Monday, December 14, 2015

Top 20 Songs of 2015 (Part 1)

It's that time of year again! Time to take stock, to look back, to make a big list of the year's best music and put it all into some sort of order. Here's a rough schedule for The Album Wall's End of Year Week 2015:
  • Today: Top 20 Songs of the Year (20-11)
  • Wednesday: Top 20 Songs of the Year (10-1)
  • Friday: Top 10 Albums of the Year
It's been a heck of a year, musically speaking, and we've got a lot to get through between now and Black Friday, so let's jump right in. Here's the first half of my 'Songs of 2016' list:

20) Wish Upon a Bar by Frog
(from Kind of Blah)
Verbose, slow-building indie rock? Slurry wordplay on a Disney classic? The sense - implied by the warm, glowing sound and made explicit by the second verse - that all of this is happening around Christmastime? It's like this song was made for me.

19) Fuck the Government, I Love You by Ariel Sharratt & Mathias Kom
(from Don't Believe the Hyperreal)
I heard this song before it had even been released, you know. Ariel and Mathias sang Fuck the Government, I Love You when The Burning Hell - their parent band, if you will - played in Cardiff earlier this year, and I was thrilled to bits when this recording of it materialised online. The track is an intimate, conversational duet with a wonderfully waltzy chorus and the potential, I suppose, to become an annual New Year's Eve staple.

18) Don't Worry Baby (I Don't Love You Any More) by The School
(from Wasting Away and Wondering)
The School, who are something of a pop music institution here in Cardiff,  released their third album this year, and this track was my personal highlight. It opens with an irresistibly bittersweet string part of the sort that ought to be piped in every time somebody closes the door on a relationship; then come the words, simple yet utterly devastating. The title says it all, really - I love the whiplash contrast between the words in and outside of the parentheses. "Don't worry baby," is carefree and reassuring, never hinting at the cold, crushing assertion that's just beyond the first bracket.

17) Hey Migrator by Reichenbach Falls
(from The Traitor Shore)
"Hey migrator, won't you stay? The rent is paid!" Hope springs eternal. This is a rock song - and a really good one, I might add - to listen to as you watch somebody board a plane and hope, even as they disappear into the cabin, that they might change their mind and stay with you.

16) Silk by Wolf Alice
(from My Love is Cool)
When I put together the shortlist for this countdown, no fewer than 6 of my 84 (!) nominations were taken from My Love is Cool. In the end, 5 of those 6 songs were whittled away, leaving Silk standing alone and supreme. This is another track that triumphs by simply building and building and building - nothing really happens for the first 30 seconds, and it's mostly whispers even for a while after that, but stick around for the defiant, cymbal-smashing climax and your rewards shall be rich indeed.

15) The Eleven Year Glitch by Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat
(from The Most Important Place in the World)
This grubbily beautiful break-up song somehow sounds even more final than The School's contribution to this list. That string interruption just before the final verse melts me completely, and probably would have done so even if I hadn't just come out of a five-year relationship when first I heard it. (N.B. I couldn't find this one on the internet, so you'll just have to gaze at the album artwork and imagine what it might sound like. Sorry.)

14) Lampshades on Fire by Modest Mouse
(from Strangers to Ourselves)
This was a heck of a lead single, wasn't it? After eight long years of waiting for a proper follow-up to We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, Lampshades on Fire was the perfect way to announce that, yes, YES, Modest Mouse were FINALLY back.

13) The Ground Walks, with Time in a Box by Modest Mouse
(from Strangers to Ourselves)
This track was even better, though. The 'watercolour weekend' line puts a big silly grin on my face every time I hear it.

12) Foreign Object by The Mountain Goats
(from Beat the Champ)
I've already expressed my love for (and perhaps even pledged my allegiance to) Foreign Object far too many times this year, but heck, I'm gonna say it again. This track positively throbs with asskicking excellence - it's every bit as potently powerful as the bloodthirsty heel from whose point of view the words are sung.

11) The Everlasting Muse by Belle & Sebastian
(from Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance)
The verses are slick enough, I suppose, but The Everlasting Muse would be rather a dull song if those verses were all it had to offer. Fortunately, after roughly 100 seconds of that whip-tight yet oddly subdued intrigue, the track bursts forth into its stompingly ludicrous chorus, and the fun truly begins; the tempo loosens and balloons, several violinists march out from the wings, and Stuart Murdoch correctly spots that this whole enterprise would be far more enjoyable for everyone involved if it were taking place at a Greek wedding reception.

1 comment:

  1. Love the list so far. BTW this appears to be an official YouTube Stream (aka Bill gets paid) for "The Eleven Year Glitch" by Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat: