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THE BEST MUSIC OF 2014 General Thread


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MEGA POST

 

My favorite 100 songs I heard in 2014

 

Explanation of criteria: Had to hear it for the first time in 2014.  I generally make a monthly mix CD (using the old rules of 79 minutes for a standard CD) from songs I find on Soundcloud, bandcamp, Stereogum, Pitchfork, etc..  Sometimes more than one playlist.  Every song that makes a CD goes into the master playlist for the year, and then I whittle the ones I dig the most into a top 100.  Out of 19 CDs, 294 songs, this was the top 100.  In alphabetical order.

 

  1. Adderall – Greys

A good approximation to how it feels to be on Adderall with an appropriate stuck in your head punk chorus – GET OUT OF MY HEAD

  1. Ain’t Got Nobody – Weezer

I think most people liked “Back to the Shack” better, but I knew Weezer was back seconds into the first track.

  1. Albatros – Whales & Aurora

Whales & Aurora’s two song EP went for a more atmospheric / psychedelic take and it knocked it right out of the park.  Perfect driving music.

  1. Algiers – Afghan Whigs

The Afghan Whigs returned older, beaten down, and different.  Greg Dulli’s voice is worn out and only got a little bit left, and you can hear it gloriously in this song.  Pretty much the only one I liked off the new album.

  1. All the Rage Back Home – Interpol

Finally, a return to form.  Sounds like old Interpol.

  1. Always Forgetting With You (The Bridge Song) – Spiritualized (Mississippi Space Program)

A most pleasant, late night, drifting off to sleep a Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space return to form.

  1. Archangel – USA Out Of Vietnam

Drone-y, Psychedelic-y, crushing, with epic chorale vocals.  One of my favorite discoveries this year.

  1. Ashes – Pallbearer

A perfect respite from the unrelenting doom.  I like Pallbearer, but I don’t love them.

  1. Aurorae – Triptykon

Excellent exercise in tension.  I don’t know quite how to describe Triptykon, other than brilliant.  This is Tom G. Warrior with his old man strength.

  1. B&E – Nothing

Too heavy for shoegaze, too light and airy for metal, it’s the crushing climax of the best album of the year.

  1. Be My Blood – Young in the Way

This is the heaviness and chaos I want.  The drums in this make the song.

  1. BFFs – Beach Day

Sounds like lazy Best Coast.  In a good way.

  1. Birthday – Night School

Lexy Morte was the best thing about Whirr.  This is her new super catchy band.

  1. Bitches Brew – Crosses

Chino Moreno at his most hipster-ish.  Cool like a cat rocking a beret snapping his fingers.

  1. Blackwood – Dead Horse One

Beautiful, serene, psychedelic, pastoral. 

  1. Boleskine House – Triptykon

More old man strength.

  1. Book of the Fallen – Caladan Brood

This makes me prepare for battle.  That flute solo, though.

  1. Boom Clap – Charli XCX

Just pure bubble gum goodness.

  1. BORTA - Ştiu Nu Ştiu

A fantastic 4 min song stretched out to 16 minutes in some language I don’t even understand.

  1. Burial Society – Have a Nice Life

Haunting, hypnotic – these guys are masters of using their voices as instruments of chaos.

  1. Can’t Stop the Fall – Has a Shadow

Has a real Black Angels vibe that just grooves and grooves and grooves.

  1. Ceaseless White – Petrychor

An acoustic black metal masterpiece.  Sounds like it was recorded in a garage by a boombox.  In a good way.

  1. Come Crashing – Failure

First new song by Failure in 17 years.  Like it wouldn’t be on this list.  Greatness.

  1. Complete Surrender – Slow Club

Fantastic 60s-ish popness and both singers shine here. 

  1. Deathtripper – Tombs

Dark, wallowing trip into slow moving mayhem.

  1. Deep Wound – Swervedriver

First new Swervedriver song in 19 years.  Of course.

  1. Dream Within a Dreamworld – The Daysleepers

First new Daysleepers in … I don’t know how long.  But long overdue.  Great dream pop.

  1. Dreamers (feta. Phoebe Lou) – Hopium

Incredible pop song about sleeping in too late (with a spoken word coda that has to be heard to be believed).

  1. Dreamwalker – Wo Fat

Finest 17 minutes of stoner bliss this year.

  1. Ember City – Mastodon

Far from their greatest, but this song stuck with me all year.

  1. Fallen Tree Bridge (Brave Rainbow Rider) – Candy Claws

Manic pixie dream pop that feels just so damn happy.

  1. Fancy (Feat. Charli XCX) – Iggy Azalea

Song of the Summer – but Charli’s the reason why.

  1. Far From Any Road – The Handsome Family

Yes, song is ancient, but didn’t hear it until True Detective, and it will endure under that context.  Just haunting.

  1. Fifteen Minutes – The Hunt

This is old too, but I just heard it this year – like an old Cure cover band finally playing its own tunes and owning it.

  1. Flower Power – Ringo Deathstarr

Hard shoegaze that rocks.  Love it.

  1. Forgiving the Cleansing Meteor – Junius

Intelligent post-metal with soaring vocals by the coolest dudes.

  1. From the Kettle Onto the Coil – Deafheaven

This song is written obviously from the Sunbather script, but that script is damn good and this song just destroys.

  1. Gimme Choko!! – Babymetal

Melodic Death Metal plus J-Pop vocals?  What could go wrong?  NOTHING! NO ONE DENIES THIS.

  1. Give Me Your Love – Gateway Drugs

Electro-pop goodness.  So catchy.

  1. Go (feat. Blood Diamonds) – Grimes

Song she wrote for Rhianna – but I can’t imagine anyone but Grimes singing it.

  1. Go Away (feat. Bethany Consentino) – Weezer

Best Coast and Weezer in the same song?  Get out.

  1. Guggenheim Wax Museum – Have a Nice Life

I wish I was alive.

  1. Guilty of Everything – Nothing

Given that the singer actually did some serious prison time, this song means so much.

  1. How To Put An Audience To Sleep In Under Two Minutes – the Weaks

Best song title and best album title (The World is a Terrible Place and Now I Hate Myself and Want to Die) and best pop punk song of the year.

  1. Hubris – Blut Aus Nord
While Memoria Vetusta III - Saturnian Poetry got all the press, this song off of a split with P.H.O.B.O.S. was the best for me – especially the Horrorscope-esque riff in the midst of it all. 
  1. Hymn to the Pillory – Nothing

First track of the best album of the year.  Instantly puts you in the mood.

  1. I don’t Know Myself – LowCityRain

Lantlos guitarist puts out a solo album and it’s pure 80s.  Genius.

  1. I’m on Fire – Low

Surprising Springsteen cover that adds to and lives up to the original. 

  1. In Metal – Nothing

Surpising Low cover that adds to and lives up to the original. 

  1. Institutionalized 2014 – Body Count

Surprising Suicidal Tendencies cover that changes all the lyrics brilliantly and it fucking works.

  1. Interference Fits – Perfect Pussy

It’s like they never bothered to learn how to play their instruments, plus a mad woman screaming unintelligibly.  It works.

  1. It’s the Hard Knock Life – Annie

It’s like they never bothered to learn how to play any instruments, plus pre-teens screaming unintelligibly.  It works.

  1. It’s the Motherfucking Hell (You Dick) – the Hell

It’s like they never bothered to learn how to play their instruments, plus chavs screaming unintelligibly.  It works.

  1. Leg of Lamb – USA Out of Vietnam

An amazing trip.  Psychedelic Drone bliss.

  1. Lost Cause – Ellen Page

It’s a cover of a Beck song in the midst of the saddest part of a fantastic game. 

  1. March of Spirito (Rise of Sheol) – Ethereal Riffian

Fine Russian stoner jam.

  1. Mediocre at Best – Sorority Noise

Best pop punk album – consistently great all the way through. 

  1. Melting Sun I: Azure Chimes – Lantlos

Lantlos, minus Neige = better Lantlos.

  1. Motherfucker – Faith No More

First Faith No More song in 17 years?  Of Course.

  1. Mumble – Whirr

Heavy as shit shoegaze from the mad geniuses in Whirr (minus Lexy Morte now, unfortunately).

  1. Neptune – Black Willows

More stoner bliss.

  1. Nick Kwas Christmas Party – Sorority Noise

Great song about growing up.

  1. Nihil – Aquilus

This is old, but this is incredible stuff that really takes black metal in interesting directions.

  1. No Dog – Esben and the Witch

These guys (and girl) are pros at that slow buildup to total breakdown. 

  1. Opale – Alcest

I really didn’t like the non-metal album, but this song has its moments.

  1. Passage of Gaia – Arctic Sleep

Excellent post-metal with super chill clean singing and remarkable production values.

  1. Pursuit-Predator – Godhunter

The call and response vocals sear into your mind for your next game of hide and seek – PURSUIT – RUNNING YOU DOWN!

  1. Ready to Run – The Rememberables

Fountains of Wayne-esque pop that just catches you.

  1. Red Eyes – War on Drugs

This band sucks.  This song is ok, I guess.

  1. Reeling – Nux Vomica

Another fantastic discovery this year – it’s epic atmospheric hardcore? Something like that.

  1. Salt – Narcosatanicos

Out of control shoegaze / noise with saxophone?  Wow.

  1. Serious Business – United Nations

Punishing hardcore that hides an ear for melody under the din; it’s great stuff.

  1. Shaken – Death of Lovers

Part Nothing, part Whirr, combined into a Cure lovefest.  Can’t go wrong.

  1. Sir Arthur Evans – Giant Squid

Epic slowcore / sludge / post-metal who knows what but when it hits, it’s bloody heavenly.

  1. Smile – Deftones

From the lost record Eros, released on the anniversary of Chi’s death, a beautiful reminder of what we had and what we lost. 

  1. Sometimes – Winkie

Takes balls to release a shoegaze song named “Sometimes.”  But this dissonant, discordant, rocketing blast is invigorating.

  1. Superhawk – Aurelio Valle

Ex-Calla still showing his chops – the improvised horns at the end pull this one together.

  1. Superlove – Charli XCX

Charli’s best song?

  1. Sway – Whirr

Gorgeous haze this one’s bathed in.

  1. Take My Hand – Young and in the Way

Tremendous riff work here and just a gorgeous, ugly song.

  1. The Blue of Noon – Death of Lovers

More Cure lovefest from parts of Nothing and Whirr.

  1. The Clarity – Sleep

First Sleep song in who knows how long.  Of course.

  1. The Cold – Exitmusic

Yes, it’s an old song.  But it was on Shameless this year, in a spot where the song fit. 

  1. The Ghost I Used to Be – Pallbearer

Best song on this year’s album.  Rich and weighty is probably the best way to describe.

  1. The Longest Shadows Ever Cast – Cold Body Radiation

Another meditation of how far blackgaze has traveled from black metal.  Just a gorgeous, shimmering song that feels like the sun on a cold day.

  1. The Stranger – The Rememberables

It’s guitar-pop that feels genuine.  Very Fountains of Wayne / Archers of Loaf vibe.

  1. The Trouble – Pogo

Remixed Disney samples into their own little songs. My 6 year old’s favorite.

  1. Third Day of a Seven Day Binge – Marilyn Manson

Never thought in a million years I’d enjoy a Manson song this much in 2014. 

  1. Too Broke for Drugs – Post Teens

It’s a sub minute long punk diatribe about wanting inebriation but can’t.

  1. Turn Down For What – DJ Snake (feat. Lil Jon)

It’s JJ Watt’s theme song.  Duh.

  1. Unexisting – Dream Suicides

Immersive shoegaze about feeling like you don’t exist with guitars and vocals that come in and out reality.

  1. Up In the Sky – Somali Yacht Club

Uplifting Russian stoner bliss.

  1. Vltava – Cult of Fire

A magical metal reimagining of Bedrich Smetana’s “Vltava” 140 years after the fact.  Brilliant.

  1. War on Drugs, Suck my Cock – Sun Kil Moon

Song of the motherfucking year.

  1. We Are the Dreamers – Stargazer Lilies

Gorgeous shimmering shoegaze.

  1. Where Greater Men Have Fallen – Primordial

Another song to get you pumped up for battle. 

  1. Where You Rest Your Head at Night – Planning for Burial

PFB’s best song, a rev you up, tear you down number that gets you excited to be depressed.

  1. Work – Iggy Azalea

My wife’s theme song when she’s up all night, trying to get that rich.

  1. Your Eyes and the Sea – LowCityRain

I can’t get over how perfectly 80s this song is. 

  1. काली मां – Cult of Fire

Czech black metal band obsessed with India write perfect song about Kali, goddess of death.  That piano interlude blows me away.

 

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Well now that there's a bunch of rock posted in here, I figure I'll talk about the one rock album that'll be on my top 15.

 

lose-cymbals-eat-guitars-album-artwork.j

 

A lot of what frustrates me about rock is that the songwriting is self-serving. People make rock because it's what they like, and then they have to fit their ideas into it without compositional consideration about what their ideas imply. Or, worse, without consideration to if those ideas are actually suited to 4/4 and electric guitars. So the rock bands I like are those who've paid that sort of thought into why they're a rock band, and a clear thematic concept is visible in their music. Cymbals Eat Guitars has always challenged themselves structurally, wanting something more expressive than rock tropes can give them and as a result making kind of oddly shaped by clearly ambitious rock music. Charming if not always moving.

Then they release the first single for this record, Jackson, and it's the most 90s Alt Rock Radio shit released this year (fuck a cloud nothings). I can't help but be a little disturbed by the change, but still I wait for the record. More singles come out, and they're big pop songs too. The record comes out, and it's a big pop record. All major keys and verse-chorus structure. Then I started to pick out a few lyrics here and there.

 

"Imagining victory

Our alternate history
The songs we never wrote
They float above and below me
Keepsake tinnitus shrieks me to sleep
Each frequency’s a memory of some
Show we attended"

 

They've taken this style to make a point. LOSE is a record about irretrievable things like that. The style is antiquated to fit the past these people and memories are all stuck in. They're in major keys because of the trap of nostalgia. The lyrics for the length of the record actually earn their prose by being as densely packed as they can be with images personal to the author without seeming like a list of injokes. It's an understandable set of stories where the throwback is central to explaining the mindset in the lyrics. Or, another way, the cogent statement I've been hoping Cymbals Eat Guitars could make.

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Nice write-up. I still have to listen to that Cymbals Eat Guitars lp. Giving it a shot this weekend.

 

They had a record release party at their singer's hometown (where I live now) and I felt kinda bad for them. Bad venue (a dyi skate park) and a small crowd. By the time they started their set there were about 30 people in the crowd. Some people were just skating. I hadn't followed them too much over the years, but I was expecting a pretty decently sized homecoming. The band didn't seem to mind too much though.

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Correction: Not his hometown. But where he lived in his later teen years (and I think where he lives now, and where other members of the band are from I think). But Staten Island, NY is pretty much New Jersey in a lot of ways. 

 

This show in particular was actually in a "art crowd" neighborhood that embraces this type of music/scene, so it was kinda surprising.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 4 weeks later...
  • 4 weeks later...

really I'm pimping this right now cuz I said I would before this was done.

 

a4211109148_2.jpg

 

“This is an alcove
This is an outpost
This is a village in a poplar grove
This is an imaginary place
This is the room with the Wolfmother wallpaper”

 

So occasionally there are records that come out the right time for you personally, right? Like your life is going some kind of way and a record comes out and it almost becomes that part of your life entirely. Maybe that's just me because I'm a dork about music but it's happened a few times for me.

 

On September 23rd, I was Low. My knee was hurting worse than it ever had. I was behind on my studies constantly. All my friends got into relationships at the same time my dates were going shitty and I was feeling ugly and too broken. Family members were getting cancer and shit. Everything coming down at once. I was just going through the motions and I forgot this album was even coming out.

 

"The image is a prison of the soul
Heredity and education have been exposed
Vices and aspirations have been disposed
I just thought you'd like to know"

 

Milo's one of my favorite rappers. I mean, beat choice and flow, he's great. But there's a lot in his identity or his portrayed identity that I feel like I understand. Milo started rapping because his best friend died and he didn't know how else to keep his memory alive. He grew up a nerdy gamer fucking with deeper subjects (philosophy for him, psychology for me) and was starting to get uncomfortable with how geek culture treats people as his talent for music was growing. I relate to a lot of that, only it was my uncle Edsel instead of my best friend. Oh, also, we both were tripped out by MF DOOM when we were younger and hold onto that in weird ways.

 

There's another factor: I have these anxiety issues around death that makes a lot of art REALLY hard for me to deal with (brings me back to memories of my father). The art that's bad at it makes me feel like they don't understand, and then I freak out. The art that's okay at it just makes me freak out. Milo is great at it, and his ability to just toy with all the shit I'm afraid of brings me this really intense peace.

 

“People don't die, we expire
And science has removed the fear of hell fire
And in its place given us NASA space expansion
And wasted McMansions and lots of english muffins
I don't feel the tinglies for nothing
Reality is scripted
And rappers no longer spontaneously rip shit
It's calculated, studied and designed
Binary code, asterisks and dollar signs”

 

So a toothpaste suburb showed up exactly when I needed it the most. I felt worthless and I needed something to hang onto, and milo shows up being just as brave and funny and talented as ever, and I was smiling through the first three tracks, parts of which I just quoted. I was starting to get away from what was troubling me before track 4, sanssouci palace, hit. Here's how it starts:

 

“I have been alone for several months on a verge of a level up
Caught in a shifting paradigm
I’ve known the strangest pains
Played the language games
And won a couple of pissing matches in my time
Exchanging love tokens
Redefining success to include what’s broken in my mind
I’ve read the Wittgenstein
And sat staring at the ceiling
Wondering when I’m going to die
I don’t need to be comforted
I don’t need to be comforted”

 

Open, ugly crying. Every arrow in my body got yanked out at once and all sorts of shit came out. The cherry on top being Wittgenstein, my father's favorite philosopher. He passed when I was 15, and one of the thoughts that rolls through my mind as I keep moving forwards is if any of what happened to me would've happened without dad getting sick. So that all everything just... out, in a way I needed. The rest of the album was just soothing and vital after that, everything his other work has been for me.

 

Two exceptions.

 

One: “Just Us.” He's got two tracks named this way, the first one from his first release, entitled “Just Us (For my friend Robert, who doesn't live here anymore).” It is one of the easiest ways to get me to cry, just listening to that one. Sometimes just thinking about it does the trick, because the terms he uses to think about his passing are just so upfront. Like tearing off bandages. The one on a toothpaste suburb is called “Just Us (a reprise for my friend Robert who has not been forgotten).” It's... what it sounds like, so that tore me back open when I was listening to it.

 

Two: “Gaudeamus igitur (for Kang Min-gyu).” I'll let you wikipedia Kang Min-gyu for yourself, but the thing that caused me to come undone was the very ending of the song, where he talks about how he sees his survival moving forwards from this album until whatever stops his survival. It's punctuated with this.

 

“Who wrote his thesis with the one black man emoji

Rap game Mowgli with a nosebleed
Who had the courage to keep on hoping
Who had the courage to keep on hoping”

 

The beat drops some for the second repetition, and then when it snapped back in it felt cleansing. I wanted the courage to keep hoping, even as the beat started laughing at it. I felt like it was laughing at milo too, but also that we were both going to face down whatever was laughing. I was probably going to hide behind him while that happened, but shit, solidarity fucking helps. But after the album was done, I just went on twitter, and

 

7tibyaa.png

 

which is how Kurious ends his verse on MF DOOM's “?,” a track about losing but marching forwards anyways.

 

So yeah! Maybe listen to this album. You don't have to. I just wanted to talk about it before we were done here, because I sort of need it.

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FOUR DAYS LEFT

 

BY THE WAY I ADDED A DAY YOU HAVE UNTIL THE 31ST

 

also I might run this a different way next year, depending on how effective balloting is. Maybe like everyone nominates an album, we do an album club (listen to one album a week from February-April), and then ballot off what's nominated. But like music is so much more disparate than like movies or games that I'm not sure uncontrolled balloting makes sense anymore. Either way, I'm strapped to this train this year so send 'em in

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You can basically listen to any new album for free on bandcamp or youtube at this point if you aren't a stickler for quality. I'd be up for a year round album of the week club. It would probably end up helping solidifying ballots by the end of the year anyway. 

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