It’s time again for my annual round-up of markontour’s favourite new songs of the year – the Festive Fifteen 2015. As usual, they music isn’t festive and there aren’t 15 tracks, and it remains a tribute to John Peel’s wonderful annual Festive Fifty.
All bar two tracks are available on my Spotify playlist of the same name.
Enjoy (I hope)!
1. Ghostpoet – ‘Off Peak Dreams’
London rapper who’s discovered guitars. His show at Festival No.6 was one of my highlights of the year. Off Peak Dreams encapsulates a great 2nd album: “Look life is hard, life is shifty… Please believe me, it’s just bills & tax & bailiffs / Stretching out the pounds & livin’ nifty.. But life’s alright I guess, if sweetened up / I just guess I’m seeking out the up & up”.
2. To Kill A King – ‘Love Is Not Control’
I love the cadence of the lyrics in this song, from a a band who impressed at Latitude and have made a cracking debut album.
3. Matthew E. White – ‘Rock & Roll is Cold’
The Spacebomb recording collective lynchin employs his bulls**t detector over a rousing tune that rather contradicts the curmudgeonly sentiment of the title.
4. Wolf Alice – ‘Freazy’
I could have picked almost any track of this astounding debut album. Freazy gets the nod for its stick-in-your-head chorus: “Did you rally wanna with Alice? / Did you really wanna with the Wolf? / You can hate us all you want / But it don’t mean nothing at all / You can join us if you think you’re wild / You can join us if you’re feral child / Our love is cool”.
5. Courtney Barnett – ‘Dead Fox’
Dead Fox sees Ms Barnett going green and putting it all in perspective: “More people die on the road than they do in the ocean / We should mull over culling cars instead of sharks”. It’s like Half Man Half Biscuit meets Billy Bragg, with a bit of the Handsome Family thrown in. Fabulous.
6. Fantasma – Shangri-La ft. Moonchild
I don’t know anything about them, but the album was a soundtrack to my summer cycle journeys & this track is a head-swayer.
7. Young Fathers – Shame
They put in an incredibly powerful performance at Latitude on the back of a stunning second album, which rewards listeners who give it their full attention. Intense.
8. Songhoy Blues Brothers – Soubour
Taken from the album ‘Songs in Exile’, this Malian band clearly pine for home and an end to the conflict there. But they have produced some brilliant music out of their pain, and put on a mean live show too. The lead singer’s rubber-limbed dance moves defy replication or description.
9. The DMAs – ‘Delete’ They do sound a lot like Oasis (although it’s a bit rich of Noel Gallagher to complain about people aping their heroes). Thus the lyrics are mostly nonsense on paper, but somehow hit home when accompanied by the welter of great melodies.
10. Natalie Prass – ‘My Baby Don’t Understand Me’
Another Spacebomb hit, employing the in-house brass section to great effect at the emotional crescendoes.
11. Stornaway – ‘The Only Way Is Up‘
I threw my hands in the air to the Yazz original in 1988, but never realised what a progressive song it was until I saw Stornaway performing this beautifully stripped down cover in a church at the Port Eliot festival.
12. Rozi Plain – ‘Actually’.
I discovered this courtesy of the bloke who sells LPs from his narrowboat on the River Lea (@therecorddeckuk). Apparently Rozi Plain is also a boater & so I must catch a floating gig in 2016.
13. Mark Knopfler – ‘River Town’*
I’m a Dire Stratis fan & proud of it & so it is with great pleasure that I include this beautiful bit of nostalgia from the man who has wisely ditched the headband, but still plays guitar like no-one else.
14.William Tyler – Whole New Dude
Mesmerising guitar playing. This track has been the accompaniment to many a take-off over the last year, after I discovered it in Rough Trade, Brooklyn.
15. Public Service Broadcasting – ‘The Other Side’
I loved taking my Mum to a BSP gig at the BFI, and their 2015 concept album, ‘The Space Race’, has been my most played album of the year. I still have to stop whatever I am doing at the bit where Houston nervously waits for the Apollo 8 crew to re-emerge from the dark side of the Moon.
16. [BONUS TRACK] **
Rivertones – ‘Under Dubwood’
I brilliant tribute to the great Welsh writer, Dylan Thomas, courtesy of Caught By The River. I should have included it last year, of course, on the anniversary of Thomas’ birth..
* Not available on Spotify