In no particular order (well, maybe a little order) and very haphazardly chosen and described. Which tends to apply to most of my lists. It's gonna be cross a lot of genres but obviously I don't listen to everything so I'm not going to have any dancehall or country on here (fair warning). Heavily influenced by other end-of-year lists, because really without those how else am I going to find half of these tracks? They sure aren't playing on the radio....
50. Rudresh Mahanthappa - Waiting is Forbidden
Frantic saxophone with guitar accompaniment, before mellowing out and then speeding up again , this track sounds like several film soundtracks merged into one (Eastern and Western films). And I've always had a bias to saxophone music ever since Coltrane (though this is far from hard-bop)
49. Meridian brothers- Coplas Para Cantar Al Atardecer
This is one of those bands I'd never find on my own. Heard this track on someone else's blog. I'm not even sure there's a genre for this type of music, Spanish-folk-experimental maybe? It is pretty enchanting with the unusual marching-band style instruments and slow, funeral-song melody. Entire song gives kind of a feel of an army march beat or a film montage soundtrack during a sad scene. Excellent work out of Colombia (I think? )
48. Phosphorescent - Song for Zula
Very chill sounds of bass,drums and strings. But the lyrics of the progression of the after-worries of a failed relationship are both subtle and brutal. The song portrays brilliantly the mental struggle of dealing with a breakup of a relationship that was foundational. I mean, who can't relate to "I will not open myself up this way again".
47. Mala Rodriguez - 33
Now I don't speak a word of Spanish (well, maybe one or two words) but that doesn't even matter. The flow this woman has is brilliant, reminiscent of Tyler the Creator or MC Solaar. You just know she's badass and rapping about lots of trouble. And that heavy-bass with arching synths backbeat is a perfect platform. At 2:30 length you want more when it's done.
46. FKA Twigs - Water Me
This song is, frankly, terrifying. It sounds like the soundtrack for The Omen. (Video's creepy as can be too). It is, however, a masterwork of production and sound-layering to make the track sound somehow like it's being done in an empty opera hall. The lyrics are brilliant as well with the stated vulnerability that works excellently with the ambient sounds.
45. Chucho Valdes- Tabu
I love Cuban Jazz and I'm very biased to it. The rhythm and instrumental mastery and interplay of this track is quite excellent with a feel of several decades of musical history in it. I don't even know if this is a new track or a standard but it's excellent.
44. Bunji Garlin - Differentology
Every single person on this island has heard this song hundreds of times over this year. I was hearing it played in England up till Christmas. Quality soca with the usual party vibe but the production level with the semi-electronic influences is what really makes this stand out. That and the energy of Bunji, as always.
43. Ballake Sissoko - Nalesonko
I don't even know much about the instruments being played (lead one being kora, apparently) but this is what I imagine when someone says world music. New instruments (to my ear) and yet the music is infectious and the beauty of the music transcends familiarity yet still manages to be relatable . The technical ability needed to hold the attention with one instrument in a song is amazing.
42. Young Thug - Picacho
Such an addictive song and so silly about diamonds that peek at you. Crazy background wobbly beat that helps the song stay stuck in your head. I don't really listen to Young Thug but everything I've heard so far is really weird. As far as music goes, weird wins over normal. Complete energy hype track.
41. A$AP Rocky ft Kendrick Lamar, Drake & 2 Chainz - Fuckin' Problems
I felt like every time I stepped into the gym this song played. Some of the best rappers in the game trying to outdo each other and the sheer lyrical play on this record is wonderful. Everyone just dropping ridiculous lines one after the other, it is still showing no sign of getting old