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Music, Year in Review 2015

Year in Review: The Best Songs of 2015

best songs of 2015

We invited our team of contributors to share some of their favourite songs of 2015. Many identify with their top picks on a personal level where the song is the soundtrack to their year; for some, their list represents a culmination of 2015’s hard work; and others select clear stand-outs amidst the transforming process of discovering new music.

Every one of these lists is vital to what we do, and represents the various ways in which our contributors interact with the global music community on behalf of Aesthetic Magazine. Our contributors come from different backgrounds, but our passion for music brings us together to inform, engage, grow, learn from each other, and to share our experiences with our readers.

Thank you for reading Aesthetic Magazine, and see you all in 2016!

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Song: “Hotline Bling”
Artist: Drake
Album: N/A
Label: OVO
Release Date: July 31st

Drake - Hotline Bling

“Hotline Bling” is a really good song. Seriously, listen to it without watching the video. It’s very good, but it took me a whole month to even figure out that maybe the silly dance moves and the doofy sets were getting in the way of enjoying it as a piece of music, as opposed to the confoundingly enduring meme it became.

As a song, “Hotline Bling” uses a tempo and melodies that none of Drake’s peers would dare use. It’s catchy enough to stay on the radio till next summer, but it’s weird enough to be enjoyable for that long too.

– Daniel Gerichter

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Song: “Pedestrian at Best”
Artist: Courtney Barnett
Album: Sometimes I Just Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit
Label: Mom & Pop Music
Release Date: July 31st

courtney barnett

Courtney Barnett’s spectacular set at Wayhome this summer proved that the Aussie singer has a kind of explosive nonchalance that is absolutley unique to her.

“Pedestrian at Best” is that aesthetic defined, with Barnett’s constant stream of contradictions and commitment to non-commitment. It’s also one hell of a rock tune, with a chorus that sticks in your head for all the right reasons.

– Daniel Gerichter

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Song: “The Hunter”
Artist: Slaves 
Album: Are You Satisfied? 
Label: Virgin EMI 
Release Date: May 11th

Slaves UK

Full disclosure: as I get older, I find myself having less time and patience to ‘discover’ new bands. So my lazy-ass secret is to wait till the Mercury Prize shortlist is announced, and then just binge all of it in a week. That’s how I “discovered” the UK’s Slaves, who perfectly combine of the Arctic Monkeys’ sarcastic snark and Pete Dohrtey’s most cracked-out yowls. “The Hunter” licks its proverbial lips as it assesses real-world problems and hurls insults in every possible direction. Like so:

“The ice caps are melting/What will happen when they’re gone/Will the experts look stupid/And invert the facts/Will they gave you back your donations, Or keep the paper stacks” Slaves seem to have disdain for everyone around them, and “The Hunter” is a perfect example of that. I’m glad to have been in their line of fire.

– Daniel Gerichter

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Song: “Fell in the Sun”
Artist: Big Grams
Album: Big Grams
Label: Epic  
Release Date: Sept. 25th

big grams

Outkast’s Big Boi and Phantogram decided that their sounds were compatible enough to make a whole EP together. And what an EP it was. “Fell in the Sun” is the key single, and it sounds like the kind of song you’d want to hear if you decided to live at a Hedonism resort forever.

Taking nothing away from Big Boi’s solo efforts (they’re very good), the emcee is at his best when he’s collaborating, and this song is proof positive of that. Meanwhile, Phantogram’s instrumentation is lofty as hell, with honey smooth vocals from Sarah Berthel to layer them out. Even though it was released in early October, “Fell in the Sun” is 2015’s song of the summer in my books.

– Daniel Gerichter

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Song: “Superhero”
Artist: Faith No More
Album: Sol Invictus
Label: Reclamation Recordings
Release Date: May 19th

Faith_No_More_-_Sol_Invictus_Album_Cover

Several years apart is a creative kiss of death for your average band. But Faith No More are not your average band. After 18 years apart, the band picked up their shit like they’d been out for a smoke break and threw down Sol Invictus.

“Superhero” is one of the album’s highlights, giving exactly what we missed about Faith No More. Super weird piano/keys, thrash guitars, redwood-thick bass riffs and of course, Mike Patton’s operatic, nasal, growling vocals. If THIS is how a whole new generation discovers Faith No More for themselves, that’s just fine.

– Daniel Gerichter

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Song: “Dreams”
Artist: Beck
Album: N/A
Label: Capitol
Release Date: June 15th

Beck-Dreams

“Dreams” is much more upbeat and poppy than the songs on Beck’s last album Morning Phase, and man is it catchy! When I first heard it, I was addicted and had to listen to it multiple times in a row. The breakdown at the end of the track mixes it up, and rounds it out as a really great song that will definitely become your new jam if it isn’t already.

– Katie Kuropas

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Song: “Greek Tragedy”
Artist: The Wombats
Album: Glitterbug
Label: 14th Floor Records
Release Date: April 13th

Greek_Tragedy_single_cover

The Wombats are known for catchy electric, indie rock songs and “Greek Tragedy” is no different. Raw and honest lyrics (“She hits like ecstasy, comes up and bangs the sense out of me) set against the electro pop backdrop are a good contrast, and the song retains the youthful feeling of The Wombats’ earlier work.

– Katie Kuropas

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Song: “The Ghosts of Beverly Drive”
Artist: Death Cab For Cutie
Album: Kintsugi
Label: Atlantic
Release Date: March 31st

death cab for cutie

As a longtime Death Cab fan, I was so excited when I first heard “The Ghosts of Beverly Drive,” because it really reminded me of the songs that they were known for before they released Codes and Keys (which is not a favorite of most of the band’s fans). The strong guitar parts pair well with Ben Gibbard’s vocals as he asks “I don’t know why, I don’t know why/ I return to the scenes of these crimes.” At parts the song becomes a little on the cheesy side, but not enough to be much of a bother, and it’s a great addition to Kintsugi.

– Katie Kuropas

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Song: “T-Shirt Weather”
Artist: Circa Waves
Album: Young Chasers
Label: Virgin
Release Date: March 30th

circa waves

Indie rockers Circa Wave really hit the nail on the head with “T Shirt Weather,” off their album Young Chasers. It has a beachy vibe to it, with lyrics such as “I remember t shirt weather, I remember some days we were singing our lungs out, in the backseat together.” It makes you reminisce for summer days like that yourself, especially this time of year which…”winter coat weather” just doesn’t have that nice of a ring to it.

– Katie Kuropas

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Song: “Stressed Out”
Artist: Twenty One Pilots
Album: Blurryface
Label: Fueled By Ramen
Release Date: May 17th

Twenty One Pilots - Blurryface

“Stressed Out” is one of my favorites off this album, because of the relatable quality of it. The lyrics talk about the idea of nostalgia, “Wish we could turn back time, to the good ole days, when our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out.” It’s more of a low key song for Twenty One Pilots, but one that will definitely be a hit for a long time.

– Katie Kuropas

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Song: “Our Own House”
Artist: Misterwives
Album: Our Own House
Label: Republic
Release Date: Feb. 24th

mister wives

Misterwives’ title track off of their debut album is arguably one of the most underrated and cheerful dance songs of the year. With incredibly catchy instrumentals and vocals, you can’t help but want to sing and dance the night away listening to this.

– Morgan Hotston

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Song: “Coyotes”
Artist: Modest Mouse
Album: Strangers To Ourselves
Label: Epic
Release Date: March 13th

modest mouse

“Coyotes” was immediately the standout track on this highly anticipated Modest Mouse record released earlier this year. It may be one of the more soft, constructed, and single oriented songs on the album, but it still resonates deeply as a Modest Mouse song. It creates a somber mood that inevitably speaks introspectively when introducing lyrics about mankind and the relationships we form around us.

– Morgan Hotston

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Song: “All Your Favourite Bands”
Artist: Dawes
Album: All Your Favourite Bands
Label: HUB Records
Release Date: June 2nd

dawes-all-your-favorite-bands-album-stream

This song immediately brought out an immense amount of nostalgia for me after first hearing it. You have this longing for places and times that don’t apply to you at all, yet resonate with you completely.

Paired with a heartwarming video, this song speaks to growing old, loving, learning, and the memories that form around your favourite bands. You’ll immediately want to grab your best friends, sway side to side and think about all of the good times you’ve had along the way.

– Morgan Hotston

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Song: “5 AM”
Artist: Amber Run
Album: 5 AM
Label: Sony Music UK
Release Date: April 17th

amber run

After first hearing their stellar cover of Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek”, I’ve been eagerly awaiting Amber Run’s debut studio album. The title track off of their record is powerful in its simplicity. The vocals and instrumental breaks form an interweaving relationship between what is understood and what evokes imagination and meaning from the viewer’s perspective. Speaking to the fear of growing old and the uncertainty of the future, “5 AM” is something a lot of twenty-somethings can relate to.

– Morgan Hotston

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Song: “St. Jude”
Artist: Florence and The Machine
Album: How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

Label: Island
Release Date: June 2nd

Florence_-_The_Machine_-_How_Big_How_Blue_How_Beautiful

“St. Jude” captured my attention as something different on this album right away. It has a subtlety to it that is heartbreakingly beautiful, that speaks to the power of Florence’s motives behind songwriting. Simpler songs like “St. Jude” enforce the beauty and fragility behind her voice.

Alongside the visually stunning production of the music video, you feel the weight of the song as you listen to it.

– Morgan Hotston

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Song: “Love Me”
Artist: The 1975
Album: I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It

Label: Vagrant
Release Date: Oct. 8th

the-1975-love-me-single-artwork1

“Love Me” is the first single from The 1975’s new album, “I Like It When You Sleep for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It,” which is due to be released in February of 2016. The song is reminiscent of the glittery pop of the 1980s, and made me think of the song “Girls” from their debut album. It’s a fun song to listen to when you need a pick-me-up.

– Sam Lichtenstein

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Song: “Help”
Artist: The Front Bottoms
Album: Back On Top 

Label: Bar/None Records
Release Date: Sept. 18th

front-bottoms-back-on-top

“Help” is one of my absolutely favorite songs of 2015. I discovered The Front Bottoms about a year ago when my roommate showed me a few of their songs, but I wasn’t crazy about them until they released this song from their then-new album Back On Top, and I was hooked. Lyrics like “This is what I want, motherfucker make it happen for me” accompany strong guitars and incredible drumming, both of which are not new to any songs by The Front Bottoms.

– Sam Lichtenstein

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Song: “Miles Away”
Artist: The Maine
Album: American Candy 

Label: 8123
Release Date: March 31st

TheMaine-AmericanCandy400

I’ve been a fan of The Maine for a long time, and that is no exaggeration. I remember lining up to see them with my best friend at age 14; my first show without my parents. “Miles Away” is from American Candy, their fifth studio album. The lyrics are what got me hooked and the words resonated with me for days: “A tongue full of only tomorrows will never quench your thirst for today,” and “In my mind, I am miles away.”

– Sam Lichtenstein

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Song: “Dreams Come True”
Artist: Brandon Flowers
Album: The Desired Effect 

Label: Island
Release Date: May 19th

Brandon Flowers The Desired Effect

The song opens with a symphony-like intro; something completely different than what one would expect when they put on a song by the lead singer of alternative band The Killers.

– Sam Lichtenstein

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Song: “Pedestrian at Best”
Artist: Courtney Barnett
Album: Sometimes I Just Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit
Label: Mom & Pop Music
Release Date: July 31st

courtney barnett

I love this song. It has clever lyrics, grungy guitar, and an awesome monologue.

– Julian Avram

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Song: “Hello”
Artist: Adele
Album: 25
Label: XL
Release Date: Oct. 23rd

adele-25-album-cover

What a way for Adele to come back. This song is brilliant, has amazing range, shows off her amazing voice, is beautiful and catchy!

– Francesca Ludikar

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Song: “New Americana”
Artist: Halsey
Album: Badlands
Label: Astralwerks
Release Date: July 10th

Halsey

This song was a great summer anthem and super catchy.

– Francesca Ludikar

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Song: “Dream Without You”
Artist: Leah Daniels
Album: What It Feels Like
Label: Self-Released
Release Date: May 9th

leah daniels

Leah Daniels is a very talented rising singer-songwriter in the Canadian country music scene. This song showcase’s Daniels’ songwriting depth and engaging voice, as well as transport you to another time.

– Francesca Ludikar

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Song: “The Hills”
Artist: The Weeknd
Album: Beauty Behind The Madness
Label: The Weeknd XO
Release Date: May 27th

The_Hills_single_cover

I am obsessed with this track by the Weeknd. It’s haunting and beautiful at the same time, and unlike anything else I hear today.

– Francesca Ludikar

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Song: “Hotline Bling”
Artist: Drake
Album: N/A
Label: OVO
Release Date: July 31st

Drake - Hotline Bling

I’m not a huge fan of Drake or the genre of music generally speaking, but I love this track for the upbeat-ness of it and the attitude! The lyrics are spot on and hey you can get down to it

– Priti Shikotra

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Song: “My Baby Don’t Understand Me”
Artist: Natalie Prass
Album: My Baby Don’t Understand Me
Label: Spacebomb
Release Date: Jan. 15th

Natalie_Prass_SB006_Cover_Art-640x640

I’d been hearing a lot of minimalist stuff at the time, and then this song hit me like a ton of bricks. Awash with horns and piano and the angelic voice of Prass, this song has more going on than a lot of full albums.

– Josh Terzino

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Song: “Gettin’ Ready To Get Down”
Artist: Josh Ritter
Album: Sermon on the Rocks
Label: Pythias Recordings
Release Date: October 16th

josh Ritter

It’s hard to call this a comeback single since Josh Ritter just had a well-received album come out in 2013. This is a completely different sound for the songwriter, though. He wears his biggest influences on his sleeve, with plenty of Tom Petty and Paul Simon oozing out of every line. It also sounds a lot like Tom Cochrane’s “Life Is A Highway,” but thats okay.

– Josh Terzino

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Song: “Random Name Generator”
Artist: Wilco
Album: Star Wars
Label: dBPM Records
Release Date: July 16th

wilco-star-wars

To be in the audience at Pitchfork Festival this year and hear the live debut of this song (and the rest of Star Wars, which they posted online for free the day before) was absolutely thrilling. After a couple decent but not potential-reaching albums, Wilco was finally getting back to their roots! “Random Name Generator” is so loose and urgent and exciting it feels like the band was meeting for the first time and letting that nervous energy out.

– Josh Terzino

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Song: “Blacksell”
Artist: Desaparecidos
Album: Payola
Label: Epitaph
Release Date: June 23rd

backsell_1024x1024

13 years after their first album, Desaparecidos decided to get together again and put together a blistering album. “Backsell” was the first single and re-introduced the group as a politically charged lightning rod shocking people awake from their capitalistic fugue state.

– Josh Terzino

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Song: “Shilpa Ray On Broadway”
Artist: Shilpa Ray
Album: Last Year’s Savage
Label: Northern Spy Records
Release Date: May 19th

Shilpa-Ray-2015-Last-Years-Savage

Every song on Last Year’s Savage deserves a spot on my “best songs” list, but I’m going with this one because it’s the most accessible.

This track shows off Shilpa Ray’s sense of humor as well as her ability on the harmonium. It also has some of my favorite lyrics of the year: “Would you believe I’ve been mummified? Cuz I’ve got so much to say to you but I’m not speaking. And I could believe you were lobotomized, because you can stand in front of me and have no feelings.”

– Josh Terzino

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  1. Pingback: All Those Best Of…Music Lists In 2015 In One Place | That Eric Alper - December 12, 2015

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