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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Best New Music of 2015


2015 has officially closed, which means I now feel fully ready to weigh in on the best songs of the past year, musical trends, and breakout artists. Way back in January, 2015 I embarked on an ambitious mission. My goal was to listen to all the new releases every week, and then lovingly craft the top 20 songs of each month into a playlist on Spotify, which was posted to this humble blog. I dutifully did that for 11 months, my lonely aural vigil, and then spent the month of December trying to whittle 220 very good songs into a cohesive playlist of the 100 best songs of the year. It was no easy task, and I'm proud to present to you the Best New Music of 2015 playlist featuring the Top 100 Songs of 2015.
These are not ordered best to worst. Like any good stereotypical pet project from a Millennial,everyone is a winner! Rather, they are arranged in an order that flows, gliding effortlessly through blurred genres. Keep your mind and ears open, dear readers, and enjoy!

In Alphabetical Order by Artist
Alabama Shakes - 'Don't Wanna Fight'
Allen Stone - 'Upside'
Andy Shauf - 'I'm Not Falling Asleep'
The Avener & Phoebe Killdeer - 'Fade Out Lines'
The Barr Brothers - 'Burn Card'
Beat Connection - 'So Good'
Big Grams - 'Fell In the Sun'
Big Wild - 'Aftergold'
BOOTS - 'Bombs Away'
Boy & Bear - 'Where'd You Go'
Brand New - 'Mene'
Cam - 'Burning House'
Cayucas - 'Moony Eyed Walrus'
Charlie Sztyk - 'God Damn Fool'
Chet Faker - 'Bend'
Christine & The Queens - 'No Harm is Done' feat. Tunji Ige
Circa Waves - 'Young Chasers'
Cloves - 'Everybody's Son'
Conner Youngblood - 'TXTN'
Courtney Barnett - 'Pedestrian at Best'
The Decemberists - 'Lake Song'
Django Django - 'Beginning to Fade'
The Dodos - 'Bubble'
Drenge - 'We Can Do What We Want'
EL VY - 'Return To The Moon'
filous & James Hersey - 'How Hard I Try'
Flume & Andrew Wyatt - 'Some Minds'
Foreign Air - 'Free Animal'
The Front Bottoms - 'Cough It Out'
Gary Clark Jr. - 'Church'
George Ezra - 'Barcelona'
Girlpool - 'Before The World Was Big'
Good Old War - 'Tell Me What You Want from Me'
GRiZ & Big Gigantic - 'Good Times Roll'
Gun Outfit - 'Legends of My Own'
Hodera - 'Feel Better'
Hop Along - 'The Knock'
Hot Chip - 'Huarache Lights'
Houndmouth - 'Sedona'
Ibeyi - 'Ghosts'
Jain - 'Come'
Jamie xx & Romy - 'Loud Places'
The Japanese House - 'Pools to Bathe In'
Joey Bada$$ - 'Paper Trail$'
Jose Gonzalez - 'Leaf Off/The Cave'
Joywave & KOPPS - 'Tongues'
Jr. Jr. - 'Gone'
Julia Holter - 'Feel You'
Julio Bashmore & Sam Dew - 'Holding On'
Kay Fresco & M. Maggie - 'Leaves'
Kendrick Lamar - 'The Blacker The Berry'
The Knocks - 'Dancing With Myself'
Kurt Vile - 'Pretty Pimpin'
Kwamie Liv - 'Pleasure This Pain' feat. Angel Haze
Langhorne Slim & The Law - 'Strangers'
Lawrence Taylor - 'Waiting for Your Love'
Leon Bridges - 'River'
Lord Huron - 'Fool for Love'
Lower Dens - 'Ondine'
Mac Demarco - 'The Way You'd Love Her'
Maren Morris - 'My Church'
Maritime - 'Roaming Empire'
Mavis Staples - 'Your Good Fortune'
The Milk Carton Kids - 'Monterey'
Missy Elliot - 'WTF (Where They From)' feat. Pharrell Williams
Miya Folick - 'Strange Darling'
MNEK - 'The Rhythm'
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats - 'S.O.B.'
Neon Indian - 'Annie'
The Oh Hellos - 'Bitter Water'
Panda Bear - 'Boys Latin'
Pell - 'Queso'
Petite Noir - 'Down'
Pure Bathing Culture - 'Pray for Rain'
Purity Ring - 'heartsigh'
Romare - 'Prison Blues'
Rustie - 'First Mythz'
Ryan Adams - 'I Do Not Feel Like Being Good'
Saintseneca - 'Sleeper Hold'
Santigold - 'Can't Get Enough Of Myself' feat. B.C.
Shamir - 'On The Regular'
Sharon Van Etten - 'I Don't Want to Let You Down'
Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds - 'Sugar'
Sjowgren - 'Seventeen'
Sleater-Kinney - 'No Cities To Love'
SOAK - 'Reckless Behaviour'
Son Little - 'Lay Down'
St. Germain - 'Real Blues'
Statik Selektah - 'In The Wind' feat. Joey Bada$$, Big K.R.I.T. & Chauncy Sherod
Sunflower Bean - 'Wall Watcher'
Tame Impala - 'Eventually'
Toro Y Moi - 'Empty Nesters'
Warpaint - 'No Way Out'
Wavves & Cloud Nothings - 'Come Down'
The Weepies - 'Crooked Smile'
Widowspeak - 'Girls'
Will Joseph Cook - 'Message'
William Fitzsimmons - 'Pittsburgh'
Young Fathers - 'Shame'
Youth Lagoon - 'Highway Patrol Stun Gun'

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Top 20 Songs of November 2015

Every month I comb through all the new releases and personally select the top 20 best songs released that month. Then I lovingly craft them into a play list for your--yes YOU--listening pleasure. It's like a mixtape of the month club, but via the interwebz. Follow my Best New Music of 2015 playlist on Spotify, for all the updates and rad new tunes.

The final stretch! November is the last month for labels and artists to get their music out there and make a good impression before critics, fans, and wanna be music bloggers (such as my humble self) solidify their best-of-the-year lists. Give these new releases a listen to hear who's hustling to make the cut, and who's preparing to take 2016 by storm.

'WTF (Where They From)' - Missy Elliot feat. Pharrell Williams : OG queen bae is back and better than ever. Taking several years to focusing on producing seems to have help take her skills to another level. Youngin pop stars need to step back and take a lesson.

'Can't Get Enough Of Myself' - Santigold feat. B.C. : 3rd full-length is set to drop first thing in the new year, and this single is very promising. It's been my personal anthem for self-love lately.

'First Mythz' - Rustie : New album, EVENIFUDONTBELIEVE, dropped at the beginning of the month, and its almost hard to believe that something this cohesive could be crafted so quickly on the heels of his 2014 full-length. These weird wonky beats are a great primer on weird trip/dub sounds.

'Not Afraid' - Basic Tape : Parisian duo seem to have had their chilled club beats go viral on Soundcloud and YouTube, but not too much else seems to be know about them...yet. Major record deal would not be surprising.

'Leaves' - M. Maggie and Kay Fresco : Here's another random diamond rough, these is an unsigned collab between a Chicago-based producer/remixer Kay and M. Maggie, a poet and singer from NYC. This gem of killed DIY production is off M. Maggie's album Vienna Genesis.

'Free Animal' - Foreign Air : And yet another! 2016 is looking good for new artists. This is the very first song ever from this group, and they already sound like they can given Alt-J a run for their money in the indie pop race.

'State of Undress' - George Cosby : Like if Rick Astley was serious and had some sort of weird freaky Friday accident with Jaimie XX. This Human Touch EP is not enough. We need a full-length.

'Let's Fall in Love Some More' - Al Bairre : I've been banging this folktronica drum all freakin' year. Can't stop, won't stop! This aggressively fun set is from Cape Town, South Africa and demands that you jump up and down whiling clapping until your hands are sore.

'God Damn Fool' - Charlie Sztyk : This song is off the ambitiously titled The Arc, Pt. 1 & 2, but delivers. Charlie is a rambling, rocking, story teller in tradition of many sad, yet all-American bards from New Jersey (yes, yes The Bruce, etc.).

'Everybody's Son' - Cloves : Sparse acoustic guitar allows this unique voice to shine. Earthy and vulnerable, this will pull the strings of the coldest hearts.

'Waiting for Your Love' - Lawrence Taylor : Honey dripping bluesy goodness with electric guitar licks that practically weep until they jam into a crescendo of longing. This Londoner's got soul.

'Summer Was A Day' - Pete Yorn : New single from Pete Yorn has a slightly more experimental sheen to it than previous works. It's been 5 years since his last solo release, so maybe we can expect something big for the new year?

'To Know You' - Wild Nothing : Gearing up to release a 3rd full-length in 2016, Jack Tatum seems to have found a decidedly psychedelic new sound. This is big and spacey with complex layers that drone into each other.

'Wall Watcher' - Sunflower Bean : Ladies have been taking the garage lo-fi thing by storm. Blessed be! This band has a nice dash of psychedelia, which gives it a little something extra and interesting.

'I Want to Know (Your Love)' - Palmas : Strange 60's Cali throwback that even kind of sounds like it was recorded on tape, but there's something that's off just the right amount. Maybe because the band is actually from Philly?

'Queso' - Pell : Long have I held a secret soft spot for the dirty south sound, but it's been ripe for something new for awhile now. Meet Pell, hailing from New Orleans, and seemingly open to the melting pot of sounds that have collided in NOLA over the centuries.

'Beautiful Rain' - Jude Woodhead : First and only track from a brand new artist that doing some truly beautiful here while alluding to St. Germain influences, or perhaps a happier Romare? This could be an interesting artist to watch.

'Break Away - Cool Uncle feat. Jesse Ware : This is a really weird collab between pop writer/producer Jack Splash and 1970s soul singer Bobby Caldwell, who's borderline one-hit-wonder status. Together they've created Cool Uncle and released a full-length featuring a number of famous soul singers including Mayer Hawthorne and CeeLo Green.

'Stardust' - WDL feat. Elliphant : WDL claims to be from the moon, but they're signed by Sony so we'll see how quickly they get pulled back to earth. This savvy use of found sounds and vocoder features vocals and raps from Swedish sonic chameleon Elliphant.

'Ego' - Bibi Bourelly : Berlin-born Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter has worked with Rihanna and Lil Wayne, and is yet a tender 20 years old. She's starting to breakout as a performer in her own right, and her voice is raw and rebellious. This song explodes with the lovable arrogance and audacity of youth.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Top 20 Songs of October 2015

Every month I comb through all the new releases and personally select the top 20 best songs released that month. Then I lovingly craft them into a play list for your--yes YOU--listening pleasure. It's like a mixtape of the month club, but via the interwebz. Follow my Best New Music of 2015 playlist on Spotify, for all the updates and rad new tunes.

The season of parties approaches, and while I may have bumped a lot of these jams (isn't that what the kids call it these days?) at my Halloween party, I feel confident that many of these tunes are solid enough to keep in rotation to NYE and into 2016. Moreover, it would seem that indie artists have been on a bit of a mission to appropriate and reinvent country music. A revolution that I fully approve of, and can't stop listening too. That said, October was a fantastic month for new releases, and it was very hard to whittle down my favorites to just 20 songs. All the artists are gearing up to impress for 'Best of 2015' lists. Speaking of which, why yes, of course I'm doing a 'Top 100 Songs of 2015'. Check back in December for updates.

'Amanecer' - Bomba Estereo : There's an awful remix version of this song featuring Will Smith. Ignore that trash. This version is much better. Still, it may finally break this band in the states, though they've been slaying it in their native Columbia and South America generally for years.

'Hot' - Powers : I'm assuming that this duo is intentionally over the top in a fun ironic kind of way. Even if it's for cereal, it's hard not to fan yourself when listening to this club jam #onfleek

'Freedom! '15' - !!! : often pronounced Chk Chk Chk now has a successful track record of record of reinventing disco with an indie edge spanning over a decade. This is their 6th full-length, and they've still got it.

'Pray for Rain' - Pure Bathing Culture : You might be surprised that this now Portland-based duo got their start playing with indie folk band Vetiver, since their music has a decidedly electro bent now. This song is simultaneously makes my feet dance and my heart yearn. I can't stop listening to it.

'Used To' - Mutemath : This band has been hit or miss for me. They blew up math rock in 2006, and I loved them for it, but then they fell into some formulaic stadium rock thing that was dismal. The new album is big without being pretentious.

'Bombs Away' - BOOTS : Though he gained some indie recognition with his band Blonds, Jordon Asher did not become infamous until it was rumored that he was the brains behind Beyonce's 2013 self-titled album. His debut full-length as BOOTS is filled with menacing beauty.

'No One Wants It to Happen to You' - Small Black : In 2013 Small Black released an album on Jagjaguwar that was a serious contender for best of the year, and now they're back. Best Blues is, as the title would suggest, more introspective, but still offers many sounds to appreciate.

'Silver Car Crash' - Magical Cloudz : 6th release in 6 years, Are You Alone? from this prolific Canadian artist has a dreamy, almost cinematic aesthetic. For example, this song is a contender for most romantic lyrics of the year.

'Sold' - Little May : So Baroque it's almost orchestral folk from a trio of ladies with sweet vocal harmony skills. The organizers of Lilith Fair would have swooned all over this. Plus the album artwork is impeccable, an increasing rarity in the digital age.

'Where'd You Go' - Boy & Bear : Rambly, catchy folk rock with a silver-throat frontman. Apparently, they broke out big in their native Australia. This is their third release and it sounds like they're ready to take the world by storm.

'Bitter Water' - The Oh Hellos : Classic big singalong, clap-along folk with mandolin trappings and playfully paired lady and male vocals. It may be classic, but this independent duo of Texans execute this style flawlessly.

'Demons' - Summer Twins : The veneer of garage and psychedelia we expect from Burger Records' bands with 60's pop sweetheart vocals from two bonafide SoCal sisters. Bonus for a sweltering guitar solo and vintage organ sounds.

'Legends of My Own' - Gun Outfit : Is lo-fi post-country a thing? Gun Outfit kind of makes it a thing, and I like it. Droney vocals and finger picking FTW. Check out the accompanying music video, which was shot on a Super 8 in Washington and the band's new home of LA.

'TXTN' - Conner Youngblood : A bit of a musical savant, it's rumored that he plays 30 to 40 different instruments. His contemporary aural explorations collide with his roots: born in Texas, and based in Nashville. You really need to check this out.

'Lay Down' - Son Little : In the '50s gospel met rock 'n' roll in wave that would become known as R&B. While artists like Mayor Hawthorne have revitalized later '60s iterations of this collaboration, Son Little tackles the early years when things were a little more raw. Sam Cooke, eat your heart out.

'Real Blues' - St Germain : Active in the mid to late '90s, this is the first full-length from the French electronica artist in 15 years. After all this time, he still has an instinctual flow and crate-digging expertise, sampling Lightnin' Hopkins vocals.

'Nottamun Town' - LISTENBEE : This song reminds me of video game music...in a good way, though it does that jazz sample thing that Euro DJs seem to love. It's the second single from an artist with more remixes than originals. It'll be interesting to see what he does next.

'Fela' - NVDES : 3rd single from a brand new LA-based artist that hasn't even released an EP or LP yet. It's got a fun calypso beat, good build, and sexy dude vocals. Want to try and check this live ASAP.

'No Pixar' - RDGLDGRN : Pronounced Red Gold Green, this trio has the DC/VA style of rap mastered, a laid back mix of a range of influences including indie, electro, and rock. Confession: I can't help but 2-step to this.

'Kanta's Theme' - Chris Walla : The guitarist for Death Cab for Cutie for 17 years, Chris Walla began working on solo atmospheric ambient music in 2008. Last year, he officially parted ways with DCfC, and this new album would suggest it's all for the best. Here's all the contemplation and feelz from Transatlanticism with none of the bullshit teen-pandering of the Twilight soundtrack debacle.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Top 20 Songs of September 2015

Every month I comb through all the new releases and personally select the top 20 best songs released that month. Then I lovingly craft them into a play list for your--yes YOU--listening pleasure. It's like a mixtape of the month club, but via the interwebz. Follow my Best New Music of 2015 playlist on Spotify, for all the updates and rad new tunes.

Not sure what's in the air. Maybe it's the changing of the seasons? Something is different, and this month's playlist has a distinct vibe. I hesitate to be reductionist, but let's say it's emotional. It's got the feelz. All of them. The beginning half has a lot of pensive electo things going on. About half way through there's a generous dollop of emo folk punk before descending into blues influences. Perhaps you might think this is too much feelz? Well, it's autumn people. The days are growing shorter and our ancestors would have been worried about surviving the winter. It's not all pumpkin lattes and artistically layer clothing. Make some time for autumn equinox contemplation.

'Jealousy' - Robert Delong : The song that finally made me change my mind about Robert Delong. Okay, KCRW, I get it now - you can stop playing him hourly.

'Swings & Waterslides' - Viola Beach : If the Arctic Monkeys and Two Door Cinema Club made sweet love, it would sound like this. Such a sucker for that accent.

'Harpe' - Kenton Slash Demon : Two Danes signed to Future Classics create new deep house opuses with the summer jangles you expect from FC artists.

'Gone' - Ofelia K : Delicate dream pop with lullaby vocals and lovely harp-sounding samples. It would be interesting to see what she would do with a full-length.

'Instinct' - Ritual : Deep bluesy male vocals over softly echoing soundscapes makes for quiet, intimate moments. Very James Blake, but that's okay.

'No Harm Is Done' - Christine and the Queens, feat. Tungi Ige : Visceral polyrhythms bend at beautiful angles thanks to Héloïse Letissier a multi-media artist.

'Sleep In' - Telekinesis : Single on the 4th full-length from Seattle indie rocker Michael Benjamin Lerner, playful use of noise and found sound.

'Sleeping Alone' - The Cactus Channel, feat. Chet Faker : Surprisingly no-brainer collab. Chet Faker does spoken word to soulful, sorrowful instrumental Aussie band.

'Ordinary Feeling' - Here We Go Magic : A new, more acoustic sound for this band allows them to explore new spaces, beginning tentatively and then finding somewhere bright.

'Highway Patrol Stun Gun' - Youth Lagoon : Trevor Powers' 3rd full-length strikes the perfect balance between his last two albums. Kid's all grown up and still has it.

'All in a Daze Work' - Kurt Vile : Kurt Vile just keeps getting better and better. He's pretty much perfected the strange, half-crazed bard thing and we love him for it.

'Never Come Back Again' - Austin Plaine : Sometimes you just need some sweet, soothing banjo folk. If it comes with vocal harmonies, all the better. Thanks, Austin.

'Roaming Empire' - Maritime : The Promise Ring lives on through Davey von Bohlen's Maritime. Proving that emo punkers don't die, they just grow up.

'Feel Better' - Hodera : This is MY NEW FAVORITE BAND. GO listen to ALL their music NOW. Seriously, my home stomping grounds of the mid-Atlantic have been churning out the best music lately. Hodera is a fantastic new chapter in that region's signature sound of emo folk punk with epic singalong bridges. Meant for long walks alone in the woods and crowd-surfing in sweaty basements.

'I Don't Like Who I Was Then' - The Wonder Years : Speaking of mid-Atlantic punk, these veterans are still killing it after a decade of living out of a van and being generally scruffy. Kudos! Soupy's come a long way from playing the VW Hall in Lansdale, PA.

'Raise Hell' - Dorothy : Holy shit. This is some down home and dirty country rock from a lady with a killer voice. RIYL Black Mountain, The Black Keys, and single barrel bourbon.

'Tired of Talking' - LÉON : Not to be confused with the Italian DJ. This lady is from Sweden and knows how to sing the blues. Set to remix worthy, chilled out beats.

'Blue Honey' - Jimi Charles Moody : Scorching revival organs, big honky-tonk piano, and heartrending lyrics are all that's known about this mysterious breakout artists.

'Fell In the Sun' - Big Grams : This is an epic new partnership between Big Boi (Outkast) and Phantogram. The self-titled full-length is a contender for best rap album of the year.

'Bar Breaker' - Prof : Not to be taken remotely seriously, or listened to by the faint of heart. This is some intentionally ratched white boy rap from the Midwest with slick flow and hilarious lyrics.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Top 20 Songs of August 2015

Every month I comb through all the new releases and personally select the top 20 best songs released that month. Then I lovingly craft them into a play list for your--yes YOU--listening pleasure. It's like a mixtape of the month club, but via the interwebz. Follow my Best New Music of 2015 playlist on Spotify, for all the updates and rad new tunes.

As life continues to be short for all of us, I'm continuing with the TL;DR version of the month's top tunes.

    'Ain't Got Far To Go' - Jess Glynne : Soulful vocals set to big brassy instrumentals. You may know Jess Glynne from Clean Bandit guest vocals, but her potential is so much more.
    'My Gold' - KOPPS : Like Jock Jams with a weird dystopian twist. Much needed revisit to the genre?
    'No Mans Land' - Panda Bear : Panda Bear is back. Only good, strange things can come of this.
    'Down' - Petite Noir : Experimental electro with R&B vocals and at least some homage to Malian pop from 21-year-old South African, Yannick Iluga.
    'You're The Best' - Wet : After a breakout debut EP a year and a half ago, Wet are back. Thankfully signing to Columbia does not seem to have damaged their sound.
    'Drive' - Oh Wonder : After releasing a single a month for a year, this savvy London duo are ready to release a full-length that sounds just like their Insta. Yeah, it sounds sickening, but secretly you love it.
    'Never Be' - Meg Mac : Epic vocals and bare bones blues rhythms from an Aussie who's about to take the world by storm.
    'Come' - Jain : OBSESSED with this little lady. Globe-trotting roots give French pop a new twist. Wes Anderson is crying with joy somewhere.
    'Return To The Moon (Political Song for Didi Bloome to Sing, with Crescendo)' - EL VY : Matt Berninger (The National) and Brent Knopf (Menomena) collab. By their powers combined they're even better than you'd think.
    'June & Johnny' - Jon Foreman : Lead singer of truly awful band Switchfoot proves to be a surprisingly capable soloist in the vein of Bright Eyes. Plus, he likes Carter & Cash.
    'Times Square' - Destroyer : Dan Bejar starts from scratch again and strikes a lovely balance between some of his earlier sounds, plus sax solo.
    'Snakeskin' - Deerhunter : Is Bradford Cox feeling...happy? This new track positively jams until is disintegrates into the craziness we'd expect from Deerhunter.
    'Sleeper Hold' - Saintseneca : The kind of sounds that NPR Music drools over - folk with just the right indie edge for credible authenticity. But really, I like it.
    'Smile' - The Royal Concept : Tongue-in-cheek lyrics about SoCal from saucy Swedish rock band that probably have a leather-pants strut down pat.
    'S.O.B.' - Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats : If The Blues Brothers and Robert Johnson had a baby. Haven't liked a song about drug addiction this much since Old Crow Medicine Show's songs about cocaine.
    'Church' - Gary Clark Jr. : Actually makes you want to go to church and beg for salvation on your knees. Vocals and harmonica burn the tape and your soul.
    'Georgia' - Tiggs Da Author : American southern soul meets African beats with a distinctive accent, thanks to an English Tasmanian.
    'Good Times Roll' - Griz and Big Gigantic : Sicker than ill collab that's got to have Mark Ronson loosing sleep. I dare you know to let your back bone slip.
    'Chocolate Milk' - Coucheron feat. Rye Rye: Badass lady raps over some fun sounds, trippy and bit crunchy, by a Norwegian producer.
    'Pleasure This Pain' - Kwamie Liv featuring Angel Haze : There so much music out there right now that just sultry female vocals over ethereal sounds, which is turning into a mass droning bore. Thank god that this track adds something a little more weighty, and actually tackles some serious shit.