We're a little past the halfway mark of another year, and call me crazy, but 2015 has already been significantly better on the new music front than 2014. 2014 wasn't bad, but it seemed like great records were in short supply; 2015, on the other hand, has delivered us a great record or two every month. And later this week, we'll be running our list of the top 10 albums of the year. However, we thought it would be fun to put together a Mixtape Wednesday (yeah, we know. It's been awhile since we've done one of these) of our favorite tracks of the year. Check out a Spotify playlist of the whole mixtape below, and then check out the list with some choice words about why each track is so great.
Brandon Flowers -- "Lonely Town"
For the most part, this list is not in any particular order...except for the first two songs which are tied for my pick for the best tracks of the year to date. Brandon Flowers reminded us why we all fell in love with Hot Fuss
a decade ago with this year's solo record, The Desired Effect
, and "Lonely Town" is the crown jewel of the whole record.
Kendrick Lamar -- "u"
This is sort of a left-field choice for an album that contained "i," "Blacker The Berry," "King Kunta," and "Alright," but Kendrick Lamar managed to make the most emotionally devastating hip-hop song ever written -- hitting on suicide and substance abuse in heartrending detail -- and while it's one of my two picks for the best song of the year period, it's also so intense that I can only listen to it every so often. It's harrowing.
Bully -- "I Remember"
If you put a gun to my head and asked me to pick the break-out band of this year to watch, it would be Bully, and the ferocious welp of "I Remember" with its grunge-guitar rock roots is why.
RALPH -- "Trouble"
And this would be my pick for the "diamond in the rough" track of the year. RALPH contacted me directly (as opposed to through a PR person/management rep) with her single "Trouble" and I haven't stopped playing it since. She's got big things in her future.
Tame Impala -- "Let It Happen"
I've started walking to/from work these days, and "Let It Happen" has become my go-to "begin this thirty minute journey" tune. The bass, the synths, the ghostly falsetto of Kevin Parker. Currents
is my pick for the second best record of the year.
Of Monsters and Men -- "Wolves Without Teeth"
I didn't love Of Monster and Men's new record, Beneath the Skin
, as much as I did the first album, but I apparently liked it a lot more than most folks, and "Wolves Without Teeth" stands alongside any of the best tracks from the first record.
The Weepies -- "No Trouble"
I wrote about catching The Weepiest at Town Hall here
last month, and "No Trouble" was the stand-out track of their new record, Sirens
Action Bronson -- "Easy Rider"
The music video for this song technically came out last year, but it was on this year's excellent Mr. Wonderful
, and I'm going to allow it.
Miguel -- "Coffee"
Man, Miguel...you kept us waiting too long. "Coffee" might be your steamiest track yet. And we've still got new Frank Ocean coming out this year? R&B heads are doing alright.
Delta Rae -- "Chasing Twisters"
I'm going to be honest here. I'd barely heard of Delta Rae til we shot them for our incredible session
earlier this year, but it took one listen to the final song of that session, "Chasing Twisters," to make me a fan.
Natalie Prass -- "My Baby Don't Understand Me"
Snuggled right behind To Pimp A Butterfly
as my pick for the third best record of the year is Natalie Prass's self-titled debut, and "My Baby Don't Understand Me" is the perfect introduction to her theatre-pop.
Kurt Vile -- "Pretty Pimpin'"
You know how I said "Lonely Town" and "u" were the easy contenders for my pick for the year's best song all around? Give me a couple more months of listening to "Pretty Pimpin'" by Kurt Vile and it might replace them. Kurt Vile is back and at the top of his game.
Courtney Barnett -- "Elevator Operator"
No list of the best songs of this year would be complete without a Courtney Barnett track. The Australian firebrand is taking the world by storm and the opener to this year's astonishingly excellent Sometimes I Sit and Think, Sometimes I Just Sit
is the belle of the Courtney Barnett ball.
The Decemberists -- "Make You Better"
What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World
was (alongside 2012's The King Is Dead
) a leap forward for the Decemberists in experimenting with new sounds on their records, and while "We Make You Better" is one of the more traditionally Decemberists tracks on the album, it's no less excellent for it.
Grimes & Bleachers -- "Entropy"
Dear Grimes, if you decide you want to release your follow-up to Visions
someday, we'd all be very grateful. Thanks, Baeble.
Florence + the Machine -- "Ship To Wreck"
How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
was another record that I felt mildly underwhelmed by -- I'm not sure if Flo is ever going to live up to 2009's Lungs
-- but "Ship to Wreck" is the best she's sounded in years.
Civil Twilight -- "Holy Dove"
I actually might prefer the acoustic version that we premiered a couple months back, but the original is an electric, propulsive dynamo of blues rock, and I think it will do.
Father John Misty -- "I Love You, Honeybear"
I Love You, Honeybear
is probably a better record than Fear Fun
but it doesn't have nearly as many great "singles" as the first record. It's a "listen to this all the way through type" deal. The title track is a major exception.
Sleater-Kinney -- "Price Tag"
And how about a little Sleater-Kinney to bring this round up of the best tracks of this year to a close.