The Soundshark’s Top 20 Songs of 2015

Something somebody said recently struck me as it made an awful lot of sense. Exactly when do you stop saying, ‘Happy New Year,’ to one another? Or at least when does it become acceptable at the least. I honestly don’t know, but for now, I’m still considering it an appropriate time to talk about my favourite songs of last year. Seeming I’ve made a habit of it, and I finally have time to sit down and write about them.

2015 was a challenging year as it more or less marked my transition from degree student to having to fend for myself. Sometimes it sucked, sometimes it didn’t. But something that I didn’t previously have was a companion, somebody that I hold very dear to me and somebody I look forward to what the future holds for the both of us. As such, she has had an impact on deciding this list, just as much as the rollercoaster of emotions I’ve gone through in the past year has. Like I’ve said before, I do these lists for biographical reasons, to show where I’ve been and what’s happened in years gone by. Music and memory are powerful things.

So my rules for the list are as follows: I don’t always pick songs from this year to put on the list, it involves literally anything I’ve listened to in the past year that I’ve enjoyed frequently enough (that said, there are a lot of 2015 entries on this list which makes a change), but I try to avoid putting more than one song by the same artist in. Some of my past lists had more than one or two. You can find them on Spotify if you want to.

I would like to make an honourable mentions list, but there were far too many to include on this year’s list, so I’ll skip that formality this time. Just so many good moments or songs to include the entire list. And if you would like to listen to this list uninterrupted, commentary-free, then head on over to the Spotify playlist instead.

Righty then, on with the show…

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I mentioned a little while back that hardcore tends to be a very serious business, and a band’s prowess tends to be measured against the instigation of violence and how savagely you can play your instrument. All that raw, frenetic carnage is highly enjoyable at the best of times, but every now and again, the overbearing lust for bloodshed becomes too much. There’s very little laughter in between the roundhouse kicks and flailing fists. So I’ll reiterate again that when bands that tick most of the boxes for hardcore principles, but keep their tongues firmly in cheek, it makes the genre a little less like the display of machismo it’s pretty much portrayed as. After all, if you’re from Portland, Oregon and you name your band Gaytheist, you can’t expect to not raise eyebrows. Although they don’t so much as keep tongue in cheek, as swallow it trying. Let’s be honest here, when you pen rip-roaring stompers with such memorable titles like Elderly Assassin, I’m Procrastinate And I Vote and Poocano, it’s hard not to assume what you’re getting yourself in for. But what exactly are you getting yourself in for? A fiery punk buzzsaw built for speed, parts venomous, parts deranged, but everything defiant in the face of decency. Hold Me… But Not So Tight, their long player from 2013, speaks volumes for this sentiment, having an image of a pair of embracing lizards and one is suggestively licking the other. Anyway, to Manhattan, opening with a grinding bassline, that lurks underneath the build-up of pounding drums at pace, blazing guitar bathed in distortion and a mildly humorous yet mildly concerning social commentary on New York’s most densely populated district. Although, blink and you’ll miss it. You may argue that it just gets going, but they pack quality into those two minutes, that several visitations are required to soak in thoroughly. See, laughter is one of the keys to life, and if Gaytheist aren’t entertaining, then they are at least giving the stone-faced hardcore genre a permanent marker moustache whilst it’s unconscious.

Hold Me…, 2012 album Stealth Beats, a live album and some singles can be purchased from their Bandcamp page, from very reasonable prices. They also have some split EPs with a few other bands that are worth checking out, and I believe are somewhere in Bandcamp too.