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GutterBubbles Top 100 Songs of 2015 (part 1)

Here we go again! 2015 was such an incredible year for music. So much so that for the first time in GutterBubbles history, our Top 100 Songs of the year list has 100 unique artists! As always, you will find a diverse list of styles throughout our year end favorites. Some of these songs you’ve probably heard before, whereas others you’ve likely never experienced. But one thing is certain and that’s that each of these tracks were an absolute standout in their respective genre. Like in years past, we’ve decided to present our list in alphabetical order, with 20 songs every day this week, so check back throughout the week so you don’t miss out. So crank up the volume and get ready, this is the best that 2015 had to offer!

More Top 100 Songs of 2015: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

A$AP Rocky -“L$D (Love x Sex x Dreams)” – At. Long. Last. A$AP

Guitars and moody synth swells and a hazy, languid melodic ascent into brighter atmospheres sets this song apart from a lot of other music at the time of its release. It was the perfect blend of alternative hip-hop’s brilliant incorporation of unusual sounds and manipulated sampled with pop and more mainstream hip-hop’s glitzy sensibilities. A truly genre-transcending track that displays that broad talent of an artist willing to get weird but unafraid of making music accessible enough to have a wide appeal. -Tom Murphy


Acumen Nation – “Insurgent Collective” – Cold Waves IV Compilation

Of all of the groups that returned in 2015, none was as exciting as the return of Chicago’s Acumen Nation. Legends in the coldwave industrial scene, Acumen Nation’s last full-length came in 2007 as members of the group mostly moved on to other projects. In 2012, after losing longtime member Jamie Duffy, it seemed like Acumen Nation was done for. But the Nation came roaring back with “Insurgent Collective,” their first original song in nearly a decade. Picking up exactly where they left off with buzzsaw guitars, scattershot programming, anthematic choruses and Jason Novak’s unmistakable sneer, Acumen Nation’s single song became one of the biggest events of the year for rivetheads worldwide. -Ryan Brun


Adele – “When We Were Young” – 25

Adele’s record-shattering 25 was surrounded by enormous fanfare, and “When We Were Young” proves that the fanfare wasn’t just hype and good marketing. Torn in two by the restless regret of love lost, she sounds heartbroken but never affected. And perhaps this goes with saying, but that voice! -Elle Coxon


Alabama Shakes – “Future People” – Sound & Color

It’s not every day that career-high vocals collide with career-high songwriting, but consider “Future People” the welcome exception. A playfully plucked riff, full-throttle choruses between tastefully restrained verses, and a steady snare stand tall on their own. Add Howard’s pipes to the mix, and the effect is nothing short of spectacular. -EC


Albert Hammond Jr. – “Born Slippy” – Momentary Masters

Unless you missed the mid-nineties, you’re probably thinking, “Hey, isn’t that the name of an Underworld song?” It is, and the influence of that very Underworld song is instantly audible in the Strokes axeman’s bouncy reflection on healing from old wounds. Sounding vulnerable but empowered, Hammond, Jr. blends his classic style with new wave flair, adding one more venerable solo outing to the Strokes’ ever-growing list. -EC


Author & Punisher – “Shame” – Melk En Honing

Author & Punisher’s 2013 album Women & Children pushed the sound of the one man band to new heights, but it was difficult to envision A&P growing any more intense. An opening slot on Phil Anselmo’s tour that year changed everything. The legendary Pantera frontman assisted with the production on Author & Punisher’s Melk En Honing and his presence is immediately made clear. Tracks such as “Shame” showcase a (somehow) heavier version of Author & Punisher, now sitting somewhere between the droning outbursts of Sunn O))) and the relentless grind of Godflesh and when combined with Tristan Shone’s newfound vocal dexterity it becomes a menacing creation you have to hear to believe. -RB


Beach Slang – “Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas” – The Things We Do to Find People Who Feel Like Us

Sure a clear nod to “Bastards of Young” by The Replacements but rarely has a band embraced that spirit and that aesthetic so strongly and made it their own. This song makes you excited to live and to deal with the disappointments and low times life will throw your way because it’s all mixed in with everything good and thus encompassing what truly is remarkable about life itself—that it isn’t some two value logic experience of good or bad in any way. That life can be glorious taken as a whole and this song sounds exactly what that revelation feels like more than anything else that has come out for a good long while. -TM


Beck – “Dreams” – Dreams

One of only a few tracks on this list to receive Taylor Swift’s arena-sized blessing, the lead single from Beck’s forthcoming tenth album is a funk rock shot in the arm. With a stadium-ready stomp and one hell of a glittering guitar solo, “Dreams” reminded us how much fun Beck can be when he lets himself off his leash. As for the version of Beck responsible for last year’s subdued Morning Phase? Yeah, he’s gone. -EC


Bjork – “Black Lake” – Vulnicura

It’s always been easy to get lost in a Bjork song, yet personally, her music always came across to me as somewhat dismissive of her personal life, or at the very least, colored in shades of optimistic beauty. That was until this year’s album Vulnicura and its mournful epic “Black Lake.” Sparse string arrangements dominate the majority of the song, with additional electronic elements peppered in for good measure, but the real strength of “Black Lake” is the heartbroken narrative of Bjork whose devastating tale feels more like a exercising of past demons rather than a song. It’s beautiful and heartbreaking all at once and an all too rare glimpse into the human side of artistic creation. -RB


Blur – “I Broadcast” – The Magic Whip

Ugh, this was a tough choice. The Magic Whip featured a plethora of standouts – “Thought I Was A Spaceman” and “Lonesome Street” landed especially well with critics – but “I Broadcast” won out for best channeling the band’s history (see: “Star Shaped” from 1993’s Modern Life Is Rubbish). Show up for bassist Alex James’ most memorable outing since “Girls and Boys” and stick around for the pure melodic delight of it all. -EC


Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – “Intentional Injury” – Songs from True Detective: Season 2

As much as Lera Lynn’s was the voice that defined the atmosphere of this very atmospheric show, it’s Billy who sums up the much-derided season’s themes of a life played out against a cruelly stacked deck. A simple acoustic roots-waltz, “Injury” consists primarily of Billy’s weary voice draped like a shroud over his acoustic guitar. His use of Ralph Stanley-esque bluegrass vocal flourishes further enhance the sense of sinister campfire intimacy as he levels such uplifting pronouncements as “most of us rejoice, in your awful crying / we live to force you to regret your own birth.” Modest, gentle vocal and percussive assistance lend eerie depth to what is ultimately a beautifully grim, grinning damnation. -Nick Abaddon


Bully – “Too Tough” – Feels Like

Look, I get it. The nineties are soooo hot right now. And yes, “Too Tough” definitely owes the decade of dial-up. But for the love of Billy Corgan, don’t accuse Bully of simple revivalism. The songwriting is too sharp, and Alicia Bognanno’s attention-grabbing growl deserves way more credit. The track is straightforward and fun, driven by a just-distorted-enough guitar riff you’ll be humming for days. Bully know their history, and they’re using that knowledge to blast into the future. Hold on tight. -EC


Carly Comando – “Procession” – Dreamlife

Carly Comando may be the most well-known musician on this list, but chances are good that you’ve got no idea who she is. Comando’s stirring 2007 hit “Everyday” is one of the most recognizable instrumental pieces in modern music, with the song serving as the backdrop for numerous viral videos and ad campaigns. For the better part of the last half-decade Comando had devoted her attention to her band Slingshot Dakota, but 2015 saw her return to her instrumental roots on her album Dreamlife. Contemplative and dynamic with a tinge of melancholy, “Procession” offers listeners a welcome reprieve from the all too often chaotic state of modern music. -RB


Chastity Belt – “Cool Slut” – Time to Go Home

It’s about time someone really didn’t just reclaim a word that’s supposed to be an insult for a song or a work of literature but made it even charming. Not unlike Inga Muscio did in her monumental 1998 book Cunt: A Declaration of Independence, Chastity Belt did so in the way only a pop song can for the word “slut.” In an atmospheric yet upbeat style the song sounds like what it must be to be taken aside and reminded that what people are trying to beat you up for being is actually not negative and to value what that thing is for what it is and not the inverted value suggested by society and culture. A crucial song in this day when the backlash against feminism has been especially vitriolic. -TM


Chelsea Wolfe – “Carrion Flowers” – Abyss

From the opening moments of “Carrion Flowers” with its grainy, overdriven bassline and thundering percussion, it’s immediately clear that Abyss is the next step in the evolution of Chelsea Wolfe’s sound. That point is hammered home on the songs second verse, with its propulsive, proto-industrial stomp and hypnotic distortion that would make Michael Gira proud. But its Wolfe’s ethereal voice throughout that pushes “Carrion Flowers” to even darker, more mysterious places making it one of the most memorable songs of both the year and Wolfe’s already incredible discography. -RB


Chris Connelly – “Mistreated and Wild” – Decibels from Heart

When browsing through Chris Connelly’s massive back-catalog, it quickly becomes apparent just how diverse an artist he is. Connelly has dabbled in just about every type of music out there, from industrial to folk and everything in between. The lead track “Mistreated & Wild” from his newest album Decibels from Heart finds Connolly trading vocals with Claire Massey over lush instrumentation which highlights Connolly’s signature croon perfectly and showcases his strength as a songwriter and performer. Although not completely unfamiliar, it’s another stunning chapter in the varied discography of one of modern music’s most multifaceted artists. -RB


Chvrches – “Never Ending Circle” – Every Open Eye

Like a lot of those 80s synth pop bands whose sound partly influenced this music, Chvrches manages to mix bubbly pop music with upbeat tunes with meaningful content in the lyrics. This song in particular strikes into a deep a place of pain and frustration and in doing so purges that personal darkness with a conviction and emotional resonance in a way only a sugary pop song can. Honesty fused with transformative sounds that do not gloss over the feelings that inspired the songwriting makes this song sound incredibly triumphant and truthful. -TM


Circuit Des Yeux – “Do the Dishes” – In Plain Speech

The circular and repeating track that runs through the first part of this song really does reflect the tedium of everyday life demands but in a hypnotic and compelling way. But the song gives way to a meditative section at the end, a crack into entertaining a life outside of what you’re used to and starting to contemplate dreams and what one’s life really is about while learning that aspirational thought and behavior is not incompatible with getting done what must be done. That dichotomy gives the song real emotional heft in the contrast and reconciliation between mindsets. -TM


Clutch – “Decapitation Blues” – Psychic Warfare

Since my opinion of what qualifies as the best song off my pick for this year’s best album changes with just about every listen, I decided to go with the one that grew on me the most. What seems to be a track about the tribulations of a reanimated corpse, it’s of course fun and ultra-heavy as is the stock-in-trade of Maryland’s finest. It also wears the band’s Black Sabbath influence more brazenly and effectively than ever; the chorus absolutely crushes in a way that owes almost as much to Tony Iommi as it does to the seemingly inexhaustible riff machine, Tim Sult. A nearly-perfect rock track from a nearly-perfect album. -NA


Colin Hay – “Next Year People” – Next Year People

The title track off former Men At Work frontman Colin Hay’s new solo LP is as heartbreaking as it is simple. Set as a tale of dust bowl farmers being ground down to nothing by seemingly cosmic misfortune, the folksy acoustic instrumentation and bar room singalong backup vocals add to the sense of time and place. Hay’s aged, weary vocals are perfect for the little snapshots he depicts; it’s the very voice of putting one foot in front of the other simply because the only other option is to just lay down. The chorus of “Next year, everything will come good / the rains they will fall and we’ll dance on the hood” comes across as woeful and ironic. Of course it’s not going to rain, “God is roaring drunk, and out on the town” after all. -NA

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