Anonymous, Desaparecidos – Probably has my favorite lyrics of the year: “Freedom’s not free / Neither is apathy.”
Better Man, Leon Bridges – Soul music, smooth and clean, that has an Otis Redding feel to it.
Can’t Keep Checking My Phone, Unknown Mortal Orchestra – A slow beginning evolves into an absolutely addictive track.
Dreams, Beck – Beck dumps the doldrums of his previous album and gets to work making music to shake ya ass to.
Drum Machine, Big Grams feat. Skrillex – Big Boi with Phantogram and Skrillex? Count me in.
Gwan, The Suffers – Kim Franklin’s gorgeous voice pushes everything forward.
Go Head, Awreeoh – A tasty hip-hop nugget from the film Dope.
Handsome, The Vaccines – Brash, cheecky pop punk.
Hate Street Dialogue, The Avener feat. Rodriguez – The lyrics are much darker than the music backing it would imply.
Holy Ghost, A$AP Rocky feat. Joe Fox – What do you do when the church offers no solace? If you’re A$AP Rocky, you write one helluva song about it.
I Don’t Think She Cares, White Reaper – Had the pleasure of seeing these Louisville rockers at their hometown Forecastle Festival this summer. Best show I saw that day. White Reaper rules!
In My Mouth, Jeff the Brotherhood – Drudgy, cocky and hilarious. I’d love to see these guys live.
Institutionalized, Kendrick Lamar feat. Bilal, Anna Wise and Snoop Dogg – Kendrick and Co. get their Bernie Sanders on and attack income inequality.
Lawman, Girl Band – I love bands that aren’t afraid to make noise. The bass makes this particular track.
Out of the Woods, Ryan Adams – I’ve never really doubted Taylor Swift as a songwriter, I’m just not much into Swift the performer. Adams makes the entirety of 1989 work.
Paper Girl, July Talk – See July Talk live. Please. Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay will make sure it’s a show you never forget.
Pedestrian at Best, Courtney Barnett – Courtney’s smart, funny, melancholy, endearing, stream-of-consciousness lyrics are all her own.
Rap Zealot, K-OS – Short and to the point. Love the production.
Smarter Than I Was, Buddy Guy – While B.B.’s always kind of been the super-ego of blues, Guy is pure Id.
Stalker, Kasey Chambers – Smart, funny lyrics and Chambers’ unique voice are a winning combination.
Strange Hellos, Torres – I love how Strange Hellos builds, and the PJ Harvey-like strength from Mackenzie Scott’s voice.
Tease, Pale Honey – I don’t know if this is a trend, or if I’ve just been lucky in finding them, but there seem to be a lot more female-led bands making big, fuzzy, loud guitar rock in 2015. Pale Honey kicks out the jam here with Tease.
Trustful Hands, The Do – There’s just something warm and familiar about this track that gets me every time.
Uptown Funk, Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars – I love the horns, I love Bruno, I love the funk.
Victory or Die, Motorhead – It’s not rocket science. Lemmy = Awesome.
On the bubble: All My Heart, The Mynabirds; Blud, SOAK; City Boy Blues, Action Bronson; Foreign Object, Mountain Goats; Johnny Delusional, FFS; Milkman, Bully; This World is Not My Home, Robert Earl Keen; Vices, Slayer; Wicked Game, Wolf Alice
Honorable mentions: 15 Years, Houndmouth; Ashes to Ashes, Warpaint; Awake, Snoop Dogg; Baby Britain, Seth Avett & Jessica Lee Mayfield; Bleeder, Ceremony; Bunker Buster, Viet Cong; Chalk Snake, No Joy; Carrion Flowers, Chelsea Wolfe; CHERRY BOMB, Tyler, the Creator; Don’t Wanna Fight, Alabama Shakes; Feel Right, Mark Ronson feat. Mystikal; figure 8, FKA twigs; How Could You Babe, Tobias Jesso Jr.; I’m Callin’, Tennis; I Feel Love, The Dead Weather; I’m Gonna Teach You, Daniel Romano; 100 Watt Horse; Kokaine Karolina, Elle King; Melt Me, Hanni El-Khatib; My Own Fantasy, Royal Headache; Only You (Live), Anderson East; Pageant Material, Kacey Musgraves; Rain or Shine, Young Fathers, Romance Dawn, Radkey; Run, Rainbow Kitten Surprise; Solid Gold, Turbowolf; Son of God, Will Butler; Vital Signs, Gang of Youths; the valley, Miguel; Young Girls in Space, The Unwed Teenage Mothers