December 25, 2015

Top 100 Rock Songs of 2015: #100-76

For the next four days, I'll be posting a list of what I believe are the 100 best rock, alternative and indie songs released in 2015, or at the tail end of 2014, if we want to be technical. Rock music, to a degree, has become so uncool that it's cool now to investigate and analyze where rock has gone and where it is going.

Much of the 2010s has been dominated by indie pop that was in reaction to the 2000s post-punk revival movement, but we're starting to see some bands pop up in what I called the "New Wave of British Hard Rock", which contains several rock and punk bands such as Darlia, Royal Blood, Honeyblood and Drenge. These bands are churning out a sound that fuses 90s grunge, 80s punk and 00s indie. It's cool, and I'm not sure exactly how it will be labeled.

Anyways, it is on to the first segment: numbers 100 through 76. Enjoy:

100. "Red Queen Arms Race" – Swervedriver 

Styles: Shoegazing, psychedelic rock, hard rock

March 2015 marked the return of Swervedriver, a fairly well known band involved in pioneering shoegaze. Seventeen years since their last material, Swervedriver have shown that their sound is timeless and fits well into a modern scene that has heavily embraced their heavy, psychedelic take on shoegaze.

99. "Black Eunuch" – Algiers 

Styles: Industrial rock, gospel, soul, post-punk

I first listened to Algiers back in May, ahead of their eponoymous release. Opening for Interpol, Algiers took the cues of dark post punk, but injected some soulful life into the genre. Further, the Atlanta-based trio fused drone and gospel into making a dark song, one that is reminiscent of when racism in America was less subtle than it is today.

98. "The Great Beyond" – Puppy

Styles: Shoegazing, progressive metal, progressive rock

Three songs in, and we have found one of our first bands I mentioned as part of the "New British Wave of Hard Rock", and it's London's Puppy. Up front it seems like a mere hybrid child of Coheed and Cambria and the Smashing Pumpkins. However, the lyrical substance is what really separates themselves from being pitted as a knock-off. As well as the ability to craft their own container of sound.

97. "Drop Outs" – Menace Beach

Styles: Surf punk, neo-psychedelia

It's easy to pit a band like Menace Beach with the likes of Wavves and FIDLAR. In a way, it's almost appropriate. After all, a name like Menace Beach and a title like "drop out" perfectly exemplifies the ethos created by both mentioned bands. However, after listening through Menace Beach and their excellent "Drop Outs", you might be finding yourself seeing them more aligned with The Dandy Warhols, and a neo-psychedelic popped out feeling. 

96. "Luckless" – Bloody Knees 

Styles: Post-hardcore, screamo, hardcore punk

Reading like an emo song, but playing like a post-hardcore song, Bloody Knees have orchestrated an punky anthem that you'll appreciate to be part of your discography. Frustration and discontent but passion and awareness can often blend for a great song.

95. "Twenty Four Hours" – Fawn Spots

Styles: Screamo, hardcore punk, post-hardcore, math rock

I'm expecting nearly everyone who will read this list to have never heard of Fawn Spots. When they're done reading this list, this might be a band that leaves a lasting impact due to their screaming, shrieking vocals and ambiance. Something along the lines of, say, Fucked Up or Deafheaven types of contrast. Obviously what differentials the British band, Fawn Spots, from those two is their sound, which correlates to the days of post hardcore along with some bridges of math rock and vocals that remind you of something-like-screamo.

94. "Twice As Hard" – Interpol 

Styles: Alternative rock, post-punk revival 

Interpol's fifth outing, El Pintor (ugh–yes it's an anagram of the band's name) is a worthy comeback album after what many felt was an unimpressive fourth outing. The lone single the New York City band of yesteryear released reveals why this was a great comeback album. It maintained the maturity found in Our Love to Admire and the self-titled album, while reigniting the energy that was missed heavily on TOTBL and Antics. Songs like this may not go down as their greats, but they can hang well with the band's heavy hitters. 

93. "Plastic People" – Yak

Styles: Indie rock, new wave, garage rock

Yak is 2015's response to Catfish and the Bottleman. A thundering meat and potatoes band that feels more 2005 than 2015. What makes Yak more enjoyable though is its ability to fuse elements of shoegaze and new wave, which Catfish could never exactly (or tried to) do. They will definitely evolve their sound in the years to come, and I can see their future stuff being fantastic. For now, Plastic People is a fine sampler of what may be yet to come. 

92. "Fist Heart Mighty Dawn Dart" – Ty Segall

Styles: Psychedelic rock, glam rock

Ty Segall is, surprisingly, in still in his 20s (28 to be exact). And the maturity felt his eighth album, Manipulator, would make you feel like he's a long established veteran, especially given the vintage vibe felt on the self-titled track. 

91. "Animal" – The Pack A.D.

Styles: Hard rock, punk rock

The Pack A.D. have thrown out a four song EP, known as Do Not Engage. Each song on the album is vastly different in style. From drone, post-rock, garage rock and electric rock can be found sprinkled in the EP. The opening track, "Animal" is far and away the best track, and contains the most swagger. From the well timed whammy to the bitching riffs, "Animal" offers a great appetizer while you wait for their next full release. 

90. "Fool" – BØRNS

Styles: Pop rock, psychedelic pop

Yep, it's the sweet poppy song you have heard on FIFA 16 while assembling your dream team. Sure, the Michigander, Garrett Borns, is not going to win creative points with his caps-locked title and his Scandanavian "ø". However, that's not what he's going for, he's going for a fun pop song you can blast and forget about everything for a few minutes while thinking about your crush or love. 

89. "No Harm" – Editors

Styles: Dark wave, post-rock, indietronica

Let me get this out of the way first: In Dream was easily the laziest, most uninspiring album Editors have produced. Loaded with boring and washed up dark wave, there is little on the album to get excited about. However, "No Harm" the opening act of this album is going to deceive you like no other. Spooky and introspective, this track would make you think it's the offspring of Joy Division and Radiohead, as described by YouTuber, guitardds. It is easily one of the band's finest songs penned. The crooning of Tom Smith is something unlike any previous album and makes you have hope that perhaps that maybe, just maybe, the Staffordshire band has some sweet melodies to churn out in the future. 

88. "Your Loves Whore" – Wolf Alice

Styles: Dream pop, shoegazing, space rock

2015 has been a helluva year for English rockers, Wolf Alice. Another member of the New Wave of British Hard Rock, the band has infused folk, grunge and shoegaze into their album. "Your Loves Whore" is more of a shoegazed outing of Alice. A nostalgic vibe created by this song layered with fuzzy guitars and mellow bridges makes for a beautiful song.

87. "Trip Switch" – Nothing But Thieves

Styles: Indie pop, indie rock, dark pop

Britain has been churning out several rock bands to keep the genre...relevant and refreshed. Essex's own Nothing But Thieves has come out with their eponymous debut that expresses many emotions felt in 20-somethings: a frustration and disapproval with establishment. It's an enigma that we have lightly written directly about that is being brought forward with both the lyrics and music video.

86. "We Are Undone" – Two Gallants

Styles: Folk rock, blues rock

San Francisco's Two Gallants released their fifth studio album this year, entitled We Are Undone. The album is dynamic breaks their comfort zone and is fun. The album's self titled track reminds you of once simplicity slowly becomes complexity.

85. "Fashion" –  The Royal Concept

Styles: Funk rock, indie rock, indie pop

The Royal Concept were prone to being stuck in indie pop purgatory with their uninspiring, debut EPs. Some spark came in and suddenly, we have a band that makes enjoyable, above average poppy funk rock. Indie pop fused with Fitz and the Tantrums to give us...The Royal Concept? Well, I'll be damned too. A catchy tune will leave you having this song on repeat for a few days, and a song that will make you want to break out on the dance floor.

84. "I Wanna Be Your Man" – Yukon Blonde

Styles: Psychedelic pop

Yukon Blonde is very reminiscent of 80s indie pop. But in this day and age who isn't? While it gets boring from time to time, it's exciting to see them crossover to a different genre, which they do a much better job at doing.

83. "(I'd Rather Be) Anywhere But Here" – Honeyblood

Styles: Indie pop, lo-fi

Another duo has appeared in this list, and for the 83rd best rock song of 2015, it's Glasgow's Honeyblood, composed of ladies Stina Tweeddale and Cat Myers. Associated often with the British wave I've consistently mentioned, they are more on the lo-fi side of things. Their lyrical themes aren't too different: Honeyblood talks about being burnt out and disenchanted with life. It may sound trite of a topic by now, but what makes it work is their chemistry and synergy.

82. "The Shade" – Metric

Styles: Electronic rock

Sometimes, it is easy to forget that Toronto's Metric has been around for nearly 20 years. They feel like – and sometimes sound like – a band that has come up with the late 2000s / early 2010s indie pop scene. What has made them a great band is their ability to adapt their sound, but maintain their idiosyncrasies. Their newest single, "The Shade" is no exception to that.

81. "Got to My Head" – WATERS

Styles: Indie rock, indie pop

Four years ago, I was a freshman in college. I felt really hip discovering WATERS. They often felt like the underground, four-tier type of indie band that you can subtly share to your friends. Since then, their sound has expanded and their melodies have become more radio-friendly. Thus, they have been propelled in a more mainstream setting, even being opening acts for established indie rock bands such as The 1975 and MS MR. That is not a bad thing, Van Pierszalowski deserves it. And while he may not be making as original of music as he did a few years back, he reminds me of why people fell in love with his sound in the first place.

80. "First" – Cold War Kids

Styles: Indie rock

Album by album, Cold War Kids have chipped their way from obscurity to a staple on alt rock radio. And a decade after the journey began the light came from the end of the tunnel. What makes "First" as well as many tracks on their fifth outing Hold My Home so appealing is that it contains wide ranging elements to attract new listeners, but has returned to subtle cues that will make purists get over themselves.

79. "Voyage Into Dreams" – JEFF The Brotherhood

Styles: Hard rock, alternative rock

We shift to a band that has pretty much rewritten the same song since day one. Surprisingly, the most diverseness in their sound came with eighth outing Wasted on the Dream. A sassy outing, loaded with the thunderous riffs that JEFF fans crave for returns, and its probably the only track on this album that retains a vintage JEFF sound.

78. "Save A Prayer" – Eagles of Death Metal

Styles: Blues rock

Eagles of Death Metal were brought to national attention this year in the most devastating of ways. The band was on the stage of Le Bataclan during the Parisian terror attacks, when 89 lives were lost, including the band's manager. We have waited six years for the Eagles of Death Metal to come out with new material. Zipper Down, from the cover of the album to the context of the music is everything you would expect from the Queens of the Stone Age front man, Josh Homme, and from Jesse Hughes.

77. "Yesterdays" – Only Real

Styles: Slacker pop, new wave, jangle pop

First impression of Only Real's Niall Galvin: the United Kingdom's answer to Mac DeMarco. A jangly, silly artist who instead takes more new wave sounds to his slacker pop. Like DeMarco, Galvin is too, rather nostalgic in his music. As if the title didn't give you that clue already...

76. "Overgrown" – Crushed Beaks

Styles: Indie pop, indie rock, surf pop

Crushed Beaks is a trio that has the vocals that remind you of surf music, but the tune that seems more indie. Like its video, it's a dizzying and raw song that will be stuck in your head.
Tune in soon for Part II, where we go over #75-51 in the Top 100 Rock Songs of 2015.

About the Author

Tyler Walter

Author & Editor

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