My favorite cuts from 2014 (check out my favorite albums here).
American Horror, Speedy Ortiz – I was first attracted to them because they sounded a bit like The Breeders. I’m now attracted to them because they don’t sound much like The Breeders. Growth is good.
Bad News, Sleeper Agent – “I just want to stay in love with you” is the bad news. The good news is that you’ll be singing along with this glammy, pop gem by the time you hit the last chorus.
Blue Moon, Beck – The best tune from one of Beck’s most milquetoast albums.
Brand New, Pharrell Williams feat. Justin Timberlake – A natural pairing. A funky track.
Can’t Be Broken, Twin Forks – A mellow, rootsy song.
Change My Ways, Tony Molina – Molina gets his Rivers Cuomo on during this brief, melodic punk cut.
Cut the Grass, Cheatahs – Let it all disintegrate, then bring it back together.
Different Days, The Men – I like 2012’s Open Your Heart better than the disc Tomorrow’s Hits is from. That said, The Men still craft solid rock tunes, and this is one of them.
Fall In Love, Phantogram – Phantogram reminds me some of Portishead, although a bit more accessible to the average listener.
Grandma Looks, Desert Noises – A fun, buzzy, high-energy rock tune.
High & Wild, Angel Olsen – This song sounds like it could have landed on Mazzy Star’s So Tonight That I Might See or The Velvet Underground & Nico.
I’m Only Joking, KONGOS – If I said throbbing bass and atmospheric vocals, you’re probably thinking of some sort of EDM. Instead, the KONGOS build a strong rock track around those elements.
Just Another Bullet, Young Fathers – Lyrically solid and interesting stylistically, this song is put over the top by the oft mesmerizing and occasionally bizarre production.
Legs, Chuck Inglish feat. Chromeo – My favorite song out of all of my favorite songs of 2014. It’s got a Pharrell-meets-early-1980s-Prince-and-the-Revolution vibe to it. Too cool for school.
Like a Mighty River, St. Paul & The Broken Bones – A strong, natural, easy soul track.
Little Monster, Royal Blood – Melodic voices and loud, distorted guitars don’t always work together. Royal Blood has no such issues.
My Resignation, Besserbitch – A scream-along, pop-punk sliver of defiant fun.
Nights on the Strand and We Get Out, Battleme – These rockers work the loud-quiet-loud formula with some serious mastery.
Now Hear In, Cloud Nothings – Here and Nowhere Else would’ve made my first quarter fave albums list if it had been released a week earlier. I still get to sneak them in here.
People Don’t Get What They Deserve, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – Sharon states the obvious in this track that harkens back to Motown Era socially conscious soul.
Red Water, Diamond Youth – A lost Foo Fighters track, with less personality and more interesting musicianship.
Richard Ramirez Died Today of Natural Causes, Sun Kil Moon – A dark, brooding and creepy stream-of-consciousness acoustic track that might just make you shiver.
Take Away These Early Grave Blues, Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra – Be loud, be bold, be listening to these guys. Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything is an album to be cherished.
Tongues, Joywave feat. KOPPS – This is the direction I always thought/hoped the Killers would go: A bit more mix of the electronic and live instruments, a bit dancier but with a rock and roll base.
Uno, Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Freddie and Madlib drop easy, smart rhymes over production that really elevates the collaboration.
Watch You Change, The Drowners – “There’s not a shoulder / cold enough for me / to give her.” Maybe my favorite lyric of the year to date.
Work Song, Hozier – Love conquers death in this slow burning acoustic track. The percussion really is a perfect touch, and fading to just that toward the end is the cherry on top.
Honorable mention: A Bird Is Not a Feather, Roseanne Cash; Blackland Farmer, Hard Working Americans; Digital Witness, St. Vincent; Gangsta, Schoolboy Q; Husdonsville, MI 1956, La Dispute; Interference Fits, Perfect Pussy; Likely To Use Something, The Belle Brigade; Lorena, Sleeper Agent; Make You Mine, Black Lips; Perfect Storm, The Strypes; Recess, Skrillex; Stayin’ Alive, Les Claypool’s Duo De Twang; Throw Your Hands Up, The So So Glos; Wool, Big Ups;