2014 has been such an amazing year for music. I’ve discovered so many awesome new bands, albums, and songs, and I’ve had so much fun documenting it all with this blog. I’ve planned to treat today and the whole of next week to highlight the best songs and albums of 2014, and share what really shined and stuck with me as the year rolled on. Regular posts will start up again in 2015. Bear in mind that these songs are my personal choices, so I’d love to hear your comments below as to what you felt were the best songs of 2014. Here we go!
10. Parquet Courts – “Instant Disassembly”
American punk band Parquet Courts impressed with the release of their third album Sunbathing Animal, and this song seemed to go by it’s own rules. The lethargic, tired vocals of Andrew Savage merge well with the repeated guitar melody that seems to similarly lurch forward on it’s own volition. Parquet Courts have always been one of the more introspective, intelligent punk bands I have heard, and this track just solidified my fascination with them.
9. Alvvays – “Party Police”
The guitar melody that opens this song is so enticingly addictive, and when Molly Rankin comes in to provide a delicate, charming narrative, the result is something beautifully nostalgic and reminiscent of a love lost. It’s whimsical, much like a few other tracks on their self-titled debut album, and it goes hand in hand with their more demonstrative, serious singles “Archie, Marry Me,” and “Adult Diversion.” However, I picked this track mainly because there’s a delicate balance of cutesy and thoughtful, and that constant interaction is what Alvvays is in a nutshell.
8. Pillar Point – “Eyeballs”
I enjoyed Pillar Point’s self titled debut album quite a lot this year, especially the stand out track “Eyeballs.” The eighties vibe it actively evokes is outstanding, and everything from the jumpy instrumentals to the metallic, buzzing synth beats help to make it a gem among the rest of the already stunning album, and among his other outstanding tracks like “Cherry” and the equally metallic and intergalactic “Dreamin'”. Scott Reitherman’s vocals seem to be heavily textured just like the instrumentals surrounding him, and the vintage feel of it all is nothing short of wonderful.
7. Elephant – “Shapeshifter”
When this single was first released, I think I went ahead and listened to it on repeat for hours and hours. I was entranced by the hypnotizing, swelling orchestral harmonies that introduce the start of the song, and Amelia Rivas has such a gorgeous voice that it’s so hard to stop listening. There’s a soft, noire feeling to the track as a whole, almost as if you’re imagining everything in black and white. I loved this fragile, delicate composition, almost like it houses a shackled, beaten down adrenaline that could burst out at any given second. Their album Sky Sailing is absolutely breathtaking, and it’s worth a thorough listen.
6. Alt-J – “Bloodflood pt. II”
This Is All Yours showed that Alt-J has gone in a slightly different direction than their last album, and even though there are some moments that could have been more intuitive, it is still a highly impressive album. “Bloodflood pt. II” was my favorite from the experimental album because it reminded me of the feelings that Alt-J gave me in the past – a sense of warmth and comfort, with an added feeling of familiarity. Joe Newman’s voice is a lovely oddity, and I love deciphering the lyrics just as much as I enjoy the stunning instrumentals that accompany them.
5. Wild Beasts – “A Simple Beautiful Truth”
Wild Beasts and their album Present Tense have continuously been one of my favorite bands and albums of the year, and this track is proof of their marvelous construction and overall finesse. As if the lucid repeated melody that this song stands on isn’t gorgeous enough, the vocals of guitarist Hayden Thorpe and bassist Tom Fleming intertwine to become an unbreakable force. The simplicity yet unbelievable dynamic feeling of their tracks nowadays is absolutely amazing, and I love the direction that they’ve taken.
4. Temples – “The Golden Throne”
I love anything to do with the sixties and seventies, so when psychedelic indie band Temples released their album Sun Structures, I was all over it. Some say that the band is trying a little too hard to pin down those iconic groovy feelings, but with an added emphasis on ancient Egyptian symbols and culture, I’d say that Temples is doing just fine remaining loyal to the genre yet still maintaining something fresh and new. “The Golden Throne” was a tough track to pick out of the amazing tracks on the album, but I picked it because of the story it tells and the catchy nature of it’s lyrics.
3. Favela – “Easy Yoke”
This song will definitely be on most of my personal playlists for years and years to come. Every time I hear the glorious orchestral introduction, it captures me in it’s clutches. The 21 year old musician and singer has really proved his worth with his recently released EP, where other beautiful tracks like “Sunlight” and “Throne” take center stage. There’s a layer of warmth and desire that flows through “Easy Yoke,” however, and that is what makes me come back for more.
2. Glass Animals – “Gooey”
Glass Animals’ debut album Zaba has been one of my absolute favorites this year, and the exotic, jungle like ideas it embraces has been a crazy, yet highly enjoyable ride. The lyrics are strange, but that’s what makes the band that much more untouchable – they go on to discuss ideas that need time to be understood – and I feel that because of this, they have become so popular. “Gooey” is actually the track that stands out from the rest of the album, because I feel it’s a bit more introspective and highly complex than say it’s counterparts “Black Mambo” or “Pools.” Dave Bayley’s sensual voice is magic with the synthesized piano tones that envelop it, and it’s a track that lets me hear something new every time I listen to it.
1. Cloud Castle Lake – “Sync”
I had to pick “Sync” as my number one track of 2014 because there is simply nothing else in the world like it. The Dublin trio has impressed me in such a way I never expected, especially in the intricate instrumentals and the unique, beyond falsetto vocals that’s embraced in “Sync” as well as other tracks like “Dandelion.” This song is definitely an acquired taste, and listening to it is like a journey into another world. There’s elements of jazz with a modern twist, and it’s sung with such passion and energy that it’s hard not to enjoy the route it takes you on. With each listen it gets better and better, and you start to notice the little details that, in my opinion, makes this song the absolute best of this past year. I love it with all my heart and I never get tired of listening to it.