Update 14/12/15: VOTING IS NOW CLOSED! Watch out for a link to the Top 50 soon…
Update 18/12/15: Sadly, none of my choices made the final list, but you can check out the full Festive 50 for 2015 here!
You know me, I love my lists! Over on Twitter, @TheFestive50 is busy compiling a chart of this year’s favourite songs (voting on Twitter closes next weekend, and the 2015 Top 50 will be available on the Festive 50 Mixcloud soon – you can find the final lists for the last two years at that link too). Obviously, this was a challenge I couldn’t resist. In reverse order, here are my top five choices….
5) Therapy? – Helpless Still Lost (from the album ‘Disquiet’):
As a long-time fan who always welcomes a new album by this kick-ass Northern Irish punk/metal trio, it was inevitable that I would include one of Therapy?’s excellent 2015 tracks in my top five – but it was really difficult to decide which one, since Disquiet (incredibly, their fourteenth studio album – I feel old) has pretty much been glued to my stereo on repeat since it came out earlier this year. With a sound and production which echoes their earlier material but that still feels fresh, this sludgy, riff-heavy clatter of a track was my eventual choice. This is a real return to form, and, like all of Therapy?’s best moments, this track manages to weave a bleakly twisted melody into the distinctively tangled raw-edged mesh of driving guitars and breakneck drumming that the band have utilised to great effect over the course of their career. More please!
4) Lianne La Havas – What You Don’t Do (from the album ‘Blood’):
Now for something a bit different. This joyful and fiercely confident anthem to a lover who’s – hooray! – not messing Lianne around (“It’s what you don’t do/What you don’t say/It’s what you don’t do/The games you don’t play” – a clever lyrical turn from a negative phrase into an affirmation of a relationship) has been stuck in my head for months now, and I’m quite happy to let it slink around in there for as long as it wants. This track is a real treat for the ears – the stately jazz and doo-wop inflected production immediately locks into a groove but wisely takes a step back, quite rightfully letting La Havas’s deliciously soulful voice take centre stage. A song written and performed by an assured and talented young woman who seems to be absolutely certain of what she wants, this was a real highlight of 2015 for me.
3) Slayer – Repentless (from the album ‘Repentless’):
Considering that this is a band whose landmark 1986 none-more-metal album Reign In Blood will be celebrating its 30th anniversary next year, and that they sadly lost their talismanic guitarist and founder member Jeff Hanneman only two years ago, you’d be forgiven for thinking Slayer might have hung up their studded wristbands and disappeared, slightly deafened, into well-earned retirement by now. Instead, this year they released this little number, the moshpit-destroying title track of a typically ferocious new album – an album which forcefully reiterates their status as probably the best (and certainly the most consistent) of the classic Big Four thrash metal bands. Seriously chugging riffage, machine gun drumming and intense screaming vocals like these never get dull when it’s Slayer at the controls. I dare you not to mosh.
2) Leftfield feat. Tunde Adebimpe – Bad Radio (from the album ‘Alternative Light Source’):
The unexpected return of 90s electronica giants Leftfield after 16 years (that’s almost MBV territory!) was one of 2015’s most genuinely pleasing musical events for me, even without the presence of Paul Daley. Obviously believers in quality over quantity, this is the lead-off tune on what is only their third (!) studio album, and boy, was it worth waiting for. This swirling, rumbling track slowly builds and builds, subtly layering up the irresistable sonic textures that Leftfield have always done so well – creating an addictive, hypnotic groove which sinuously winds itself round a compellingly understated vocal by TV On The Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe, who turns out to be yet another great Leftfield guest vocalist (and this isn’t his first seriously cool musical collaboration either). As always with Leftfeld, you’re advised to turn the bass up…
1) The Charlatans – Let The Good Times Be Never Ending (from the album ‘Modern Nature’):
For a band whose decades-long career has been repeatedly touched by tragedy, the very fact that The Charlatans are still making music (and music of such quality too) is, quite honestly, little short of a miracle. And this track – which I can happily describe as what one of those blissful endless summer afternoons would sound like if you could distill it onto vinyl – is one of the very best things they’ve recorded in a long time, and easily my favourite track of the year. An immaculate organ-driven meshing of fluid 70s-style soul chill and that slouching, psychedelic 90s Baggy groove so familiar from their earlier albums, this is six and a half minutes of pure pop perfection and an utterly irresistible slice of musical sunshine that just makes you want to dance. This is The Charlatans doing what they do best – and long may they continue to do so.
If you’re into music, also watch out for my albums of the year list which will be coming up over the Christmas period!
Update 30/12/15: My albums of the year list is now up, and you can find it here.