Time for my annual sifting of the new stuff I’m listening to – yay!!!
Once again, I’m a bit surprised I found at least 10 songs/performers throughout the year that I think are share-worthy. This years list is one of extremes of the pendulum swing. From ambient, floaty, female vocals to anger-fueled heavy metal tirades, there wasn’t a lot of pop-influences as previous years, though there was a few. (gasp – no K-J Pop or dubstep!?)
Aurora (I’ll gush more about her later), Best Coast, and Purity Ring fulfill the need for quiet reflection and escape to a hidden place within my headphones. A welcome respite from the attack of everyday life. And a few fun bouncy beats that just found themselves popping up over and over again on my playlists. (I’m looking specifically at you, Albatraoz)
My head-bangin’ self was very happy this year as well. Rock/Hard Rock/Heavy Metal has been in a state of insipidness for about a decade as the NuMetal wave runs its course. While there were a few standouts (that didn’t sound just like EVERY other numetal band), it’s been a long time since I’ve heard much that has punch or is distinguishable from all the others. Five Finger Death Punch is back (again 😉 ) joining the likes of In This Moment (awesome) and Nostalghia in welcoming me back to having hopes for Heavy Metal.
I know you’re all just chomping at the bit to see all of the choicest cuts that made the grade this year so scroll below to feast your eyes on my favorite new shit filling my ears.
Aurora – Runaway
Ok, to be honest, for the last 4-5 months I’ve been thinking about how I was going to describe Aurora for this list. I knew the moment I heard this song it was going to be my top pick for the year. The closest I could come is a melancholy version of Elizabeth Fraser from the Cocteau Twins 80’s and 90’s ethereal dreamscapes. But that still doesn’t do her justice.
A truly unique 19 year old singer and performer from Norway, her passionate and animated delivery is absolutely spellbinding. An incredible joy to listen to, it’s even more magical watching her. Arms flailing, eyes always tilted either up towards the sky or down and inward, extracting pure emotion from deep down, every note and gesture is complete honesty. Completely captivating.
Most of her lyrics are dark and dreamy, which prove a powerful counterpoint to her child-like demeanor and ghostly delivery. Runaway is probably my favorite, which she wrote when she was 12 (!) is pretty light on lyrics, but also check out Boxes, Running with the Wolves, and Murder Song. These show she’s got some skill with weaving dark themes while sounding almost new-agey.
I can’t gush enough about what her appearance means to my musical playlists – it’s been a while since I’ve been so moved and so excited about a performer. Just listen, and look, and tell me if you don’t agree.
Lean On – Major Lazer, MO, DJ Snake
Yes, I know. This was all over the radio/pop playlists for most of 2015. Rightly so. That tiny, squeaky, raspy vocal mixed with DJ Snake was a genius move. Never expected her to look like dark haired version of Juliette Lewis though.
California Nights – Best Coast
Great, spacey, floaty atmospheric rapture. This song is just looking for a commercial to be a part of 😉 This is an easy one for me to close my eyes to and imagine that I’m on some Cali beach at sunset, flickering lights from nearby fires, just lounging with my girl and chillaxin’. Yep, I used “chillaxin’ “.
Heartsigh – Purity Ring
If pixies and fairies made cute electronic music, I believe it would sound like this. Another one that’s great for getting lost in.
Desire – Meg Myers
The “make you feel dirty” pick for this year. No, I don’t search them out, they just… happen. The super hot, super psychotic girl next door. Can’t help but want it but you know it’s only going to end badly – for you, anyway. A slow, crushing, hammering piano with drifting baseline incessantly draws you in to everything she’s promising to do, but the delivery is telling you that no matter what, the price will be too high. Sweet yet unsettling.
Changing Me – Bobby Green feat. Sean Michael Murray
These’s so much groovy electro, R&B funk here it reminds me of some late 90’s Euro pop with some Jarimoquai smoothy thrown in. Well layered and produced, moves smoothly from beginning to end.
Jekyll and Hyde – Five Finger Death Punch
OK, so I’m pleasantly surprised to find out these guys have continued to keep their heavy metal axe sharpened. A great follow to my 2013 pick, “Lift Me Up” – heavy, raw, and unapologetic. This is song I’m screaming to in my car, scaring the drivers next to me while going down Division. Heheh. Keep it up guys.
I’m and Albatroaz – AronChupa
Shout out to John Brothers for this one. Catchy, simple, addictive. A real bouncer. Don’t care what an Albatraoz is, it just sounds fun.
Homeostasis – Nostalghia
Kate Bush, Siouxsie Sioux, and Marilyn Manson had a love child. Fans describe them as “post-apocalyptic gypsy punk.” A definitively odd accent to her vocals make you want to hear more. The particular affectation in her voice though is intentional, born in California and raised between there and Tehran, she’s got a unique sound that only adds to the creep factor. I kinda like the creep factor.
Blood – In This Moment
We must give thanks to Lizy Hale of Hailstorm (2011 pick) for kicking open the heavy metal flood gates for women. There were a few spotlights of recognition in the late 90’s and 2000’s with the likes of Kitty, Guano Apes, and Snake River Conspiracy but they were each separated by a couple of years. Currently, Halestorm, The Pretty Reckless, and now In This Moment can all be heard on the rock and metal stations at the same time. It’s a good time to be alive.
In The Moment is probably the hardest (read: least commercial) yet their stuff doesn’t quite border on the completely absurd side the death metal scene. Think Pantera + Lady Gaga + Marylin Manson + Lords of Acid. Yes, I just made that comparison – and it’s absolutely apt. She has the chops to hang with the heaviest of them.