Monthly Archives: December 2014

BEST MUSIC OF 2014

 

best of 2014 2

 

Nostalgia: A sentimentality for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations. We all experience this and know that media and pop culture enhances the interaction. Music plays a vital role in drawing those feelings to the surface, and many of us are attached to music from our past and the memories we have tied to those defining songs. Does music seem better just because we remember it to be? Because we connect it to a first kiss, an endless summer, an emotional event? Or are there clear trends in popular music that we can (for the most part) define to be better or worse periods of musical release.

Taking a look back on 2014 it’s safe to call it somewhat lacklustre compared to the some of the miraculous content of more recent years.  There were highly anticipated albums that just plain fell short of the mark. Not being able to rely on these essential artists who have consistently delivered timeless content cast a shadow of disillusion across the timeline. There was no radical advent of any new particular sound or production. Pop women and big booty ruled the airwaves and permeated the culture, while any even remotely inspiring indie rock acts took a nap in the backseat. The sound of saxophone in Pop/R&B/Hip Hop continued to please the ears, and trends in this genre’s songwriting pushed the big giant chorus out of the way to make room for bridges and instrumental refrains, a Dance/Pop trick used by DJ’s (See: Ariana Grande’s Problem / Turn Down For What). As a songwriter myself it’s actually insane to even think about an instrumental only chorus, but it’s only because I’ve forgotten that melodies and groove aren’t only effective when delivered from the vocalist, but can be just as awesome when delivered by a sticky keyboard line.  U2 directly injected it’s new album onto our iPhones. Had it been an important album that strategy would have allowed us to all simultaneously live through a defining marriage of music & time – instead the album was lifeless and timid (Still Rolling Stones’ # 1 of the year. Really? On a quick side note – Everyone who bitched about what U2 did needs to show some respect and appreciation. The delete button is a thumbprint away. I still have to give credit to hard working artists at any level for making art, and we should respect and be thankful that we had the opportunity to own theirs for free, as a gift, whether it’s bad or not). Favourites such as Julian Casablancas, Interpol, & Wild Beasts all surprised with mediocre records that warranted no more than a passing glance at best. Even less popular but exciting acts like Cold Cave and The Faint released new music in 2014 that was almost completely forgettable. What happened?

Let’s look at a 20 year comparison. There are trends in this art form when you have periods of time that just sparkle with memorable content. Here’s what came out in 1994 alone, 20 years ago: NIN’s The Downward Spiral, Weezer’s blue album, Nirvana Unplugged, Soundgarden’s Superunknown, Pearl Jam’s Vitolgy, Park Life by Blur, Ill Communication by Beastie Boys, Portishead’s Dummy, Hole’s Live Through This, Ready To Die by Biggie, Under The Pink  by Tori Amos (one of my all-time favs), and other major records from TLC, Outkast, Sebadoh, Neil Young, Stone Roses, The Crow, Johnny Cash, Pantera, Manic Street Preachers, Bush,  Alice in Chains, Green Day, and  Beck’s debut. All in one year. That’s a lot of notable content. So by comparison, what do we have in 2014? Anything even remotely considerable as timeless? Sure we have solid releases from St. Vincent and The War On Drugs. Lana Del Rey continues her queendom, and even Taylor Swift crossed over into Pop and won critics and fans the same. If your a fan of Run The Jewels you can make a decent mixtape featuring the Zach de le Rocha collab – but are we talking about ground breaking albums that will stand up twenty years into the future?

I know what your thinking. The 90’s hold a special place in my heart. And they do. However, you cannot deny the incredible impact those albums made on the world. Just to prove it’s about quality and not about my coming of age, let’s go back further, all the way to 1984. Here’s what came out that year: The Smiths, R.E.M, Echo & The Bunnymen, U2, Depeche Mode, The Cure, The Replacements, Cocteau Twins, Siouxsie and the Banshees, INXS, Talk Talk, The Cars, This Mortal Coil, Dead Can Dance, The Psychedelic Furs, The Pretenders, Metallica, Springsteen, Talking Heads, Bob Marley…oh and Purple Rain by Prince. Almost like a wet dream of records. If we check in with the release calendar even further back, to say 1964, it’s even more essential – The Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, The Supremes, The Animals, Roy Orbison, & The Beach Boys all topped the charts. We don’t need to get into how important the early 60’s were in shaping future music.

One more quick flashback comparison, this time to the more recent 10-year mark. Perhaps 2004 was just flavourless background noise for the sketchy post 00’s wash of piracy wars and music industry sea change. But let’s take a look: Interpol’s Antics, The Killers Hot Fuss, Keane made it’s fantastic debut, Kanye West leaped onto the map with The College Dropout, Modest Mouse (the one with Float On), The Streets, Morrissey, Bjork, Sonic Youth,  Kings of Leon, Sufjan Stevens, The Veils,  Air, TVONTR, and even a pretty decent solo album from Gwen Stefani. Oh, and Arcade Fire’s Funeral. Other important releases came from Iron & Wine, Animal Collective, Madvillian, Annie, Franz Ferdinand, Xiu Xiu, and Usher. Pretty solid. Also this was still a golden era for mainstream Hip-Hop classics, albeit the tail end.

So what can we conclude? There’s definitely something about the”4’s” that seem to pattern some of the greatest releases all though good years and bad years do come in shifts. I was puzzled as to why I felt this year lacked the magic of it’s ancestors. But you see, the pendulum must swing down to swing back up.

How did this year stack up overall? Yes there WERE a handful of tracks that shone through. I would consider the top portion of this list to be mostly all essential listening for any collection. Besides the obvious candidates (Lana Del Rey, Lykki Li, Sia, Future Islands etc) I managed to find some supremely well hidden indie dynamite. Half of my actual top ten alone is virtually completely under the radar. There are some utterly amazing tracks this year by bands like Decorations, Panama Wedding, Andrew Pinsanu, The Crookes, Flagship, The Bronze Medal, Hayden Calnin, Big Scary, Ballet School, and Seasurfer – all names I was unfamiliar with before 2014.

My list follows no other ‘best of’ list. A lot of what the major publications sighted unanimously as the year’s best did not make mine, and vice versa. I am pleased to offer this contrast to you, and if you trust my taste, you will find treasure. As usual, this list was made by listening to nearly every searchable weekly album / single release via many different sources. The amount of content is staggering, but always worth it in the end.

 

You Can Stream The Full Playlist Here

 

*****BEST TRACKS OF 2014*****

 

130 FOUNTAIN | IAMIWHOAMI

iamamiwhoami;_fountain

 

 

129 GREEN LADY | MERCHANDISE 

merchandise-after-the-end-608x608

 

 

128 TAKE ME IN YOUR ARMY | JULIAN CASABLANCAS

julian

 

 

127 BLUSH | WOLF ALICE

WOLF ALICE 1

 

 

126 FACE DOWN | WHITE LUNG

white lung

 

 

125 AMERICAN INTERIOR | GRUFF RHYS

gruff

 

 

121 EXODUS OF THE YEAR | ROYAL CANOE

Royal-Canoe---TWB-cover-(650px)

 

 

120 ATOMIC | PHORIA

Atomic Phoria

 

 

119 RIDE OR DIE | HEARTSREVOLUTION

Heartsrevolution - Ride or Die

 

 

118 YOU BURN | I BREAK HORSES

i break horses

 

 

117 YOU SHOULD BE WITH ME | ANDREW M PINSANU 

andy pinansu

 

 

116 DISAPPEARING | THE WAR ON DRUGS

war on drugs

 

 

115 UNTIL THE SUN EXPLODES | PAINS OF BEING PURE AT HEART

Print

 

 

114 IN THE END | EMBRACE

Embrace cover

 

 

113 STAY FOREVER | PANAMA

panama-stay-forever-350x350

 

 

112 BLEED | MIRROR KISSES

mirror-kisses-bleed-670x670

 

 

111 AN ACT OF MERCY | THE MERCY BEAT

the mercy beat

 

 

110 RUFFIANS ON PARADE | KAISER CHIEFS

kaiser chiefs

 

 

109 CHEAP TALK | DEATH FROM ABOVE 1979 

DFA1979

 

 

108 AMBITIONS | CHIRPING

ambitions chirping

 

 

107 HARLEM | C A T H E D R A L S

harlem cathedrals

 

 

106 COVER UP | CLAP YOUR HANDS SAY YEAH

clap your hands say yeah

 

 

105 ONE WAY OR ANOTHER | UNTIL THE RIBBONS BREAKS

until the ribbon breaks

 

 

104 DESTROYER | PANAMA

PANAMA

 

 

103 THE MORNING | WHOMADEWHO

whomadewho

 

 

102 HOLY GHOST | FLAGSHIP

Flagship band 1

 

 

101 YOUTH | BEN KHAN

ben khan

 

 

100 LAY ME DOWN | BIG SCARY

big scary cover

 

 

99 CAPITOL | TRST

trst cover

 

 

98 PETITE NOIR | CHESS

petite noir chess

 

 

97 GOSHEN ’97 | STRAND OF OAKS

strand of oaks

 

 

96 PARTITION | BEYONCE

BEYONCE

 

 

95 DRIVE BY SHOOTING | LAURA CARBONE

laura carbone

 

 

94 SUN IN THE MORNING | FUTURE ISLANDS

future islands

 

 

93 THEIF | BROKEN BOY 

broken boy

 

 

92 PAST LIFE | LOST IN THE TREES

lost in the trees

 

 

91 GO AWAY | WEEZER

weezer cover

 

 

90 MOTHER & FATHER | BROODS

broods

 

 

89 SHAMIR | ON THE REGULAR

shamir

 

 

88 CROUCHING BEES | FIGHT LIKE APES

crouching bees

 

 

87 WADERLUST | WILD BEASTS

wild beasts

 

 

86 TRUE LOVE | TOBIAS JESSO JR. 

TOBIAS

 

 

85 THE WIND THAT CRIED | THE PHANTOM BAND

the phantom band

 

 

84 NEVER CATCH ME | FLYING LOTUS FT. KENDRICK LAMAR

Flying Lotus

 

 

83 DIGITAL WITNESS | ST. VINCENT

st. vincent cover

 

 

82 DOWNTOWN LIGHTS | SMALL BLACK

small black

 

 

81 CLUB GOIN UP ON A TUESDAY (FT. DRAKE) | iLOVEMAKONNEN

ilovemakonen

 

 

80 WAVE | BECK

Beck

 

 

79 CLOSE YOUR EYES (AND COUNT TO FUCK) | RUN THE JEWELS

Run The Jewels

 

 

78 DREAMS | WHOMADEWHO

whomadewho1

 

 

77 JOYLAND | TRST

trst

 

 

76 TIMEBOMB | TOVE LO

tove lo

 

 

75 THE OTHER WOMAN | LANA DEL REY

lana del rey 3

 

 

74 LAZERETTO | JACK WHITE

JACK WHITE

 

 

73 FOR MY HELP | HAYDEN CALNIN

hayden calnin

 

 

72 THEY DON’T KNOW | WHITE SEA

white sea

 

 

71 UNDER THE PRESSURE | THE WAR ON DRUGS

war on drugs

 

 

70 THERE’S NOTHING LEFT |THE DRUMS

the drums

 

 

69 TRAINWRECK 1979 | DEATH FROM ABOVE 1979

DFA1979

 

 

68 LOVE ME LIKE I’M NOT MADE OF STONE | LYKKE LI

LYKI 3

 

 

67 BULLSH-T BALLAD | KEVIN DREW

kevin drew 1

 

 

66 KISHI KAISEI | HEARTSREVOLUTION

heartsrevolution

 

 

65 TUNNEL | THE BRONZE MEDAL

the bronze medal

 

 

64 HONEST | THE NEW DIVISION

the new division

 

 

63 SHADOWS OF MY NAME | EMMA RUTH RUNDLE 

emma ruth rundle

 

 

62 MEANWHILE UP IN HEAVEN | KAISER CHIEFS

kaiser chiefs 2

 

 

61 LOU REED | ALEISTER X

aleister x

 

 

60 ALWAYS TAKE YOU BACK | NIGHT TERRORS OF 1927

night terrors

 

 

59 LIFE UNDERWATER | FLAGSHIP 

flagship cover 2

 

 

58 FUCKED MY WAY UP TO THE TOP | LANA DEL REY

lana del rey 2

 

 

57 SILHOUETTES | COLONY HOUSE

colony house

 

 

56 SHOWS ON TV | YORO KING

yoro king

 

 

55 NOW HEAR IN | CLOUD NOTHINGS

cloud nothings

 

 

54 PROBLEM (FT. IGGY AZELEA) | ARIANA GRANDE

Ariana Grande

 

 

53 SLEEPWALKING | CHAING GANG OF 1974

chain gang

 

 

52 YOU THERE | AQUILO 

aquilo you there

 

 

51 CLAPSHOT | THE PHANTOM BAND

the phantom band

 

 

50 CLASS HISTORIAN | BRONCHO

BRONCHO

 

 

49 WORK | IGGY AZELIA 

iggy azelia work

 

 

48 FEAR OF FALLING | FLAGSHIP

flagship band

 

 

47 THANK YOU | STEVE WILSON

steve wilson

 

 

46 CALL MY NAME | HAERTS

haerts

 

 

45 THE BRINK | THE JEZABELS

jezebels

 

 

44 COME FRIDAY | ELIOT SUMNER

eliot sumner

 

 

43 CLEARING | GROUPER

Grouper

 

 

42 ALL I WANT | DAWN GOLDEN

dawn golden

 

 

41 CHERISH | BALLET SCHOOL

ballet school

 

 

40 ELECTRIC LOVE | BORNS

BORNS

 

 

39 SILVERLINE | LYKKE LI

LYKKI LI

 

 

38 NIGHT WALKING | LOST IN THE TREES

lost in the trees

 

 

37 SHUT IN | STRAND OF OAKS

strand of oaks 2

 

 

36 DRAGON SONG | SEASURFER

seasurfer

 

 

35 MEXICAN AFTERSHOW PARTY | KEVIN DREW

kevin drew cover

 

 

34 VIDEO GIRL | FKA TWIGS

TWIGS

 

 

33 I’M AQUARIUS | METRONOMY

metronomy

 

 

32 A LITTLE DEATH TO LAUGH | COLD CAVE

cold cave

 

 

31 I NEED YOU | M83

m83

 

 

30 QUEEN | PERFUME GENIUS

too bright

 

 

29 ARCHIE, MARRY ME | ALVVAYS

alvvays

 

 

28 PICTURE ME GONE | ARIEL PINK

ariel pink

 

 

27 SIA | CHANDELIER 

Sia

 

 

26 WHY | MAS YSA

mas ysa

 

 

25 HOW GOOD DOES IT FEEL | EMPIRES

Empires

 

 

24 ANDREW PINSANU | THAT BOY

andy pinansu

 

 

23 HARMONY SOMETIMES | BIG SCARY

big scary cover

 

 

22 ORDINARY FOOLS | THE CHAIN GAING OF 1974

chain gang

 

 

21 CRUEL WORLD | LANA DEL REY

lana del rey cover

 

 

20 INTERPOL | ALL THE RAGE BACK HOME

interpol

 

 

19 SEASONS (WAITING ON YOU) | FUTURE ISLANDS

future islands

 

 

18 ANDREW PINSANU | YOUR GHOST

ANDY 2

 

 

17 ALEXANDRA | HAMILTON LEITHAUSER

hamilton

 

 

16 NOT ON DRUGS | TOVE LO

tove lo

 

 

15 REVOLUSION | ELLIPHANT

elliphant

 

 

14 SHAKE IT OFF | TAYLOR SWIFT

Taylor_Swift_-_Shake_It_Off

 

 

13 UMA | PANAMA WEDDING

panama wedding

 

 

12 FIREWORKS | SEASURFER

seasurfer

 

 

11 WE DEM BOYZ | WIZ KHALIFA

wiz kalifa

 

 

10 RED EYES | THE WAR ON DRUGS

war on drugs

 

 

AS LONG AS IT’S YOU | THE DELOREANS

the deloreans

 

 

8 NEVER WORK FOR FREE | TENNIS

Tennis

 

 

7 WEST COAST | LANA DEL REY

Lana Del Rey

 

 

6 RIGHT TRACK | WHOMADEWHO

whomadewho cover

 

 

5 GIRLS | DECORATIONS

decorations

 

 

4 KATIE QUEEN OF TENESSEE | THE APACHE RELAY 

the apache relay

 

 

3 STRAIGHT TO HEAVEN | THE CROOKES

the crookes

 

 

2 I NEVER LEARN | LYKKI LI 

LYKI LI 1

 

 

1 HOLLYWOOD UNDERWATER | FLAGSHIP

flagship cover 2

 

 

 

 

 

*******BEST ALBUMS OF 2014********

 

1 | LYKKE LI | I NEVER LEARN

LYKI LI 1

 

 

 

2 | ANDREW PINSANU | COLLECTING DISEASES

andy pinansu

 

 

 

3 | LANA DEL REY | ULTRAVIOLENCE

lana del rey cover

 

 

 

4 |FLAGSHIP | FLAGSHIP

flagship cover 2

 

 

 

5 | THE CHAIN GANG OF 1974 | DAYDREAM FOREVER

chain gang

 

 

 

6 | KAISER CHIEFS | EDUCATION, EDUCATION, EDUCATION, & WAR

kaiser chiefs

 

 

 

7 | SEASURFER | DIVE IN

seasurfer

 

 

 

8 | KEVIN DREW | DARLINGS

kevin drew cover

 

 

 

9 | TAYLOR SWIFT | 1989

Taylor_Swift_-_1989

 

 

 

10 | WHOMADEWHO | DREAMS

whomadewho cover

 

 

 

11 | WEEZER | EVERYTHING WILL BE ALRIGHT IN THE END

weezer cover

 

 

 

12 | THE WAR ON DRUGS | LOST IN THE DREAM

war on drugs

 

 

 

13 | ST. VINCENT | ST. VINCENT

st. vincent cover

 

 

 

14 | LEWIS | L’AMOUR

Lewis

 

 

 

15 | LOST IN THE TREES | PAST LIFE

lost in the trees

 

 

 

16 | DEATH FROM ABOVE 1979 | THE PHYSICAL WORLD 

DFA1979

 

 

 

17 | TOVE LO | QUEEN OF THE CLOUDS

tove lo

 

 

 

18 | EMPIRES | ORPHAN

Empires

 

 

 

19 | EMBRACE | EMBRACE

Embrace cover

 

 

 

20 | MARK KOZELEK | SINGS CHRISTMAS CAROLS

Mark Kozelek