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Best Songs of 2018

Just when I thought I wasn’t enamored with the music of 2018… I compiled my Best Songs of 2018 list and realized, well… that I wasn’t that enamored with the music of 2018. I fell at the feet of a few select albums and those albums consumed my year. My love for Arctic Monkey’s Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino forced me to re-evaluate the entire Arctic Monkey’s catalog. (It’s better than I remembered!) Of course I had a new CHVRCHES record, so I even had to grapple with my steadily increasing CHVRCHES fanboy tendencies (I’m incorrigible.)

Overall, however, 2018 was another year filled with highs and lows, just like any other. Even though popular culture continues to tout rap’s new directions, I can only shrug because what the hell is that even? What happened to beats, rhymes & life? You guys aren’t even trying to rhyme and god forbid we introduce a decent beat. Indie rock has fell back into an interminable mid-tempo cruising speed, proper rock & roll failed to leave a mark, and I even liked not one — but two country albums. (What?)

At the outset I made an effort to digest a wider variety of music styles. As a result I spent more time with soul, blues and modern jazz. Genres in which I tend to live in the past. Each year I tend to discover many great jazz records… made in the 1950’s. My list reflects those efforts in fits and spurts and I even found a few terrific jazz records made after 1960. (The hell you say.)

And now for my yearly disclaimer. I’m just one human listening to music and these selections reflect my year in music. I share my picks because maybe you’ll find some new favorites for yourself. I also carry on because my friend Michael Smith at bsidesnarrative.com have been exchanging lists every year since 2007.

Music sustains us through the tough times and improves the good ones. It gives us hope for the future and convinces us we’re more deep and soulful than we really are. Music is a constantly renewing life blood. Never stop listening to new music.

 The minute you stop listening to new music is the moment you become old.

best songs of 2018
  • 101. “Falling Into Me” – Let’s Eat Grandma
  • 100. “Mice” – Billie Marten
  • 99. “Birds” – The Shacks
  • 98. “How Can I Love You” – Yellow Days
  • 97. “True to You” – Deep Cuts
  • 96. “We Appreciate Power” Grimes (feat. HANA)
  • 95. “Anthem (To Human Justice)” – Logan Richarson
  • 94. “Make Me Feel” – Janelle Monáe
  • 93. “New Birth in New England” – Phosphorescent
  • 92. “Foundation” – Public Practice
  • 91. “The Bug Collector” – Haley Heynerickx
  • 90. “Once In My Life” – The Decemberists
  • 89. “Thread” – David Bazan & Kevin Devine
  • 88. “The Walker” – Christine and the Queens
  • 87. “Wild Blue Wind” – Erin Rae
  • 86. “A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega” – Ashley McBryde
  • 85. “Everybody Wants to Be Famous” – Superorganism
  • 84. “Bad Bad News” – Leon Bridges
  • 83. “My Friend the Forest” – Nils Frahm
  • 82. “Nearer My God” – Foxing
  • 81. “Honeymooning” – Holy Motors
  • 80. “It’s Alright” – Slow and Steady
  • 79. “Lemon Glow” Beach House
  • 78. “Meateater” – ALASKALASKA
  • 77. “Tokyo Bay” – Nick Lowe
  • 76. “Suspirium” – Thom Yorke
  • 75. “better alone” – Lykke Li
  • 74. “Straight Shot” – DeVotchKa
  • 73. “Fireworks” – First Aid Kit
  • 72. “MJ” – Now, Now
  • 71. “Paper Trails” – Celebration
  • 70. “Scream Whole” – Methyl Ethyl
  • 69. “Egyptian Luvr” – Rejjie Snow (feat. Aminé and Dana Williams)
  • 68. “You’re So Cool” – Jonathan Bree
  • 67. “Sure” – Hatchie
  • 66. “Believe” – Amen Dunes
  • 65. “Best Friend” – Belle & Sebastian
  • 64. “In a River” – Rostam
  • 63. “6&5” – Jesse Marchant
  • 62. “Me and Michael” – MGMT
  • 61. “Over and Over and Over” – Jack White
  • 60. “Taste” – Rhye
  • 59. “The Storm Won’t Come” – Richard Thompson
  • 58. “Pristine” – Snail Mail
  • 57. “Pearl Harbor (Remix)” – Wu-Tang Clan (feat. Mathematics, Pharoahe Monch, Sean Price, Tek)
  • 56. “Jeannie Becomes a Mom” – Caroline Rose
  • 55. “4Ever” – Clairo
  • 54. “Everybody’s Coming to My House” – David Byrne
  • 53. “Blue Girl” = Chromatics
  • 52. “Nobody” – Mitski
  • 51. “Don’t You Know” -Durand Jones & The Indications
  • 50. “Your Dog” – Soccer Mommy
  • 49. “Semicircle Song” – The Go! Team
  • 48. “Welcome to the Milk Disco” – Milk Disco
  • 47. “Gold Rush” – Death Cab for Cutie
  • 46. “Powder Blue / Cascine Park” – Yumi Zouma
  • 45. “Don” – Ocean Wisdom
  • 44. “Space Cowboy” – Kacey Musgraves
  • 43. “List of Demands” – The Kills
  • 42. “Far Behind You” – Lyla Foy (feat. Jonathan Donahue)
  • 41. “Fallingwater” & “Light On” – Maggie Rogers
  • 40. “Saturdays” – Twin Shadow (feat. HAIM)
  • 39. “Modafinil Blues” – Matthew Dear
  • 38. “This is America” – Childish Gambino
  • 37. “Rosebud” – U.S. Girls
  • 36. “Sense of Discovery” – Simple Minds
  • 35. “Know My Name” – Das Body
  • 34. “Jeannie Becomes a Mom” – Caroline Rose
  • 33. “Late to the Fight” – LUMP
  • 32. “Jeep Cherokee Laredo” – The War and Treaty
  • 31. “Oh No, Bye Bye” – Sunflower Bean
  • 30. “Confirmation” – Westerman
  • 29. “Give Up” – I See Rivers
  • 28. “How Simple” – Hop Along
  • 27. “Can’t Do Better” – Kim Petras
  • 26. “Honey” – Robyn

And now for my Top 25 portion of The Best Songs of 2018. Because I’m becoming more of a realist in my old age, I now recognize that nobody’s going to read 100 blurbs (we’re very busy Internet surfers). Instead of half-assing 100 blurbs, I’m only half-assing 25. You’re welcome. 

“Heaven/Hell” – CHVRCHES (from the Hansa Sessions)

Just another song on CHVRCHES solid 2018 LP Love is Dead soared on this acoustic version with a blast of strings and stripped down vocals. It’s an entirely new song. Go ahead. Close your eyes, throw your head back and sing along. #NoJudgment

“Twanguero” – Electric Sunset

The search for new surf guitar artists usually proves futile. Spain’s Diego Garcia paid back that investment tenfold.

“Formless and New” – Rubblebucket

Psychedelic arty dream-poppers took the same old same old and added big beats, brass and pitchy synth to make something familiar but f#cking fresh as hell.

“Emily” – Clean Cut Kid

Easily the best cut from Fleetwood Mac in 2018.

“Eva” – HAERTS

Epic dream-pop in four movements.

“Roll (Burbank Funk) – The Internet

Irresistible California funk. Lush instrumentation, groovy bassline, and honey-dripped vocals.

“I’ll Make You Sorry” – Screaming Females

Punk-lite vets peak with their seventh record? Not saying they did, just saying it’s an argument you could make that wouldn’t be weird. Marissa Paternoster has the best name and warble in the business.

“Wide Awake” – Parquet Courts

Indie-rock Junkaroo.

“Peach” – Broods

Trippy, electro-pop from New Zealand has pinpointed your pleasure center with dreamy vocals over block-rocking beats.

“Short Court Style” – Natalie Prass

June Christy + Booker T. = “Short Court Style”

“Boss” – Little Simz

I haven’t been this enamored with a female rapper since Ice Cube gave the world Yo Yo in 1991. The rolling bassline will make you believe that you’ve got moves, too.

“Letting Go” – Wild Nothing

Wild Nothing’s sound perfectly distilled into one individual song. They’ll never be a more Wild Nothing song than the jangly, melancholic “Letting Go”.

“Strange Embrace” – Kitten

This poppy, hook-laden confection makes me purr.

“Night Shift” – Lucy Dacus

Swallow-your-soul storytelling with beautiful, tortured musicality. If you don’t know the name Lucy Dacus, you should get acquainted. Immediately.

“Future Me Hates Me” – The Beths

Riot grrls had a strong showing on the countdown because more so than any other 2018 microgenre the ladies recognized the power of a well placed guitar riff and a hooky chorus.

“Over the Midnight” – Jonathan Wilson

The first song added to my 2018 Hits List survived the gauntlet to earn a spot in the Top 10. Lush soundscape with Cat Stevens lyrical stylings.

“She Remembers Everything” – Roseanne Cash, Sam Phillips

Haunting strings and hooky, soul churning lyricism.

“Me and My Dog” – boygenius (Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus)

If you would have said to me, “Jay, I charge you with creating the ultimate female singer-songwriter supergroup,” I would have chosen Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus. Now that you mention it, I would have added Maggie Rogers, too, but who am I to quibble?

“Not Tonight” – Ten Fé

London duo’s irresistible candy-coated alt-rock. A Khan-worthy ear worm.

“May Your Kindness Remain” – Courtney Marie Andrews

Repeated refrains or song titles can become grinding and pretentious — or beautiful and meditative.

“Four Out of Five” – Arctic Monkeys

Until now I’d always lost the Monkeys’ lyricism among the bombast. Clever twists of phrase and irony have never been more lounge lizardy.

“Driving” – Grouper

I am a child
It is a gift that my mother gave me

Watching the pavement
Stretch out and fade
You gave me

Along the highway
They look to see
The nature of the crash
To see the body

And it is time
We’re on our way
I wonder
Whether you realize
How much I love you

Today, the land
Is slightly wider than the sky

And we are driving
Oh, life
Life in the tunnel
Made of the sun frame

“Helpless” – The Regrettes

Hamiltonian cover refashioned for hooky riot grrrlllllls with perfect pop sensibilities.

“Graffiti” – CHVRCHES

I won’t apologize for my Lauren Mayberry obsession — I stand by my assertion that this is some of her best songwriting.

“Love It If We Made It” – The 1975

I dismissed this song after first listen, but it’s off-kilter backdoor not-a-pop-song pop qualities wore me down until I couldn’t deny this band’s emerging greatness any longer. This is my best song of all the best songs of 2018 at this very moment. Check back tomorrow.

Previous ‘Best Of” Song Lists:

Best Songs of 2017
Best Songs of 2016
Best Songs of 2015
Best Songs of 2014
Best Songs of 2013
Best Songs of 2012
Best Songs of 2011

30Hz Top 100 Songs of 2015: Part 1

Friends don’t let friends create year end “Best of” music lists. It’s not good for your health. It’s an endeavor riddled with self doubt and soul searching that no one should be forced to endure. Even upon completion, the victory is Pyrrhic. You finish just to be done. You finish so you can stop scanning your list of 1800+ songs in your 2015 Smart Playlist. You finish so you can stop sifting through the “To Listen” playlist on Spotify. You finish so you can stop moving that Deerhunter song all over the rankings. There’s that bit of hackneyed wisdom about knowing when you’re done with a piece of writing — when all you do is remove or replace commas. Well, substitute Deerhunter in for the comma and you’ve got how I decided I needed to walk away from this list. Hit print. Run for the hills.

I will not declare 2015 a banner year for music. 3/4 of the year I spent complaining with fellow year-end lister and writer Michael Smith (@bsidesnarrative) about how 2015 was utter shite. And then the CHVRCHES record came out and I was appeased. The final few months rescued this year from the precipice, like storm clouds parting to reveal a triple rainbow. Cue unbridled squeals of euphoria.

Also…

10 Years, man! 10 years!

I freaked out! I made a list of songs. That’s what I do!

 

Speaking of unbridled squeals of euphoria, this list represents a milestone. This is the 10th consecutive year I’ve compiled a “Best of 20xx” list of songs with Michael Smith. It’s a bit of a benchmark for us. In 2015, I challenged Mike to put together a list of the best songs from 2005 — the catch: he had to fit it all on one CD. Yes, we were still making mixtapes on CD back in 2005, you wee lads. We even sent them to each other IN THE MAIL!

Here’s a link to my good friend’s 2015 list on bsidesnarrative.com

The following list of 100-ish songs best showcases the music that moved me in 2015. The artists and songs that chose me in 2015. Am I going to pretend that I’ve composed a list of the “best” songs produced in all of music in 2015? Of course not. I’ve listened to a lot of music, but there’s just so much out there to discover, so much to absorb. “Best” doesn’t always mean most enjoyable. I’ve picked a subjective list of tracks that resonated at the frequency of 30Hz. I hope you discover some new artists on this list that strike a chord at your respective receptive frequency as well.

best songs of 2015

Spotify listified (minus a few artists not on Spotify):

Honorable Mentions:

“Wildfire” – Mynabirds
“Waitress” – Hop Along
“Powerful Man” – Hop Along
“Octahate” – Ryn Weaver
“Here” – Alessia Cara
“Fuck the Government, I Love You” – Ariel Sharratt and Mathias Kom
“Affairs” – Skylar Spence
“Boys Life” – Small Black
“4 Degrees” – ANOHNI
“Bamboo” – Hinds
“Deja Vu” – Giorgio Moroder (feat. Sia)
“Pylon” – Lakker
“Shame” – Young Fathers
“Wherever Is Your Heart” – Brandi Carlile

 

Commence the Top 100 Songs of 2015! I mean, 101.

 

101. “Ripe 4 Luv” – Young Guv

This song is almost too happy. I’m like, hey song, let’s have a little moderation with the happy. And then I realize the lyrics are actually a slice of downer behind the peppy little synths and snappy beat. And I’m like WHOA, SHUT UP when I remember that this this funky power pop outfit is the brainchild of Fucked Up guitarist Ben Cook.

100. “Feel the Lightning” – Dan Deacon

Dan Deacon is one of those artists that just hangs out on the periphery of my musical frame of reference. I always download his stuff and I like it but I never f’ing love it as much as everyone else. He’s the dude that hangs out with a bunch of people that are almost my friends and I nod to him at parties even though I can’t remember his name. In 2015 he finally said something interesting and I was like, “Dan Deacon, that’s very interesting. Tell more about that.”

99.”Touch” (Canvas Remix) – Shura

Canvas reduced Shura’s original silky, sexiful ballad to its component parts and clipped the vocals into jittery starts and stops, emphasizing the bass and airy synth. Some days I prefer the original. Today I prefer the remix. Both are good. Yes. Let’s just have both.

98. “Them Changes” – Thundercat

Due to a guest spot on Kendrick Lamar’s record, Thundercat is suddenly everybody’s favorite supporting player, but I’m pretty convinced everyone just has the retro-toon warm and fuzzies for Lion-O. Thundercat, bassist/singer/composer, produced this epic, funky 16-minute “mini-album” called The Beyond/Where the Giants Roam (“EP” is just soooo 2013.). Plus, the video features Thundercat dressing as a piano playing samurai. You’ll have to perform harakiri to get the bassline out of your skull.

97. “Feeling OK” – Best Coast

I’ll forgive you if you forgot that this Best Coast record came out in 2015. Hell, I forgot about it until five minutes ago. But we’re okay. It’s okay. My final list wouldn’t be complete without this sing-songy ode to false fronts and put-on placidity.

96. “Cat Food” – Aesop Rock

Remember when Drake and Lil Wayne were in some stupid tickle fight about who was the better rapper? Pfffft. That’s like two cotton balls arguing over being the sharpest tool in the shed. Fine. Come up with your own analogy if you don’t like mine. I’ve got 96 more of these to write.

95. “Today” – Jam City

Jam City (a electronic DJ/producer named Jack Latham) released a handful of finely crafted low-key electro-jams in 2015. You probably haven’t heard of Jam City until just now. So, you’re welcome. Don’t say I didn’t give you anything this holiday season.

94. “That Kind of Girl” – All Dogs

Not punk, per say. Just really loud pop music from this Columbus, Ohio quartet.

93. “Pass On Through” – Gun Outfit

L.A.’s Gun Outfit has been dubbed Sonic Youth’s folky doppelganger. To me they sound like a method-acting bad (method playing?) that’s spent the last week in a saloon on the set of a John Ford-esque Western directed by Noah Baumbach. Tie all those connections together and you win a prize.

92. “Saint Claude” – Christine and the Queens

French pop diva Christine could have had any one of three songs in this particular slot. Pick one of “Tilted,” “iT,” or “Saint Claude.” Consider #92 on my countdown a Christine and the Queens Choose Your Own Adventure Special. “Saint Claude” won the day probably because the lyrics are in French and the chorus is in English. Eccentric stylistic choices like that French tickle my fancy.

91. “Drive Past My House” – Summer Camp

The best pop music never even sniffs the radio. UK’s Summer Camp blends in with the dozen of other indie-pop bands that draw heavily on the 1980’s for inspiration. Elizabeth Sankey’s voice interplays nicely with the synths on this track, elevating it above the kitschy kindle incinerated to create Summer Camp’s laid-back rager about a girl that’s had it up to here with all this stuff.

90. “Electric Indigo” – The Paper Kites

Sometimes you hear a band and know instantly that it’s gonna be your jam. A bit of jangle-pop guitars, whispy and wanting vocals, dabble of electronic effects, some more jangly guitars.

89. “Fantasize the Scene” – Circuit Des Yeux

Truth time. I don’t know how to pronounce this artist’s stage name. Her real name is Haley Fohr. She’s from Chicago. She sings like how I’d imagine a Viking demi-god. Her music is entrancing, meditative and defies categorization. It’s laid-back… but urgent and demanding. If you honestly give Haley Fohr your ear, In Plain Speech will melt you.

88. “Vortex” – John Carpenter

The piano provides a glimmer of hope in a tragic soundscape of blissful, haunting synth and droning guitar. It’s vintage scoring from J.C. without the movie to go with it, but I’m certain that that nonexistent movie is amazing.

87. “If I Were You” – Holy Holy

I don’t know where I first heard the Aussie duo Holy Holy. I’m going to attribute this one to Twatter-quaintance @boinzy. By the time I set about compiling my “Final” list of tracks for 2015, I’d accumulated 4 different tracks from Holy Holy’s When the Storms Would Come. Let’s put this number in perspective: I had more Holy Holy songs in my preliminary list of 200+ than CHVRCHES songs. They’re like Band of Horses playing Neil Young covers.

 

86. “Every Little Bit Counts” – !!!

The !!! (or Chk Chk Chk) album avoided my ears until this past week. There’s a chance this song could have been Top 20 if it had wormed its way into my brain earlier. See how arbitrary this list thing is? “Every Little Bit Counts” isn’t the most innovative divergence from !!!’s regular output. BUT IT IS F’ING CATCHY AS SHIT. In case you missed it, I used capital letters for emphasis there because exclamation points seemed redundant.

85. “Happyness” – Molly Nilsson

The mysterious Swedish-born electronic artist this year dropped Zenith, a remarkable full-length LP. I was lucky enough to discovered her music through the excellent Gorilla vs. Bear music blog. She sings in a frequency normally reserved for drunken sailors.

84. “Reign” – Prinzhorn Dance School

Minimalist. Post-punk. The End.

83. “Cranekiss” – Tamaryn

I Shazamed this track three different times. I suppose it’s a miracle I remembered to include it on the list. Cocteau Twins by way of 1990’s-era shoegaze.

82. “Endlessly” – Guster

@bsidesnarrative says that Guster is my Neutral Milk Hotel. If that means that everything they do is worth mentioning and I will always and forever *heart* Guster… then yes, they are my Neutral Milk Hotel. Just simple, lovely, and underappreciated music. They’ve lost some of their bongos along the way to being proper adults, though, and that’s a shame.

81. “Run for Your Life” – Big Grams

Big Boi jumps in and whips this track into a frenzy. I’m dodging bullets but I’m sending back these missiles. Phantogram’s wooden block backbeat and Sarah Barthel’s vocals provide drastic counterpoint to Big Boi’s ballzy bragaliciousness.

80. “IF” – Paul De Jong

The co-founder and cellist for The Books explores the space-time continuum atop his string orchestration and acoustic dalliance. Beautiful and rambling, “IF” is at once experimental easy listening and challenging post-rock for the ears of the ne’er do well.

79. “Where You At” – The Bohicas

Reminds of the last British guitar-driven rock explosion, circa 2006. Bits of the Strokes and the Kooks and plenty of other “the” bands featuring people that hopefully say “blimey” quite a bit. 2 minutes and 49 seconds of shredding with a driving, incessant beat. Bob’s your uncle.

78. “Anything” – TOPS

A beautiful little Chromatics-like pop ditty with a synth-line to die for. TOPS released two songs in 2015 and both are worthy of year-end listing. Let’s try this one more time with a toy piano, eh? Just a thought. I do love me some sincere toy piano tinkling.

77. “Mr. Rebel” – Guantanamo Baywatch

The great mind-meld between Buddy Holly and Dick Dale that we’ve all been dying to hear.

76. “Hummed Low” – Odessa

Bouncing rubber ball. Rhythmic, lusty vocals with a tribal cadence. Ethereal, minimal, soulful.

75. “I Feel Love (Every Million Miles)” – The Dead Weather

Placed this Dead Weather song here because I love the transition from “Hummed Low” to “I Feel Love.” The primal, cathartic explosion after the outro of the Odessa song and the blast of Dean Fertita’s Jack White-brand guitar shocks the system with pinprick tinglies.

74. “Call It Off” – Shamir

Shamir exploded onto the indie landscape with the thumpy (but remedial) “On the Regular.” This bouncy dancehall track better uses the artist’s androgynous countertenor. The breadth of Shamir’s music has no true categorization, but I like Lizzie Plaugic’s (of CMT) description best: “a wad of pink silly putty dipped in glitter.”

73. “Ships & Lanterns” – Receivers

The Montreal-based band stormed onto my radar in December courtesy of a post on the excellent Said the Gramophone music blog. Epic vocals. Soundscapes like a cold front enveloping the entire Eastern seaboard.

72. “Come Home Now” – Day Wave

Happy times wall of sound for manic depressives. The jangly, guitar-laden refrain rescues lost souls. Formed in 2015, the band has only released a handful of tracks. Bring on the LP, fellas.

71. “Occupied” – The Radio Dept.

30Hz Killer Jams vet The Radio Dept. returns to the countdown with this challenging dirge that unfolds in four distinct parts over 7-plus minutes. You know what they say about a Radio Dept. songs. If you don’t like the weather, just wait 2 minutes.

70. “Dime Store Cowgirl” – Kacey Musgraves

Obligatory Country music track for 2015. It’s a good thing Kacey Musgraves is out there crafting pop ditties with a twang so I don’t have to look too hard to satisfy my arbitrary Country/Western quota.

69. “Singularity” – New Order

It’s New Order! I love New Order! Earned it’s slot due to the sonic deconstruction at 2:19 followed by the rebuild. Who’s Peter Hook again? (Also, what a twat that Peter Hook is.) Just listen to the bassline here.

68. “Can’t Feel My Face” – The Weeknd

There’s a hefty slice of Michael Jackson embedded in The Weeknd. His King of Popness comes out in full force on “Can’t Feel My Face” before shifting into Prince-mode for the refrain. At first I thought his greatest talent was keeping that Jean-Michel Basquiat hair atop his head, but now I’m a believer.

67. “Lampshades On Fire” – Modest Mouse

“Lampshades” feels familiar, like it’s been around since the dawn of Modest Mouse. The I Ching of Modest Mouse, reminiscent of the sonic breadth of the band and the band’s perpetual rage against the twilight. Or the rage against being pigeonholed. They’re raging against something most of the time, but in the nicest possible way.

66. “Strange Hellos” – Torres

This is what happens when you scorn this woman.

65. “Gray Duck” – Doomtree

Doomtree’s 2015 album All Hands is all up in your bizness from the opening moments. “Grey Duck” is a relentless lyrical assault, and the video features the freakiest looking duck this side of Howard.

64.”Clearest Blue” – CHVRCHES

I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I’m sorry. There. Now that I’ve gotten those apologies out of the way… here’s the first of three CHVRCHES songs on this countdown. It’s the part when the song stops being a garden-variety amazing CHVRCHES song and goes into synth-bananas overload at 2:14 that makes it a keeper.

63. “Silhouettes (I, LI, LII)” – Floating Points

“Exhale,” a movement in three parts.

62. “La Belle Fleur Sauvage” – Lord Huron

Apparently I’ve got a thing for the French this year. Lord Huron’s not French; they’re an indie folk quartet from Los Angeles by way of Okemos, Michigan. Founding member Ben Schneider did complete his visual arts degree in France, though. “La Belle Fleur Sauvage” recalls the undulating rhythm lines of Johnny Cash, creating a blissful slice of plodding folk-inspired musicianship.

61. “Realiti” – Grimes

There’s a heaviness here that hasn’t manifested in other Grimes soundscapes. The result is a song that feels more like a composite of emotions rather than discretionary beats. As the song builds, you can be forgiven for awaiting a dub-step drop that never arrives. “Realiti” has a steady pulse.

60. “Cream on Chrome” – Ratatat

Ratatat’s earworm boasts nothing deeper than an infectious groove on repeat. And sometimes there’s just nothing wrong with finding your groove and sticking with it for 4 minutes. Most days, I’d kill for groove that lasts more than 4 minutes.

59. “Return to the Moon” – El Vy

Flashes of memory fragments rendered as nonsensical, lyrical gibberish. Childhood malaise seeping into the present consciousness, regurgitation through weary eyes now longing for the simplicity of youth. Plus, Matt Berninger drops an Eat’n Park reference.

58. “You’re So Cool” – Nicole Dollanganger

Nicole Dollanganger looks like a cupie doll that packs heat. Her often ribald lyrics betray something sinister… yet playful beneath the wide, doe-like eyes. “You’re So Cool” is inherently a love song, of sorts. Yet the words betray the violent ID lurking beneath the warm, sonic placidity. She sings about “the skulls of the high school champs you keep in rows above the bed.” Post-apocalyptic Barbie is coming for your ear holes.

57. “Dopamine” – DIIV

DIIV could have played some of their sweet jangly guitars over a broadcast of Let’s Make a Deal and I’d have tossed it no lower than 80 on the countdown.

56. “Hold On” – Papa

Skin deep anthemic indie-pop thumper with a raucous bassline and sing-a-long aspirations.

55. “Coastal Love” – Honne

A beachside jam band. New York ex-pats. A few plastic tubs for drumbs. Someone found a bongo in the weeds. The guy with the sad eyes and Hello Kitty tattoo has the voice of a trashcan Sinatra.

54. “Sedona” – Houndmouth

“Sedona” is the track that fillibustered itself into the Top 100+. Houndmouth’s done better stuff. Houndmouth’s even produced better songs on this record. But here it is, filling the angsty Americana-rock void left by Deer Tick.

53. “Go” – The Chemical Brothers (w/ Q-Tip)

When I was 17 I tossed a penny into a fountain and wished that the Chemical Brothers and Q-Tip would collaborate because it would be omyfuckingawd epic. The backlog in that particular wish-giving fountain might be 20 years long, but my patience has finally paid off.

52. “I Can Never Be Myself When You’re Around” – Chromatics

Three years ago, the Chromatics were the first band to earn the #1 spot on my Killer Jams and Top Albums countdown. “I Can Never Be Myself” is a tease, a fuzzy, droning synth-pop tease of further greatness. The Chromatics operate on a different spiritual plain than the rest of us. But it’s okay, because they’re here to shepherd us with synthesizers.

51. “The Wolf” – Mumford & Sons

I’ll be that guy. Fine. Straight talk. The Mumford & Sons record isn’t a crime against humanity. It isn’t worthy of your scorn and it certainly isn’t worthy of being a 2015 punchline. But that’s where we’re at. Mumford & Sons achieved unfortunate media omnipresence with their 2nd record, Babel. The indie fans that championed their debut Sigh No More jumped ship because the band became too mainstream or too poppy… or “they just weren’t that good to begin with.” Now, oh boy, the band dared to shift their sonic spectrum. THE MONSTERS! BURN THEM! As a result the mainstreamers said Wilder Mind wasn’t a Mumford & Sons record, and the indie fans still consider the band an untouchable Top 40 commodity. ENOUGH ALREADY! If you can honestly say that this Mumford & Sons record didn’t have a few Killer Jams, that you didn’t find anything to enjoy about it, fine, FINE, I’ll accept your honest plea. Mea culpa. But let’s get a few things straight. Their first record actually was fantastic. Their second record was still quite good, if it fell short of rivaling Sigh No More. And this record is different. It’s not an abomination. Wilder Mind is still a good record. It’s not going to throw the planets out of alignment with it’s pure resplendent brilliance, but it’s still a far cry better than 95% of the shite out there demanding your attention. That said, maybe this is higher than necessary because I’m trying to make a point… or something.

Continue on to Part 2: #50-#1

COMING SOON!

Top 25 Albums of 2015