Some traditions have been with us so long that it seems blasphemous to even consider not to follow them – if such a consideration should even occur. The Christmas period is rife with them, a minefield of time honoured rituals that simply must be followed. And so, much like turkey for xmas dinner or arguing whether Die Hard qualifies as an xmas film, we must distill our years music listening into list form and parade it in front of other list makers who can barely hide their boredom at reading Yet Another List.
Well, it’s nearly the middle of February already – so it seems as good a time as any to wrap up this round up of the previous years best songs. They don’t call me The Timely Content Kid for nothing. Also some might call having 25 songs on a top 20 list something of a cop out. To which I have no real argument.
It was a great year for music though and I think this list demonstrates just how good. Especially since it was a year in which I didn’t find much time to delve into all that much hip hop – Busdriver and Milo narrowly missed the cut for the list but that was about it for my rap listening in 2015, bar a couple of L’Orange produced albums – and almost completely ignored what was by all accounts an excellent year for black metal. It was a year of Too Much Music and this, for better or worse, is how I spent it. And given how much fun I’ve had putting this list together I’m leaning towards, “for better.”
Part 9 of a 20 part rundown of my favourite tracks of 2015
I finally caught Elder back in June at The Full Moon in Cardiff. When they took the stage I was slightly disturbed to discover they all look about 12 years old. I may just be getting old and suffering the gig going persons version of, “ooh Mavis aren’t the policemen getting younger?” but it threw me to see such fresh faced youngsters tearing a room in two so effortlessly. It was brilliant, once I’d gotten over a brief moment of staring down my own mortality. I guess this is just how stuff goes as you get older. You have to spent a few more moments thinking, “shit, I’m gonna die someday and I still haven’t got around to curing cancer. Best get to the bar before it gets busy.”
I digress. When listening to Lore I wondered how a 3 piece would bring all it’s multi-tracked majesty to the stage intact. Yet the seemed to sacrifice nothing. Pretty much the whole record was played in it’s labyrinthine glory. Minds were blown. Which cemented my view that these boys are something special. They already had something unusual in stoner/doom circles – three records which sound very different from each other but which all worked in their own right. If you were to make a “Sim Stoner Band”
game playing it would basically just involve tweaking the Sabbath/Kyuss/Blue Cheer/Blue Oyster Cult sliders
until satisfied, locking them down and pressing the ‘acoustic guitar’ button every now and again when you get bored. But Elder seem restless, determined to push forward.
I still think I prefer Dead Roots Stirring to Lore, but then my preferences tend to lean towards filth over precision. Whilst Dead Roots boasted long tracks they didn’t feel as crafted as tracks like Legend, where every note feels deliberate. It lasts 12 minutes and nothing feels extraneous. They manage to be technical without being needlessly showy, complicated without feeling like it’s for the sake of being complicated. It’s the kind of sound I usually have a natural aversion for but in Elder’s hands the honest-to-god Rock Epic actually sounds interesting and vital again. They made a convert out of this skeptic, and all while looking barely old enough to drink. Incredible.
And so another year passes. As per tradition a large chunk of the internet spent the final month of 2015 seeking to make sense out of the ceaseless avalanche of music that descended upon us throughout the year by ranking the crap out of it. How else can we be sure that any of it meant anything it we don’t put our chosen records into a pile and demand that strangers look at it and agree that that our choices are indeed righteous? Where would humanity be without our ability to decree one thing to be better than another thing until we have a sufficient number of things to make a list? Why we’d surely be lost, flailing in the dark, forced to confront the futility of our endeavours.
Well fear not: today I can add my own list to the internet and stave off any such epiphany for a little while longer. My top 20 appeared alongside those of 60 other writers in Echoes & Dusts Record of the Year interactive jamboree. Which is a treasure trove of obscure gems one could easily get lost in until the next listing season is upon us.
Stoner kings-in-waiting decide to go for broke on an impressively densely packed series of 10+ minute long prog-tinged epics. Continue reading