Monday, July 6, 2015

My Favourite Songs of 2015 (So Far)

We have now entered the second half of 2015. In recognition of that fact, this entire week will be dedicated to The Album Wall's 2015 Halftime Report - later in the week, I'll be selecting some of my favourite albums of the year so far, as well as highlighting some forthcoming releases that will hopefully be rocking my world between now and New Year's Eve.

Today, though, is all about the songs. Here - in no particular order, are 15 of my favourite tracks from the first 182 days of 2015.

Disclaimer #1 - Not included in this list are songs from albums that have not yet been released, e.g. Dimed Out by Titus Andronicus. That song will undoubtedly prove to be one of the year's best, but as The Most Lamentable Tragedy isn't out until late July, it's not eligible for this halftime list.

Disclaimer #2 - I'm only one person, and while I do get sent a few albums here and there, I do buy most of the music I listen to myself. This does rather limit the number of CDs I'm capable of taking in; if your favourite song doesn't feature in the list below, it may well be because I haven't heard its parent album yet. Feel free to recommend anything I might have missed!

Foreign Object - The Mountain Goats
(from Beat the Champ)

One of the most straightforward songs on both this list and Beat the Champ itself, but that simplicity is very much an asset for Foreign Object, a tight little horn-led thing that's sung from the POV of a wrestler who doesn't care about winning as long as he can "make 'em bleed like pigs".

Wish Upon a Bar - Frog
(from Kind of Blah)

I recently included this song in one of my monthly playlists, and I'll restate what I said there: in spite of being quieter, more understated, and generally smaller than most of the other songs that make up Kind of Blah, this brilliant little vignette is my favourite thing on the album.

Nobody's Empire, Enter Sylvia Plath, The Everlasting Muse and Play for Today - Belle & Sebastian
(from Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance)

That's right - Belle & Sebastian's ninth album is home to no fewer than four songs that I consider to be among the best of the year. The best part? All four are completely different: Nobody's Empire is a high-reaching post-Britpop anthem; Enter Sylvia Plath is a pulsating, doesn't-let-up disco pounder; The Everlasting Muse alternates between a smooth, sexy lounge sound and epic-sound Balkan stomp; and Play for Today - one of those songs that you wish could go on forever - is a shimmering pearl of a track, with worldmusicky undertones and some nice guest vocals from Dee Dee Penny of the Dum Dum Girls.

Collectively, these four tracks are a great representation of what made Girls in Peacetime such a surprising release: I thought I knew Belle & Sebastian, and I thought they were incapable of anything but fey indie fluff at this point, but clearly I could not have been more mistaken.

The Ground Walks, with Time in a Box - Modest Mouse
(from Strangers to Ourselves)

Modest Mouse's long-awaited sixth album has been conspicuously absent from a lot of '2015 so far' lists, and while I can kind of understand why - it's certainly no Lonesome Crowded West - the album does have plenty of great individual tracks, with this six-minute stunner standing out as my personal favourite.

You're a Germ - Wolf Alice
(from My Love is Cool)

This album only came out the other week, but it's already established itself as one of the year's best in my eyes. This rocked-up number is just the tip of the iceberg, too; from warm synthy stuff to demolition crew rawk music to spaced-out Slowdive homages, it's been a while since I heard an album that brought so many different styles to the table

Gagarin and Go! - Public Service Broadcasting
(from The Race for Space)

Like Girls in Peacetime, The Race for Space is another album from which I couldn't pick just one song. I've been appallingly obvious here and chosen the first two singles, but hey, they were singles for a reason. Gagarin in particular is a very strong contender for Song of the Year.

Back, Baby - Jessica Pratt
(from On Your Own Love Again)

On Your Own Love Again is a very weird album, but its also a rather emotional one, as this stark little ode to the one-way road we're all travelling shows. Jessica Pratt doesn't over-emote; she simply states sad truths, and that lack of ham makes them all the more powerful.

Radium Girl - Idlewild
(from Everything Ever Written)

I was extremely uncertain about Idlewild's comeback album when I first heard it in February, but it's proven to be the Grower of 2015, giving more and more with each listen. This lovely song was a major factor in my eventual enjoyment; catchy, immediate, and more accessible than most of what surrounds, it was the key that unlocked the rest of the album for me.

Conqueror - Estelle
(from True Romance)

I couldn't be bothered putting this list into any proper order, but if I had, this tremendous song would probably have occupied the #1 spot. Turn it up loud for the chorus, folks.

Through the Knowledge of Those Who Observe Us - Errors
(from Lease of Life)

Long songs aren't always good songs, but this one certainly is. I love how it gradually shifts from one melody to another, building tantrically towards total hypnosis. Just try to stay out of that groove.

So those are my picks - what are YOUR favourite songs of 2015 so far?

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