A few years ago, I began supplementing my “Favorite Albums” list by recognizing the few songs I liked that weren’t tracks on my favorite albums – at the time, mostly rap songs released into the digital ether. This year, however, thanks to more continuous album listening (i.e. making it more difficult to extract single tracks) and finding more records on which I only liked a few tracks, there’s been less overlap than ever before. Full list after the jump.
25. “Aquaberry Dolphin” – Riff Raff ft. Mac Miller (from Neon Icon)
“The lime Benz candy coated with the applesauce / The apple gloss, I’m on a beach, David Hasselhoff /Hassle me, I’m Tim McGraw; I don’t pass the ball” – rare-earth swag from a living, breathing reminder that the real world isn’t very real. Rap Game Andy Warhol.
24. “Mad Mary Jones” – The Vacant Lots (from Departure)
If Grease were an arthouse film, this would be the song that soundtracks its penultimate scene. Except in this case, Sandy lives in Bushwick and breezes by Danny with Kim Gordon disaffection.
23. “Deadbolt” – SKATERS (from Manhattan)
Hard to choose between this and dreamy Clash-esque mess-around “Bandbreaker,” but a killer chorus wins out every time. Feels like a hazy, warped memory of neon whirring by while floating around Manhattan at last call.
21. “The Whole Bag” – Nova Rockafeller
Plug your phone up in the Uber and kindly ask your driver to bend corners to this one as you vibe out.
20. “Hole” – Royal Blood (from Out of the Black)
Hard to believe just two dudes made this noise. It swings with big, nasty aplomb, and I think I love it so much because it reminds me of Kyuss’ “Gloria Lewis.”
19. “Rainbow’s Run” – King Tuff (from Black Moon Spell)
Get in the van, pop in this cassette, grab a sixer, and go for a night swim, ya square.
18. “The Wheel” – Gemma Ray (from Milk For Your Motors)
Imagine Isobell Campbell’s evil stepsister fronting a band with Tom Waits, Brian Wilson and The Cramps’ Poison Ivy. Sweet on the surface, sinister underneath.
17. “Galley Man” by Sinkane (from Mean Love)
You had me at “reggae with steel guitar.” Just dreamy.
16. “King of the South” – Big K.R.I.T. (from Cadillactica)
A stinging reiteration of what Krizzle must’ve felt “Mt. Olympus” apparently didn’t address clearly enough. Nothing can fill the void Big and Dre have left, but if we can’t have new ‘Kast, this will do.
15. “Let Fall Each and Every Sedition Symptom” – Trap Them (from Bliss****er)
The still-heaviest band in the universe truly outdoes itself with a monolithic album closer, building to a physically disorienting climax only to then abruptly topple it. I love this band.
14. “West Coast” – Lana Del Rey (from ULTRAVIOLENCE)
I couldn’t get into Lana, then I heard her elegiac rendering of “Heart-Shaped Box” and it instantly clicked. Thank goodness that compelled me to try ULTRAVIOLENCE! This song, perfectly conveyed by its video, is moody, pulpy, ethereal – like a pair of faraway eyes in a diner on a rainy night.
13. “Velvet” – BADBADNOTGOOD
A song truly worthy of its name. Lush, smooth, sophisticated, and effortlessly cool. Pair with a Padrón, two fingers of Dewar’s, and a great nighttime view in the Hollywood hills.
12. “The Dumb Room” – Gallon Drunk (from The Soul of the Hour)
4th annual recipient of the “Green Onions” Swagger Award (see also: 2013, 2012, and 2011 winners). This is 180-proof James Johnston, as he yowls mightily over a brawny backbeat and a sizzlin’ groove.
11. “Don’t Play” – Travi$ Scott ft. Big Sean & The 1975 (from Days Before Rodeo)
Best summed up by its video’s top comment: “La Flame Don’t Play No Games.” Who knew that harpsichord + a chorus from The 1975 would = one of the year’s hardest songs?
09. “Ember City” – Mastodon (from Once More ‘Round the Sun)
A soaring, striking chorus from a record that tried way too hard to be full of them.
08. “Here They Come” – The Janitors (from Evil Doings of an Evil Kind)
A dark, unsettling, anything-but-meditative meditation on mankind’s heart of darkness and the [pick your poison] Industrial Complex. Its gnarly, spiraling groove will stay in your bones forever.
07. “Black Sap Scriptures” – Plague Vendor (from Free To Eat)
Leering, sneering, unflappable punk weirdness that shows up uninvited to your party, kicks a hole in your drywall, takes your beer and leaves.
06. “Follow Me” – Coathangers (from Suck My Shirt)
Dare y’all not to “whoa-oh” along with Rock ‘n Roll High School’s bad girls.
05. “Collard Greens” – ScHoolboy Q ft. Kendrick Lamar (from Oxymoron)
“We gon’ turn it out until the neighbors wanna party, too.” A groovy groove from Groovy Q with a super-psychedelic video to boot.
04. “Don’t Mess With Me” – Brody Dalle (from Diploid Love)
The Goddess of Punk Rock (and my eternal #WCW) swings for the big-hook fences and that beautiful smoky husk sends it sailing over the center field fence. It’s the kind of song that demands to be sung at the top of your lungs and makes you say, “Man, that’s a good song” out loud to yourself as your ears ring in the aftermath.
03. A handful of Avant-Lanta anthems:
“No Flex Zone” – Rae Sremmurd (from the upcoming SremmLife)
“Look At Wrist” – Father ft. iLoveMakonnen & Key! (from Young Hot Ebony)
“Tuesday (Remix)” – iLoveMakonnen ft. Drake
“About the Money” – T.I. feat. Young Thug (from Paperwork)
“Move That Dope” – Future ft. Pharrell, Pusha T & Casino (from Honest)
Another year of heaters to extend our city’s reign. ATL’s musical influence on the rest of the country gives new meaning to our “Empire State of the South” designation.
02. “No Time for the Blues” – OBN IIIs (from Third Time to Harm)
This’un’s a white-hot ripper. RIYL: Bud Heavy, going Full Cage, bar fights at the Double Deuce, the Duke brothers catchin’ air, 100 percent pure adrenaline
01. “Blue Suede” – Vince Staples (from Hell Can Wait)
A deceptively swaggy slab of G-funk for our *eye roll* “post-racial” age, perfectly designed to rattle your trunk and your core. Even though it’s more of an intra-community indictment than a topical statement on race relations in America, It crystallized this moment in time for me as I was hit with reminder after reminder that things haven’t gotten much better outchea since ’88 (“Watch out for Judas, vice and G-unit / Five-O ****in’ with the yayo, too”). There’s a lot of work to be done so that the “next” Sybrina Fulton / Lesley McSpadden / Samaria Rice / Gwen Carr never has to shed a tear. May we never be divided or conquered.