I can hear it now. “Hey! It’s only May, why are you doing a year-end list already, you asshole?” It’s a very valid question, but one that can be answered with “there’s already been an abundance of great music come out this year, you dipshit!”
Howlin Rain “The New Age”
For some reason, Howlin Rain leader Ethan Miller has invited us to his personal therapy session. “The New Age” tells the story of a severe depression leading to a rebirth. The passionate vocal delivery reaches its apex at the song’s end, when Miller desperately yelps ‘I Awoke” repeatedly.
Ultimate Painting “Ultimate Painting”
Unapologetically retro, Ultimate Painting’s eponymous lead single harkens back to the sunny sounds of California circa 1973.
Father John Misty “True Affection”
Father John emerged out of the “folk beard-rock” scene of Seattle playing drums for the Fleet Foxes. He’s taken a large evolutionary step here by incorporating electronic percussion into this groovy, sexy song.
Built to Spill “Living Zoo”
Doug Martsch and company return to the scene with this jangly, indie-pop gem. The track would be perfect for the opening sequence of a ‘90s sitcom. My vote is “Malcolm in the Middle.”
Kinski “Flight Risk”
“Flight Risk” is rock music at its best. Brutal, overdriving guitars bash away, while singer Chris Martin attempts to keep up with his gloriously imperfect vocal style. The track climaxes with a dual dissonant guitar catfight. Meow.
The Sonics “Don’t Need No Doctor”
The Sonics last album was released in 1967. All these years later, the guys sound better and more energized than ever. “Don’t Need No Doctor” is a great metaphor for their career – they’re saying “fuck it, when can play raw rock music like we’re still teenagers in a garage.”
Sleater Kinney “No Cities to Love”
On their triumphant “comeback album” this year, Sleater Kinney did everything exactly right. “No Cities to Love” sounds fresh and inspired, the work of women that have something that needs to be heard. The chorus on this song feels like an anthem you’d want to shout aloud while pumping your fist in the air.
Teach Me Equals with Vern Rumsey “PCiii”
“PCiii” incredibly manages to surpass the brilliance found on the band’s 2014 debut Knives in the Hope Chest. A repetitive bass line anchored by electronic percussion holds down the verses, while vocalist Erin Murphy’s enchanting vocal makes the chorus absolutely irresistible. Stay tuned for this track and its accompanying EP in the Fall of 2015.
White Manna “Pan”
The title track of their recently released album showcases White Manna at their best. The song starts with a bang, blasts off into space and never looks back. The moments where the band teeters on the edge of destruction, but somehow manages to pull it all back together are pure, transcendent ecstasy.
Courtney Barnett “Pedestrian at Best”
Aussie Courtney Barnett’s “Pedestrian at Best” is an absolute delight. Her bizarre, stream-of-conscious vocal approach is anchored by heavily distorted power chords. The chorus is incredibly infectious, and you’ll never guess a line as strange as “Give me all your money / and I’ll make some origami, honey,” would so immediately get stuck in your head.