Amy Smolcic - Written Editor
Travi$ Scott – ‘Nothing But Net’ (feat Partynextdoor and Young Thug)
Travis has been on my radar for a while now - lyrically he isn’t changing the world, but musically he is influencing hip-hop in a big way. If we go back to Kanye’s Yeezus album, it has Travis’ sound all over it - many have also suggested that he ghostwrote it (it’s a rumour, please don’t sue me Ye - i’m not claiming anything haha). What I love most about ‘Nothing But Net’ is it’s menacing darkness. Going off all the tracks Travis has released in the lead up to his debut album Rodeo, including ‘Nothing But Net’, ‘3500 (For The Coat)’, and ‘Antidote’, it’s going to be much more murky then any of his previous mixtapes - and I couldn’t be anymore excited.
Vic Mensa – ‘U Mad’ (ft. Kanye West)
Vic can spit fire, he has proved this on many occasions - ‘U Mad’ is no exception. If you’re sick of using Chief Keef’s ‘I Don’t Like’ as your F the haters track like myself, then I have found a replacement for you. This song is so much like ‘I Don’t Like’, that Kanye steals Keef’s flow in his verse when he raps ‘I don’t fuck with the fake dudes wearin' fake Trues’, Keef also expresses his dismay for individuals who wear fake True Religion denim ever so eloquently (don’t hate me, i’m trying to be sarcastic). 2015 has been the year where trap has taken over hip-hop, ‘U Mad’ is one of the finer examples.
Fetty Wap – ‘My Way’
My inclusion of this track is purely subjective. I don’t expect to see many others include it on mid-year lists or end of year lists - I mean, it isn’t the best song. I’ve included this one as it’s a banger, and sometimes music doesn’t need to be socially or politically motivated lyrically. If I didn’t include ‘My Way’ in my list, my list would have been lies. This song has been my jam for a while now and If any track is going to get me turnt, then look no further then this one.
Kristy Smolcic - Director & Photography Editor
Mini Mansions - 'Freakout!'
I've been a fan of these guys for a while now, so I can't help but be excited for new material by them. This song was a killer release, with it's silky groove and bouncy beats, it's incredibly addictive. Love love love it!
Tame Impala - 'Cause I'm A Man'
Oh Tame Impala, what a tune! This one is such nostalgic goodness. I remember first hearing this one and listening to it on repeat all day long, then singing it the next day, and the one after that - even to this day i'm still singing it. It's just so sssmmmooottthhhh.
Beck - 'Dreams'
Now, this one was just released but it's a definite new favorite of mine by Beck. I cant help but be a sucker for a funky tune. Beck, you the man.
D. L. Bugeja - Writer
Junkie XL – ‘Brothers In Arms’
As a stand-alone track, ‘Brothers In Arms’ serves as the perfect motivator. There’s a hell of a lot of inspiration in, what is, Track 10 of Junkie XL’s soundtrack to George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road. A chaotic blast of power, a foot firm on the gas pedal from the get-go and some triumphant orchestral flourishes. Oh, and there’s that electric guitar. Wild, unrelenting and Furiosa plus.
MS MR – ‘Painted’
MS MR’s ‘Painted’ unleashes its best lyrical trick early on, but it’s that trick that keeps you listening. What’s left is nothing entirely original (the piano break grew on me…) and while the lyrical repetition may not be everyone’s cup of coffee, it’s the vocal drive that sells it. Strangely addictive.
Zac Brown Band - ‘Heavy is the Head’ (feat Chris Cornell)
It’s a brave move to invite Chris Cornell to guest on a track. Here Cornell does more than just enhance the tune, he makes it his own (making you feel for Brown on lead vocals, almost wanting him to notch up the volume). Musically, ‘Heavy is the Head’ is a bag of age-old tricks with guitar work that would Tom Morello smile. I’m throwing it on my favourties list (for 2015) as a stunning curiosity.
Kate Carnell - Writer & Interviewer
Kendrick Lamar – ‘The Blacker The Berry’
Is Tupac really dead or is he ghostwriting for K. Dot? This lyrically astute song is a standout from Kendrick’s highly anticipated second album ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’. The brutal honesty in documenting his internal conflict regarding his anger toward the Trayvon Martin shooting while also acknowledging that ‘black-on-black’ violence is just as critical an issue.
“So why did I weep when Trayvon Martin was in the street when gangbanging make me kill a ni***r blacker than me? Hypocrite!”
Safia – ‘Counting Sheep’
Safia have created such an aural delight with this track. I remember hearing it for the first time on Triple J and then the next 4000 times on continuous repeat for a solid week. It sounds as though the many elements, effects and cool sounding instruments (is that a woodblock??) have been intricately placed to deliver this kind of eerie, kind of ominous yet fucking awesome 2 minute 53 second masterpiece.
Kygo ft Parson James – ‘Stole The Show’
Pretty much Kygo’s entire catalogue (which isn’t outrageously extensive) has been thrashed by me this year. I love singing to this one though - like really singing. I’m sure my friend Claire was laughing out of absolute astonishment at my immense talent when she heard me do the chorus. I love this song also because it reminds me of the new friends I have made while being a new chump in the big city. Funny how music can do all that eh?
Jess Vaia - Writer
Tame Impala – ‘Let it Happen’
New Tame Impala music has been long anticipated for a while now, so when they finally dropped Let it Happen, everyone had an opinion. Although it caused mixed reviews, as it diverged from their usual psychedelic rock, the musical talent behind the song is undeniable. The progression of the song takes you on a journey as they combine rock instrumentation to create an electronic output. The end result – oddly enough a pop song, but it works so well. Parker’s Lennon-esque voice is layered with synths, reverb, raw guitar, chopping and mid point he just smashes down the looper button. I thought my radio was malfunctioning at first. When it finally comes to a close, I must say, you feel a little lost and ponder what to do with yourself, after being engulfed into another world for the last 8 minutes.
Blur – ‘Go Out’
Nothing gets me more excited than 90’s British rock, so when it was announced that Blur had new stuff coming out after 12 years, I squealed like a 16-year-old groupie. With such a high reputation behind them, they had a lot riding on their first single ‘Go Out’, including my respect, but it certainly did deliver. It wasn’t vintage Blur, lacking the thrashing guitars, but more a mash up of them and the Gorillaz. Particularly noticeable with the layering of Albarn’s whiny British vocals and that catchy tune he sings throughout the song. It relishes in the simplicity of stripped back rock and remind us that sometimes less is more.
The Rubens – ‘Hallelujah’
The Rubens first album really set the bar high for them, so new music by them has been long awaited. When I first heard Hallelujah I didn't think too much of it, but the more I listened to it, the more it grew on me. Until it got to the point where I couldn't stop listening to it. The song sounds very simple, but in fact it's very clever. The rustic guitars combined with Sam Margin's almost hoarse vocals gives it a classic edge. The syncopated lyrics with the guitar chords in the chorus also emphasizes this raw sound. It is a song that is was written to be played live, and if you don't recognize this, you may not find it to be anything special. But after realizing what they were trying to do, you appreciate the song so much more.