Songs that just sound cool
- Entropy - Grimes/Bleachers
First heard this track on an episode of "Girls" and loved it. 2015 was a year for very distinct female vocals. Grimes is one among 4 on this list of 7 tracks. I like Jack Antonoff a lot as well, and his producing is behind a lot of songs I liked this year.
- Fade Away - Susanne Sundfør
Another beautiful voice. It's so clear and pure. My favorite part of the song though is the retro microwave "ding" in the middle of the song.
- The Bells - Lowell
It's so pretty! I love that little voice that asks for a beat at the beginning and then when it comes in it gives those ringing tones an edge. It's an unexpected juxtaposition that turns out very well. "Hey, where'd the beat go?"
- 2 Time - Architecture in Helsinki
I really got into this band this year. Every time I listened to them it was a dance party - in my car, in my apartment, at work, anywhere. Unstoppable.
- Alligator Years - Twinsmith
The loose guitar riffs in the middle of the verses and the throwback sound made this one of my most listened to songs this year. It's got a playful sound to it.
- Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat - Beck
One of three amazing covers I came across this year. The original is my favorite off Blonde on Blonde and Beck does a fantastic job with this reboot.
The Motorcycle Diaries
- Downtown - Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
Another incredible music video and more hilarious lyrics from this irrepressible duo. This almost made me want to trade in my motorcycle for a moped. (Well... no, not really).
- Bad Betty - The Sonics
It's about a woman who rides a Bonneville, which is a Triumph bike, which just happens to be the make I have. My bike's name is Lucy, in case you were wondering.
- 80's Mercedes - Maren Morris
In October of this year, I replaced my beloved 2002 Golf with a newer model GTI. Its peppy engine, responsive acceleration and nimble handling make me feel like a million dollars every time I get behind the wheel. It's not a classic car but it does make me feel "ready to roll". My new car's name is Lola. Lucy and Lola are an indomitable duo and these tracks are dedicated to them and the untold miles we will ride together in the coming years.
- Hold On - Alabama Shakes
One of my best concert moments this year was in a light rain on the Jersey Shore on an evening in early June which was unseasonably cool. Brittany Howard was on stage in a fantastic pink dress making her guitar emote and singing her heart out. The purple lights shone in the mist coming down on us and we swayed and held on with Brittany as she told us of her conviction that there "must be someone up above" telling her to keep going.
- Photograph - Ed Sheeran
It started with my trip to Iceland in February. X was basically the soundtrack for the whole trip for me. I know this album is over a year old but 2015 was the year I got into it. I got to see Ed in concert in September and there was a transcendent moment during this song. He looped his voice over and over in woven harmonies that were unbelievably beautiful. I found the YouTube video of the song from the show I went to and watched it hoping to relive a little of what it was like, but it was a faint, muddy echo of what I heard live. Time stopped and it felt like forever that I was hearing those heavenly voices singing together.
- Loch Lomond (Traditional)- Arr. Ralph Vaughn Williams, Performed by Chanticleer This year I was lucky enough to go to this very loch in Scotland. I had the song queued up in anticipation for my first glimpse of it. I pushed play when it came into view and it was the exact musical moment I was hoping to create. The gorgeous snow-capped Trossachs and lakes resting in between with this song playing as I drove the shore road were some of my more magical moments of 2015.
- Drive All Night - Glen Hansard (ft. Eddie Vedder and Jake Clemons)
While the original Springsteen song is just as achingly beautiful as this, something about the sax solo and Hansard's voice send this over the top. I love both versions equally but just could not stop listening to this. Did I mention the sax solos? Oh man.
- The Beigeness - Kate Tempest Socially conscious hip hop from an English girl who has a cherubic face and a heart on fire with justice, pain and hope. I like her usage of the word "Beigeness" and her disdain for it. Life should be full of color.
- Between Me and You - Brandon Flowers
A song about struggle and questioning the reason for the struggle. I think his sentiments carry weight and a relatability accessible by many.
- It's All Just Pretend - Ivan and Alyosha
Kind of like Mr. Flowers above, these guys are writing about the struggle to be happy and that happiness is basically just pretend, this side of paradise. "Never trust that man whose been smilin' all his life, his fears will catch up in the end". I think they are saying that there are things to be afraid of and that's okay because if you are pretending they aren't there, that's not authentic. The older I get the more I see both the darkness and the light and this song does a great job of talking about recognizing but not being defeated by fear.
- Story of an Immigrant - Civil Twilight
Little bro has been campaigning for this band for a long time. Their show I attended this year wasn't well attended but their album translated well live. The more I listened to it after the show, the more I liked it. This is one of my favorite cuts off the album. I like the strong percussion and the refrain of "ready to begin". I feel like it's a song about surrender and giving over to a larger path that you know is there but is somewhat unclear. That is a sentiment that defined a large part of this year for me.
- Wildfire - Scavenger Hunt
As I scanned back through my memories of old flames (which I did an awful lot in 2015 and spent lots of time doing this), this song seems to capture what that feeling is like. It talks about how quickly and hot it burns, and how that's fun, but there's a knowing edge to it. I am thankful to look back on all of those memories through the lens of Grace All-Sufficient.
- Pierre - Ryn Weaver
"Still we had some fun 'til I came to". I love that line. Sounds like a few of my relationships. I like how she's looking back over this catalogue of people she has known and seeing the fun parts, but also the bad parts and knowing she was always waiting for something better.
- Exeunt - The Oh Hellos
This song says goodbye to all those old affairs and alluring charms of days and people past. It takes a positing of strength against them and even calls it, my love, an opiate, wine. All these things that are seemingly good and give good feelings but can be so destructive too. Brilliant song and the exact sentiment I had to come to terms with in saying goodbyes to all those people that have been in my life over the years. No more wincing. "Even when you hunt me...I have set my mind and my will: I am leaving."
The Theme of My Song
Don't You Want to Thank Someone for This - Andrew Peterson
There were probably three or four months this year when I couldn't start my day without listening to this song. Its words stay with me as a prayer and a reminder to always look for God everywhere in gratitude. It's 10 minutes long and I'm always sad when it's over. It tells the story of why we need redemption and why there can be beauty in a fallen world, and how we can still be grateful for all of it.
- Make Some Room - The Suffers
Soulful and smooth, I love pretty much everything about how this song sounds.
- Three Women - Jack White (adaptation of Three Women Blues by Blind Willie McTell)
Admittedly not the best subject matter, but I'll be damned if this song doesn't completely take me over every time I hear it (especially the moment that happens at 3:26... wait for it). Such swagger, so raw. This song is the equivalent of the guy from the wrong side of the tracks that you can't help but have a major crush on.
- Gooey - Glass AnimalsSexiest song of the year for me (though released in 2014). It barely beat out Jack White for this coveted award. It's nonsensical and weird, and sounds (to me) like what a lava lamp looks like.