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GutterBubbles Top 100 Songs of 2015 (part 5)





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

Tame Impala – “The Less I Know the Better” – Currents

Kevin Parker can do anything. No, really. Fed up with the neo-psychedelia of Tame Impala’s first two albums, he wrote Currents, an album about as danceable and genre-less as it gets. “The Less I Know The Better” is emblematic of Currents as a whole: carefully composed, expertly produced, easy to love, and beyond groovy. Parker 2020, anyone? -Elle Coxon


The Black Queen – “Ice to Never” – Fever Daydream

File this one under Most Unexpected Collaboration of 2015. The Black Queen is a new band comprised of members of the Dillinger Escape Plan and Telefon Tel Aviv. Confused yet? So was I. Really, I had no idea what to expect going in to this. Hell, after this single, I have no idea what to expect from their upcoming full length Fever Daydream. But if “Ice to Never” is any indication of what to expect, the album is going to be amazing. Vintage synth sounds? Check. Funky ass bassline? Got it. And who knew that Greg from Dillinger Escape Plan could be so effortlessly cool? There’s still more questions than answers surrounding The Black Queen, but they’re off to a hell of a start. -Ryan Brun


The Prodigy – “The Day Is My Enemy” – The Day Is My Enemy

The Prodigy sure knows how to build anticipation. The title track from their first record in over six years begins with a half a minute of thundering tribal percussion, building the momentum with each crack of the snare until the payoff moment arrives and Liam Howlett unleashes a barrage of overdriven and distorted synths. The next four minutes are the equivalent of a hardcore cardio workout for your ears, with waves of bass hitting from every direction and a genuine sense of joyful foreboding that this is only just the beginning. If any group could wash away the years of dubstep bullshit we’ve had to endure, it’s The Prodigy and “The Day Is My Enemy” is the perfect song to do just that. -RB


The Siren Project – “Presence” – Denouement

This song sounds like it was written for a futuristic, European dance club. The kind where you’d hear Portishead, Four Tet, Molly Nilsson and Depeche Mode side-by-side in dark rooms, lightly cloaked in fog where you can dance or contemplate past and future. It is the kind of song that expands your insides and liberates your daydreams because it is so transporting and quietly powerful in its ability to suggest to you soul that what you inner voice has to say matters. -Tom Murphy


The Sword – “The Dreamthieves” – High Country

There’s no question The Sword were aiming for radical reinvention with their 2015 release. There’s also no question that they succeeded; what’s less clear and vastly more subjective is how successful or well-advised that reinvention was. Hit-or-miss though the songs may be, with “The Dreamthieves” their new ‘tune up, turn on, drop out’ aesthetic was at its most fantastically realized. The dreamy, fuzzed out fantasia cascades through the psychedelia of the 70s, swooping past the heavy sludge of the Sword’s earlier sound and back again. The effect on the listener is essentially what would happen were it possible to condense the film “Heavy Metal” down to rock size and freebase it, and it’s just as weirdly intoxicating. -Nick Abaddon


The Tallest Man on Earth – “Darkness of the Dream” – Dark Bird is Home

Kristian Matsson, better known as the Tallest Man on Earth, has been a staple in singer-songwriter circles for nearly a decade thanks to his unique guitar style and command of vocal melody. The majority of Matsson’s work has been centered around just his voice and guitar, with little other instrumentation to be found. That all changed in a grand way on “Darkness of the Dream.” Backed by a full band including percussion and piano, Matsson made arguably the biggest song of his career. While still maintaining the spirit of past Tallest Man on Earth songs, “Darkness of the Dream” sounds like a fully realized version of something that Kristian had planned all along and with results this good, who could blame him. -RB


The Weeknd – “The Hills” – Beauty Behind the Madness

The king of strung out and sexed-up R&B continued his quest for world and radio domination with “The Hills”, the earworm that sounds like how you wish being wasted at 3 am felt. The hook is sweeping, the lyrics are dirty, the drop is brutally good, and Abel Tesfaye’s vocals are so Michael Jackson-esque they’d stop Janet in her tracks. (Oooh!) -EC


Them Are Us Too – “False Moon” – Remain

The delicacy of feeling conveyed here is disarmingly impactful. Kennedy Ashlyn‘s melodious vocal delivery sounds like she’s singing directly to your heart from a heavenly realm untainted by everyday concerns. But the words, they convey a deep understanding of everyday disappointments and sadness that could only come from living a mortal life on earth. It may remind some of a brilliant combination of Cocteau Twins’ gossamer guitar compositions and Slowdive’s use of guitar to sound like synths but this song is very much its own thing from a band that is at the forefront of a reinvention of Goth, darkwave and shoegaze by embodying where that music could have gone and still can. -TM


Titus Andronicus – “Dimed Out” – The Most Lamentable Tragedy

Any time the phrases “concept album” or “rock opera” are muttered, my first instinct is to glaze over in a semi-comatose stupor until the conversation reverts back to more reasonable, less-pretentious dialogue. It’s not that there haven’t been some great albums of that ilk, but more often than the end product is a bloated, overly ambitious shell posing as something you should enjoy. Such is not really the case with The Most Lamentable Tragedy, which features all of the warning signs (incredible length, storyline, etc.) but also feature really great standalone tracks. “Dimed Out” is the perfect example with its massive, brick-shithouse wall of sound that leaps from your speakers and demands attention. Sure, there’s more to the story here, but it’s up to you what you wanna take from it. -RB


Tobias Jesso Jr. – “Without You” – Goon

Before he was penning songs alongside Adele, Tobias Jesso Jr. was channeling Mind Games-era Lennon and Harry Nilsson with poignant sincerity and a piano. Careful not to get phony, Jesso Jr. lays bare his heartbreak over a subdued hi-hat. It’s simple, honest, wounded and gorgeous; save it for your rainiest days. -EC


Tom DeLonge – “Circle-Jerk Pit” – To the Stars…Demos, Odds and Ends

It may be difficult to recall, but back before all the band drama, side projects and stylistic changes that Tom DeLonge has been a part of over the last 15 years or so, he used to just be a dude from San Diego that wrote some pretty lean (pop) punk songs. DeLonge reminded everyone of just that this year with the furious “Circle-Jerk Pit” from his To the Stars album. The song is an absolute throwback burst of Dude Ranch-era irreverence, showing that although he is no longer really part of the scene helped create, he can still slam out skate punk tracks with the best of ‘em. -RB


Too Many Zooz – “Double Text” – The Internet

Let’s face it; the internet is a goddamn waste of time. In spite of good intentions that we have every time we log on, nine times out of ten we sit around for hours watching cat videos or trolling Donald Trump supporters, with nothing to really show for it. But sometimes, the internet does cool things for you. Like the time I discovered a video of New York based trio Too Many Zooz and proceeded to devour every clip of theirs I could find. That was a good day. The group released an EP this year appropriately titled, what else, The Internet and it’s amazing. Need proof? Check out “Double Text” and try to sit through it without at least bopping your head along. Is it Jazz? Funk? Rock? Well, it’s a little bit of all of that, but it’s also the most wildly entertaining and original thing you’ll hear all year. -RB


Tyler, the Creator – “Buffalo” – Cherry Bomb

There’s no denying that Tyler, the Creator has rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. In just a few short years he’s managed to piss pretty much everyone off with his raps, whether due to perceived misogyny, LGBT insensitivity or race issues, the Odd Future leader has found himself on more than a few shit lists. But it’s exactly that kind of controversy that makes Tyler, the Creator so god damned vital to hip-hop. On “Buffalo” the second track off Cherry Bomb, Tyler faces the controversy head on and the accompanying video sees his vision come to life. It may be a difficult song to sit through or an uncomfortable video to watch, but when has great art ever come easy? -RB


Unknown Mortal Orchestra – “Can’t Keep Checking My Phone” – Multi-Love

This is a perfectly constructed song, masterfully produced so as to fill its space with jazzy grace and style. Focused on a lover’s irksome dependent streak, the track melds psych, R&B and jazz. Sure, it speaks volumes about Ruban Nielson’s songwriting clout, but it’s also damn groovy. Listen and love. -EC


Viet Cong – “Continental Shelf” – Viet Cong

Though not enamored of the much-hyped Canadian post-punk band’s debut LP, I did find this real gem buried amongst all the tedium. Beginning with ringing, jangling guitars positively growling with nihilism, “Continental Shelf” switches personalities with wonderful abruptness as it glides into its chorus. Suddenly you’re afloat on a melodic, atmospheric cloud of pure indie heaven, a chill beat soaked in reverb and eerie background vocals gently easing you back toward the angular, cacophonic verse. More of this, please, VC, there’s just not enough of it around. -NA


WAND – “Reaper Invert” – Golem

Too many modern bands mining classic rock and old, doomy metal and psychedelia really stop going beyond the places already explored by their influences. Not so with WAND and “Reaper Invert.” It sounds menacing and exciting at the same time and the aesthetic is every bit as much Krautrock and Hawkwind as it is post-Queens of the Stone age stoner rock. Driving and trippy, “Reaper Invert” has all the feel of a road trip to the Resurrection. -TM


Wax Idols – “Goodbye Baby” – American Tragic

There is real nuance across the extent of “Goodbye Baby” that Hether Fortune was certainly capable throughout her career but the early restraint of the song, when it finally breaks, turns what could become a brooding burn into something transformative. Rather than turn sadness inside out into anger, with this song, Fortune invites the listener to feel that pain and work one’s way through it rather than indulge in the very temporary and unsatisfying salve of burning out the psychological poison with outrage. Paradoxically defiantly mournful, this song is like an unpretentious self-help seminar by embodying an alternative strategy to tackling the dark moments than could haunt us for years to come through a compassionate self-embrace. -TM


Will Butler – “Anna” – Policy

Arcade Fire’s lesser known Butler went it alone this year, showing off his songwriting mettle minus the massive costume head. He spreads himself with startling precision throughout this cut from Policy, building an earworm from airy drums, a dusky synth, a bit of piano and a touch of saxophone. You’ll be humming pom pom pom pom pa pa pa pom pom all week long. -EC


William Basinski – “The Deluge” – The Deluge

Basinski’s longform compositions lend themselves well to expressing big ideas through shifting, subtle details like a living, moving painting that coheres even as it evolves. The repeated elements of this piece certainly evoke the endless raindrops suggested by the title but they also create a feeling of peace and acceptance that isn’t necessarily what the mythological figure of Noah was feeling on that thirty-ninth day of rain nor what the people of New Orleans that weren’t able to flee when the levee’s broke must have had contemplated days into that experience. It’s muted, distant piano notes and creaking sounds are akin to what you’d expect to hear had Cormac McCarthy written a post-apocalyptic novel about Utnapishtim and what he thought looking down the slopes of Mount Nisir as the flood rains were fading away, deluged with the memories of the world before and of the imminent and uncertain future as cinematized by Tarkovsky. Understated yet thought-provoking. -TM


Wolf Alice – “Freazy” – My Love Is Cool

Hyped as the brightest young stars of British rock since 2012, Wolf Alice finally proved themselves with My Love Is Cool. “Freazy” is the LP’s ultimate highlight, mining nineties alt rock at its most (forgive me) breezy. The quartet’s transatlantic influences shine through each note – Liz Phair and Suede come to mind in equal measure – and Ellie Rowsell has never sounded so genuine. Believe the hype. –EC

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