Year after year, it seems that our old guitar rock friend is drifting further and further away from the Hot 100 ranking. Under the top 40, alternative radio is centered on smooth, synth-friendly sounds and big rock stations. audiences offer little respite to the anxious male groups that dominate the format. But if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find the world is full of artists who are fed up with the status quo, working progressive messages and vital worldviews in rock and alternative music who are aiming for a future worth living. worth digging. .
From artists bubbling below the mainstream to those comfortably seated far, far away, here are 10 rock and alternative songs from 2015 that we can’t live without.
10. American Girls, “Damn That Valley”
US Girls leader Meg Remy calls her long-running “all-women” DIY project a “feminine counterpoint to Bruce Springsteen’s work.” For her first single after signing to a bigger label (4AD Records), Remy was inspired by a Boss movement and to turn a protest against American foreign policy into a dancefloor jam. The subject is dark. Remy sings from the point of view of a war widow in Afghanistan’s Korangal Valley, where American soldiers were often left sitting like ducks. “I wanted to write a song that was pure emotion, about something political,” Remy told Billboard. A dancehall beat to the left might sound like a tricky magical ingredient, but no one ever said making political songs fun was easy.
9. Speedy Ortiz, “Raising the Skate”
Speedy Ortiz loves Pavement. Many. Considering how often this influence has been exploited over the past 20 years, one would expect a group to be predictably sarcastic at best, or worse, very, very boring. But no! On “Raising the Skate”, noted researcher Nicki Minaj, Sadie Dupuis, takes up the essence of these lyrical Beyoncé sweatshirts and transforms them into a dilapidated pop vessel that perfects the plan laid out by the catchiest track from their previous album, “Tiger Tank”. Concrete example – the underwater and intergalactic effect applied to Dupuis’ voice as it slides out of the chorus and into the jerky bed of bass and percussion of Darl Ferm and Mike Falcone. Such tight hooks and effects will make you stand out from a multitude of looser bands.
8. Makthaverskan, “Witness”
Ah, the unique single, a way outside of the album cycle to unleash some creative energy and let fans know you’re always kicking. But for Swedish punks Makthaverskan, “Witness” was so much more, upping the highly competent intensity of their 2014 II LP in a swirling dust heck of post-punk fury. It’s a genre that has been revived to death, but when singer Maja Milner screams through the storm for a final part of the chorus “Witness your fall,” it’s less like a revival than forging a whole new language. Seriously, the 2:23 mark of this song…
7. Chairlift, “Ch-Ching”
Chairlift’s Caroline Polachek co-wrote and co-produced Beyoncé’s “No Angel” and on “Ch-Ching,” the Brooklyn duo’s first new song in three years, it’s clear the duo sipped the same psychosensual R&B fountain. Here’s to getting out of dream pop and fitting in comfortably into a scorching world of bass brass, 808s and finger snaps… and anyone who can understand what 27-9-9-23 means.
6. Brand new, “Mene”
By the standards of Brand New – the cult Long Island band to end all cult bands – 2015 has actually been a very productive year, giving out a 9-year demo cache for the first time and releasing one – yes , a – glorious new song, their first in six years. “Mene” is a total assault on those who ignored the band after the mixed reception of their 2009 album Daisy. It’s a little over two minutes of big country guitars, dredged in post-hardcore mud, pumped up and prepped for a chorus that reminds us that there is no angst like the angst of Jesse Lacey. . While most survivors of the early 2000s emo wave stagnate in a pool of nostalgia, Lacey can shout ‘we don’t feel a thing’ and make supporters of the genre’s oft-mocked so-called revival believe their past still means. Something.
5. Blood orange, “Sandra’s smile”
Dev Hynes’ R&B sorcery exists in a space just below the mainstream. He’s written for Carly Rae Jepsen and Sky Ferreira, and while his own work as Blood Orange is often deeply personal, “Sandra’s Smile” touched on some of America’s most gripping issues. “Sandra” is Sandra Bland, the black woman who was found dead in a Texas jail cell just days after being pulled over for a routine traffic stop. Loss resonates with Hynes, as does his struggle to get out of it. And when it gets too much, a bright R&B cradle (close your eyes and it feels like a Polar slow jam) does its best to rock you to peace.
4. Beck, “Dreams”
What Beck did four months after his melancholy, downtempo LP Morning phase won the Grammy album of the year? Release an irresistible song ready for the radio with the chorus “ddd-dreams, she makes me high!” “Dreams” took advantage of Beck’s Grammy momentum to dominate its radio track (it peaked at # 2 on alternate songs) and gave us plenty of reason to anticipate yet another dramatic reinvention of the veteran hipster’s LP. of the. Speaking of which, we’re still waiting.
3. Courtney Barnett, “pedestrian at best”
Since her first EPs, fans knew Courtney Barnett had bars, but this year she’s proven she has killer hooks to go with her stellar lyricism. Within and between the crisp chorus, Barnett weaves a first-person act, sad and so intelligent it’s hard to believe her when she sings “I’ll Only Let You Down”.
2. Grimes, “Flesh without blood”
There were several otherworldly pop bangers on Grimes’ Angels of art, but we’re glad she decided to let that stratospheric kiss kick start the album cycle. Artist named Claire Boucher left us guessing during the album’s long gestation period, sharing “Go,” an EDM banger she wrote for Rihanna, and later admitting that she had given up on material work. of an entire album. Doubt was in the air. In the end, she delivered the pop that many of her fans craved, without sacrificing the unique personality that made her an underground star. “Flesh Without Blood” is that in a nutshell – a sky-scratching hook drawn from unintelligible vocals, served on a buzzing guitar stomach.
1. Chvrches, “Leave a trace”
On the contrary, the best songs of Chvrches may sound too perfect. Lauren Mayberry, Iain Cook and Martin Doherty had the life-affirming synthpop songbook about 2013 The bones of what you believe, so a little confidence in the second album was enough to push them into the stratosphere. M83 hasn’t released an album to speak of since they took the stage, so if Chvrches plans to translate the emotional highs of your favorite teen dramas into a sparkling chorus, the ground is theirs. On this year Every eye open, “Leave a trace” is exactly that.