The 50 Best Singles by Phoenix Bands in 2016, Part One

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36. The Hourglass Cats
This is the Hourglass Cats back to basics, filled with the sound that got their fans fervent in the first place. It's got that laid-back reggae rhythm, the fantastic 2 Tone-sounding ska horns, and of course, clever lyrics from frontman Cori Rios. It's also damn difficult to not get this stuck in your head with the catchy hook of "I've been getting rain checks from all the girls, paycheck to paycheck is how I live this world." It's just a great song with a high-energy vibe. And even though lyrically, it's not that happy of a tale to tell, it's told in the most positive possible way.

35. LUAU
With a breathy lead vocal over abrasive guitar, "Anchor" begins sounding like Teenage Fanclub meets Sonic Youth, before exploding into a rhythmic assault akin to Gish-era Smashing Pumpkins, while Hallock's vocals meet Billy Corgan, Nate Ruess, and Gerard Way in a blender. It's propulsive and danceable with its understated synth flourishes, swirling psychedelic pop guitars, and a vocal performance that is absolutely mesmerizing.

34. AJJ
 "Goodbye, Goodbye"
The song itself is indie pop at its finest and contains some of the slickest production I've ever heard on an AJJ record. It's got everything: raging guitars, nervous vocals, pounding rhythms, quirky lyrics, and an infectious hook that resonates inside your head. It could well be the single that sends them over the edge of indie. Plus, the video is a straight-up parody of OK Go. While the video is a funny aside, the song itself is propelled by the histrionic vocals of Sean Bonnette, reminiscent of early Beirut crossed with Angst In My Pants-era Sparks, which is endlessly fascinating on an aural level alone.

 "Too Close To The Flame"
I was lucky to catch DWARF for their last show of the summer. That same day, they dropped a video for a brand new song called "Too Close To The Flame," and the first time I got to hear it was them playing it live. At five minutes long, you think you might tire of a fast-paced indie rock song, but the thought will never occur to you once. You just want it to go on longer.

32. The Real Fits
 "Feels Like Mine"
"Feels Like Mine," the first single from the Real Fits' debut EP, Drown In Gold, is a slow-burner that takes well into the first minute before Raquel Willand's vocals kick you in the head. On this track, they explore a lot more groove territory than on their previous singles. It's a fascinating conglomerate of so many influences that it reads like something of a peculiar, indie rock pocket symphony as it dances through its various movements and musical themes. It's a captivating tune in its subtle psychedelic complexity. It's not your usual single.

31. Elephant Gunn  "Birds"
"Birds" is an absolutely fantastic track that is easily the best thing Elephant Gunn has recorded to date. And not only musically — the lyrical allegory here is wonderfully clever. There's a slight Pixies vibe going on here. Well, maybe not "slight," but it doesn't entirely consume the song. Oh, and the chorus just rocks you right the fuck out of your chair and catches you unaware, which is a pretty beautiful thing. If I thought I was eager to hear the new album before this single was dropped, now I can't wait to spend an entire day with that record when it's finally released.

 "Goodnight Moon'd"
The first track to see the light of day from PRO TEENS' brilliant album Accidentally was "Goodnight Moon'd," and it is lush, textured pop, with a heady, slightly psychedelic bend. Frontman Andy Phipps uses his crooning Elvis Costello vocals to their best effect yet on this track. The chorus is dizzying, dreamy, and swirling with harmonies and too many lovely sounds to name. The song is just over three minutes long, but it takes you so much further. It is an atmospheric joy, wrapped in smoky, sedated, relatable pop.

29. Genre
 "Speak Now"
"Speak Now" was the perfect pick for the first single from Genre's first full-length album, Legendary Rock Act. The entire album is an astounding success, and "Speak Now" is only one of many highlights and quite a few eligible singles from the album. Still, this song is a standout track and the obvious single, because it's simply perfect pop-punk, no more, no less — all the vitriol and none of the calories. It's as perfect a song for skateboarding as it is for slam dancing or just rocking the fuck out.

28. Holy Fawn  "Reykur"
"Reykur" was the sole single from Holy Fawn in 2016. Like the recordings found on their EP, this song only hints at what it becomes when performed live on stage. We are talking about the single, though, and it begins aggressively with a wall of guitars right up front. The aggression is tempered by the amazing angelic vocals as it leads into an ambient shoegaze piece that must be listened to on headphones for maximum enjoyment. It's a swirling, dizzying affair that drowns you in sound while the imagery surrounds you in smoke and ash.

27. Jane N' The Jungle
 "Shake Me Out"
Jane N' The Jungle make memorable, catchy indie rock that runs a stylistic gamut from near Americana to nearly hard rock and they do it well. I've seen them so many times live now that I know a dozen of their songs, and while "Shake Me Out" isn't their greatest tune, it is probably their best single of the year. And that's not criticism of the song; it's praise for the band.

26. The Redemptions
My heart and ears have loved "Stay" since the first time I saw Anthony Fama play it on stage. It also has this crazy, retro pop hook to it that I can't shake out of my ears, with a '60s vibe throughout. Whether it's the catchy guitar, the chill harmonies, or Fama's rockabilly lead vocals, the whole thing just comes together perfectly on this song. Not to mention that the lyrics are just goddamn adorable in a puppy love meets introspective psychology sort of way.

Visit tomorrow to find out what song makes number one on our list!

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Mitchell Hillman