A reflection on some standouts from this past year in music.

Photo of Phantoms

In many ways, 2015 was defined by streaming. Articles about low royalty payouts from platforms like Spotify dominated headlines--then they didn’t, as Adele leveraged her widespread appeal to bypass streaming completely and set staggering records (seven million albums have been sold since 25’s release in November 2015).

On streaming platforms, the songs with the most plays tended to grow exponentially, while exceptional tracks that were lesser known languished. Data doesn’t always define quality, however, and I hope that these artists will continue to grow statistically and artistically in 2016.

Who: Robert DeLong
Where From: Bothell, Washington
What Track: “Long Way Down,” from his latest album,
In the Cards. In 2015, DeLong played an engaging set at Buku that combined eccentric MIDI-mapped game controllers with an array of standard instruments. He is one of few electronic producers attempting to incorporate live performance into his/her sets and doing it well.

Who: Donovan Wolfington
Where From: New Orleans, LA
What Track: “Ollie North” is a cut from the album, How to Treat the Ones You Love. It features dark introspection and catchy guitar riffs, and it was definitely a highlight of Wolfington’s set at the Republic in November. The lyrics are some of the best on the album: “It’s a disgrace / It’s a castration of the thrill and the chase / Look alive / And open my eyes / Get alone.”

Who: July Talk
Where From: Toronto, Canada
What Track: The music video for “Guns and Ammunition” is a good introduction to the distinct visual and aural aesthetic July Talk aim for. The group had their set cancelled due to weather at Voodoo 2015, but they spoke to MySpiltMilk about what we missed in October.

Next year, people will be talking more about: Phantoms.

The EDM duo from Los Angeles played a finely-tuned, energetic set at Gasa Gasa late this year that seemed better suited for a festival at Mardi Gras World, or a large crowd at the Joy Theater. The song, “Broken Halo feat. Nicholas Braun,” is a highly addictive, club-ready heater that stood out during their set, and it will be exciting to see where the group takes things in 2016.