I’m exceptionally proud to present the return this year of my annual year-end best-of list. Lovingly compiled and painstakingly sequenced by yours truly, this is the definitive selection of the tracks that have been floating my boat this year. As usual, it’s an eclectic, international mix: there’s sweet pop and next-level indie rock from Japan; epic, literate, melancholy metal from the United States; uplifting, euphoric trance from the Netherlands; a tragic tale of heartbreak from the highlands of Scotland; chilling mediaeval industrial from Germany – and more. There’s also the sound of a couple of bands most thought long past their prime coming back with some of their best ever material. In short, there’s something here for everyone with a musically open mind. The selection can be downloaded here. As ever, please feel free to comment!
1. Magnetic Man - "Flying Into Tokyo" from the album "Magnetic Man"
This gorgeous, filmic string instrumental was the most interesting and refreshing track on the dubstep supergroup's debut album.
2. DaizyStripper - "Trigger" from the album "Birth"
The indie visual kei band released not one, but two debut albums on the same day and this uplifting, propulsive pop-rock track is a definite highlight.
3. Kamelot - "Hunter's Season" from the album "Poetry For The Poisoned"
Epic, melancholy metal with amazing, cryptic lyrics which expertly balances melody with brute force.
4. Armin van Buuren & Sophie Ellis-Bextor - "Not Giving Up On Love" from the album "Mirage"
The "Groovejet" star returns after years in the wilderness with this standout cut from the King of Trance's new solo album.
5. School Food Punishment - "Butterfly Swimmer" from the album "Amp-Reflection"
Amazing, futuristic dance-rock from Japan, which sounds programmed but is, astonishingly, all played live.
6. Alan - "Kaze ni Mukau Hana" ("Flower Facing The Wind") from the single of the same name
This huge, Disneyesque ballad, sung by the velvet-voiced Tibetan pop star, is the theme song from an epic samurai movie.
7. Norma Jean - "Falling From The Sky: Day Seven" from the album "Meridional"
More cryptic, literate metal, the mellowest and definitely the most intriguing track from this great band's new album.
8. The Bug - "Skeng (Autechre mix)" from the compilation "Ninja Tune XX"
Futuristic dancehall reworked by the IDM legends into something cold and utterly inhuman, this is one of the most chilling things you are ever likely to hear.
9. Heimataerde - "Gloria Et Morte" from the album "Unwesen"
The Templar-obsessed German mediaeval industrial act return with this dark and haunting track from their new masterpiece.
10. Roger Shah & Signum - "Ancient World (long haul flight mix)" from the compilation "Magic Island Vol.3"
Pumping, hands-in-the-air trance with some of the most euphoric melodies of the year, this will take you right back to the summer.
11. Dàimh - "Mo Mhàili Bheag Òg" ("My Little Young Màili") from the album "Diversions"
This absolutely heartrending song from the Gaelic folk supergroup is narrated by a soldier awaiting trial for the murder of his wife, having accidentally killed her in the mêlée when a squad of soldiers came to arrest him.
12. Ash - "Insects" from the album "A-Z Vol.2"
One of the very best ever songs from the Northern Irish indie rockers, who this year released a new single every fortnight.
13. Korn - "Oildale (Leave Me Alone)" from the album "Korn III: Remember Who You Are"
Another blistering return to form from the Californian nu-metal pioneers, who went back to basics on their raw and cathartic new album.
14. LM.C - "Bokura no Mirai" ("Our Future") from the album "Wonderful Wonderholic"
Wonderful, epic, heartbreaking, beautiful pop-rock from the visual kei duo featuring guitarist Aiji, late of the sorely lamented Pierrot.
15. 9 Goats Black Out - "Heaven" from the album "Tanatos"
One of the most gorgeous, otherworldly visual kei songs ever written, this seven-minute monster captivates from beginning to end.
16. Hans Zimmer, Geoff Zanelli & Blake Neely - "Honor" from the album "The Pacific"
This rousing, deeply emotional piece for brass and strings was the theme for the acclaimed TV series about US operations in the Pacific theatre during WWII.