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October 11, 2015 | by  | in Music |
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The sound of 2015 (so far)

If Christmas can commence three months early then so to can an annual music wrap-up. Kate Robertson and Josh Ellery bring you the finest stand-alone tracks and LPs of the year so far.

The songs your playlist needs

“Trap Queen”—Fetty Wap
1738! Although Fetty’s “Trap Queen” technically came out in 2014, it rose to popularity this year. Fetty Wap is an interesting vocalist in that he’s not quite a rapper or a singer, but some sort of weird trap-inflected hybrid of the two. “Trap Queen” is an absolute monster of a track with a killer hook. Give the album a spin if you haven’t already.JE

“The Hills”—The Weeknd
The harsh honesty with which the lyrics are told will enrage you, but you’ll keep listening because you’re hooked. Laced with screams and straight out of a slasher film, the slow, brooding track chills you to the bone and seems to epitomise the album’s namesakeBeauty Behind the Madness.KR

“King Kunta”—Kendrick Lamar
Way cool to see Kendrick crack the mainstream with “King Kunta”. One of my initial thoughts of To Pimp A Butterfly was that there was no real stand-out radio single on the album, but “King Kunta” has proven to be a huge party anthem. Definitely my favourite rap track of the year.JE

“Multi-Love”—Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Winner of the nation’s highest songwriting accoladethe APRA Silver Scrollit would be rude to let “Multi-Love” slide by unnoticed. Ironically upbeat keys and percussion juxtapose incredibly raw lyrics that give the song a real air of confusion that culminates in this perfect piece of music.KR

“Cool It”—She’s So Rad
Another track that technically came out in 2014, but rose to prominence on this year’s Tango. In my opinion, “Cool It” is among the best songs to come out of New Zealand in recent yearsit’s lush, it has a stellar vocal, and successfully utilizes a glam-rock style guitar solo in a non-ironic way. An absolutely stunning song from a stunning album.JE

“Norf Norf”—Vince Staples
One of rap music’s hottest acts right now, 2015 has been career-defining for the 22-year old Cali native. Where a lot of young rappers can sound painfully similar, Staples separates himself with clean lines and a strong narrative. “Norf Norf” is catchy, but by no means weak. A definite summer staple if you’re yet to indulge in it.KR

“Pedestrian at Best”—Courtney Barnett
A classic Courtney Barnett track from an album that proved solid. “Pedestrian At Best” features typically snarky and witty Barnett poetry, the major draw-card of her music. She snarls over a much more rock-inflected backing than we’re used to hearing, and it works. Good shit, Courtney.JE

“What Went Down”—Foals
At risk of releasing another album that sounded just like all their others, Foals grabbed everyone’s attention when they released one of the most powerful rock songs of 2015. A slow burner that grows and grows, I would seriously consider sacrificing a limb to hear this absolute beast of a song played to a sold out arena.KR

“Omen”—Disclosure & Sam Smith
The dream-team from “Latch” reunited for “Omen”, and I love it. I’m biased towards Sam Smith—I can’t get enough of his voicebut the track itself is worthy of critical acclaim. “Omen”, despite Caracal’s other tracks, builds on the 90s house and electronic influences deployed by Disclosure on Settle. “Omen” is a brilliant electronic pop jam.JE

Song of the year

“Where Are Ü Now?”—Jack Ü feat. Justin Bieber
Certified pop gold, this bop takes the title uncontested. Released in March, the magic of this song was the fact that no one was expecting it. Right out of left field Jack Ü (aka Skrillex and Diplo) re-launched Bieber’s career and solidified their superstar producer status. In an environment where three years later we’re still being bombarded with electro-pop Lorde wannabes, this track redirects and instead roots itself in an unusual yet perfect R&B/mixed pop parallel universe. You can fight it all you want, but Bieber has hit new highs and this song for him has proven career defining.KR

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The albums your collection needs

The Top 40 Pick

How Big, How Blue, How BeautifulFlorence + the Machine
You love them, your Mum loves them, and your super alty flatmate probably loves them too (even if they won’t admit it). I don’t have many words to work with so I’ll sum it up like thisanthems upon anthems upon anthems. Get it in you.KR

Rap Album of the Year

To Pimp A ButterflyKendrick Lamar
Probably the best rap album of the decade so far, Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly is an absolute monster. It’s impossible to understate its importance, both thematically and sonically, and subsequently this album has been met with appropriate adoration from critics and fans alike. A modern classic.JE

Most Overrated

CaracalDisclosure
There can be no denying that Disclosure are a well-oiled machine, but in this case their obsession with perfection has let them down. High-profile guest vocalists feel exhausting and the songs where Guy and Howard’s vocals stand-alone are ironically the strongest. It’s a catchy album, but not really worthy of the hype we’re giving it.KR

Comeback of the Year

ComptonDr. Dre
After 16 years without a major solo release, Dr. Dre came back with a vengeance this year, and the world is a better place for it. Not only was Compton a dope record, but it also added a sense of finality and closure to a near-perfect trio of albums from Dre.JE

Alternative Album of the Year

Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just SitCourtney Barnett
For us plebs, it’s hard to figure out how Barnett managed to write an entire album about seemingly ordinary moments, but she did, and it’s goddamn brilliant. It’s rough around the edges and has a grungey alt-rock feel about it that separates her from her current industry counterparts. Hey Courts, pls write another album soon.KR

Most Underrated

TangoShe’s So Rad
Criminally underrated in a global sense, She’s So Rad’s sophomore effort Tango is one of my favorites of the year. The lush, shoegaze-inflected arrangements on Tango are as exciting and urgent sounding as any band in the world. If you haven’t heard Tango, stop mucking round and crack into it, you’ll love it.JE

Rock Album of the Year

Viet CongViet Cong
Well-penned lyrics and a creative manipulation of sound make these guys the definite dark horse of 2015. From the second the first song starts, it boomsthere’s no better adjective to describe it. The closing track “Death” comes in at a whopping 11 minutes and will shake you to the bone. Start to finish this album delivers and will please hipsters and bogans alike.—KR

New Zealand Album of the Year

Multi-LoveUnknown Mortal Orchestra
Multi-Love is the sort of album that shows New Zealanders are truly in the upper echelons of the independent music world. All 9 tracks on Multi-Love are perfectly well-rounded alternative pop songsparticularly the Silver Scroll winning title track. This is the most exciting New Zealand album I’ve heard in a while and I can’t wait to see what Unknown Mortal Orchestra do next.—JE

EP of the Year

M3LL155XFKA Twigs
This EP is sex. If you can’t (consensually) seduce someone with this playing in the background then I’m sorry but all hope is lost. R&B melodies layered with electronic distortions and glassy vocals, M3LL155X delves into the world of submission, dominance and sexual agency, and culminates in a true whimsical masterpiece if ever I heard one.KR

Album of the Year

In ColourJamie xx
This was our undisputed favourite of the year. In Colour is a gem because it has something for everyone. For the critics, it is a startlingly creative piece of work, featuring quirky choices of instrumentation and sampling. For the easy-going listener, this is a cohesive album of 11 outstandingly solid tracks, and for people our age that’s more or less an ideal album. While Jamie xx does utilise some left-field choices for collaborators, the execution is flawless (shout-out to Young Thug). I love In Colour, and although it seemed like an agonising wait for a Jamie xx solo album, it definitely lived up to the hype.JE

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