17. Chvrches – Keep You On My Side/Bury It/Down Side of Me
16. Metric – Lie Lie Lie/Cascades/Fortunes
15. Sia – Bird Set Free
14. The 1975 – Love Me
13. Grimes – Belly Of The Beat/Easily/World Princess Part II
Grimes’ label is doing a hell of a job of making sure tracks from her new album don’t reside on Youtube. Alas. These three are really dope tracks.
12. The Helio Sequence – Red Shifting
11. Baio – Sister of Pearl
Bonus: Happy Hollows – Endless/Goodnight Radio – Sophia So Far
Two really cool tracks from the film Before I Disappear.
10. Majical Cloudz – Downtown
This sparse gem is affecting in ways that are hard to pinpoint.
9. Borns – The Emotion/American Money
What a debut record from Garrett Borns.
8. Dragonette & Dada & Paul Harris – Red Heart Black
Martina Sorbara is on every hook-y dance song of the last three years, I’m convinced.
7. Book of Fears – The Water Lets You In
Brilliant song from an astounding show (Bloodline).
Bonus: The Features – This Disorder
6. Hailee Steinfeld – Rock Bottom
Taylor Swift is so ubiquitous, that aping her sound/voice is a pretty decent plan if you’re looking for success/air play. You have to have a strong song to go along with that plan though, and luckily for Ms. Steinfeld, this is that.
5. Guster – Long Night/Simple Machine
My treasures. I suppose I’ve felt this for a while, but after seeing them recently in Toronto at Danforth Music Hall (I believe that was the 4th time I’d seen them), the thought has crystallized: Guster is one of my favourite bands of all-time.
4. Chvrches – Playing Dead
Like Metric, just with a smaller catalogue, Chvrches employ the release strategy of ‘hit after hit after hit after hit after hit after hit after…’ With so many slayers, I don’t think anyone is feigning death though.
3. Coast Modern – Modern Life
An electro-indebted ode to Cage The Elephant. This is a (really) good thing.
2. Missy Elliott f. Pharrell – WTF (Where They From)
The Queen of hip-hop makes her triumphant return. Oh, and this Pharrell beat is ludicrously good.
1. Grimes – Flesh Without Blood/Kill v. Maim
Wish the record version of Kill v. Maim was available online, as the live one I’ve linked here is of just okay quality. Nevertheless, these are possibly the two best tracks from what is one of the best albums of the year.
Without much preamble, here are my absolute favourite songs from an amazing summer of music:
15. Glass Animals – Black Mambo
Such sticky. Much sexy time. So rhythm.
14. Echosmith – Bright
“Bright” is rife with gorgeous melodies. I don’t want to be too reductive, but this is basically Taylor Swift doing Indie-pop. And it’s great.
Bonus: Zhu – Faded
Hats off to my boy Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat for this one. Don’t know why I slept on this tune. Memories of the limo ride to the beach from here to infinity.
13. Sylvan Esso – H.S.K.T.
At once gitchy, dirty, and throw-your-hands-in-the-air-like-you’re-an-heir-danceable. My favourite Esso song to date. Pure banger.
12. El Vy – Return To The Moon
I continue to play the shit out of this. If you ever wanted to hear The National’s Matt Berninger sing on top of warmer and more welcoming music (than The National usually do), this is for you.
11. Alabama Shakes – Future People
Future People. Gorgeous music right now. Those guitars. That melody. And as it always seems to come down to with Shakes’ songs, Brittany Howard’s soul-rattling, life-affirming voice.
10. Courtney Barnett – Depreston/Pedestrian At Best
The wittiest, most playful lyricist in music? Maybe. I wouldn’t care that much if she didn’t have the songs to match, but she does. These two tunes are quite different from one another, but Barnett shines in both. I adore the wistful “Depreston” and the way she lingers the line “I think you’re a joke, but I don’t find you very fu-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uhnny” in “Pedestrian At Best”.
It was exceedingly difficult to rank the following songs as each and every one are monsters.
9. Daya – Hide Away
Pop doesn’t get purer than this. Unbelievably catchy and a star turning vocal from this 16-year-old newcomer. Everywhere you look you’ll find a hook.
8. Houndmouth – Sedona
A grower. An unabashed summer anthem. For the pensive, for the yearning, for the nostalgic, for the happy. This is a beautiful song.
7. Alvvays – Ones Who Love You
I adore this track. When I saw Alvvays at Osheaga, I was really stoked to see their most known tracks, “Archie, Marry Me” and “Adult Diversion”, but “Ones Who Love You” was the one that stole my heart. It moves so effortlessly, like a refreshing gust of wind on a sun-stunned summer day.
From this point on, 6 could be ranked 1 and 1 could be ranked 6; their slotting probably just depends on how I’m feeling right now. These songs have all meant a TONNE to me this summer.
6. Glass Animals – Pools/Pools (Roosevelt Remix)
The first song I’d heard by Glass Animals was “Gooey”, some months ago. I really dug it. I listened to it but didn’t go completely apeshit for it. I started throwing primate fecal matter when I heard “Pools” though. It’s a pristine gem. Every sound in the track is so carefully assembled, fits so perfectly with what comes before and after it. Just don’t mistake the coruscating production for polish. There is an organic warmth here that not many songs can match. I wish the drum flourish at the end of the song lasted 15 minutes instead of 15 seconds. The lyrics are also a blast to sing along to. “Shake my little soul for you now toy… I’m a man of many tricks and tools and joy” is a line I sung with pleasure time and time again over the summer. Oh, and Glass Animals are incredible live and are going to be huge. Oh, and the Roosevelt remix is fucking amazing.
5. Chvrches – Leave A Trace
I firmly believe that Chvrches’ debut, The Bones Of What You Believe, will go down as one of the best pop records of this decade. It would be insane to expect them to match that effort, yet here we are. “Leave A Trace”, the lead single from their second album, is an absolute stunner. I think we’re at the point where we can say that Lauren Mayberry, Iain Cook, and Martin Doherty are preternaturally gifted at song making. And I’m pretty sure that’s an understatement. On their way to conquering the world, I have little doubt.
4. Twenty One Pilots – Stressed Out/Ride/Holding On To You
I knew this band for “House of Gold”. I think it’s a good song, but stylistically, it’s in the same vein as a lot of other songs in the Indie-pop arena. Man, I had no idea what these cats had up their sleeves. The masters/coiners of schizo-pop, Twenty One Pilots don’t sound like anyone else. I fell deeply in love with a bunch of their songs over the summer. These were the three I fell hardest for. I’ve listened to these tracks a tonne, yet with each listen, their appeal does not cede, it increases. This is some of the most thrilling pop music being made anywhere. I am not surprised one bit that this band has become huge. They check off way too many boxes. Similar to the reach-for-the-stars-and-neighbouring-galaxies-and-let’s-make-sure-to-get-the-kitchen-sink-in-there-too effort of Fueled By Ramen label mates Paramore (on their last, eponymous record), Twenty One Pilots clearly want to make the most appealing and melodic music possible. And they couldn’t give a fuck what genre it belongs to or how it’s classified. While that’s being talked about, they’re too busy making hits and selling out shows. Too busy holding onto you. It’s not rocket science.
3. Miguel – Leaves/Leaves (Adam Foster’s Sweet California Remix)
Miguel’s “Coffee”, from his third album, Wildheart, is one of the songs of the year. That is a fact. But “Leaves” is the album’s other ace up his sleeve (when he wears sleeves, which is rare, I grant you). The melody, lyrics, and Miguel’s typically stunning vocal combine to form a strange sadness. It’s part regret, part love, part infatuation, part uncertainty, part longing. It’s an evergreen in a forest of maple trees. “The leaves don’t change here, so I never saw it coming” is possibly the lyric that struck me hardest over the summer. There’s a simple beauty in those words. The leaves don’t change here, and neither does my feeling for this song’s melody, those words, that voice. The first clip is a(n incredible) live version of the track while the second is Adam Foster’s fantastic Sweet California remix.
2. Christine and The Queens – Paradis Perdu/Saint Claude
I shed a tear the first time I heard “Paradis Perdu”. Because emotion transcends language. Because of the Kanye sample that was so completely unexpected. Because of that melody. And that vocal. Because I knew I’d be seeing Christine and The Queens at Osheaga. I live for moments like that. Where art batters routine. Feelings compel. Where music is the only thing in the world. These are the moments that make life feel like paradise. They must be remembered.
“Saint Claude” is just as great a song. The vocals in the chorus are brilliant.
1. Wolf Alice – Bros
“Bros” is precious. The video yes, but the song, first and foremost. The guitars, the vocal harmonies, and most of all, the bridge. The way Ellie Roswell sings “Oh, jump the 43, are you wild like me? Raised by wolves and other beasts, I tell you all the time, I’m not mad. You tell me all the time, I got plans.”
A better ode to friendship I don’t think I can recall. Friendship with people, with wolves, with clouds, with music, with water, with road trips, with tall blades of grass and sun fades in the past.
Another summer gone. Another pack of memories to store. Music, as always, there to soundtrack it all.