The Key’s Year-End Mania: Kate Bracaglia’s top 5 Spotify discoveries of 2015

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Clockwise from left: WIN WIN (photo by Alice Proujansky, via the band's Facebook page); Letissier (center, via the band's Instagram); exmagician (via the band's Facebook page); Dirty Ghosts (photo by Liz Caruana, via the band's website); and Screaming Peaches (photo by Ann Beasley, via the band's Facebook page)
Clockwise from left: WIN WIN (photo by Alice Proujansky, via the band’s Facebook page); Héloïse Letissier (center, via the band’s Instagram); exmagician (via the band’s Facebook page); Dirty Ghosts (photo by Liz Caruana, via the band’s website); and Screaming Peaches (photo by Ann Beasley, via the band’s Facebook page)

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2015 incredible. Today, Key contributor Kate Bracaglia shares five musicians she found on Spotify in 2015.

2015 was all about discoveries. This year, I discovered the best way to cook Brussels sprouts (with ginger and soy); the best spot in South Philly for Manhattans (the revamped Triangle Tavern); and re-discovered 9 years of That 70s Show re-runs on Netflix (remember this episode?) I also became a Spotify subscriber, and through the streaming service discovered dozens of bands that I probably wouldn’t have stumbled upon otherwise, who helped soundtrack my year. Here are five of my faves from 2015.

1. WIN WIN. Brooklyn trio WIN WIN has actually been kicking around for 5 years now, with roots that go back to early 90s Baltimore, where Alex Epton (aka xxxchange) and Chris Devlin first crossed paths. The pair later logged time in Spank Rock—Epton as producer, Devlin as sometime-DJ—before meeting visual artist/DJ Ryan Scianino (aka Ghostdad), and forming WIN WIN in 2010. Since then, they’ve released three records including this year’s Primaries, a lush, brilliantly-colored LP, anchored by blooming single “Been So Long.”

2. Christine and the Queens. Christine and the Queens is the stage name of 27-year-old French singer Héloïse Letissier, who crafts expressive synth-pop that surprises you with its depth. A singer not by trade but by accident, who was studying theater at the esteemed École normale supérieure de Lyon in Paris when she decided she needed a change and split for London, where she was subsequently taken under the wing of three drag queens who inspired her to follow her dreams (seriously I can’t make this stuff up)—Letissier has spent the past 3 years opening for Lykke Li and Woodkid, and preparing her English language debut. Scope bouncy hit “Science Fiction” below, and hear her collab with Philly rapper Tunji Ige here.

3. Dirty Ghosts. San Fran garage rockers Dirty Ghosts sound basically just as you’d expect a band called Dirty Ghosts to sound, which is to say grungy, gritty, and ferocious. Front woman Allyson Baker cut her teeth with a variety of rock and punk acts like !!!, Kelley Stolz, and (ex-husband) Aesop Rock, in between assembling her own band and perfecting her shred. The band’s 2015 release Let It Pretend hearkens back to grunge and early emo, with punk attitude and twisted guitars.

4. Screaming Peaches. Britpop quartet Screaming Peaches were previously known as MOVIE, but re-labelled themselves the more Google-able Screaming Peaches shortly after releasing their debut single last year. Combining ‘80s dance-punk with new wave and a tinge of disco, their debut EP Rough Music is only 14 minutes long but incredibly fun, drawing comparisons to Talking Heads, Bowie, The Magnetic Fields, and a bevy of other cool bands, swirled together and garnished with a cherry peach.

5. exmagician. exmagician may not believe in capitalization, but lucky do believe in perfect, fuzzed-out vibes, such as those found on debut EP Kiss That Wealth Goodbye. A duo based in Belfast, Northern Ireland, the pair takes its name from a Pavement tune and its inspiration from Captain Beefheart, British electronica, city grit, and faith in the unexpected, like the marriage of outlaw twang and shuffle beats on the (nearly perfect) title track. The pair will release its debut record next year—I can’t wait.

Stream all five bands via Spotify here.

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