As the year comes to an end it’s time to reflect on what’s been another triumphant year for South African music. Our list of the 20 best tracks for 2015 consist of artists who consistently strive to push sonic boundaries whether through lyrical or instrumental, experimental or methodical means. So, in no particular order, enjoy our cut about the rest picks.
1. PHfat – Panic At Cluster B. Narch has created an entrancing repetition in the beat that sucks you deep while Mike Zietsman’s words pull you closer to culmination.
2. Yum Yuck – Icicles. This track retains psychedelic pop foundations, making use of lively bass lines and snappy guitar which pluck along at perfect walking pace over the occasional phased drum fill.
3. Motheo Moleko – Ruse. Moleko has tapped into the South African experience and distilled it into meaningful lyrics that ring truer than ever in light of the spate of protests sweeping South Africa this year.
4. Meth Breath – Full House 2: Fuller House. This track opens with a Biffy Clyro style riff before taking a classic punk trajectory. “Who’s got the drugs at this party?” Who indeed. Listen here.
5. TiMO ODV ft. Sarah Jackson – Save Me. This singer-songwriter and producer is your textbook case of overnight success and this song was inescapable for the better part of 2015.
6. Nonku Phiri – Things We Do On the Weekend. Underpinned by a deep bass-rooted, monotone beat that’s peppered by a whizz here and a click there. There’s nothing overly complicated about this and it’s because of this simplicity that it’s effectually beautiful.
7. Majozi – Darling. Filled with the strums and plucks of banjo and acoustic guitar strings, Majozi crawled into our hearts with this simple love song.
8. Francois van Coke and Karen Zoid – Toe Vind Ek Jou. This one’s a no-brainer. The reigning king and queen of South African rock crafted a ballad so tender and poignant that to-date has garnered over 1 million views on Youtube.
9. Leechi – French Toast. This Justice-esque banger is a sure-fire dancefloor hit and speak volumes about this young gun’s talent. immerse yourself in this fresh wave of nu disco wave.
10. Gangs of Ballet – Always. Blunted guitar and heavy bass synths open the track, only to be swiftly overridden by a tinkling guitar riff as the track veers toward a more alternative side – only to veer swiftly back.
11. Early Hours – Changehood. Jake Bennett’s refreshingly smooth vocals, coupled with Strokes-esque riffs and groovy bass lines showcase their musical talent in abundance.
12. The Frown – Light People. Constantly keeping us on our toes, The Frown’s reinvented sound is an amalgamation of experimental elements gone completely right.
13. Dead Hoe – Rainbow Chicken. As soon as the rock ’n’ roll beat kicks in, on cue with a howling high-pitched “YEAH” you’ve semi-morphed into a rock god yourself. Listen here.
14. Dookoom – The Worst Thing. In a country still plagued by racism and hatred, Dookoom challenge how we think and act through their music.
15. Birthday Girl – Swimsuits. Birthday Girl has succeeded in translating raw human emotion into sonic poetry and this first single sets the bar high.
16. Sol Gems – Standing With The Sun. Drenched in symbolism akin to psych rock this encompasses a celestial theme that is prominent in most artwork and lyrics in this genre.
17. Sannie Fox – Hip Heretic. With its head-scratching lyrics, classic rock progression and emotive vocals, the sum of Fox’s talents are wrapped up neatly in this offering.
18. BEAST – Healer. The band lurches head-first into an impossibly huge chorus only 30-odd seconds in. It’s slow and heavy, a musical aesthetic that BEAST has become known.
19. Southern Wild – Time Eraser. The intensity in the delivery of David Van Vuuren’s vocal makes this a classic rock ‘n’ roll ballad.
20, Black Coffee ft. Nakhane Toure – We Dance Again. It’s been a huge year for Black Coffee – being confirmed to play Coachella, having his face put on a Red Bull can and releasing what is, arguably, the biggest song of 2015.