Music

The 40 best songs of 2015

40. Gang Of Youths – ‘Poison Drum’

Gang of Youths’ debut album The Positions boasted plenty of sprawling heart on tattered sleeve anthems but none better than the galloping single ‘Poison Drum’. The single release cut two minutes from the track, but the full six-and-a-half minute album version is a mini-epic stolen from the pages of a Bruce Springsteen (or Gaslight Anthem) notebook.


39. Father John Misty – ‘I Love You Honeybear’

Father John Misty’s second album might play on the surface like a series of reverbed devotionals to new love (right down to “the Rorschach sheets where we made love”), but there’s darkness seeping into every crevice. The title track is flooded with orchestral country grandeur but also nods to crashing markets and inherited flaws, while the video descends ever further into tragicomic despair. – Doug Wallen


38. Julia Holter – ‘Sea Calls Me Home’

From its ‘God Only Knows’ harpsichord and fractured chorus (“I can’t swim! Its lucidity! So clear!”) to its surprise whistling section and blown-out sax solo, ‘Sea Calls Me Home’ exemplifies the dreamy otherworld of Los Angeles composer Julia Holter. There’s nobody else today doing quite what she does, and her fourth album, Have You in My Wilderness, luxuriates in that uniqueness. Or, as Holter sings at the end of this song: “No recognized pattern.” – Doug Wallen


37. Best Coast – ‘Heaven Sent’

At her best when invoking the ghost of mid-90s alt rock on ‘Heaven Sent’ Bethany Cosentino twists all those dramatic guitars and dreamy vocals Best Coast do so well into a pop punk gem. On of the most immediately enjoyable moments on new album Califonia Nights. – Sarah Smith


36. Saskwatch – ‘I’ll be Fine’

Saskwatch travelled all the way to Philadelphia to cut their third album, recording with two members of beloved US band Dr. Dog. That pairing brings a waterlogged lo-fi edge to their bustling party pop, drenching it in psych fuzz and trippy colours without losing the assured vocal command of Nkechi Anele. – Doug Wallen


35. Teeth & Tongue – ‘Cupcake’

Melbourne band Teeth & Tongue are perennially underrated, due in part to frontwoman Jess Cornelius’ restless stylistic tourism. ‘Cupcake’ continues to blur genre lines, hooking along to an anxious rhythm section while punctuated with gnashing guitar and wan keyboards. It’s like a fever-like trance of a song. – Doug Wallen


34. Methyl Ethel – ‘Twilight Driving’

Methyl Ethel’s sun-warped lo-fi pop courts easy comparisons to Tame Impala and Animal Collective, but ‘Twilight Driving’ plays more like lost AM-radio gold. Picture a molasses-drenched Bob Seger, all steamed up with sax and imploring us to hit the snooze. – Doug Wallen


33. Action Bronson – ‘Baby Blue’

‘Baby Blue’ finds Bronson in peak braggadocious form throwing out memorable lines at will – including the splendid “I’m not exactly flawless, but I’m gorgeous just like a horse” – while Chance The Rapper also drops by with some of the funniest, most light-hearted insults of the year. Add breezy Mark Ronson production to the mix and you the cruisiest summer kiss-off of 2015. – Tom Mann


32. Dan Kelly – ‘Never Stop The Rot’

A new Dan Kelly song means a whole lot of memorable references and phrases, and ‘Never Stop the Rot’ doesn’t disappoint. Its off-the-cuff wryness recalls the later days of Pavement (or earlier days of Stephen Malkmus’s solo career), and as always it’s impressive just how much wordiness Kelly can cram into a radio-friendly single. – Doug Wallen


31. Mark Ronson – ‘Feel Right’

When he wasn’t busy teaming up with Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker, Mark Ronson tapped Mystikal as the gravelly yet fluid voice of this super-tight homage to classic funk. While not quite another ‘Uptown Funk’, it salutes James Brown’s sweat-flying sermonising and soundtracks an especially memorable video. – Doug Wallen

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