Every year, at around this time, I agonise over which songs I will vote for in triple j’s Hottest 100, but this year there is a new layer of complexity. I have been volunteering at a local community radio station here in Sydney called 2ser and it has been an eye (and ear) opening experience.
I thought I listened to a lot of music before, but 90% of it was dictated by what was played on triple j. 2ser’s playlist adds hundreds more songs to the mix and I have found myself listening to music that I may not have otherwise sought out.
I have also been seeking out music from other sources to play on this blog and on my Drive show on 2ser and with so much great local music going around I have enjoyed the chance to appreciate artists that live in my city (and country) more than ever before.
It’s still a hard job. Coming up with 10 songs that I can class as ‘the best’ of 2015 is a stupid task and inevitably I end up with 20 and vote twice using different email addresses.
Again, I will do this and have split my list up into two lists. One list containing songs that are more of a triple j ‘Hottest 100’ style and then another more eclectic list that includes songs I have heard or discovered elsewhere. Enjoy!
The Hottest 100 List:
Magnolia – Gang of Youths
As you may have read from my albums list, I have been gushing over the debut album from Gang of Youths for a long time now. ‘The Positions’ is such a beautifully constructed work of art and every song has a different meaning for me.
Magnolia stood out as soon as I heard it with it’s chapter-like lyrics, echoing vocal and angsty chorus. I can’t get enough of it.
Whilst it’s hard to pick just one song from this album for my list, it has to be this one. The video, with the band dancing down a street, accompanies the song beautifully as well.
Cream on Chrome – Ratatat
Admittedly, I have never really listened to Ratatat before 2015 and I feel ashamed to say so. Then I heard this song and it all changed. There’s something about that guitar tone in this song that just hit my tingle-nerve (that’s a thing, right?) and still does.
The bass, the drum track and then that guitar again. It’s a loopy sorta song, but I really dig the layers that are invoked. In fact, the whole album just has this layering affect and that guitar sound runs throughout. It’s really an album that can be listened to non-stop.
Alright – Kendrick Lamar
He’s been hyped. He’s been lauded. He’s been everywhere, but there’s a reason for that. No matter what you think of Kendrick Lamar, he is changing the game and his albums have so much going on that you realise it’s more than just a rap record.
Whilst I couldn’t find room to pick this album in my top 10 it was a constant in the background for me last year. I found it hard to listen to it straight through, but certain songs just connected with me, including this one. ‘Alright’ has that positivity and free-form jazz background (from Kamasi Washington) that make it such a sweet tune. The fact that it was used as a protest song by African-Americans last year just makes it all the more powerful.
Oh, and check out the clip. It’s a freaking work of art.
Elevator Operator – Courtney Barnett
It’s not often that debut albums are anticipated as much as this one. Two awesome EPs whet our appetite for the first long player from Courtney Barnett and wow…it didn’t disappoint. Barnett has been creeping into the world’s musical psyche for a few years now and then she dropped ‘Something I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit’. Now she’s front and centre.
I remember hitting play on the album for the first time, full of nervous excitement about what was to come. This song played first and remains my favourite from the tome. It’s pure Barnett story-telling, a lovingly penned ode to a guy that seeks something different. A chance to start again and avoid “idling insignificantly” I can relate.
Hypercolour – Ali Barter
Unlike the t-shirt that reacts to heat, this song produces it’s own. I met Ali Barter at the very start of 2015 when she came in for an interview at 2ser after she had released her ‘Community’ EP of 2014. I was hooked by her vocals and songwriting straight away and then later in 2015 she released the first of two EPs for the year. ‘AB-EP’ featured this song and it become an earworm for months (it’s still there!)
The chorus is a little beauty and the glissy guitar run in the middle does it to me everytime. It’s a song that establishes Ali Barter as a future star and along with Barnett, Washington, Okenyo, Ngaiire and more, makes me excited about the future of female singer-songwriters in this country