Sunday, January 3, 2016
50 Favorite Songs of 2015
Hello friends, another year has come and gone and it's time for my annual version of The Tremagazine Favorite Songs of the year. I went about this a little bit differently this year as I setup a playlist back in January and then tried to filter songs into it throughout the year, some made the final cut and others dropped out along the way. Over the last month or so I’ve dug deeper into lists from friends or others I’ve seen online and found some more songs that I may have missed over the year.
With each song posted, I'll list some of my favorite lyrics along with some personal thoughts on the song and/or artist, if I got to see that band this year I'll be sure to mention a note about the show. Once again, I've added a spotify playlist so those of you that use it can just stream the songs in one place.
For those of you that have read through these lists previously, I hope you enjoy as much as before. For the newcomers, I hope you find something in here that you like and will stop by again in 2016. In no particular order, here are my fifty favorite songs of 2015, enjoy.
"Love Like Ghosts" - Lord Huron
Lord Huron's album Strange Trails came out early in the year but I found it in constant rotation right up to 2016. This was definitely one of my favorites of 2015 and hard to narrow down the tracks I loved most. It's rare nowadays to buy an album and let it run through but this is one of those that is enjoyable from start to finish. I got to see them perform at Terminal 5 this year and had a great time at the show. Highly recommend not only this album but their previous work as well.
I don't feel it 'til it hurts sometimes
So go on baby, hurt me tonight.
I want ours to be an endless song.
Baby, in my eyes you do no wrong.
"In Its Infancy (The Waterfall)" - My Morning Jacket
Another favorite album from 2015, My Morning Jacket's The Waterfall had a bunch of songs that could have made this list. I always enjoy MMJ's studio work but their songs take on a new life whenever I see them live. I got the chance to see them a few times this year, both in a club and festival setting and they are one of the few bands that just puts on an "A" show every time I've seen them. The new tracks sounded even better than I would have imagined and this was ones that stood out to me.
Again I stop the waterfall by simply thinking
Again I stop the waterfall before my breathing
Again I stop the waterfall by finally feeling
Again I stop the waterfall by just believing
"New Skin" - Torres
Throughout this list there are many artists that I just heard for the first time this year, Torres would fall into that category. This track was the one that jumped out at me and reminded me of something I listened to back in the 90s. I've yet to see her live but I love this clip of her below, you get a real sense in the passion that's behind her lyrics.
The darkness fears
What darkness knows
But if you’ve never known the darkness
Then you’re the one who fears the most
"No, No, No" - Beirut
I'm a big fan of this band, chances are if they've put out an album in a given year at least one of the songs will find it's way to this list. Lead singer Zach Condon seems to consistently surround himself with talented musicians which was one of the reasons I chose this live clip to share. I've seen Beirut numerous times and highly recommend checking them out if you get the chance.
Don't know the first thing about who you are
My heart is waiting, taken in from the start
If we don't go now, we won't get very far
Don't know the first thing about who you are
"Right On Time" - Dawes
I've written numerous times about Dawes, one of my favorite bands that have come out in recent years. From other lists I've seen, it seems like the song that everyone loves off their latest release is "All Your Favorite Bands" featuring cameos from other artists like Matt Vazquez (Delta Spirit), John McCauley (Deer Tick), Brandon Flowers (The Killers) and My Morning Jacket. It's indeed a good song but "Right On Time" is the standout track that jumped out to me.
If these walls could talk
I'd defer to the furniture
The piano, the table, the bed that we both sleep in
These constant, silent messengers
"S.O.B." - Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats were simply my favorite discovery of 2015. I first heard S.O.B. driving down at the Jersey shore over the summer and I raced home to find out more about the band. This whole album is incredible, I had to hold myself back from putting about four songs on this list. If I were ranking a top five songs for the year I'd easily have this in there. A few months ago I got to see the band in Brooklyn and was really impressed with the performance. An extremely tight live band, you can tell they've been at it awhile and are completely in sync with one another. One other thing that struck me was how the entire band is involved in vocals, that's not something you see often. Take a look at the video below and you'll get a sense of how good a live show these guys put on.
I'm gonna need someone to help me
I'm gonna need somebody's hand
I'm gonna need someone to hold me down
I'm gonna need someone to care
"I Got You" - The White Buffalo
I wasn't familiar with White Buffalo until earlier this year when a friend pointed me in his direction. Great voice and some strong songs on this album. Fans of the show Sons of Anarchy are probably familiar with him as I understand his music is featured in several episodes of the show.
But I got you
In my veins, in my blood
I got you
Make me insane and boil my blood
Like there ain't no other love
Hearts aren't always red
They're black and blue
But I got you
"Southern Belles" - Langhorne Slim
I think Langhorne Slim says it best in the video below... "This is a bit of a smoother shuffle, you might feel it in your thighs and perhaps your ass. If you feel it in those places, shake it out."
It's been a while since I've been alright
I try to smile but it just don't come off right
"Went Looking for Warren Zevon's Los Angeles" - Lucero
Lucero has been around for quite awhile now but for some reason I never listened to them much. A coworker of mine is a big fan and I dug into them a bit a few months ago and really enjoyed their latest album. Just seeing Warren Zevon's name in the title made me hope that I'd love this song and I can say that it's my favorite from this release.
Fell in love but the love ran out
At Lucy's El Adobe by the Paramount
Margaritas under black palm trees
I've got time, no one is waiting for me
"Mr. E. Mann" - Titus Andronicus
I don't remember when or how exactly I came across this song earlier this year but it's a damn good rock song. Love the vocals from lead singer Patrick Stickles.
I was crying as I tried to get high
I've been dying all the time to get by
And along came a guy who said "Looking on the bright side's alright
"You Don't Care for Me Enough to Cry" - John Moreland
John Moreland is another newcomer to the list this year. If I were to try to narrow down this list to only five songs, this track would have been included. Incredibly powerful song lyrically and one of the most beautiful musically that I heard in 2015. Moreland will head out on tour opening for Jason Isbell overseas early in 2016, that's a hell of a pairing to see live.
And I'm the kind of love it hurts to look at
maybe we should take it as a sign
when I'm strung out on leaving
exhaulting all my demons
and you don't care for me enough to cry
"Palmetto Rose" - Jason Isbell
Speaking of Jason Isbell......one of my favorite albums from 2015, this is the first of two songs that will appear on the list. Over the last few years I've become a huge fan of Jason and especially his live show. I got to see him a couple times in 2015 and was fortunate to make a trip down to Nashville to see him perform in the legendary Ryman Auditorium (if you haven't seen what this place looks like, take a look HERE). Imagine seeing one of your favorite performers in a church, that's the closest I can come to describing it. A phenomenal experience, one of my favorite memories and best shows I saw this year.
At night, after everything closes
I follow my own free will
And I take in my fill
I take in my fill
"River" - Saintseneca
You never quite know how you're going to come across music that appeals to you. I found Saintseneca through a thread on a basketball messageboard that I spend some time on. Liked this song and video a lot and kept it in my rotation most of the year.
"Paul Is Alive" - El Vy
El Vy is a project featuring Matt Berninger from The National with Brent Knopf of Menomena. If you hadn't heard them before but listened to this song, you'd be able to place Berninger's vocals pretty quickly if you are a National fan. This was my favorite track from their 2015 release.
Beatlemania made my mother
Think the way she does
She always said
"Don’t waste your life wishing everything was how it was"
"Hotline Bling" - Drake
One thing you'll find going through this list is that I have a pretty wide range in songs that I listen to. This is one of the catchiest tunes I heard this year, I don't think I've ever skipped it when it comes on my playlist. Drake puts out some absolutely massive hits and Hotline Bling falls into that category.
You should just be yourself
Right now, you're someone else
"The Eye" - Brandi Carlile
One downside to living in a city is that I no longer have my car so I don't get a lot of access to radio. I recently had a rental car for a meeting upstate and got a chance to listen to one of my favorite stations, WFUV. They had a tremendous playlist for my morning drive and one of the songs I heard was this one. I knew some of Brandi Carlile's music but had never heard this one, such a beautiful song. Luckily I was able to find a great live version from WFUV to share with you as well.
I wrapped your love around me like a chain
But I never was afraid that it would die
You can dance in a hurricane
But only if you’re standing in the eye
"Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas" - Beach Slang
It's too bad that the Grantland website was shutdown earlier this year. I enjoyed reading articles on various subjects and the site introduced me to some writers I've enjoyed following. One of those was Steven Hyden who led me to some great new music this year. Two of the bands that will be featured on this list were his recommendations during the year. I absolutely love this Beach Slang album, reminds me a lot of the last Japandroids album which was a favorite of mine as well. Hoping to see these guys live in 2016.
We are not alone.
We are not mistakes.
Don’t whisper now.
We’re allowed to be loud.
"Ship to Wreck" - Florence + The Machine
I've never gotten the chance to see this band live but every time I see a live video from them it looks like they put on a great show. I love Florence Welch's voice, it's incredible and she has a real knack for being a lead. I love this clip from SNL, we've all seen some poor tv performances as well as some good ones but they knock it out of the park here.
And oh my love remind me, what was it that I did?
Did I drink too much?
Am I losing touch?
Did I build this ship to wreck?
"When You're Smiling and Astride Me" - Father John Misty
I've enjoyed both of Father John Misty's albums to date. Last year I listed "Bored In The USA" as a favorite, which also came off this same album but was released as a single late in 2014. As you can see in the clip below, along with having a great voice, FJM puts on quite the show.
When you're smiling and astride me
I can hardly believe I've found you and I'm terrified by that
"Depreston" - Courtney Barnett
Courtney Barnett is another newcomer to the list this year. If you've read some other top of 2015 lists, you've probably seen her name mentioned. She seems to be a favorite for many people this year and she's got a great sound. This is my favorite off her album, reminds me of an old Lemonheads song.
If you've got a spare half a million
You could knock it down and start rebuildin'
"Out of the Woods" - Ryan Adams (Taylor Swift cover)
As I'm sure many of you know, earlier this year Ryan Adams covered Taylor Swift's entire album 1989. I thoroughly enjoyed this whole album, thought there were a bunch of great renditions that Ryan put his hands on. This was the standout track for me and honestly reminded me of something Ryan would have written as an original. The song was co-written by Swift and Jack Antonoff of the band Fun. I thought this was an interesting quote I read on Billboard about what he was aiming for in writing the song: "When I was working on the track, I was thinking a lot about My Morning Jacket," Antonoff continues, "and how everything they do, every sound is louder than the last, and somehow it feels like everything is just fucking massive. And that's the feeling that I went for. It started out big, and then I think the obvious move would have been to do a down chorus, but the idea was to keep pushing."
To move the furniture so we could dance
like we stood a chance
Two paper airplanes flying, flying, flying
Are we out of the woods?
"Pretty Pimpin" - Kurt Vile
Kurt Vile is another artist that seems to be popping up on a lot of best of 2015 lists. I've been listening to him for a bit now and his latest album is really good, love this track. One interesting thing about Kurt is that he and Adam Granduciel formed the band The War on Drugs in 2005, both seem to be having quite a bit of success lately, great to see.
I woke up this morning
Didn’t recognize the man in the mirror
Then I laughed and I said, “Oh silly me, that’s just me”
"Fire Away" - Chris Stapleton
Chris Stapleton has written numerous hits for other artists but finally put out his own album this year. Both Chris and his album have been nominated for numerous awards and rightfully so, this is an excellent album. I had a hard time picking a favorite here, there are several really good songs featured on the album. Not only a talented songwriter, Chris has a fantastic voice. I found a great live clip to share with you, worth giving this one a listen.
Well, I wish I could say
That I’ve never been here before
But you know and I know
That I’ll always come back for more
Your love might be my damnation
But I’ll cry to my grave
"No Room In Frame" - Death Cab For Cutie
I think I've been listening to Death Cab for close to fifteen years but what can I say, they continue to put out good music. Chance are if they put out an album in a given year, I'm going to find at least a few songs I really enjoy.
And how can I stay
In the sun
When the rain flows
All through my veins
"Death with Dignity" - Sufjan Stevens
This might be the most beautiful song I hear all year. Sad, but beautiful.
I forgive you, mother, I can hear you,
And I long to be near you
But every road leads to an end
Yes, every road leads to an end
"My Baby Don't Understand Me" - Natalie Prass
I found out about Natalie Prass earlier this year when she was opening some shows for Ryan Adams. This is another beautiful song, she really has a great voice. Love this stripped down clip I found, so simple and showcases her voice.
He don't understand me anymore
Oh no, my baby don't understand me anymore
Oh, what do you do when that happens?
Where do you go when the only home that you know is with a stranger?
"For No One" - Houndmouth
Houndmouth is a band I've gotten to see a couple times and I've enjoyed their sets. They've got a few songs that I absolutely love and this was my favorite from their latest album.
I'd do it all for you
But I do it for no one
I'd sing a song for you
But I sing for no one
"Take My Love" - The Lone Bellow
A couple of my friends like this band a lot but this was the first time I dove into listening to them. I enjoy the harmonies in this one.
When you told me you can't sleep
Count your sins instead of sheep
Count the ways that you feel weak
But that is not what I see
"Dream Lover" - Destroyer
I had seen Destroyer's name mentioned several times throughout the year with positive things continually written but he was just one of those artists that slipped through the cracks for me. One of my friends had him listed on is favorite songs of 2015 and I gave his album a listen. I was blown away how good this song was. Love the upbeat tempo and use of horns on this track.
Dream lover, I know
Someone's idea of fun
You and me thought in some city
Lovers on the run, lovers on the run
"Here" - Alessia Cara
I first heard this song over the summer, I believe it was on a clip from Jimmy Fallon's show. I was so impressed with her stage presence and confidence.... and then I found out she's only nineteen. Amazing, hell of a voice, I think she's going to be around a long time.
Oh oh oh here oh oh oh here oh oh oh
I ask myself what am I doing here?
Oh oh oh here oh oh oh here
And I can't wait till we can break up outta here
"Ansel" - Modest Mouse
Similar to Death Cab, Modest Mouse is a band I've been listening to for years. This track could have come out ten years ago, a classic sound that you'd identify as Modest Mouse on first listen.
I made a mess of myself and the trip on the whole;
My father stayed patient with me, why? I don't know.
You can't know; well, you can't ever really know:
That's the last time I've seen my brother, Ansel.
"Fool For Love" - Lord Huron
Another track from the latest album from Lord Huron, this was probably my favorite track on Strange Trails.
I stare into the endless sky
And I saw a tale of my life go by
I drift into the great unknown
I really don't know where I'm going
"Emily" - San Fermin
San Fermin was another late discovery for me this year. I thought this song was fantastic, reminds me a lot of The National.
And I'm running on empty
Three four five on the steps we arrive
Down down down the rabbithole
Gotta get out of my head tonight
"Homecoming" - Josh Ritter
I have some friends that love Josh Ritter's work but I just started listening to him this year. I found this song about a month ago and added it to my list. It's probably gotten as much play as any song I've added recently. Love the lyrics in this one.
When the oracle spoke to me she was like a roadside song, (Don't go away now)
Do unto others as you would have them do,
Even if in turn they do you wrong, (Hey now)
This town right here is my everything,
Though I've been torn away, (Don't go away now)
It has my heart
"Believe (Nobody Knows)" - My Morning Jacket
Another one from My Morning Jacket's The Waterfall, this is the opening track on the album. Immediately kicks it into high gear right from the opening notes.
Time to roll
The answer floats on by
The farthest shore
Of the mind
Roll the dice that sail the ship
And all the world will open
All in it's time
"A Wonderful Life" - Brian Fallon
This new release is from Brian Fallon, lead singer of the Gaslight Anthem. I've often heard Bruce Springsteen referenced as a major influence to Gaslight and I think you can clearly hear that in this song.
Don't you want a life like we saw on the picture show?
So come on, give me something, come on, keep me up all night
"Church" - Gary Clark Jr.
Gary Clark Jr. is a great talent, I've gotten to see him perform at a couple festivals and thought he was excellent. Usually when I think of his music, I think of a guitar driven song which is why I went with something a little different with this choice. I didn't expect this kind of sound from him but I thought this song was so damn good, actually reminded me a bit of some of Ben Harper's work in the 90s.
I was taught
To be patient
And I was taught
To be kind
But I unwind
Lord, my Lord
I need your helpin' hand
"Noisy Heaven" - Beach Slang
One more from the Beach Slang album I mentioned earlier in the list. There are so many good songs on this album but you can rip through the whole thing in about 45 minutes. No fluff, just great rock songs.
Our heads are blurry
Our hearts are sharp things
I bet on you
To make me nervous
To stay dangerous
Good love is not safe
The night is alive, it's loud, and I'm drunk
"Smooth Sailin" - Leon Bridges
Another favorite discovery in 2015, what a great year Leon Bridges had capped off by a recent appearance as the musical guest on SNL. I saw him very early in the year opening a show in Brooklyn for Sharon Van Etten (great show by the way). This is a fantastic album, absolutely worth a listen if you like the way this one sounds. Bridges has a throwback sound and I can assure you he sounds just as good live as on the recorded versions, probably better.
Said I like the way (like the way)
Said I like the way (like the way)
You sail your ship down
Let me be your cargo
I won't wear you down
No honey I won't
Wear you down
"Tiger By The Tail" - Matthew Good
I've been a fan of Matthew Good's work since the late 90s, he's written some of my favorite songs of all-time. This track is from his latest album released this year.
Hurt flying high
you know how this ends
we just fall away
"Friends" - City & Colour
Dalla Green probably has one of the greatest voices in music today. I'm always excited to hear his latest work and I thought this was a beautiful song from his current album, both lyrically and musically.
Still I wait for all the words of happiness
Still I wait for all the words of jubilation
I will hope for just an ounce of confidence
To offer myself some sort of congratulations
"I've Been Failing" - Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
One more from the Rateliff album, I can't recommend listening to this album in it's entirety strongly enough. The first time I heard this song the only thing that came to my mind was: Van Morrison. Couldn't this have been a Morrison song released on Moondance or Astral Weeks?
Now that all seems dark and light has gone away
I’ve been out there bending in the wind
Now I’m standing here to be beside you
And for all I know and all I care
I said don’t you weep and don’t you worry
"Something Soon" - Car Seat Headrest
This was another recommendation from Steven Hyden (who I mentioned earlier in the Beach Slang writeup). Probably the strangest video I'll post in this list but the song is great.
I was referring to the present in past tense
it was the only way that I could survive it
I want to close my head in the car door
I want to sing this song like I'm dying
"Hudson Commodore" - Jason Isbell
One more from Jason Isbell's 2015 release, another solid album from start to finish, recommend picking this one up.
She just wanted to ride in a Delahaye 135
She just wanted to ride in a Hudson Commodore
No need to worry anymore
"This Must Be The Place" - Iron & Wine and Ben Bridwell
Earlier this year, Sam Beam (I&W) and Ben Bridwell (Band of Horses) put out this great album of covers. I haven't seen it listed on one list but I thought it had some excellent takes on some classic songs. Sam and Ben's voices blended together perfectly, these songs sound great. I love the original version by the Talking Heads and I thought this was fantastic as well. Here's a great clip from Newport Folk Festival.
Ah, We got plenty of time
Ah, You got light in your eyes
And you're standing here beside me
I love the passing of time
Never for money, always for love
Cover up and say goodnight, say goodnight
"How Much Light" - Ryan Adams
Throughout the year, Ryan Adams is known to release EPs that are easy to miss if you're not paying attention. He issued a few this year and I thought this was one of the better songs he put out in 2015.
All my life i've been searching for someone and
I could never get it right
I could never get it right
I've never seen so much light
"Shock Me" - Baroness
This album was released very late in the year so most Best of 2015 lists didn't feature anything from Baroness. This is why in my opinion it's worth waiting until December wraps up, this is one of my favorite songs on the whole list. A little heavier than most stuff I've listed above but this album is awesome, one of the better ones put out this year.
But good fortune never was shinning on me
The way it shone on you
Shock me, I needed a surprise
Shock me, I needed a surprise
"Don't Wanna Fight" - Alabama Shakes
The Shakes continue to put out good music, Brittany Howard's voice sounds as good as ever here. Love seeing these guys live when I get the chance, a great show.
Take from my hand
Put in your hands
The fruit of all my grief
Lying down ain't easy when
Everyone is pleasing
I can't get no relief
"Lights On" - Big Grams
Big Grams is a collaboration of Big Boi (Outkast) and Phantogram. This album has some really catchy songs, this was the one that I kept coming back to.
When the bars say stop, when the bars all start to close
And it gets dark outside and I can't find my way home
I hope you keep your lights on for me
I hope you keep your lights on for me
"I Love You All The Time" - My Morning Jacket (Eagles of Death Metal cover)
This is the only song I intentionally placed on this list, I wanted this to close. This is an Eagles of Death Metal song that the band asked other bands to perform in honor of the victims of the terror attacks in Paris. Several bands have followed that request, but My Morning Jacket was one of the first... and I happened to be at the show where they performed it. This was the fourth night at the Beacon Theatre just after Thanksgiving and Jim James explained what they were going to do, what the song was and why they were playing it. He also asked for a moment of silence which lasted about ten seconds and was a really powerful moment as you could hear a pin drop in the theatre during that time.
As someone who loves music and live music especially, that attack hit me in a profound way. I've spent hundreds of nights in music clubs throughout the country and I fully realize that the attack in Paris could have easily happened in New York as well as any other city. We come together to celebrate live music, we love it and it's our sanctuary. It's beyond upsetting to think about the events that night but I'm glad so many bands are speaking about it and honoring the victims. Thought this would be a fitting way to wrap up the list this year.