Ghost Track‘s Favorite Releases of 2015



As 2015 comes to a close, it’s time to look back on Ghost Track‘s favorite releases of the year, in no particular order.

Full Lengths

Coaster – Slow Jams

20a4174484679_1015 was a transition year for Chicago band Coaster, losing two of its core members. However frontman Matt Kissinger will continue the momentum they achieved in 2015 with fellow guitarist Seth Engel. Coaster released Slow Jams in late June just before setting out on tour with The Appleseed Cast. Between Engel’s intricate guitar riffs and Kissinger’s memorable lyrics, Coaster will have you singing and dancing along to these rock tunes. Though they may need to rethink how they name their albums, Coaster’s Slow Jams is a refreshing take on modern rock music. Joe Plukarski

Options – Driftwood Metaphora1375089412_10

Appearing on this list for the second time is Philadelphia native Seth Engel. Engel has been slowly becoming a primary component in the Chicago music scene, recording over 15 albums at his studio “The Owlery” in 2015 alone. He has been releasing songs of his own under the moniker Options since 2009. His latest release, Driftwood Metaphor, is by far his most polished work. The songs are short and honest. The beautiful guitar hooks and lyrics about human insecurities is no doubt one of the best works to rise above the crowded Chicago music scene. -Joe Plukarski

Horrible Things – Everybody Else

a3114836677_10Writing a great album is difficult on its own, but for Horrible Things to follow up 2012’s Dumb Days with an equal-to-greater release was one of the best things to happen in 2015. Everybody Else is strikingly catchy, deeply personal, and sees the band expand its reach while staying the course – an accomplishment that adds to a lengthy list of why this record is the best Illinois pop-punk record of 2015. – Sean Neumann


The Space Shuttles – Dream Machine
It’s rare that a record can so intelligently emotional and hook-laden while making you feel happy. Dream Machine is playful, exciting, and invokes a nostalgic, childish emotion inside of you that makes you forget you’re growing up and that it’s OK to act like a kid and seek out happiness. But don’t let the childish subjects fool you. This Chicago electronic record is filled with hit-after-hit and any stigma surrounding the “kid’s music” label will quickly go out the window. – Sean Neumann

Motes – Keep It in the Dark

a3376683328_10There’s a stretch in Keep It in the Dark that’s unparalleled in 2015. The 2-3-4 spots of “Great Lake,” “Freeway,” and “Fools” is a rare moment where a band writes its own thesis for itself. If you want to show anyone what Motes is, you’ll show them those three songs back-to-back-to-back. And chances are that anyone who hears them in succession won’t put the album down. – Sean Neumann


Looming Nailbitera1569498307_10

The Springfield band has had one hell of a year, signing to No Sleep Records in mid-2015 for the release of their debut LP and playing more than they ever have before. Frontwoman Jessica Knight uses a vibrato in her vocals that oddly complements the built up aggression that explodes where Looming reaches its emotional high points. The strange, dark Nailbiter never leaves you hanging and constantly keeps things interesting with a mix of speed and style in its musicianship that comes off as an experiment gone perfectly right. – Sean Neumann

ratboys AOIDRatboys – AOID

Like Looming, 2015 was a hallmark year for Chicago band Ratboys and it all started with the release of a great record. AOID is a fantastic mix of folksy garage rock that reflects a nonchalant attitude despite the ever-serious messages of love and childhood longing in the lyrics. It’s easy to absorb but intelligent enough to continue diving deeper and deeper into each track. – Sean Neumann


The Cut Worms – At Home

a3438665823_10Just before frontman Max Clarke relocated to New York in late fall, he released At Home with The Cut Worms. They released the EP off of Chicago DIY tape label Dumpster Tapes. The warmth of this release will leave Chicago longing for the live performance, but the recordings will have us reminiscing about 1960s pop music for some time. – Joe Plukarski



Friendlys – Dabbinga2965433025_10

Dabbing is heavy, yet poppy. Lo-fi, yet saturated with glitchy noises and effects. The songs are simple in the most complex way. The vocals remind the listener of pre-Unicorns era Alden Penner while the guitar constantly hits hard with a wall of fuzz. My original sentiment still stands: “Tilt” definitely emerges above the rest of the tracks. However, I underestimated how good this album is as a whole. One thing that separates a good album from mere compilations of songs is great cohesion between songs. Friendlys definitely achieves that on Dabbing. – Joe Plukarski


Strawberry Jacuzzi – “Bitch Jam”

a2662877726_10In Chicago, garage rock reigns supreme. Strawberry Jacuzzi has shown us their own unique spin on the genre with several releases this year. Their most notable release came in April with their single “Bitch Jam.” Not deviating from their common theme of fickle love, lead singer Shannon Candy sings, “In a few days you won’t exist and it will feel like you never did.” This track is surely more memorable than it’s lyrics suggest. -Joe Plukarski


JD (The Sooper Swag Project) – “Promisedland”a0689115594_10

TSSP have been working hard on their forthcoming album Badd Timing. Though it is still in the works for an early 2016 release, JD released “Promisedland” back in February. After meticulously painting a dreamscape with synthesizers, syncopated beats and verses, JD gives us a glance at his newly created genre “mathrap” with this single. -Joe Plukarski

kenna-mae-coverKenna Mae – “Trash”

Central Illinois singer-songwriter Kenna Mae released her full-length Blue Darlin’ earlier this year and instantly there was a clear stand out in “Trash.” The one-on-one discussion that occurs with Mae is a step into her personal life. You start to feel for her, you start to understand, agree and disagree, and have a dialogue within the four minutes Mae pours her heart out in a voice-shaking, heart-breaking hit. – Sean Neumann



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