Best Tracks of 2015
Posted by Neil Wilson
It’s been another outstanding year for music all round, and once again the quality and quantity of releases here in Scotland has been phenomenal. As is tradition at Scottish Fiction we use our end of year radio shows to showcase our favourite tracks of the year. So here it is, two hours of the finest music released in 2015. A collection of our favourite singles, EP’s, and standalone songs.
There’s no ranking per se so the tracks are presenting not in any particular order, and we’ve avoided tracks from albums as our next show will be our Top 20 Albums of 2015. If you were to push me for a favourite, I’d say Turtle‘s Colours for my favourite EP, and HQFU Dust & Dirt as my favourite track. Equally though, this playlist could easily have been 6 hours long such was the quality of music this year. Check out the full show above for all the tracks, and below is the full playlist. Enjoy!
Man of Moon – The Road
The Edinburgh duo’s name has never been far from the lips of tipsters all year. Their August released single The Road showed why. Uber cool indie rock, with groggy guitars and a steady beat that both subside towards a climatic ending. The perfect debut track.
Tuff Love – Slammer
Tuff Love have blown 2015 out of the water. Two EP’s, a barrel load of amazing live shows, support from 6Music, Amazing Radio, and of course blogs and music websites across the world. This track Slammer was the first sounds we heard from the duo this year, and although every track they have put out this year could have found home on this list, Slammer remains my favourite. The best example of what Tuff Love are all about.
The Van T’s – Growler
The Van T’s burst through the swarm of wannabee bands this year to stake their claim as ones to seriously watch. Much of that propulsion was down to the snarling, grungy, ’90’s alt-rock inspired Growler. With it’s slacker-rock heart at the core, the Van Thompson twins mix in ’50’s pop vocals and sun-kissed Californian guitars.
Ela Orleans – The Sky and the Ghost
Taken from the April released album Upper Hell this track is an absolute stand out. With its choral singing, it’s electronic dance beat, and traces of art pop, The Sky and the Ghost is Ela Orleans‘ 2015 masterpiece.
Martha Ffion – So Long
Swoon. Claire McKay’s, known musically by her middle names of Martha Ffion, voice has such a calming and intoxicating quality. Coupled with beautiful meloncholic chamber pop sound, and grieving lyrics, the result is a heart swelling triumph of a single. The first single to be released via Claire’s partnership with indie label Turnstile, here’s hoping next year results in more gems like So Long.
Kathryn Joseph – the worm
2015 has most assuredly been Kathryn Joseph’s year. Winning The SAY Award in June for her debut album bones you have thrown me and blood I’ve spilled she struck while the iron was hot by released a haunting AA-side single. Twinned with album track the bird, was this song the worm. Aside from pairing perfectly with their names, the music was married through Kathryn’s unique voice and the eerie desolate piano. Like a soul bared, the worm weeps with emotion.
Turtle – Silent Weapons
Coming from Glasgow producer Jon Cooper’s EP Colours, Silent Weapons is a testiment to the old adage less is more. Delicate loops with floating synths and ghostly vocals, the true hero of Silent Weapons is the subtle build that exponentially takes over the closing stages. Turtle has been prolific this year, if slightly elusive, with two albums worth of material offered up. It’s this EP though which is his crowning moment.
Le Thug – Basketball Land
It’s hard to believe that Le Thug‘s EP Place Is, released in the first half of this year via Song, By Toad Records, is the band’s first formal release. The drone three piece are hard to pin down, selectively popping up when suits them with new music, so it was great to get a six track EP from them. The highlight is undoubtedly the dreamy Basketball Land. It’s a beguiling enthrall of hazy guitars, reverbing drones, and pulsing electronica.
Stillhound – Think This Way
Rising from the ashes of Discopolis and welcoming Honeyblood drummer Cat Myers into the fold Stillhound were born and dropped a trio of tracks this year. Think This Way came out as a single during the summer and immediately impressed with it’s playful melodies and surging chorus.
Forever – Shamed
With it’s Foals-esque influence, swirling Arabic percussion, and funky electro beats Shamed from Forever is a cacophony of juxtaposition and sound, which works perfectly. Forever are another band who have been sporadic in their releases; with only this track and Loose online; but each have made a big impact.
Sacred Paws – Vince
Taken from the 6 Songs EP released via Rock Actions Records in March, the duo of Rachel Aggs and Eilidh Rogders created a set of songs that flexed dancing muscles and created smiles along the way. Vince was our favourite of the bunch.
American Clay – Talk
It might be because it’s the newest track on the list, but with each listen this song feels so fresh and energetic, like a puppy chasing it’s tail. A winning combo of pop melodies, trashing drums and jarring guitars, Talk is the first glimpse at what American Clay are all about.
Catholic Action – The Real World
At the forefront of much of the DIY, garage rock scene this year, despite sounding completely different to most of their bedfellows, were Catholic Action. Led by Chris McCrory, who in various guises has imprinted heavily on the music of others this year, the band released this slice of homespun pop, checking various ’70’s glam and pop influences, and remaining playful and observant throughout.
Sweaty Palms – Captain of the Rugby Team
Also reppin’ Fuzzkill Records on our Best of 2015 list are Sweaty Palms, who stand out from the crowd thanks to their jangly sneer. Captain of the Rugby Team comes from the Hollywood Wax EP and revels in an eerie undertone with traces of Iggy Pop and Nick Cave, but managing to sound original and potent. You don’t quite know what’s hit, but it’s enough to make you want more.
Hector Bizerk – Rust Cohle
No longer contained by the tag ‘Scottish hip-hop’ Rust Cohle displays Hector Bizerk at their best, sounding more dark-rock than hip-hop as they boldly continue on their unstoppable journey. Two EP’s, an album, SXSW, plus festivals Europe wide, it’s been another standout year for the band, and Rust Cohle, from The Bell That Never Rang EP, puts everything about the band into surround sound widescreen focus. Just like it should be.
Be Charlotte – Discover
Innovative. Confident. Passionate. Be Charlotte is an exciting artist to watch develop, and her music is equally enthralling. Discover is an aptly named track if you are just listening for the first time, as you’ll find a heady mix of spoken word, stunning vocals, lopped electro beats, and neat little production touches.
Tongues – Religion
With it’s luscious and spacious production, echoing that of Jamie xx and Four Tet, Religion from Tongues is one of the finest cuts of electro-pop delivered from anyone anywhere all year. Like a musical paint by numbers, Tongues fills the canvas with bleeps, blips and drums with Religion culminating in a full blown masterpiece.
Profisee – Instant Damscus
It might have been the only track that Edinburgh MC Profisee unleashed this year, but sometimes quality matters more than quantity. With it’s menacing beat and sparse production, Instant Damscus is one of those tracks that worms it’s way into your subconscious.
HQFU – Dust & Dirt
Doing a 180 degree turn Sarah J Stanley sheds the folk music skin she previously wore and adopted electronica with her new project HQFU. Dust & Dirt induces euphoric feelings with it’s hip-hop beats, it’s throbbing house bass, and it’s smokey, shadowy vibe. Hands down my favourite track of 2015.
Golden Teacher – Shatter
Listening to Golden Teacher is revolutionary. In the same way as the art world was confused, amazed, and inspired when Picasso strutted onto the scene, Golden Teacher play havok with music, having great fun along the way. Shatter is a prime example of this with it’s in-track evolution, collage of sounds, and experimental playfulness, it still keeps fun at the very heart of all it does.
Rudi Zygadlo – Sympathies Scrapbook
Reveling in the full palate of sounds and samples, Rudi Zygadlo‘s returning track is wonderfully distorted, twisted and gleefully fun. “Suck a plum like a thumb” cry the vocals before tenderly asking “does it feel like the first day of school?” giving a nervy feel to the track which is collated from mildly distressing youthful diary entries. Piled with a gargantuan amount of samples, Sympathies Scrapbook still manages to sound bright and breezy throughout.
Bdy_Prts – Cold Shoulder
Glitter duo Jenny and Jill, a.k.a. Bdy_Prts released this single back in June fusing R’n’B vibes with electro-pop to glorious effect. The track saw lots of love come their way, making it onto the BBC Radio 1 playlist, and rightly so. It’s magic. Pure magic.
Bossy Love – Tell You What
Bossy Love is the combination of Aussie singer Amanda Wilkinson; formerly of Operator Please; and drummer John Baillie Jnr; ex-Danananakroyd; who released their mixtape Holidates at the end of 2014. Coming from that mixtape is single Tell You What, which chops up hip-hop beats, spoken melodies, and hyperactive synths.
ULTRAS – The Path To Getting Paid
The return of Gav Prentice, in the form of his new band ULTRAS, was a welcome note this year. The Lanarkshire singer songwriter pens lyrics with real grit and personal conviction, and The Path To Getting Paid is no different. There’s a steady marching beat behind Prentice’s gruff vocals, but it’s the passion in his voice which lands this track it’s place on our list.
WOMPS – Live A Little Less
2015 saw the birth of WOMPS, but it’s been a bit of a stunted year of growth. Having been in Chicago last December recording, the band’s debut LP is ready to go but all we’ve heard of it so far is AA single Live A Little Less / Dreams on Demand. Perhaps I’m greedy, but because Live A Little Less is so good, I can’t wait to hear more. For now, this guitar heavy, ferocious flurry of noise will have to do.
Machines in Heaven – Displacer
Displacer was the first track that we put on our Scottish Fiction Playlist this year and rightly so. They take a pulsing dance beat and use it as a base to build and expand on. Considered layering, and expert production turn the track into a tour de force of shoegaze and electronica. With three highly skilled producers in the band, it’s little wonder that Machines in Heaven consistently turn out banger after banger.
SEØUEL – Fear Party
Clear the dancefloor, I’m about to drop some bombs. There’s nothing else for it once the intense, almost hypnotic beats of Fear Party start up. Taken from the Reykjavik EP it’s enthralling, guns-blazing, and shuddering sounds match the name of the EP. Full of volcanicity, this track has rarely left my headphones this year.