December is best-of list time. The big hits of this year, from Drake’s “Hotline Bling” to “I Can’t Feel My Face“ by The Weeknd, will be included in most of the ‘The Year In Music’ reviews. Here, we want to focus on the overlooked masterpieces and shine some light on ten great songs you should really know.
1. Abra – “Roses”
Listen if you like: Aaliyah, Tinashe
Imagine: A dark disco dungeon, sweat dropping from the concrete ceiling and into y
Info: The R&B revival is in full effect so that currently even more experimental artists such as FKA Twigs and Kelela enjoy mainstream popularity. Next in line is Abra. The Atlanta-raised singer’s debut album Rose was released by the much-hyped hip hop label Awful and is one of the most exciting albums out there at the moment.
2. Ash Koosha - “I Feel That”
Listen if you like: Björk, Aphex Twin
Imagine: Crying computer chips
Info: Six years ago, Koosha played a main character in the brilliant Iranian music film No One Knows About Persian Cats. In the movie his big dream was to play a gig with his rock band in London. These days he lives by the River Thames and makes electro music that fascinatingly sounds emotional and artificial at the same time. Almost like a score for a rom-com in which Hal3000 plays the lead.
3. Braids – “Taste”
Listen if you like: Robyn, Little Dragon
Imagine: The fresh air after a thunderstorm
Info: In a better world this Canadian trio would lead the heavy-rotation charts of most alternative radio stations around the world. Instead, it seems that their wonderful and rapturous indie pop album Deep In The Iris, including nine melancholic anthems in the style of “Taste”, will go down in history as one of 2015’s most overlooked masterpieces.
4. DJJ – “Just a Lil”
Listen if you like: Daft Punk
Imagine: Dance music videos on VHS
Info: There’s not much we know about this producer from Wales. There are no photos of him online and he keeps his real name a secret. But considering the mightiness of his club banger “Just A Lil”, which was Ibiza’s secret summer hit this year, his real personality becomes a minor matter anyway. This is music for people who always thought Daft Punk’s was too polished. DJJ puts a crunchy soul sample on a merry-go-round and adds a heavily distorted beat. That’s all he needs to create an incredible banger that you, if you haven’t yet, must try out on the dance floor.
5. D.R.A.M. – “$”
Listen if you like: Chance The Rapper, Drake
Think: A browse through a forgotten photo album
Info: It should have been D.R.A.M.’s year. In spring he released his light-hearted smasher “Cha Cha”, which was championed by the likes of Beyoncé and Drake. Unfortunately, the latter might have enjoyed Cha Cha a bit too much because in the summer Drake released Hotline Bling, a tune which was obviously inspired by Cha Cha, but doesn’t credit him. Maybe that’s why D.R.A.M.’s follow up song “$” sound so sad. Even so, that extra portion of melancholia and Donnie Trumpet’s brilliant brass arrangements make “$” D.R.A.M.’s true anthem of the year.