Top 50 Tracks of 2015 (50-41)

50. De Lux “LA Threshold”

De Lux are an LA-based duo who give a nod to their city in this smooth, easygoing track. “To drive in LA is the worst of my day” are the first words we hear, something any Californian would agree with. This song isn’t berating Los Angeles, though – it feels more like a love letter, albeit a bittersweet, nostalgic one. The song never takes itself too seriously, and with lines like “I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, Irish people hate me, hippies don’t love me” it may even make you laugh. Indeed, it doesn’t take much to see that De Lux have managed to create a genuine, dedicated piece of art the way only two natives of the city would know how. – Shannon Athena

49. Beirut “No No No”

Beirut showed up on the scene around 2006 and won everyone’s hearts with solemn vocals, unique instrumentation, and carnivalesque melodies. In many ways, their song, “No No No” demonstrates each of these pieces to the puzzle perfectly. Simplicity is key. The percussion is a repetitious, rapid march. Keys add a layer of chords that push the song through. Horns and strings add a final piece of melodic instrumentation that makes for a bravely unique listen. It’s all the parts of Beirut that makes Beirut good, condensed into a simplistic masterpiece. “No No No” is a music box song accompanied by Zach Condon’s voice –an innocent, melodious tale of developing love. “No No No” is brilliant, emotional, and most importantly –Beirut at their finest. – John Naessig

48. Battles “Non Violence”

“Nonviolence” is a song by Battles –and that’s all the justification anyone would ever need to see their song on this list. But really. The experimental band Battles is well known for their intense jams and “Nonviolence” is Battles going all out. Keys dominate this track and blend with interrupting strings. At first chaos and then the song builds in on itself. The longer you listen, the more sound becomes organized into a wildly composed musical experience. “Nonviolence” is accessible and well written. A fine line between absurdly intense and easily digestible. – John Naessig

47. Cold War Kids “One Song at a Time”

Cold War Kids have been around for over a decade, having released five full-length albums since their formation in 2004. 2015 wasn’t about to slow them down, either – Five Quick Cuts is their latest EP, and “One Song at a Time” stands out as a fast-paced rock anthem. It opens with a buzzing guitar line and keeps that energy throughout the entire three minutes. Nathan Willett’s voice is transcendent, pushing the band’s sound into another realm that’s nearly indefinable. Percussionist Joe Plummer (also the drummer for Modest Mouse) is quick and precise, and his talent is what holds the song together. Cold War Kids are certainly capable of tugging at your heartstrings (“I’ve Seen Enough”, “Fear & Trembling”) but this song proves that they’re also capable of making you want to get up and dance. – Shannon Athena

46. Dan Deacon “Learning to Relax”

Dan Deacon gives us a frenetic song that’s seemingly on a mission, only growing in strength and speed over its six minutes. It stands as the highlight of Deacon’s (largely overlooked) Gliss Riffer and one of the highlights of his career. – Mark Steinbach

45. Frog Eyes “I Ain’t Around Much”

There’s no doubt the passing of Frog Eyes’ lead singer Carey Mercer’s father was the inspiration for this poignant ballad about love and loss. “I Ain’t Around Much” begins with a few sad notes plucked on a guitar accompanied by a sparsely played bass. The instrumentation carefully grows around Mercer’s sorrowful lyrics as an antiquated organ and gorgeous strings fall into the mix. Mercer saves the most devastating lines for the song’s powerful and emotional climax as he sings, “You may never understand, that I just wanted to hear the sound of a father saying goodbye.” A hauntingly beautiful tribute. – Andy Mascola

44. The Sonics “I Got Your Number”

That a band made up of septuagenarians delivered one of the most rocking songs in 2015 may come as a surprise to some. After you hear The Sonics’ “I Got Your Number”, however, you’ll understand why this garage rock group from Tacoma, Washington who got their start in the sixties were a major influence on Nirvana and countless others. With wailing sax and guitar solos between the thundering verses, and a frontman blazing enough angry energy to power a locomotive, these proto-punks tear the ass end off of this song about a man wronged by a wicked woman. – Andy Mascola

43. Post Malone “White Iverson”

A relatively unknown kid from Texas who got braids and decided to write a song about it created a Billboard Hot 100 single. While it seems like a simple concept, there was no better extended metaphor in 2015 than Post Malone‘s “White Iverson.” The juxtaposition of the braggadocious lyrics and melancholic instrumental makes Iverson and by extension Post Malone seem like a conflicted character. Maybe that’s why when Malone sings “I need this money like the ring I never won,” it seems almost heart-wrenching. – Adam Tercyak-Morgan

42. Kurt Vile “Pretty Pimpin'”

If Tom Petty had a stoner love child with Modest Mouse, it would be Kurt Vile’s “Pretty Pimpin’.” This low-key, effortlessly cool track about losing one’s self has a Southern rock swagger that makes your toe tap involuntarily. Despite the heavy subject matter about lost identity, there are lighthearted jokes throughout the lyrics, like noting that the stranger in the mirror (who is wearing Vile’s clothes) looks “pretty pimpin’” and that he won’t comb the stranger’s hair since it never was his style (he still remembers that part of himself.) There is a mention of lost marbles and brushing off the issue with an “oh, silly me” that keeps the song charming. It’s great songwriting that is both heavy and light at the same time. With this songwriting and the Tom Petty sound, this song should have lasting power. – Colleen Walsh-Jervis

41. White Reaper “Sheila”

Where were you the first time you witnessed the explosive chorus of White Reaper’s “Sheila”? Without a doubt one of the most memorable and original garage punk vocal performances of the year, Tony Esposito’s ability to swap vowels at his leisure surely had those without a tracklist in front of them shouting, “She lay!” A charging, infectious song that you couldn’t help but jump around to, White Reaper’s “Sheila” extinguished any fear you may have had that raw punk energy was going away any time soon. – Andy Mascola