2015 was another exciting year for the music industry. With new music from the likes of Jamie xx, Sufjan Stevens, Grimes, Kendrick Lamar, Laura Marling, Sleater-Kinney, Muse, Joanna Newsom, Everything Everything, Wilco, Noel Gallagher and many more, we were certainly treated to a range of great music.
As the year came to a close, Christmas playlists were compiled and the year’s best music was ranked – check out our favourite albums of 2015 here. As a result, Christmas music expectedly dominated our radio stations and it didn’t seem that any new music would surface during the festive period. However, a few artists surprised their fans with new material to end the year on a high note.
Below are some of the best tracks by some of the biggest artists that were released over the Christmas and New Year period.
‘Swerve’ – DJ Shadow
DJ Shadow has remained quiet for over four years, with his last album, The Less You Know, The Better, being released in 2012. Rumours have it that his latest track, ‘Swerve’, will appear on his upcoming album, which is yet to be named.
‘Spectre’ – Radiohead
Thom Yorke gave Radiohead fans a special Christmas treat on Christmas Day by releasing Radiohead’s rejected theme song for Spectre, which was released in October 2015.
It’s dark, mysterious and beautiful. It ticks all the boxes of a Bond theme: climatic choruses, calmer verses and dramatic strings. Best of all, it’s all packaged in a Radiohead-esque style. Yorke’s vocals are typically light and restrained, making this Bond theme fantastic and far better than the official Sam Smith theme.
A fan has created an edited version of the Spectre introduction with Radiohead’s track playing over it. Check it out below.
‘Facts’ - Kanye West
Released on New Year’s Eve, Kanye West’s latest song reflects the rapper’s opinion on Nike. Nike had originally started to work with Kanye on sneakers, before Adidas Originals snatched him up in 2015. Lyrics include “If Nike ain’t had Drizzy man they would have nothing. If Nike ain’t have Don C. they would have nothing.”
‘Xmas Time Of The Year’ – Green Day
Green Day embraced the 2015 Christmas spirit by releasing their first recording in 18 months. 2015 was a quiet year for the punk rockers, despite being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April. The song is formulaic and generically Green Day. Veracious fans will probably dismiss the song as a weak track that shouldn’t fit within their repertoire. Nevertheless, it’s still catchy and “Somewhere around a plastic manger/Giving thanks to strangers/Christmas time of the year” is a fairly humorous line. In any case, the band have been rumoured to release a new album in 2016, so let’s hope they will redeem themselves.
‘Christmas Will Break Your Heart’ - LCD Soundsystem
Despite crushing all rumours about an LCD Soundsystem reunion, the band released a new song for Christmas. According to Twitter, James Murphy has been singing this “depressing Christmas song” for the past eight years and has finally unveiled it to the public. It’s certainly depressing to say the least, featuring lyrics such as “Why did you have to go / we were under the mistletoe.” Nevertheless, it’s a great track from a band that has been long overdue to reunite.
‘Low Life’ – The Weeknd and Future
Both The Weeknd and Future had great years. The Weeknd’s ‘Can’t Feel My Face’ and ‘The Hills’ from Beauty Behind The Beast proved that the singer’s signwriting is a force to be reckoned with. Future released two albums in 2015, including the Drake collaboration, What A Time To Be Alive.
To close a year of success, the two joined forces to release ‘Low Life’ on Christmas Day. It’s a bass heavy track and it’s a perfect collaboration to end the year on.
‘T17 Phase Out’ – Aphex Twin
Aphex Twin kept quiet for 13 years before releasing his last album, SYRO in 2014. Since, he released a 20-track synth LP, Orphaned Deejay Selek (2006-2008) EP and an alternate take on Drukas cut, ‘Avril 14th’. On 29 December 2015, he unveiled yet another release, entitled ‘T17 Phase Out’ via Soundcloud, with the caption, “i prolly i shntnde downoied thi coz im drunki m ena uploaded..”. We’re not sure if this is cryptic code or intoxicated writing, but we are more than certain that the track is great.
‘Escape’ – Hudson Mohawke
The Scottish electro artist had an important year in 2015, releasing his first solo album in six years, entitled Lantern. However, HudMo AKA Ross Birchard, didn’t constrain himself to just one release. On 29 December, he released an atmospheric cover of the main theme to John Carpenter’s Escape from New York. Hudmo has entitled the updated take on Carpenter’s composition as ‘Escape’ and features an undercurrent of distortion, with a more emphasis on the iconic synth theme. The track was used as his contribution to the 7th annual LuckyMe Records advent calendar.
‘On A Bang’ - Biffy Clyro
Debuting their latest track live on New Years Eve, Biffy Clyro certainly ended 2015 with a bang. The Scottish trio were headlining Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Concert In The Gardens when they brought in 2016 with the world premiere of their new song - a mathy stonker of a track that points to a pretty heavy and anthemic future when the follow-up to Opposites drops. Check out the footage below.