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GutterBubbles Top 100 Songs of 2015 (part 4)





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

New Order – “Plastic” – Music Complete

Now in their third decade of existence, New Order really know how to do what they do well. New wave basically invented the merging of post-punk and synthpop, and “Plastic” is among the best post-heyday tracks to hit that in-between sweet spot. Laser beam sound effects, hints of Pet Shop Boys and Kraftwerk, and an irresistible backing track render the nearly seven-minute track effortless. It’s an injustice that Peter Hook’s departure dominates New Order’s press; after all, Bernard Sumner hasn’t missed a beat. -Elle Coxon


Nick Jonas – “Levels” – Levels

There are a number of methods used by ex-Disney stars to bury their past and adopt an adult image, but few sound this good. Jonas finally shed the boyish curls, the purity ring and his older brothers; he’s now grooving towards 21-and-up appeal with this sleek synth number designed for the dance floor. In other words, Disney is just a small speck in the rearview mirror. -EC


Nine Inch Nails – “Can I Stay Here?” – The Fragile Instrumental

No, Nine Inch Nails didn’t release a new album this year, but Trent Reznor did release an instrumental version of his seminal album The Fragile, which included a couple of unheard gems from that time period. “Can I Stay Here?” doesn’t really showcase anything that we haven’t heard from Nine Inch Nails in the past, but it does raise the question of what else could be tucked away in the vaults. Although there are no lyrics (at least on this version), “Can I Stay Here?” sounds like a fully fleshed out composition, not to dissimilar from the type of song that would later make up the instrumental album Ghosts I-IV. It’s an interesting glimpse into the creative cycles of one of this generation’s most innovative minds and gives longtime fans renewed hope for a deluxe reissue of The Fragile. -Ryan Brun


Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – “Ballad of the Mighty I” – Chasing Yesterday

The older Gallagher brother spent 2015 succeeding at his quest for post-Oasis legitimacy, thanks in part to this particular album closer. Aided by fellow British guitar rock icon, Johnny Marr, “Ballad of the Mighty I” is a locomotive of a song, equal parts steady and unstoppable as it closes in on the intense finale. Turns out Noel is doing just fine on his own. Don’t tell Liam. -EC


Oaks – “West” – Animal Life

Oaks is particularly good at updating the gritty, swirling, expansive gorgeously ethereal melodies that Throwing Muses and Dead Can Dance did early on. None more so than on “West,” a song that sounds like surges of enthusiasm and new growth. It would sound haunted like an old TV set showing episodes of MTV’s 120 Minutes in the late 80s except for its urgency and bracing energy. The contrast of something that sounds like what an old photograph would sound like with a right now presence with this song is incredibly compelling. -Tom Murphy


Peace – “World Pleasure” – Happy People

Peace spend all six-plus minutes of “World Pleasure” audibly overjoyed at the miracle of existence, an optimism so suited to their back-to-Britpop sound that it’s hard not to smile along. Bassist Samuel Koisser offers up his sharpest performance to date, while frontman Harry Koisser turns up the indie boy charm. An absolute pleasure indeed. -EC


PIG vs. Primitive Race – “Long in the Tooth” – Long in the Tooth

There aren’t many voices in music that more instantly recognizable than that of Raymond Watts. Better known by as PIG, Watts has maintained a relatively low profile for roughly the last decade, so it was with great surprise when it was announced that he would be teaming up with industrial rock startups Primitive Race on a joint EP. Predictably, the results did not disappoint. Watts’ guttural baritone seductively slinks along with the quasi-country influenced soundscape that hearkens back to the Wax Trax! era when industrial music didn’t take itself too seriously. “Long in the Tooth” is both a welcome return for an old legend and great introduction to the new breed of industrial. -RB


Pond – “Waiting Around for Grace” – Man It Feels Like Space Again

“Maximalist” doesn’t even begin to describe it. Man It Feels Like Space Again’s opener streaks through the galaxy like a disco ball asteroid, leaving a trail of multi-part harmonies in its path before exploding in a wildly entertaining instrumental interlude. This is Pond’s solar system, and we’re just living in it. -EC


Prayers – “Young Gods” – Young Gods

A strong synthesis of electronic pop, industrial, Goth and what if it were hip-hop might be called a gangster rap sensibility, “Young Gods” simply utilizes all of those elements to craft one of the most emotionally harrowing and paradoxically uplifting songs of the year. By honestly exploring some of life’s most psychologically harrowing moments, this song is in the fine tradition of using music to exorcise and transcend self-destructive emotions. -TM


Purity Ring – “Heartsigh” – Another Eternity

Here’s a formula we should all be familiar with at this point. Female vocalist lustily crooning over a sultry electro beat about love, lust or the happenings between the two. No doubt, it’s a tried and true combination that’s worked for ages, but all too often the groups that employ that type of sound are a flash in the pan, offering very little in the way of thought or emotion in their music. At first glance, Purity Ring would seem to fit that bill but upon closer examination the Canadian duo offer so much more than their contemporaries. “Heartsigh” is a contemplative meditation of grief and loss sweetly sung over a bass-heavy production with intricate but inviting sound design. It’s the type of song that invites emotional investment from the listener, a goal that every band aims for but very few ever achieves. -RB


Rabbit Junk – “Broken Highways” – Invasion

Seattle’s Rabbit Junk has never been the type of band to shy away from taking risks with their sound. They’ve experimented with numerous styles throughout their career, from black metal to hip hop, industrial to pop. The Rabbit Junk sound has always been an ever evolving creature from one release to the next, so the syrupy melodic bounce of “Broken Highways” off their Invasion EP should come as no surprise to longtime fans. The driving four on the floor beat propels the song, while JP and Sum Grrl trade infectious vocal hooks that wouldn’t sound out of place in any top 40 hit. For most artists, this chameleonic style of songwriting would be difficult to achieve, but for Rabbit Junk it’s just another day at the office. -RB


Ratatat – “Cream On Chrome” – Magnifique

Brooklyn’s rock-electro-chill-whatever duo Ratatat often hold themselves at a musical remove from their listener, projecting a hyper-hip sense that it’s cool if you dig it, but honestly they’re just doing their thing, man. With “Cream on Chrome”, Ratatat hits the sweet spot of the better Daft Punk tracks, blending enough inventiveness and non-ironic funk into their idiosyncratic mix to make for a smart, head-bobbing good time. It helps that the track is more linear than circular, with breaks and blasts of noise that show off a truly excellent piece of production. -NA


Refused – “Old Friends/New War” – Freedom

To the legions of fans of the now-legendary record The Shape of Punk to Come, the fact that Sweden’s Refused were releasing a new album 17 years after the band broke up was surprising enough. To me, the fact that they still sound unlike any other punk/hardcore band out there is even more so. “Old Friends” is a thoroughly weird track, with slowed-down vocal chanting, strummed guitars and ever-so-welcome blasts of electronics that come in to fatten everything up so very nicely. It doesn’t hurt that Dennis Lyxzén’s voice hasn’t lost a bit of its bracing power. In a sense, this song’s title couldn’t be more accurate. -NA


Rihanna, Kanye West and Paul McCartney – “FourFiveSeconds” – Anti

So Macca isn’t exactly the obvious choice for this power trio’s third member, but the musical chemistry between the Beatle and the pair of hip-hop royalty is too amazing to care. Rihanna and Kanye split vocal duties over Paul’s energetic acoustic guitar, and the minimalist production reveal both vocalists at their stripped-down best. More collaborations like this in 2016, please. -EC


Royal Headache – “Garbage” – High

With a lot of punk sounding same-y of late, this song proved that a punk band can write a brashly vitriolic anthem and employ guitar sounds and rhythms that are more in line with post-punk’s ability to employ atmosphere to enhance a conveyance of complex emotions. Granted here the message is pretty straightforward in its calling out of people who call themselves punk but are really into that world for all the wrong reasons and tarnishing what makes the punk world a beautiful place—the purity of intent, the camaraderie of those rejecting mainstream society’s bland pronouncements on what your values should be. Beyond that it’s a fiery rocker of a song that bears, almost demands, sequentially repeated listens. -TM


Shamir – “Make a Scene” – Ratchet

The consummate student of the last five decades of pop, dance, hip-hop, and R&B, 21-year-old Shamir fused his lessons into this retro-leaning cut, stuffing it with bizarre sounds and a chorus featuring Muppet-esque backing vocals. His amazing genderless tenor is instantly unforgettable, and you’d be well advised to remember his name too. -EC


Slayer – “Repentless” – Repentless

Heading into 2015, a fair amount of scrutiny was directed towards Slayer for deciding to continue with the band after the departure of drummer Dave Lombardo and the death of guitarist Jeff Hanneman. Fans questioned whether the new Slayer would be able to maintain the intensity of the original unit or if they would falter and earn the Slayer-lite tag that so many seemed ready to apply. The band answered with “Repentless,” the pummeling lead single from the album of the same name. Blistering guitar leads, breakneck tempos and plenty of fuck you attitude to go around quickly silenced naysayers and all but proved that Slayer are still the undisputed kings of American thrash metal. -RB


Sleater-Kinney – “Surface Envy” – No Cities to Love

Nine quiet years since their last LP, Riot grrl veterans Sleater-Kinney surprised everyone by roaring back with No Cities to Love. A shoo-in for every best-of-2015 list, “Surface Envy” is the fiercest reminder of why we missed the trio so much; Carrie Brownstein wields her guitar with a noisy vengeance, Janet Weiss beats the life out of her kit, and Corin Tucker spits blood over it all. No act on earth rocks harder. -EC


Soulfly – “Sodomites” – Archangel

If it seems like Max Cavalera just put out an album last year, it’s because he did. The hardest working man in metal was at it again in 2015, this time with his main band Soulfly who released their 10th full-length album Archangel. After a handful of releases that really upped the brutality in terms of tempo, Soulfly partially returned to the groove-laden metal of their earlier albums. “Sodomites” (which features a guest vocal take from Todd Jones of Nails) is a perfect marriage of crushing grooves and old school thrash, coming together to create one of the most devastatingly heavy songs that 2015 has to offer. -RB


Speedy Ortiz – “Raising the Skate” – Foil Deer

Sadie Dupuis is among the most badass and eloquent frontwomen in music, and “Raising the Skate” attests to both qualities. “I’m not bossy, I’m the boss,” she snarls before sneering, “You just glimpsed your own reflection in a gold sheen.” Her lyrical kiss-off is matched by her bandmates’ jagged guitar power and crashing drums, thus unleashing a beast that destroys everything in its way. -EC

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