeybear) is a diametric departure from all that.
This fully electronic track is a combination of all sorts of drum machine sounds, sequenced leads and mellow synth pads, which when combined with Josh's extremely versatile range of voice, renders a proper treat to your ear canals. Then again, the same could be said about the rest of the album, but this song does it in a way none of the other 10 tracks in that album do.
S.O.S. (TRICKY REMIX) - ZOÉ
Zoé is not only one of my favourite bands in Spanish. It's one of my favourite bands ever. This is for a number of great reasons that are not relevant to this list.
Last year, they released an album that certainly made my lost of "Top 10 Albums of 2014" with Prográmaton. This year, in the same way the've done with their last couple of albums, they released a collection of remixes for the album (under the name Prográmaton Revisitado). The album has great reinterpretations from recognized names like RAC and Poolside, but there is one track that shines for different and unique reasons.
S.O.S. was not part of the original release of Prográmaton. It seems like it was a track made for the album but for some reason didn't make it in. The track did make it into the "remixes" album and they had none other than Trip Hop legend, sound visionary, former Massive Attack member (and fellow Aquarian) Adrain Thaws (A.K.A. Tricky).
Yes, THE Tricky.
The thought of this alone is a clash of different worlds in my musical universe that I never thought possible. And the song? It delivers. Greatly.
If someone is going to make a song sound uniquely "downtempo electronica", is Tricky. The production is impeccable and the arrangement truly hypnotic. León Larregui's voice is certainly taken to a new high in the sonic sphere when massaged by one of Trip-Hop's legends.
I have never heard the original version of this song. I don't really know if there is an "original" version, but this song is so great, that I don't think I'd even want to.
"SOMETIMES I FEEL SO DESERTED" - THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS
One of modern day's best ever electronic acts was back in 2015 with a monstrous album that hit all the right notes in all the right ways. Born In the Echoes is fully imprinted with the unique "Chemical Bothers" DNA in a way some of their most recent albums haven't. And when they released this track as their first single, I knew they had found that unique, signature sound again.
A perfect blend of buildups and synthesized beats that can only be improved by their one-of-a-kind audio-visual experience live show. It's starts with mysterious, intriguing sound leading to funky bass-line, and perfectly matched drums as the song continues to build up, and build up...
By then end of it, you realize that no other band or artist could have created anything quite like it. Long-time Chemical Brothers fans will understand.
"STONEMILKER" - BJÖRK
If you know me well, you know that there is not ONE thing when it comes to music that Björk can do wrong. Not even collaborating with Timbaland. (OK, maybe that was a mistake).
Vulnicura is Björk's "break up" (divorce) album, and further proof that heartache makes for great art (or else ask Lykke Li, Beck, Bon Iver, or even Kanye West).
The album is as incredible as it is heart-wrenching. But when it came out at the beginning of 2015, it had a similar effect TOOL's Lateralus had on me when I first pressed on the Play button (of my CD player, back then) and started listening to "The Grudge": I immediately played it again once it ended. And then I did it again... and again... and again. It took me a while to let go of the song to explore the rest of this Icelandic goddess' latest offering because it was just unimaginably great.
As opposed to working with a number of producers, Björk decided to recruit Venezuelan experimental musician Arca to produce and collaborate throughout the entire album. Vulnicura does indeed have a lot of his style imprinted in it, which is great because he is uniquely talented and fits's Björk style incredibly well. Yet, I like to think of this song as "Pure Björk", in the sense that it has a remarkably similar feeling to some of the classic songs like "Hyper-Ballad" or most of the songs from her 1997's masterpiece Homogenic.
A familiar amalgam of beautifully-crafted strings arraignment and panning electronic bits, paired with lyrics such as "Show me emotional respect...I have emotional needs" make for a haunting, remarkable piece of music that it's best enjoyed with your eyes closed.
There it is. My shortlist of the very best songs of the year playing through my headphones on my Rdio app. (R.I.P.)
Finally (for those of you who use Spotify), I've created a playlist with this songs for you to stream.
I hope you've liked it.