earthings! 2015: My ten favorites of the year

We’re closing up shop for another year, which means our obligatory look at the year that was – and, like in the past two years, it’s in the form of ten songs, arranged alphabetically by artist. And it’s been an interesting year, indeed. Pop music was, once again, no longer a guilty pleasure. The much-anticipated comeback of guitar music did not happen, but we had some genre-pushing, if not outright weird, alternative anyway. We’ve seen new acts make a legitimate splash, but it wasn’t for the sake of a new voice. We’ve seen old acts make triumphant returns, but nostalgia wasn’t the biggest thing. Things have not settled down to the way people want it to be (and that could mean anything depending on who you ask) but things have never looked this good in recent years either. It is weird. Interesting, but weird.

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Review: Before We Forgot How To Dream by Soak

Before We Forget How To Dream by SoakYou might have first heard Soak through “Sea Creatures”, so far her breakout single. That song tells you all you need to know about Bridie Monts-Watson: an introspection relayed through color and a bit of twee. That song was written when she was 14, and most of the songs on her debut record, Before We Forgot How To Dream, were written at around the same time. Thus, the collection’s feel: of a woman digging deep into her thoughts, writing them down, not really sure if they should see the light of day or remain as mere scribbles in her notebook. That supplies most of the record’s charm: lyrics suggesting a headstrong perspective still peppered with vulnerability and a sense of uncertainty, arrangements mostly dwelling on a technicolor chill, but sometimes breaking out into something more upbeat (as in “Garden”). Before We Forget How To Dream is a mood record, a peek inside something you don’t often get to peek at, and the result is fascinating and, perhaps, entrancing. [NB] | 4/5

“I don’t think they know what they mean.”

“Sea Creatures” by Soak | Soak is Bridie Monds-Watson. She’s Irish, she’s just 18, and her voice is one of the most interesting things I’ve heard this year. So far. Here I go again with voices so early in the year. But a listen to her newest single, “Sea Creatures”, shows a voice that’s all vulnerable and innocent and strong, a bit like Camera Obscura‘s Tracyanne Campbell without the cynicism. This song’s been lying about for a while – apparently she wrote it when she was just 14, and everybody’s praising her stripped down versions of the song, like on her performance on RTE’s The Late Late Show two years back – so, yes, we are all late to this, but only this year is she getting a push in the UK, and maybe a proper album, too. It’s interesting to see how far she goes with this, but with a lot of fans already, I think it’s not a surprise if we hear more of her in the coming months. Maybe she’ll follow Hozier‘s footsteps and make it somewhat big in the United States? It’s not a long shot, I say. [NB]