Music means a great deal to us (obviously), so we at Punk Out selected a few songs that had an impact on us this past year. It was a great year for new music, so here are some of our favorites.
Bully - "Trying"
I really love the simplicity of this song. While the lyrics impress as more of a conversation to the listener, the true coup of "Trying" is in the arrangement. They didn't get flashy about it. They just stuck to what carried the song best.
Elle King - "Ex's and Oh's"
I know this song is everywhere destroying people with it's ear fatigue, but holy shit, the hook is a monster. I really love that an artist like Elle King is getting mainstream coverage. Her voice, her perspective, and her songs are way better than half the stuff on the radio.
Freya Wilcox and The Howl - "I Don't Care"
It's no secret that i'm a big Freya fan. I've probably seen her play twenty times. This song is perfect for dancing with your fists in the air.
Common ft. John Legend - "Glory"
Debuting at the very end of 2014/early 2015, “Glory,” the John Legend and Common collaboration for the film Selma, was one of the most inspirational movie songs that we’ve heard in a long time. The song had quite an impact, not only because of the important history it documents, but because it has so much relevance to the extreme amounts of violence that we have been experiencing and watching unfold toward people of color across the nation.
Missy Elliott ft. Pharrell - "WTF (Where They From)"
Don’t call it a comeback! Missy released a new track this year, and honestly, it’s about time! For those who thought Missy was a new artist that Katy Perry introduced at Super Bowl XLIX, get it together. Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott is one of the original Queens of Rap/Hip-Hop from the 90s. She expanded the roles of women in Hip-Hop and advocated sex-positivity for women, became the first Black female entertainment mogul, and encouraged Hip-Hop to get weird. Those of us who are old enough to remember her music experienced pure nostalgia when this track dropped. It’s her “coming out” to the world all over again. So celebrate 80s/90s babies; Missy is here and we know she’s going to teach these youngins a thing or two in 2016!
Sorority Noise - "Using"
From a personal standpoint this past year has been hard, to say the least. After graduating college this past May I’ve spent a lot of time working a dead end temp job, wondering what the hell I’m going to do for the rest of my life, and coping with increasingly worse depression. However, during that time music has continued being a stable and life-saving aspect of my existence, and Sorority Noise’s Joy, Departed has done wonders for my mental health. In particular, “Using” has instilled hope and optimism into me and the way I approach every day. “Using” is a song that not only fills a room well, but it fills one’s soul well. Screaming along to Cameron Boucher singing the words, “I stopped wishing I was dead / learned to love myself before anyone else,” was and is the catharsis I’ve needed, making “Using” easily my favorite and most cherished song of 2015. It should also be noted that Boucher and the entirety of Sorority Noise go out of their way to continually address mental health issues but through the internet and at live shows, which should not only be commended, but emulated by others.
Father John Misty - "True Affection"
This year was a weird year for me, and I mean really weird. After ending a relationship often riddled with poor communication, “True Affection” really struck a chord with me. Our generation so frequently encounters difficulties that stem from fear of face-to-face conversation, and Father John Misty really touched on that perfectly with this song. Plus, it’s absolutely infectious. It manages to be the perfect amount of weird and dancey while still tugging at my own heartstrings.
Beach Slang - "Young and Alive"
This is truly the song I needed this year. Most people seem to hit a turning point in their mid 20s - a point where you’re not really sure what the fuck you’re doing with your life and it seems as if everything is crashing down around you at once. It’s fucking scary, and it’s really hard to take a step back and realize that things are okay and this is only the beginning. This song did that for me. It had the right attitude and the right feel to it. It is hopeful. It is optimistic. It reminded me that I’m still young, I’m alive, and I have more energy and drive than I will at any other given moment. It helped me embrace that. It reminded me that everything will be okay.
Everything Ever - "Rock Bottom"
"I wish I'd hit rock bottom// So at least I'd have some solid ground to stand on", drones singer Andrew "dNo" Paladino on the "clean up" track off Everything Ever's debut full length. From the first time I heard this track, I was blown away by the contrast of the lyrics, perfectly encapsulating a free fall from everything that was going right, with the song's infectious energy. For a year that has been fairly challenging for me personally, I'm so glad to have this rallying cry to remind me that "it doesn't get any lower than this", and sometimes you just need to know "there's only one way to go from here, and it's up. I'm expecting big things from this band in 2016, and you should definitely check out their record Solid Ground.
The Wonder Years - "I Don't Like Who I Was Then"
A band that will always hold a special place in my heart, The Wonder Years, released their most mature record to date in 2015. "I Don't Like Who I Was Then" is a reflection on the growth singer Dan "Soupy" Campbell has gone through, alongside the band. Retrospective lyrics are scattered throughout the song, but the chorus hits closest to home for me. "I think I'm growing into someone you can trust/I want to shoulder the weight til my back breaks/I want to run til my lungs give up," perfectly matches my stubborn nature, which I've grown to accept much more this year. Being a TWY homer makes this my AOTY, but hey, at least I admit it.
Microwave - "Something Right (Daytrotter Session)"
OK, so I kind of cheated with this one, as the original version of the song was released on the Microwave's 2014 debut "Stovall.” But the Daytrotter version was included on the band's split with Head North, and for a song this good, cheating a little is totally worth it. The only thing stronger than the lyrical content, about making the best of a situation despite your numerous faults, are the vocals provided by Nathan Hardy. There's just something about the way Hardy delivers the chorus, "I can't help but think that after all the things that I've done wrong/I'll do something right," that makes me believe it. Maybe it's just the optimist in me, but don't we all just want to do something right? My something right is to tell you, in the immortal words of Clinton Sparks, "Get familiar."
Kendrick Lamar - "U"
One of the darker tracks from Kenrick's incredible To Pimp A Butterfly, "U" delves deep into the struggle for self-love and self-acceptance while dealing with an overwhelming guilt. "Loving you is complicated," Kendrick shouts over abstract instrumentals before tackling the death of a friend and his sister's drug habits, which he feels responsible for.
Petal - "Silly Heart"
Love can be scary and overwhelming. While this theme of love and the anxiety it induces is central to Shame, Petal's debut, no song tackles this better than closer "Silly Heart," when vocalist Kiley Lotz croons, "Make believe that I'm good/That someday I would learn to be kind to myself/And let you love someone else," crescendoing before concluding with a heartbreaking "and I'm sorry."
Mineral Girls - "Cozy Body"
Cozy Body is the newest release from Mineral Girls, North Carolina's best-kept secret. The titular track shows the band exploring issues of mental illness, body dysphoria and religion over a charmingly lo-fi indie song. Complete with a poppy bass line and even a string section, the track reaches its climax with the vocalist nearly yelling, "is Jesus happy with the body he was given?/is anybody happy?"
Frank Turner - "Get Better"
I first heard “Get Better” on my friend Valerie’s cell phone, after she excitedly met me at Penn Station on a day in late March that produced a blizzard. I had to listen to it again where I could actually hear it, and more times once I got home and could hear it on my own. Frank Turner is known for these rallying cries for self-preservation and pressing on. On that day in New York, the song had just been released, with the announcement of a new album. I didn’t know back in March that the lyrics of “Get Better” were something that I needed, or that I would repeat them to myself over and over again throughout the year.
Spraynard - "Applebees Bar"
I had never really listened to Spraynard before this year, and I can’t say that the rest of their album, “Mable,” has much staying power for me. But I’m pretty sure that I listened to this song more than any other this year, or at least I played it several times a day for a significant stretch of time. Besides the fact that it’s ridiculously catchy, it has that punk simplicity and self-deprecation that suits me. “I am every person you have ever ignored/I am the flaming bag of dog shit on your porch.” I sang along all year.
The Front Bottoms – "Cough It Out"
I’ve not a huge fan of The Front Bottoms. Some of their songs I’ll play on repeat for weeks and others I sort of brush off. I’ve seen them live a handful of times, as they always seem to be playing with bands I like better. Their newest album didn’t make a big impression on me, but the sincerity of this song, from a band who’s name pretty much means vagina, caught me off guard. “I like the in-betweens/I like the time that it takes to get somewhere.” That’s how I felt this year – in-between.
Courtney Barnett - "Elevator Operator"
“I'm not going to work today/Going to count the minutes that the trains run late/Sit on the grass building pyramids out of Coke cans,” sings Courtney Barnett on the opening track of her fantastic record, Sometimes I Just Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit. Is there any more apropos song to jam on your morning commute as you slug down coffee? The song kicks off promptly, with Barnett’s vocals, guitar, and drums instilling that sense of urgency one gets when sprinting to a train they really don’t want to get on.
FIDLAR - "40oz On Repeat"
While I was a fan of FIDLAR’s self-titled debut, I think they’ve really grown, and that this record blows it out of the water. No song illustrates that better than "40oz On Repeat," which takes the band’s bratty, snot-nosed punk sensibility and gives it just a smidge of pop sensibility and “glossiness” - it helps that the video is totally killer, too.
The Front Bottoms - "Laugh Till I Cry"
This band will always have the ability to make me feel some sort of way. I compare the feeling I get from extended TFB exposure to laying in your bed on the last night of summer, or the day before graduation, reflecting on the times and experiences you’ve had and how they’ve shaped you. They always hit a melancholic bone in my body, and “Laugh Till I Cry” is no exception. Since it came out this past summer, it’s tinged my senior year of college with that same bittersweet feeling. “Ladies and gentlemen,” vocalist Brian Sella sings, “the DJ just threw up on the dance floor/The party’s over/It’s time to go.”
Editor's Note: The views and opinions expressed on our Artist Corner and Blog are exclusively of the author and do not reflect the views and opinions of Punk Out as an organization.