The Best Songs of 2015 (So Far): Sean’s List
There has been a wealth of great music released in 2015, as our talented and passionate list of writers has already demonstrated. While the pace of discovery has slowed a bit for me this year, I find myself with more than ever to explore, and that makes a music buffet fan like me quite happy. The following is a sampling of what I think are the best songs of the year so far, but truthfully it’s the tunes that have touched me the most. I look forward to expanding this list until my ears can take no more.
15. Susanne Sundfør – “Delirious”
Because: That synth comes creeping out of the THX Audio-style intro, and I’m hooked on the power of both it and Sundfør’s voice. Also, those strings are awfully nice.
14. Hudson Mohawke – “Scud Books”
Because: This track is catchy and uplifting without uttering a single word, and the credit goes to those trademark HudMo horns and beats.
13. Eskimeaux – “Broken Necks”
Because: Gabrielle Smith’s words and music are earnest, and I love the song’s sweet and honest message about trying to turn a painful breakup into something fruitful, to salvage a different kind of love — friendship — from a failed romance.
12. The Weeknd – “Can’t Feel My Face”
Because: My first thought when hearing this song was “Man, that sounds a lot like Michael Jackson.” My second thought was “That is a super catchy song.” I then proceeded to play the track over and over again and have those same two thoughts. It’s a lot of fun.
11. The Mountain Goats – “Foreign Object”
Because: John Darnielle paints an enjoyable musical portrait of one of the few scenarios where pulling a stick or a razorblade or some other — wait for it — foreign object out to do harm is perfectly acceptable: The wrestling arena. The horns and Bom ba dah dahs help.
10. Vince Staples feat. Snoh Aalegra – “Jump Off The Roof”
Because: Yet another track that was stuck in my head after one listen, and it’s favorite song on Staples’ excellent full-length debut Summertime ’06.
9. Florence + The Machine – “What Kind of Man”
Because: Florence Welch’s voice goes from barren to belting in the twitch of a vocal cord, and the combination of that power and this song’s lovely percussion, soaring horns and backing vocals make it a tour de force of deadbeat condemnation.
8. Kacey Musgraves – “Biscuits”
Because: I never expected to love a song with the line “Mind your own biscuits and life will be gravy,” okay? But it’s a credit to Musgraves’ wonderful voice and earwormy songwriting that I am defying my own expectations.
7. Earl Sweatshirt feat. Vince Staples – “Wool”
Because: Vince Staples’ verse on this song is as tightly wound as anything I’ve heard so far this year, and Earl’s clever wordplay and matter-of-fact delivery are just as memorable. I must’ve replayed this song 25 times after I first heard it.
6. Sufjan Stevens – “Fourth of July”
Because: This song is eerie and achingly pretty. Stevens knows exactly how to wring every ounce of beauty out of the saddest things life has to offer — including its end.
5. Waxahatchee – “Under A Rock”
Because: This is just a simple, solid rock song. It has a garage feel and straighforward licks, and I’ve always loved Katie Crutchfield’s unique vocal talents.
4. Lady Lamb – “Spat Out Spit”
Because: I love the shifts in tempo and full, fleshed-out sound that Lady Lamb (now minus The Beekeeper) embraces on her newest album After, and this song is wonderful example of that. Every song of Aly Spaltro’s makes me feel like I’m hearing some kind of live-streaming-from-her-brain awakening.
3. Kendrick Lamar -“The Blacker The Berry”
Because: Raw and complex emotion, a fiercely talented flow, passion and creativity — all of these elements are given the spotlight on this controlled yet furious burn from Lamar. It is full of both anger and brilliance.
2. Lady Lamb – “Billions of Eyes”
Because: Of this.
1. Courtney Barnett – “Pedestrian at Best”
Because: The four-line chorus of this fuzzy, attitude-filled, kickass song is perhaps my favorite of any this year:
Put me on a pedestal and I’ll only disappoint you
Tell me I’m exceptional, I promise to exploit you
Give me all your money, and I’ll make some origami, honey
I think you’re a joke, but I don’t find you very funny