￼Tracks Of The Year 2015
This list presents a broad cross section of songs we’ve been borderline obsessed with, along with those we just couldn’t shake this year. Some took the floor from under us one time in a pounding club, others existed purely on our laptops, to be replayed, replayed, replayed. Some we’d heard every morning before we left for work, others we’ve garbled at the top of our lungs on the late journey home. We started with a huge longlist of great tracks – here are the 50 which made the final cut.
JACK Ü FEAT. JUSTIN BIEBERWhere Are Ü Now? Mad Decent / OWSLA
Justin Bieber’s unbridled rise from bratty tween to credible RnB sensation has been impressive to say the least. This new, calmer Bieber was put to work excellently on Skrillex and Diplo’s Where Are Ü Now? The vocals are pensive and restrained while the beat flits between big room EDM pads and tropical house stabs. Justin Bieber, welcome to the fold.
CISUM THE PAINTER20 Bound Recordings
An unusual Atlanta export, Cisum The Painter’s breakout track 20 features something of a curveball hook: “Yesterday I just turned 20 / no difference / only the responsibility”. Here Cisum was able to pull off a stilted, intentionally imperfect style of delivery, facilitated by his rich, soulful voice and the buoyant, ambient beat that suffuses the track with luminous warmth.
DJ MANNYWould U Mind ft. DJ Taye Hoko Sounds
The highlight of DJ Manny’s low-key Tek Files Vol.2 EP. Here the young Teklife producer reworked Janet Jackson’s Would You Mind, a 2001 track so sensual and graphic that it was banned by Singapore’s Publications Appeal Committee. With fluttering hi-hats and rapid kick drums responding to Jackson’s vocal like a nervously excited heartbeat, Manny’s version felt like footwork’s ode to young love.
MAN POWERTrans (Discodromo Remix) Throne of Blood
2015 has felt like a year where trans people’s rights have entered mainstream political discourse. Geoff Kirkwood, the person behind Man Power, appears to have absorbed this, given how the video for Trans is a celebratory montage of LGBTQ people just being themselves (as well as partying). It helps that this Discodromo remix is an italo / proto-techno bomb as sassy and fierce as anyone you’d find at Cocktail D’Amore.
JAMIE XXGosh XL Recordings / Young Turks
While mostly praised, Jamie XX’s debut album also came in for some criticism (‘posh boy appropriating UK hardcore for the middle classes’). There may be some truth in that. But these reviewers made their minds up before they’d even listened. Built around a mangled break, Gosh was an homage to – not poor imitation of – UK hardcore, the first half to its grimier edge and the second to its ravey, positive-vibes soul. We think it’s far smarter than his few detractors will ever give Smith credit for.
SO STRESSEDApple Hill Honor Press
It’s not like Meredith Graves to stay quiet for long. She didn’t release a Perfect Pussy record this year but she did start a brand new label, Honor Press and, in doing so, had the ingenious idea of signing So Stressed. The Sacramento posse’s Apple Hill is a satisfyingly ferocious racket. A blur of intense yelps, a peaking, fuzzy bass line and crashing, stilted drums. This is post-hardcore nonpareil.
ALL DOGSThat Kind Of Girl Salinas
The flush of self-esteem that hits right when you realise you’re way, way better off without your on-off lover/hater is encapsulated perfectly in this from Ohio’s All Dogs. The confusion, the anger, the sudden revulsion, it’s all here: “What does that mean? Stay away from me!” warns Maryn Jones, bristling. But as well as a briny puddle of emotion, That Kind of Girl also represents a healthy release, one that we all benefit from.
DESTROYERDream Lover Merge
It’s hard to define exactly why Dan Bejar’s work as Destroyer is so compelling. His songs are often overblown and theatrical, the lyrics are intensely intellectual and sometimes you might just find yourself wondering if it’s all just going over your head. On the other hand, have you heard the saxophone bit on Dream Lover? We’d walk down the aisle to that saxophone bit.
IPMANStrong Ones Tectonic
Taken from Hertfordshire-based producer Ipman’s debut album on Tectonic, where Ipman turned junglist fury, sudoriferous hardcore and snaky percussive techno into something strikingly individual, Strong One’s muted, submerged vocal melody and vintage drum‘n’bass leanings was shot through with soaring, glitching, and at points screeching sound, fizzing beams of light glinting off its misty-eyed junglist euphoria.
SOPHIE is as much an explorer of the uncanny as he is a wilfully obtuse button pusher. MSMSMSM is the latest creation from his bizarro music lab; typically acidic and tweaked out, it lays down rubbery bass and skittish synths then drops into a deceptively calm and beguiling interlude before making you feel like you might puke on your shoes again.