Constructed with only one rule – that we could only include tracks that won’t also feature in our end-of-year albums list – here are 40 of my favourite tracks released this year. Some standalone singles, some buried treasures, some stand-out moments from my favourite EPs etc etc. These songs represent a wealth of talent from home-recorded bedroom demos to gleaming smash-hit pop songs. I hope you find something new to sway to. Thanks, as always, for reading and listening.
Tom Johnson, Editor
1. Ought – Beautiful Blue Sky
Monumental, weighty, epic, meandering, but somehow still perfectly measured, this centre-piece opus from Ought’s brilliant new record has it all. A near-eight minute ride that simply swallows you whole.
2. Jenny Hval – The Battle Is Over
While her cryptic LP was a tough task to truly get inside of, The Battle Is Over is a mesmeric stand-out from it; a parting in the clouds, as weird, warped and brilliant as another pop song released this year.
3. Anna Of The North – The Dreamer
My favourite big, bold pop song of 2015, The Dreamer is just a shimmering, magnificent showcase of the Norwegian’s glorious talent.
4. Mothers – Too Small For Eyes
While it’s only been around for a handful of weeks Mothers’ new track, from January’s full-length LP, gets more monumental and intriguing with every listen. A sparkling moment of invention.
5. Hello Shark – Fishing For Bats
A new full-length is supposedly imminent but this stand-alone track sits like the most indistinguishable of marker points; the moment that Hello Shark added intriguing instrumentation to his always compelling lyrical frameworks.
6. Harriet Brown & Astronauts etc. – Fiction
Another huge pop moment of 2015, this collaboration between Harriet Brown and Astronauts etc. is a straight-up funk BANGER. Sublime vocals and meticulous production skills make for a mesmeric coupling.
7. Dilly Dally – Desire
A hugely powerful highlight from Dilly Dally’s brilliant full-length, ‘Desire’ is the moment that all of their craft and energy comes together in perfect harmony. Just utterly brilliant.
8. Foreign Fields – Little Lover
The meeting point between their folk-ish previous record and their more opulent pop direction, Little Lover is a sumptuous and indelibly delicate swell of crisp beats and gorgeous vocal from the Nashville-based duo.
9. Florist – Unholy Faces
Any track from their sublime Holdly EP could have made this list but Unholy Faces’ subtle sway and sublime instrumentation made it the majestic, beautiful, stand-out moment.
10. Mercury Girls – Golden
Just a demo you say? GET OUT OF TOWN. Mercury Girls’ two introductory tracks were woozy and vibrant splashes of colour and if we had to choose our favourite of the two then the memorable crunch of ‘Golden’ just about edges it. More, more, more already. Please.
11. Wished Bone – witty boys make graves
Like listening to a dusty old radio through the walls, Wished Bone’s own brand of DIY pop is quietly empowering.
12. Gosh Pith – Waves
One of the years most promising new acts, Waves covers so much ground it simply defies any kind of labelling. Just wonderful.
13. Jay Som – I Think You’re Alright
One of our favourite new discoveries of the year, bedroom-recording hero Jay Som makes woozy gems, much like this brilliant stand-alone single.
14. Sports – Washing Machine
The rousing highlight from Sports’ much-cherished debut LP, ‘Washing Machine’ finds Adie Pray in suitably powerful voice. A wonderful, wonderful band.
15. Naps – Floral Mattress
The scorched sound of summer delivered in invigorating form by the Tallahassee quartet.
16. Twin Limb – Long Shadow
After countless listens, I still don’t understand how this magical song from Twin Limb is under three minutes. A weightless moment of escape with the kind of key-change chorus that can shape your day.
17. Cina Polada – Y.D.D.M
A debut track to die for from this Helsinki star-in-the-making. Fingers crossed that 2016 delivers on the early promise.
18. Magic Potion – Booored
They signed to PNKSLM after the label heard them on these very pages. Which makes us very happy indeed. Slacker pop of the most vital persuasion.
19. Pinkshinyultrablast – Kiddy Pool Dreams
Throws absolutely everything in to the mix and resoundingly delivers on of the years most thrilling rides.
20. Woozy – Gilding The Lily
Exploding In Sound are big contenders for label of the year and Woozy handily sum up all that is great about their roster. A nuanced thump of thrilling rock and roll.
21. Aurora – Running With The Wolves
Destined to be a huge star, Running With The Wolves is the kind of effortless, magnificent pop music that major labels must spend a lifetime pining for.
22. Laura Groves – Committed Language
Outsider pop delivered with such effortless grace that we were smitten from the first listen. Let’s hope there’s an album on the way in 2016.
23. Ari Roar – Good Meal
One of our favourite EPs of the year, Good Meal is the standout centre-piece to Ari Roar’s hushed collection.
24. Babe – The Warbling
Lifted from their digital-only EP, this is the Glasgow band in their grandest form. Inventive, restrained and utterly brilliant.
25. Mom Tudie – Through Flames
One of the UK’s brightest prospects, let 2016 be the year that his magnificent pop songs reach far greater climbs.
26. Lazy Day – Portrait
This postcard single for Lost Map Records remains scuzzy, woozy box of delights.
27. Ricky Eat Acid – Dear Lord
A far cry from last year’s ‘Album of the year’, Dear Lord is Ricky Eat Acid at his most playful and opulent.
28. White Poppy – Confusion
A skewed dose of floral pop that is a magnetising now as when we first laid ears upon it.
29. Martha Ffion – So Long
Her first offering for Turnstile and the moment all the acclaim and intrigue suddenly made perfect sense. A glittering pop song.
30. Westkust – Swirl
A monumental offering from the Swedish guitar heroes. Another one to play as loud as possible.
31. Electrician – Every Cop Is A Pile Of Shit
Darkened electro-pop that offered one of the Autumn’s most intriguing soundtracks.
32. A Weekend At The Feelies – Expanding
An immersive and magnificent six-minute opus that just rolls and rolls and rolls…
33. Shura – Touch
All of that initial promised delivered in a beautifully smooth piece of electro-pop. 2016 is hers for the taking.
34. Poor Things – No Way, Jose
The Glasgow band’s most thrilling moment to-date from a magnificent split 7″ on Gerry Loves Records.
35. Cloud Ellyn – Blackened
Startling lead track from an equally immersive debut LP.
36. Good Try – Field Trip
A refined moment in an otherwise scruffy collection, ‘Field Trip’ is a little dose of magic.
37. Diet Cig – Dinner Date
They’re yet to release a duff track and Dinner Date might be their brightest moment to-date. Bring on the LP.
38. Soft Cat – Somebody
Elegant, restrained and magisterial; much like the beautiful accompanying record.
39. Tree Machines – Fucking Off Today
Play it loud. Really loud. The sound of a life bursting in to bloom.
40. Baeb Rxxth – Gutter
A weird and warped blast of electro-pop that reveals something new on each listen.