Top 30 Songs of Summer 2015 (15-1)

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.

Top 10 Songs of Summer 2014 That Are Not From 2014

Part of the joy of summer is listening to music, whether it’s outside on a sunny day, by the water, at the cottage, or out for a jog. And often times, the summer songs that give us pleasure aren’t necessarily new. Listening to old(er/ish) songs during summer has a unique power: it can place us in a memory from the distant past, make time seem to stand still, and fill a moment with pure, unencumbered peace. It has the power to conspire with the elements, warm, sun-filled air, whistling trees, and roving clouds, to make one smile. That’s some kind of experience.

I’ve decided to issue a list of the “oldies” that helped make my summer a special one. Here are the top ten songs I listened to this summer that are not from 2014.

10. Pablito Ruiz – Oceano

Thanks Daniel for this one. I was linked to a story that suggested Tame Impala’s “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” ripped off the melody from this old South American pop song. I think the assertion is a steaming pile of bile, but one good thing came of it: I was introduced to this awesome pop ditty. So Menudo. So Melody. So my main man, Pablito.


9. The National – Bloodbuzz Ohio

Still so poignant. Still so frothing with everyman hurt. Still amazing.


8. New Pornographers – Bleeding Heart Show

I come back to this song pretty often, but this summer, I spinned it a few times, and its magic awoke something wonderful in me. It’s how it’s divided in two, AC Newman’s plaintive croon in the first half, and the most pie-in-the-sky thing the New Pornographers have ever done, the second half, where the music takes off, and Neko, dear Neko, soars. There is no end to the enjoyment I get from hearing, mouthing, and singing, “We have arrived, too late to play, the bleeding heart show.”


7. Morrissey – Every Day Is Like Sunday

A little embarrassed and a little miffed that I just discovered this gem over the summer. “Every Day Is Like Sunday” is a tune that represents what I love most about Morrissey, on his own or with The Smiths: rainy, gloomy, gutterific lyrics buoyed by sun-drenched music and coruscating melodies.


6. Daniel Lanois – The Maker

HOW!? How in the world!? How in the world had I not heard this treasure before this summer? No answer I can proffer would be a justification, so I simply shrug my shoulders and say, I missed it. But on the bright side, at least this gorgeous song, a classic by any definition, with its indelible guitar riff and fantastic lyrics, is new to my ears. Speaking of the bright side, the reason I came to this song was by way of The Killers. As they’re wont to do, they typically perform at least one cover song during each of their shows, and said cover typically has some special meaning to the city in which they’re playing. When they visited Quebec City in July, they performed this piece of magic by Daniel Lanois, who was born in Quebec. (Aside: The Tea Party have also covered this song in the past, and awesomely, are including a version of it on their new album, The Ocean At The End.)


5. The Temper Trap – Love Lost

If “Love Lost” was lost on me before, it isn’t any more. It’s not as if I didn’t like the song when I first discovered The Temper Trap, it’s probably more of a case where “Sweet Disposition”‘s star was so enormous and bright that it cast shade on every other song on Conditions. So I missed connecting with “Love Lost” at the time. This has been rectified. It’s a wonderful song with great keyboards, guitars, and of course, as always, a smouldering Dougy Mandagi vocal.


4. Manchester Orchestra – I Can Feel A Hot One

I think “I Can Feel A Hot One” is one of the best 10 songs of the past 10 years. I feel quite strongly about that statement. The song absolutely slayed me the first time I heard it, and time has not loosened its grip on my ears, my heart. “I Can Feel A Hot One” is one of the most spine-tingling, powerful, sad, destructive, instructive, songs I’ve ever heard. It is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the best songs I’ve ever heard. I keep coming back to it. I always — always — will.


3. Matthew Good – Born Losers

“Well there ain’t nothing to this but your daughter, and the life you would not give her, break your plans.” This line gets me every fucking time. It’s the lyric itself, but the way Matthew Good sings it is incredible. There is no confusing Matthew Good’s intent as he sings it; it’s all he’s saying — it’s all he means. Fully. Whatever comes of it. It’s been said. I wonder what this song means to him, seven years after its release. It still means so damn much to me. My favourite song by Mr. Good. His best, I do believe.


Bonus: Non Populus

I came across a song I’d never heard by Matthew Good this summer, “Non Populus”. What a track. An epic sprawl of guitars, the song had me by the throat after one listen. “Let it be done to you…” No problem, I’m down.


2. La Roux – As If By Magic/I’m Not Your Toy

La Roux’s self-titled debut album, five years later, remains incredible. “Bulletproof”, “Quicksand”, “Reflections Are Protection”, “Colourless Colour”, “Cover My Eyes”, et al were amazing the first time I heard them, and they’ve remained so. What’s become clear to me too, is that there are two songs that should have been huge hits, but for reasons unknown, were not. “Bulletproof” is a classic pop song, of this there can be no debate. But I firmly believe “As If By Magic” and “I’m Not Your Toy” are right there with it. Played both of these tracks ad nauseam this summer.



1. The Tea Party – Psychopomp

As I played “Psychopomp” over and over and over and over this summer, a thought dawned on me: it could be the best song The Tea Party has ever done, the best song by a Canadian band ever. I’m not saying this as an incontrovertible fact, but it can’t be ruled out. It’s the unparalleled musicianship. It’s, of course, the melody. It’s clearly, utterly, the lyrics. It’s how the indomitable Jeff Martin begins the track admonishing the listener with some kind of dark peace. It’s how the dominating Jeff Martin sings the second half with a raucous rage, a fiery belly embedded with a ferocious beauty. It’s not as if by magic. It most definitely is.