This list comes with the obvious caveat that these are my favorite songs of the year and not necessarily the 10 best songs of the year.
I spent entirely too much time listening to the Flying Burrito Brothers this year and not enough time listening to Sky Ferreirra to be a good barometer of taste.
Still below are the 10 tracks I couldn’t get enough of this year. They are in no particular order.
1. HAIM-“Don’t Save Me”
Hercules is the demi-god with the strength of 10 ordinary men, and HAIM is mom-rock with the strength of 3 Stevie Nickses. Just one of several earthy, hooky jams from this year’s thoroughly praised “Days Are Gone”.
2. Ex Cops- “Separator”
The most accurate approximation of ’90s shoe gaze outside of “m b v”. A pleasantly throbbing bass line, a healthy coat of reverb varnish and a build to a triumphant jangle crescendo kept this song firmly entrenched in my head all year long.
3. Black Joe Lewis- “Skulldiggin”
This crunchy slice of blooze rock would be the hardest The Black Keys have rocked in a couple of albums. In a year when indie-pop and Yeezus reigned supreme this unapologetic throwback was a counter-intuitive breath of fresh air.
4. CHVRCHES- “Gun”
Chvrches were the Scottish-indie-synth-pop triumph of the year. “Gun” is my favorite song off of the excellent “The Bones of What You Believe”. After hearing this song, running away with everything you own probably won’t keep it out of your head.
5. King Khan & the Shrines- “Pray for Lil”
“Idle No More” is an exceptional garage rock album from King Khan & the Shrines. Its standout track is the “Little Wing” and Dusty Springfield indebted “Pray for Lil”.
6. Charli XCX- “Take My Hand”
“Take My Hand” is equal parts energetic, addictive and sweet. It’s audible cocaine cut with pixie sticks. It’s the biggest ear worm on, “True Romance” , an album with so many pop gems even its bonus tracks bump.
7. Los Campesinos!- “Avocado Baby”
I am an unabashedly huge LC! fan, and this is maybe the perfect culmination of the different musical directions the band has pursued. Gareth yelping his sardonic lyrics, twee backing vocals, a muscular rhythm section and a fruit-based metaphor no other band would attempt all make this an instant classic in the LC! catalog.
8. Chance the Rapper- “Juice”
“Acid Rap” is one of my favorite albums of the year, and this track epitomizes what Chano was up to on his excellent mix tape. It has a ragtime sample, Tupac references, plenty of vocal ad libs and some great double-time rapping.
9. Kanye West- “I Am a God”
“Yeezus” was an intense car-bomb of an album, and no song on it was as incendiary as “I Am a God”. West’s palpable anger is somehow on display next to moments of genuine humor in one iconoclastic statement. Hurry up with his damn croissants!
10. Disclosure- “F for You”
I’ve been infected with the restless urge to listen to this song on repeat. A great, slinky piece of house music.
Honorable Mentions: Get Lucky, Reflektor, Pepe Lopez, Demon Dance, My Number, Rattlesnake