20) LCD Soundsystem – How do you Sleep?
James Murphy’s wailing, resonating vocal performance on ‘How do you sleep?’ sounds as though he is yelling off the edge of the world, such is the excellence of the delivery and production. An ominous drum beat and enormous sounding synthesiser give further potency to a track that ebbs and flows with an immense power.
19) Vince Staples – BagBak
‘Bagbak’ is Vince in beast mode, with an amalgamation of abrasive house, complex rhymes and spitfire delivery building into a pounding climax where he takes down America’s one percenters whilst telling the President to cop one on the way.
18) The War on Drugs – In Chains
The War on Drugs stretch and embolden their synth infused Americana to create possibly the biggest sounding track they have ever released. The pummeling rhythm and soaring, anthemic qualities portray a turbulent emotional state that isn’t necessarily able to be understood, only expressed.
17) Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Julie’s Place
The Melbourne outfits ability to combine the drive and energy of a punk song with the sunny, sprawling mood of an Australian summer is on show in ‘Julie’s Place’, a track equally in debt to Australian acts such as The Go-Betweens and Radio Birdman.
16) Run the Jewels – Legend Has It
EL-P’s production capabilities are something to behold on ‘Legend Has It’. His characteristic slicing and dicing of left-field samples, the stomping rhythm, and the constant fluctuations in textures and tone give himself and Killer Mike a hell of a stage to perform on. They deliver a rush of tongue twisting brags with bravado that emphasises style over sincerity.
15) Priests – Nothing Feels Natural
A darker, more haunting side of Priests takes influence from Joy Division and Sonic Youth in the coarse, shoegaze inspired guitars and melodic rhythm section. However the unleashing of distortion and opening up of the drums in the climax is distinctly Priests in its thrashy, punk tendencies. The result is an eclectic blend of genres, of the old and new.
14) Tyler the Creator – See You Again ft. Kali Uchis
This is a particularly important track in the career of Tyler for a number of reasons. He hands a fair portion of his track to the charming vocal work of Kali Uchis, he chooses a warm arrangement of strings and glowing hooks over more traditional hip hop production, and he inverts the ‘hard-man’ persona he had often previously projected in favour of one who just wants love. This is a brief moment of Tyler exposed under all pretences and controversy, and it’s stirring.
13) Kendrick Lamar – DNA
The significance of ‘DNA’ is the way Kendrick offers the listener such a wealth of content through his rapid, furiously paced flow. Being an African American is not something that can be appropriated or defined merely by skin colour. The way Kendrick contorts words into spaces they normally wouldn’t fit; the way he fits more words into a line than is conventional, is Kendrick’s representation of the abundance of deep and complex events that lead to the formation of ethnicity and identity over time.
12) Mount Kimbie – Blue Train Lines ft. King Krule
King Krule’s urgent, wailing guest cameo is the central ingredient in a washy, layered track that builds through waves of dynamic and drifting, atmospheric electro. There is a notable sense of displacement, like a loss of oneself in an alien, urban wasteland.
11) Spoon – Hot Thoughts
The consistency of appeal of Spoon is owing much to the bands ability to subtly update a core sound, keeping their tracks familiar but fresh at the same time. ‘Hot Thoughts’ is no different. Its guitars hustle and bustle restlessly, those characteristically punchy drums drive the track onward, and this time a new wave influence gives an added element of atmosphere, with the keys and strings drifting like an undercurrent. There is a preciseness and dynamic interplay on show here that gives the track an urgent flow that no other band can incorporate.