January 07, 2016

Top 100 Rock Songs of 2015: #25-1

Get ready for the 25 Best Rock Songs of 2015. Here's a sampler of what to expect. 


Here we are folks, the end of the list. The final 25 songs, and thus, the 25 best rock songs of 2015. It's been a fun ride, and it is exciting to finally bring you the songs I felt were the best written, performed songs of 2015, and possibly some songs that will be the best rock songs of not only 2015, but of the 2010s, and even the greatest of all time in some cases. Time will tell on that one.

As I wrote this list, I felt bad because I realized there were some severe omissions from the list that I should reconsider adding. But I'm young, and statistical mea culpa's are bound to happen.




25. "Cement" – Citizen


Styles: Emo, post-hardcore

To some critics, "Cement" and the entire sophomore album of Everybody Is Going To Heaven might feel like a bit of a stale, safe side of Citizen, but given the title, context and theme, that is kind of what they are aiming for. And yet despite that, there is chills, terse behavior and mixed emotions that have helped Citizen get this far.


24. "Moaning Lisa Smile" – Wolf Alice


Styles: Grunge revival, post-grunge, noise rock, alternative rock

Nothing has been more exciting than seeing noise-ridden nu gaze finally cracking its way into mainstream rock radio. That might just be me, as there is a bit of pride enjoying underground music, but it is exciting seeing acknowledgment for the genre. Wolf Alice is an example of these noise rock bands carving their own slice of radio fame, and well, making music worthwhile while doing so.


23. "Your Pain Is Mine Now" – Title Fight


Styles: Shoegazing, nu gaze, dream pop

Description


22. "Dimed Out" – Titus Andronicus


Styles: Punk rock, art punk, anarcho-punk

"Dimed Out" is a wild, baroque-felt punk anthem that feels goofy, but with each listen feels intelligent. The snarky, urgent tone of lead singer, Patrick Stickles makes for a song that seems to travel all over the place, but in the end has you in the same spot all along, as it is brought together quite well. In the end, it's the song you are glad exists.


21. "Pedestrian At Best" – Courtney Barnett


Styles: Indie rock

Courtney Barnett is an Aussie who makes witty, run-on sentence music about being unamused. Unamused with...pretty much everything. Even the witty tone can remind us though that innovation is not key for good music that sometimes even revived sounds can be great in their own right.

20. "512" – Lamb of God


Styles: Groove metal, thrash metal

For some background context, "512" was the number of the prison cell Randy Blythe was kept in while arrested in the Czech Republic. In the first album since the investigations in the Czech, it is a remarkable look back on his time in prison and reflecting on his past. And he does so in the most frightening way possible.


19. "Lydia" – Highly Suspect


Styles: Blues rock, alternative rock

Yes, fine. The whole mantra of a love song and mad for a woman song is exhausting, overdone and draining. But sometimes, we need to be reminded that there's a reason for it. And Highly Suspect does it in the most refreshing, and mainstreamed way possible, with their song "Lydia". They have created a crunchy, bluesy, yet radio-friendly semi-ballad that will be a staple for modern rock radio. Is it the greatest? Far from it, but it is worth giving a nod to.


18. "But She Was Not Flying" – Algiers


Styles: Industrial rock, gospel, post-punk

The entire debut self-titled album by Algiers is emotional and expresses the ongoing struggle for African-Americans in 21st century American, with a special focus on the Deep South. From my take, this song is their best work on the album, and shares the rawest of emotion that could be felt from work songs, gospel, draped in industrial. This, my friends, is the earliest traces of rock at its finest, and is a galvanizing piece of music to drop in this day and age. Don't be surprised if one day, this song is studied in history classes.


17. "Brought to the Water" – Deafheaven


Styles: Black metal, blackgaze

Meaner and darker are two to describe New Bermuda. The lead-off single, "Brought to the Water" takes you on a downward spiral as one loses their interests in life and their youthful cheer for the satisfaction of sex and cheap thrills. Perhaps it's a more robust-sounding Beach Slang. But the message rings true in the most passionate, epic of ways.


16. "Sparks" – Beach House


Styles: Dream pop, drone rock, lo-fi, psychedelic rock

Beach House's Bloom is what brought critical praise like no other for the Baltimore duo. With lofty expectations, Beach House has been able to deliver two solid follow ups: Depression Cherry in August and Thank You Lucky Stars in October. In the song "Sparks" alone, it encapsulates a lush whispery tone with droned out dream pop. Call it their ethos if you will.


15. "Should Have Known Better" – Sufjan Stevens


Styles: Folk rock, indie rock, soft rock

Death by no means is a new topic in songwriting. It's often a repressed thought until we have something that is near-death. And in most cases it's health issues or losing a family member. Often, songs are about the experience, but what about a song that may actually be a song for death? Sufjan Stevens' "Should Have Known Better", might be the answer.


14. "Redwoods" – Foxing


Styles: Emo

Foxing is a band that is much better live than listening to a studio version. Like I am right now. That's where you see the real emo that can be felt. The passion, the screaming, the tears and agonization...it is all there. For a brief moment, you feel that emotions piling through you and seem to connect to Conor Murphy's past. It's a real talent to feel the emotions of a lead singer like that, and it's even better when it can be crafted into a beautiful sonnet.


13. "Pretty Pimpin'" – Kurt Vile


Styles: Folk rock, rock, blues rock

Kurt Vile is an interesting figure in music. It's like remembering when baseball cards were a thing, and it's no longer popular. However, it's become so unpopular, it's retro, but so retro that it's ironically hip. In a way that's Kurt Vile, bluesy rock, and exploring life and being enchanted with life.


12. "Let It Happen" – Tame Impala


Styles: Psychedelic pop

"Let It Happen" by Tame Impala is about as psychedelic as you can get. It, to me at least, seems to be the story of a bad acid trip, and the rollercoaster of emotions that follow. However, it also expresses the risk of pain for the enjoyable and high that is felt, and the "out-of-this-world" experience. The bounciness of this song alone makes for a unique listening pleasure. Even in the most sober of circumstances.


11. "Dream Lover" – The Vaccines


Styles: Space rock, electronic rock, post-punk

Something tells me that The Vaccines debut, What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? was nothing more than a rehashed garage rock album to put them on the map. With their Melody Calling EP and now English Graffiti, it's obvious they had this space rock sound all along. In a way it's brilliant. And more impressively, their take on ballad drive space rock and surf rock soothers is nothing short of fantastic. This song, "Dream Lover", might put their stamp as a top-tier rock band for the decade.


10. "Don't Wanna Fight" – Alabama Shakes


Styles: Blues rock, southern rock, soul

Since 2012, Alabama Shakes have been around to remind you that not everything that is spawned in Alabama is a racist Republican pastor. Back in yesteryear, blues and soul music showed some small glimmers of what can be done down south, and that energy is being resurfaced, in a modern, yet, blusey way.


9. "We Can Do What We Want" – Drenge


Styles: Hard rock, blues rock

It's a shame that Drenge has to be in the shadow of Royal Blood. They're more original, and frankly, a better band than Royal Blood. (Before we get carried away, I do like Royal Blood.). What sets them apart is that their music doesn't seem forceful with cliche topics or beats, it's more about the goofier, sleazy side of rock, and ignites more energy into the sound.


8. "Fabled World" – Anti-Flag


Styles: Pop punk, punk rock, anarcho-punk

Here it guys: my biggest curve-ball I am throwing in this list. A song, that feels like any other generic pop punk song by Anti-Flag, who have not been all that relevant...ever. What is it about this song that merits it to be on a list surrounded by acts such Deafheaven, Beach Slang, Swans and Tame Impala? Is it just too catchy that it could not be ignored? No, it isn't that. Is it the pummeling anthem noise created? Partially. What makes this song great is that it isn't stylistically revolutionary, but it could go down as one of the most important songs written this decade. Disaproval of government and authority has long been a popular, vogue topic of punk rock. However, corporatism has been an mere subtle afterthought in mainstream punk. And in this day and age (#FeelTheBern #OccupyWallSt amirite?) anti-corporatism and corporate welfare has become channeled as a major issue that mainstream media is vigorously trying to shadow underneath wedge issues. This is especially true with individuals working longer for lower wages, and seeing an intense rise of cost for expenses, in an effort to continuously siphon wealth to those who are already wealthy. Within 3 minutes, Anti-Flag addresses this and exposes massive flaws in have corporations and corrupt lobbying techniques have manipulated our government. That alone, makes for an anthem that can define the revolutions of the 2010s.


7. "Dirty Cigarettes" – Beach Slang


Styles: Punk rock, rock

I'm surprised "Dirty Cigarettes" was excluded on Beach Slang's debut album The Things We Do Find People Who Feel Like Us. From the lyrics alone (i.e. "I fall in love...to pass the time", "I need the struggle...to feel alive") it screams unreal honesty, and only feelings people are unwilling to share or even think about. It's spine chilling that James Alex's wordsmithing is able to transcend such emotions through the listener with such basic context. And "Dirty Cigarettes" is just the tip of the iceberg of the galvanizing music that this band is capable of.


6. "The World Is Crowded" – Unknown Mortal Orchestra


Styles: Psychedelic pop

We are overwhelmed these days with so much information, and also, misinformation that sometimes it's impossible to draw any conclusions without making a vocal minority infuriated. It often requires meditation and thought, and above all, acceptance of how we have morphed into this society. Coping with it is one thing, and it does not have to be all that bad. And frankly, that's what I believe Unknown Mortal Orchestra was out to accomplish with this song.


5. "Baby Blue" – Deafheaven


Styles: Black metal, blackgaze

"Baby Blue" fits the mold of an epic metal opera. Starting with a beautiful, three-minute intro that captures sounds of post-punk, post-grunge, alternative metal and shoegaze. It subsequently soars into classic blackend shoegaze (blackgaze) Deafheaven: shrieking vocals, brash riffs, and it builds up to easily the most bombastic two and a half minute solo rock music has seen in some serious time.


4. "Running Wild" – Drenge


Styles: Hard rock, blues rock

Describing the type of hard rock that is branded by Drenge is challenging in its own right. Some days, I think of their music, especially "Runing Wild" is "acidic rockability with flares of shoegaze". It's enough genric terms to make your head spin, which is the atmosphere that is indicted by the Derbyshire band.


3. "Chlorine" – Title Fight


Styles: Shoegazing, nu gaze, post-hardcore

One of the best rock songs of 2015 arrived just weeks into the year. And it was probably not a band that was expected to take home the cake of having a Top-3 rock track of 2015. I'm talking about the shoegaze cloaked Title Fight and their incredible Hyperview. More specifically, I am expressing my praise for "Chlorine", the lead off single for the album. From the mellow but brash intro to the crooning vocals, Chlorine has the ability to get those not into shoegaze music into shoegaze, and embrace the sound in a whole new realm. Making good music can be revolutionary while staying in the bounds of the rulebook, and that's what "Chlorine" does.


2. "Cause I'm A Man" – Tame Impala


Styles: Psychedelic rock, psychedelic pop

Of all the Tame Impala songs I've thrown into this album, I do not think I've taken a moment to appreciate Kevin Parker's incredible, idiosyncratic voice. His voice is what drives the song "'Cause I'm A Man" more than instrument does. When you have a voice that is the engine for a song, the rest falls into place.


1. "Oxygen" – Swans


Styles: Experimental rock, post rock, no wave

Post-reunion Swans won the hearts of critics across the board with their two studio albums: The Seer and To Be Kind. And rightfully so. The experimental crew has been making some of the most hauntingly, dark, epic music in modern rock music. Furthermore, much of their new music might go down as some, if not, the best rock music of the 21st century. Their music has so much activity, so much chaos, and grandiose, it's impossible to ignore at any capacity. The final single off of To Be Kind, "Oxygen", seaps into 2015, with energy, confusion and hussle, and makes you lose your mind in wonder.


About the Author

Tyler Walter

Author & Editor

Has laoreet percipitur ad. Vide interesset in mei, no his legimus verterem. Et nostrum imperdiet appellantur usu, mnesarchum referrentur id vim.

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