Normally in December I do a round-up of all my favorite and most-played songs from the previous year, as determined by last.fm. However, since I nuked my old account in June and changed to a brand new one, their list is not at all accurate, and all it says is that I listened to Chvches on repeat constantly. Which is true, but only since Halloween.
Instead of top-played music, I am just going to talk about what I bought this year, where I found it, and how I liked it.
Now, keep in mind I don’t listen to the radio, so I mostly find new music from live shows, random overheard-in-bars or television/movie soundtracks. So some of the music and bands here are very new-to-me instead of actually new-new.
Here, in reverse chronological order, is all the music I bought in 2015, as determined by Amazon and my spotty memory.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack / Deluxe Version)
Most recently purchased is this soundtrack from Catching Fire. It was only 5.99 digital download, and I have really enjoyed the other Hunger Games soundtracks. They’re well curated and I think they fit the mood of the movies very well. I heard Lorde’s cover of “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” on another movie promo, and that’s what sent me trying to find it.
I heard this song (it’s a dance version of that song from Star Wars) when I was out at a bar, and I couldn’t remember the name of that app where you listen to a song and it identifies it, so I typed into my Android phone’s search bar “recognize music” (so I could find the app) and that’s how I found out that Google will just go ahead and recognize music for you, without the need for an app.
The Devil Ain’t Lazy
This song was playing at the same bar right after the song above. I’ve never listened much to Pokey Lafarge, even though he’s very popular in St. Louis, and this song may be what finally gets me seriously examining his stuff.
Dust & Cloud (feat. Phildel)
The Glass Ghost
I got really into the peaceful/spooky sounds of Phildel (see below) this year, and this was just me rounding out my collection of her music.
I was completely captivated by the sound of Chvrches this fall. I first heard the song Dead Air on a Hunger Games soundtrack (Mockingjay Pt. 1) and was listening to it on track-repeat for probably a week, then I decided to just buy their other stuff.
I love both the albums I bought, but Bones of What You Believe is my favorite. I think Lies is my favorite track, but it’s honestly hard to just choose one. I love these lyrics:
I can sell you lies
You can’t get enough
Make a true believer of anyone, anyone, anyone
I can call you up if I feel alone
I can feed your dirty mind
Like I know, like I know what you want
I think that anyone who has a high degree of emotional intelligence and a strong sense of self-protection will recognize those feelings. Or, you know, anyone who works in marketing.
I first heard Sóley in a Halloween-related playlist I found on Tumblr ( it was called hey there little red riding hood, but don’t ask me where the link is, I didn’t save it.) The song Bad Dreams is so perfectly hollow and sad that I wanted more, and I bought more and I really love it.
Very “scary little girl in a haunted house with an electric pianoforte” vibe, if there is such a thing as an electric pianoforte.
The Disappearance of the Girl
Same with Phildel as with Sóley – I got a Halloween playlist with her song The Wolf on it, and listened to it so much I just had to have more.
Hollow and empty music as performed by girls of whom you should rightfully be frightened is my musical aesthetic this year, it seems.
I know my way through the night to your door.
You know, the blood that I’m owed is all yours.
The wishes I’ve made are too vicious to tell.
The devil, already he knows me so well.
This song also reminds me very strongly of a short story I wrote, which was inspired by the song Howl by Florence and the Machine, so I am very much digging the circularity of the whole thing.
Letter to Memphis
Letter to Memphis is a lovely local band that I heard for the first time at this year’s Strange Folk Festival while I was there shooting a video. Live music was played at the top floor of a mostly empty mall, and the song Other Life was truly haunting as it echoed across the event.
In My Mind EP
I watched a really bad show this year, or at least I tried to. It was some BBC thing called “Residue” about the end of the world in London, or military experiments or something, and it was just so bad I couldn’t even. The only good thing about it was the song in the opening credits:
Then later on that week I started watching a really GOOD show called “Top of the Lake” (it’s on Netflix) and something in it sounded so familiar, and it turns out that Georgi Kay who wrote that lovely song above also acts in and sings in that show. Serendipitous.
Anyway, I love her and her song Ipswich is definitely one of my most-played for 2015.
If you guessed she’s spooky and haunted sounding, you’d be smart and not wrong. I love every song on this EP, and I’ve already pre-ordered her new EP Origins, which is coming out in February.
How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful (Deluxe)
Florence + The Machine
There was a new Florence + The Machine album and so I bought it and so I don’t know what else to say. Same throaty deliciousness that you’d expect, and I love how she’s still delivering strong and consistent music album after album. I was afraid that nothing could live up to her debut, but she never disappoints.
If you got the deluxe version than you also have Which Witch which is such a great angry driving song. (As well as being big and hollow and slightly terrifying. Yes please percussion.)
A new Weepies. A NEW WEEPIES. Jesus. I remember downloading this the morning it was released and just bursting into tears as I listened to it in the car on the way to work. This is my most magical band. And I was able to go see them this year, and it was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever experienced. That night will forever be one of my most cherished memories.
I love everything about this album, but the song Fancy Things was a really surprising and delightful departure from their usual sound. I love it above all things. The message, the music, Deb’s voice, knowing Deb is cancer-free now, my heart swells.
Sometime early last year I went on an insane Danny Elfman/Oingo Boingo kick, and decided that I absolutely must complete my collection by buying everything I didn’t already own digitally of their back catalog. Consequently I listened to Insanity on steady repeat last spring. But then I also got super addicted to Pedestrian Wolves as well. It sounded as crazy as my head felt.
This year has been so much about feeling unhinged and like my brain was not functioning as a brain should function, and sometimes when you feel that way, I think it helps to listen to something just as completely borked as your mind feels.
Oh, and if you haven’t listened to Insanity in a while, or seen the video, do yourself a favor and get reacquainted:
After the Superbowl last year I lost my mind and bought old Missy Elliott and then remembered that I really only like about two of her songs, and I might as well have thrown my money right down the garbage toilet. Least listened to purchases of the year.
Poor Bjork. This is a really raw and painful album to listen to. I am glad she got to make it and I hope it was cathartic, but I am sorry she felt this way, and it’s not exactly something you put on repeat.
What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World
I also got to see The Decemberists in concert this year (it was a really good concert year) and this was another show that I just sat and cried through. I don’t even care, this was an emotional year for me, and I’ve stopped giving a care about crying in public. Things touch me. I feel ways. I cry and laugh, sometimes at the same time. Whatever.
I am torn between loving best the sincerity of Make Me Better:
and the creepy excellence of Easy Come, Easy Go
So I shall love them both best.
And that’s it! My 2015 in music. I am totally inspired to make myself a new driving playlist now, and I hope you found something new to love, or rediscovered something you hadn’t heard in a while.
Until tomorrow, minions!