Friday, December 19, 2014

My Favorite 25 Albums of 2014: 5-1


And here are my Top 5 Albums of 2014. Here is hoping for an even better 2015.

5.

Spoon - They Want My Soul

If anyone had told me I would have a Spoon record in my top albums, let alone my Top 5, I would have called them crazy. Not that I have anything against the men in Spoon, I just never thought of them more than just above-average indie rock. Of course, before then, I hadn't heard They Want My Soul. When I heard the blisteringly catchy first single "Do You," I was instantly hooked. A summer jam to be end all summer jams, "Do You" had the right amount of sass, hookiness, and summer weariness to be on constant repeat. What I truly wasn't prepared for was the stylistic breadth of the tracks on They Want My Soul. Spoon moves effortlessly through silky future R&B ("Inside Out"), barn-burning alt-rock ("They Want My Soul"), sparkly new wave ("New York Kiss"), and barroom jams ("Rainy Taxi") without skipping a beat. Each track melts into the next, creating a beautiful collection of tracks that not only wants your soul, but feeds it.

4.

Tinashe - Aquarius

With the perfect mix of Beyonce's confidence, Rihanna's sass, and Aalyiah's sleek sexuality, Tinashe appeared on the scene with her wondrous record Aquarius which is hands down the best R&B record you will hear all year. Whether she is slinking around her hot single "2 On," going to head to toe with rapper A$AP Rocky on "Pretend," strutting around "All Hands On Deck," or showing her quiet side on the breathtaking ballad "Bated Breath," Tinashe shows that she has a vision and will stick to it on her terms. Of all the R&B records I listened to this year, Aquarius is the only one that consistently found itself on repeat. It is sure to beguile you as much as it did me.

3.

Damon Albarn - Everyday Robots

It's hard to believe that in his storied career, Blur frontman Damon Albarn has yet to put out an official solo release. Everyday Robots finds Albarn in a very melancholy mood, ruminating on his past as well as our society's current fixation with technology and the loneliness that it can perpetuate. Working with Richard Russell, the boss of XL Recordings who worked with Damon on Bobby Womack's album, The Bravest Man In The Universe, Albarn keeps a limited palate on these twelve tracks, mostly using glitchy drum machines, piano, strings, and subtle electronics. Every so often, there are glimpses of light and joy, but in his later years, Albarn is more in a reflective mood, casting greys and blacks through a foggy haze. Everyday Robots is that perfect rainy day record that you can sink into the couch and let its quiet power take over.

2.

Interpol - El Pintor

Although Interpol has pretty much been given short shrift since their sophomore record Antics, I have always had a soft spot for them, finding some great music in Our Love to Admire and Interpol, which was my top record of 2010. So when people mentioned that El Pintor was a comeback and major return to form, I was sitting back thinking, for me, they never really went anywhere. El Pintor is the first Interpol record without original bassist Carlos D, and it will be noted that his melodic bass lines are somewhat missed, however, you also notice that for the first time in awhile, Interpol sounds looser and freer than they have in a long time. El Pintor is an exceptionally strong record with a bevy of singles, each of which shines in its own right. We have your typical barn burners like "All the Rage Back Home," "Anywhere," and "Ancient Ways," alongside the brooding and swooning numbers like "Everything Is Wrong," "My Blue Supreme," and "My Desire." It all culminates in two sweeping tracks, the pounding "Tidal Wave," and epic "Twice as Hard." El Pintor is not a comeback, it is a statement of purpose.

1.

The Twilight Sad - Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave

After their phenomenal debut record, the shoegaze masterpiece Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters, The Twilight Sad couldn't quite figure out what to do with their sound. They stalled a bit with second record Forget The Night Ahead which, while a solid release, felt like they were a bit on cruise control. And left field change up No One Can Ever Know, eschewed guitars almost entirely for a robotic synth sheen that felt like a little kid trying on their older brother's clothes. With their latest record, Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave, The Twilight Sad live up to the promise of their debut. Mixing their shoegaze roar with just enough electronics, these ten tracks pulse and throb with energy and purpose, coming across as the perfect overview to their career to date. From the driving and potent single "Last January," to the roaring centerpiece "In Nowheres," the band takes full control of the journey, and when you get to the final, haunting track "Sometimes I Wished I Could Fall Asleep," you know you have been at the hands of masters. Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave is the year's best record.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

My Favorite 25 Albums of 2014: 10-6


And we've reached my top ten records of the year. Here's 10-6, with my top 5 records coming up tomorrow:

10.

Hercules and Love Affair - The Feast of the Broken Heart

What do you do when you release a near-perfect debut album? With Hercules and Love Affair you release Blue Songs and attempt to marry your House music explorations with arty flights of fancy that tend to sink the ship rather than propel it forward. After this slight misstep, Andy Butler and company almost go back to square one, stripping things back to their essence, and joining these tracks with vocalists who neither overshadow the songs or get crushed under their waves. The Feast of the Broken Heart is a massive return to form, and with deep-voiced singer John Grant, they have almost found someone to transcend their work with Antony Hegarty, which is no mean feat in and of itself.

9.

Arca - Xen

Venezuelan producer Arca, born Alejandro Ghersi, has made a name for himself doing high profile work with artists like Kanye West, FKA twigs, and soon to be Bjork. After a couple of shape-shifting, genre bending EPs, Ghersi finally releases his debut, the quite frankly jaw-dropping stunner Xen. While it is not an easy listen, Ghersi is never more than fully in control of the fractured beats, pitch shifted samples, and go-for-broke synthetic overload. There are times when the proceedings feel like they are pushing back at you, demanding that you succumb to their tyranny, however, these tactics merely serve to bring you closer in to their avant-garde womb. Throughout the blazing display of technical virtuosity, there are always touchstones to bring you back to earth, as on the liquid bath of "Thievery," the staccato mind fuck of the title track, or the haunting strings of "Wound." And like a ray of light sneaking its way through the depths of dark waters, a track as simple and devastating as "Held Apart," reminds you that there is always a soul and heart behind the machines.

8.

FKA twigs - LP1

FKA twigs teased her otherworldly sound in a series of EPs, coming across as the love-child of Aaliyah and Bjork. Her voice, dance moves, and image all fall distinctly into R&B, however, it is all enveloped in music that is forward thinking, sometimes aggressively obtuse, but always the perfect vessel for her breathless cries. Whether it is the harder edged dissection of image in "Video Girl," or the dizzying skycraping on "Two Weeks," twigs is always in command of her voice, not letting it get lost in the almost tsunami like crash of instrumentation. And when the music is but a whisper, she truly shines, as on the standout track "Pendulum," where her fragility is open, raw, and heartfelt.

7.

Wild Beasts - Present Tense

Wild Beasts have made the decision to follow bands like Talk Talk and Slowdive down their own rabbit hole, staking their claim on their own musical territory, without fear or regret. The songs on Present Tense float in and out of each other, anchored by the phalanx of synthesizers and the dual vocals of Hayden Thorpe's malleable falsetto and Tom Fleming's evocative baritone. Where in the past, the band chose to highlight one or the other on tracks, here, the band wisely chooses to incorporate the yin and yang of their complementary approaches to great effect on most tracks. Present Tense finds Wild Beasts at the height of their game, with the songs all working beautifully as individual gems, but working together to form a gorgeous piece of interconnected art. Staking their own claim on their sound and moving it in directions once thought impossible, Wild Beasts further move into their own territory, almost peerless.

6.

Warpaint - Warpaint

Warpaint's debut record The Fool was on many best of lists for 2010, and rightfully so, it's driving combination of icy, post-guitars, languid vocals, and the propulsion of a secret weapon, its formidable rhythm section, made for an intoxicating listen. It's been almost 4 years since that release, and after a lengthy tour schedule along with working on these tracks during sound checks, Warpaint have returned with their sophomore record. There is no seismic shift in sound on this record, the rhythm section is still potent and the driving force behind the tracks, vocals are hazy and dream like, and the guitars still drip like icicles, however, this go-around there is far more atmosphere present, lots of foreboding electronics and hints of drum programming. Produced by Flood (Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins) and mixed by Nigel Godrich (Radiohead), Warpaint is more polished and slick, but the better production helps define their sound better rather than overcompensating. They leave the rhythm section front and center, while the dual guitars flicker in and out of the mix as punctuation. It's funny that a band with two guitarists puts out music with seemingly so little guitar. Warpaint is a record that takes time to insinuate itself in your head. I will admit that on first listens I was underwhelmed, as the record doesn't have the same intense energy as its predecessor. While The Fool was an African rhino charging its way through the brush, Warpaint is the coiled snake in the grass, full of menace, ready to snap at any moment and strike.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

My Favorite 25 Albums of 2014: 15-11


15.

Cathedrals - Cathedrals EP

San Francisco duo Cathedrals, consisting of vocalist Brodie Jenkins and musician/producer Johnny Hwin, could be described as the R&B Phantogram, and the comparison is not that far off the mark. Both bands rely on programmed beats, eclectic guitar work, and samples, with Cathedrals falling more towards the R&B side of things with Jenkins' simultaneously earthy and ethereal vocals. The five tracks on this EP show a remarkable range that foretells big things for this band. They do quirky pop (opener "Harlem"), buzzy electronica ("In The Dark"), a wicked combination of both ("OOO AAA"), and delicate ballads ("Want My Love"). And they doubly shine on single "Unbound," a haunting meditation on two lovers who are the worst enablers, who "when you are on the down/I'll nurse you back to pieces." All of this framed with soaring vocals, keyboards, and delicate guitars.

14.

Lemonade - Minus Tide

NYC-via-SF tropical dance act Lemonade have always put forth effervescent singles that make one long for warmer climes but, up until now, their albums as a whole have never seemed to capitalize on those stunning tracks. With their sleek and infectious third record Minus Tide, this early promise has finally been fully realized. Expertly straddling the line between Balearic club play and more atmospheric tracks, Minus Tide is a glossy, shimmering collection that never outstays its welcome. From the pounding beats of tracks like "Stepping," "Clearest," and "Orchid Bloom," to the more introspective songs like "Come Down Softly," "Durutti Shores," and the exquisite title track, Minus Tide is nothing less than a captivating listen.

13.

Neneh Cherry - Blank Project

Only 18 years after the release of her last solo record, Neneh Cherry has come back stronger than ever on her fourth solo album, the blistering Blank Project. Recorded and mixed in a 5-day period, the record was produced by Four Tet (Kieran Hebden) and features work with prior collaborators RocketNumberNine. What is most noticeable right off the top is how Cherry is still doing what she wants to do, without copping to current trends. The record is a lean, minimalist offering, speaking to electronica, jazz, hip-hop, R&B, and pop without directly referencing any of them.Blank Project is uncompromising Neneh Cherry at her best. There is almost no filler here, each track building off of and complementing each other. I only hope that it is not another 18 years before we get more new music from this trail-blazing artist. Blank Project is seminal Neneh Cherry.

12.

Tove Lo - Queen of the Clouds

I have been touting 26-year-old Swedish singer/songwriter Tove Lo for well over a year now when I first stumbled across her single "Habits (Stay High)," and even though it has finally become a hit single here in the States it is still a song that makes me stop and listen each time, never losing its impact. I was concerned that when her debut came out it would be that one great song and the rest a bunch of unlistenable filler. Thankfully Ms. Lo has proved me exceedingly wrong. Queen of the Clouds, a concept record about the cycle of a love affair, is a surprisingly smart, witty, and extremely catchy set of tracks that prove Ms. Lo is anything but a one hit wonder. From cheeky tracks like "Like Em Young," sung-so-fast-you-might-miss-it power pop like "Timebomb," to moving tracks like "Got Love" and "Moments," Lo is in complete control, and when the killer chorus for "Habits" hits you again like a ton of bricks, you know this is merely the tip of the iceberg for her.

11.

Aphex Twin - Syro

For his first album under the Aphex Twin moniker in over 13 years, Richard D. James certainly knows how to make a statement. And strangely, that statement is not a change in sound or purpose, instead, Syro is merely James coming back with 12 exquisitely produced and mixed tracks that can only be from the one and only Aphex Twin. The songs draw from his varied career but are not mere rehashes; each track brings something fresh to the proceedings. The most startling thing about the record is how James makes everything seem so easy, and that it seems that everyone else is still trying to play catch up with the master.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

My Favorite 25 Albums of 2014: 20-16


20.

Broods - Evergreen

Although the comparisons with Lorde were inevitable (both hail from New Zealand, both worked with producer Joel Little, and both haunt realms of icy synthpop), brother/sister duo Broods find their own unique voice on their exquisite debut album Evergreen. Alternating between infectious, crowd pleasing sing-a-longs like "Superstar," "Mother & Father," and "L.A.F" and more introspective, headphone-centric numbers like the stunning title track and moody "Medicine," the tracks are all grounded by the gorgeous vocals of Georgia Nott and excellent instrumentation provided by her and brother Caleb.

19.

Kindness - Otherness

Pop chameleon Adam Bainbridge, a.k.a. Kindess, continues his eclectic blend of 80s pop, glossy R&B, and funk, taking it further and further into uncharted directions. Working with a bevy of Class A collaborators, Bainbridge shows more emotion this go around. Whether it is the haunting pianos and aching vocals on standout track "This Is Not About Us," throbbing and pulsating horns on opener "World Restart," or the restrained centerpiece of the album "Who Do You Love?," his brilliant connection with singer Robyn, Otherness exudes warmth and heart.

18.

Sia - 1000 Forms of Fear

It is doubtful a darker, bleaker record than Sia's 1000 Forms of Fear could reach the top of the charts and be this damn catchy and earnest. Finally saving her best tracks and melodies for herself, Sia throws the gauntlet down quickly with so many hooks it would make your neck snap off. The record is so solid it almost plays out like a greatest hits collection. Although most people are beholden to her mammoth single "Chandelier," and rightfully so, it was other moments that kept me coming back to this record time and time again. "Eye of the Needle" is a master class in vocal build and release, "Big Girls Cry" stuns with stadium ready bombast, and other quirky tracks like the kicky pop punk of "Hostage" keep things from getting too bleak. But overall, it is Sia's razor sharp songwriting, gorgeous vocals, and the wide range of styles that keep this record honest and breathtaking.

17.

Ariana Grande - My Everything

While Taylor Swift gets credit for the best pure pop record of 2014, Ariana Grande wins for the catchiest pop/R&B record. Showing remarkable growth from her rather twee debut, Grande eschews ballads for the most part in favor of bangers like her infectious EDM collaboration with Zedd, "Break Free," and strutting single "Problem" featuring Iggy Azeala. But even when she does revert to a more Mariah Carey-esque balladeer she does so with more confidence that ever on tracks like "Just A Little Bit Of My Heart." Grande is still very young and has a lot more room to grow, but My Everything shows she is not afraid to take chances and break out what she is predicted to do.

16.

Lykke Li - I Never Learn

I Never Learn is nine intensely personal tracks from Lykke Li painfully detailing a breakup that sent her reeling, packing herself up from Sweden and encamping herself half a world away in LA. The fresh thing about the record is that it is not a bitter one-sided view of what transpired, like Dylan's Blood on the Tracks or Beck's Sea Change, but instead, Li dissects everything she did to bring about the dissolution. Fitting the tone of the record, most of the songs themselves are minimal and stark, putting Li's voice out front and center like on the blistering title cut, the haunting and bare "Love Me Like I'm Not Made Of Stone," or the intense piano-led closer "Sleeping Alone." Which is not to say that the album is a dark slog through a tormented journey. There are plenty of amazing productions here that do provide some moments of light. "No Rest For The Wicked," moves from a hushed opening to an almost operatic chorus, "Just Like A Dream" swirls itself into a Phil-Spectorish wall of sound, and album highlight "Gunshot" literally explodes at the chorus with pounding drums and piano chords. I Never Learn is a difficult record to listen to, the emotions are so raw, open, and naked, but it is essential listening, part of the shared experience we all go through with relationships.

Monday, December 15, 2014

My Favorite 25 Albums of 2014: 25-21


It was an odd musical year for me, with a lot of strong releases coming out right at the beginning of the year then the rest of the year plodding along with many good, but disappointing records. This is one of the first years in a long time that I could not come up with 50 top records so, instead, I will be short and sweet this year with my Top 25:

25.

Phantogram - Voices

While not completely ditching the glitchy beats and edgy tension of their debut album Eyelid Movies, Phantogram's major label debut Voices does up the gloss factor more, and that push and pull between two worlds is what creates the magic this go around. Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter know their way around a hook, and blast forward with some of their catchiest singles like "Nothing but Trouble," "Black Out Days," and "Fall In Love;" but also can dial things back on the excellent ballads "Bill Murray" and "My Only Friend."

24.

Taylor Swift - 1989

1989 is a proudly glitzy, 80s synthpop throwback that wears its heart and influences on its sleeve. It's a bold move from the 25 year old Swift, and one that she expertly executes. While there will always be debate about the relevance of Swift's work, is she really brilliant or just brilliant at appropriating pop trends, there is almost no debate here that 1989 is the most hook-filled pop record of the year, and is just plain fun.

23.

Clark - Clark

When we reach the end of the world and are staring into the abyss for the last time, Clark's self-titled album is likely the soundtrack to the event. The music here is simultaneously humane and annihilating. Machines churn and burn against one another while small rays of light are briefly allowed in and, just as your body starts to feed off the warmth, Clark throws you back into the blistering maelstrom, tossing aside all hope of survival.

22.

The Juan Maclean - In a Dream

With the ending of LCD Soundsystem, The Juan MacLean became DFA Records' de facto flagship act. Known more for killer singles ("Happy House"), The Juan MacLean had put out good records, but never something consistent enough to be considered a "great" one. In a Dream is the first step in rectifying that situation. With only a couple of slight missteps, the record is a fun, buzzy analogue daydream, full of killer singles like the sleek "A Simple Design," the shimmering and trance-like "I've Waited So Long," and the day-glow house of "Here I Am."

21.

Cloud Nothings - Here and Nowhere Else

Sometimes you just crave a great rock n' roll record, with blistering, hook filled guitars, pounding drums, and rumbling bass lines; no muss no fuss rock. On their last record Attack On Memory, Cloud Nothings almost made a perfect record which, for me, was only hampered by some needlessly long songs that tended to overstay their welcome. Here, their latest record Here And Nowhere Else takes off brilliantly from that last record's template and aside from one 7 minute track, blasts through perfect three minute tracks full of amazing melodies, bratty attitude, and enough force to blow a building down. Moving from Steve Albini's more murky production on Attack On Memory to a clearer, more focused approach from John Congleton, Here And Nowhere else has a singular focus that propels the record forward at a breakneck pace, which makes each moment more dazzling than the next.


Friday, December 12, 2014

Favorite Songs of 2014: Numbers 25-1


25.  Aphex Twin - "Minipops 67 (Source Field Mix)"

Not so much a return to form as a reminder that Aphex Twin was so far ahead of anyone else in the electronic music field that it took this long for people to catch up. And still, he pushes the envelope even farther.



24.  Warpaint - "Teese"

The one word that constantly came to mind when listening to Warpaint's sophomore record was liquid. Every song sounded like it moved underneath layers of calm waters. "Teese" is the aural equivalent of immersing oneself in a warm bath under the stars, with only the sounds of your heart and breath to keep you comfortable.



23.  Neneh Cherry - "Blank Project"

Roaring back after an absence of 18 years, Neneh Cherry came back as if no time had passed. "Blank Project" is one of the many standouts on the album of the same name, with the music growing from a steady buzz and pulse into something nearing anarchy, with Ms. Cherry standing in front of the chaos, always and sublimely in control.



22.  Dawn Golden - "All I Want (Nudist Remix)"

I usually don't pick remixes of songs on best of lists, preferring to choose the original version of a track to something that is essentially someone else's vision. With Dawn Golden, their single "All I Want" is a perfectly enjoyable Coldplay-esque track that I can see being used in 10,000 movie trailers and key movie moments. It just ever really jumps ahead into a "must hear" track for me. Nudist's remix, however, takes the song and gently tweaks it, making it more lonely and more longing, and has made it that "must hear" song for me. He really makes you hear the desperate longing that is missing from the original by merely warping the vocals, adding verse repetition, and the heart wrenching piano, creating a haunting classic.



21.  Capital Cities - "One Minute More"

This festival ready sing-a-long is one of those songs that makes you want to dance and not think about a damn thing.



20.  We Were Evergreen - "Daughters"

Melancholy electro-pop from the French trio We Were Evergreen. I love the wistful interplay between the dual vocalists.



19.  Hercules and Love Affair ft. John Grant - "Liberty"

I always like Hercules and Love Affair more when they are slamming you hard on the dance floor. With the urgent vocals of singer John Grant, "Liberty" leaves you gasping for breath.



18.  Róisín Murphy - "Ancora Tu"

From her EP of Ital-disco tracks Mi Senti, Róisín Murphy's track "Ancora Tu" is a gorgeous, minimalist song that focuses on her amazingly emotive voice. While I have no idea what she is singing about, you get every emotional cue from her impeccable delivery.



17.  Lykke Li - "Gunshot"

Lykke Li's "Gunshot" begins with Li's delicate voice and muted backing before erupting into a stunning anthem. I could have put almost any track from her impeccable album I Never Learn on this list, but I kept coming back to this one, its haunting melody a siren's call.



16.  Interpol - "All The Rage Back Home"

El Pintor had almost too many singles to consider in making my list, however, I have always had a soft spot for the opening track whose humble beginnings masks a prototypical Interpol barn burner.



15.  Klo. - "False Calls"

Where pop, R&B, electronica, and hip-hop all collide in this modern world, Aussie duo Klo. mesmerize with this dreamy track.



14.  Sia - "Eye of the Needle"

One of the simpler tracks on her record 1000 Forms of Fear, Sia's "Eye of the Needle" is breathtaking in how she maintains such control over her voice, but that she lets flaws come through at the end. The beauty to me is always in the flaws.



13.  Blonde Redhead - "Penultimo"

Quirky art-pop from Blonde Redhead. I love how the awkward male and female vocals twist and turn around each other in slow dance, their perceptions of place changed by time and distance. An evocative tale of how music was once so dangerous and threatening and now has become something pale and timid.



12.  Tinashe - "The Leap"

Although I easily could have picked a number of tracks from her stunning debut Aquarius, I chose her track from the Mockingjay soundtrack. I love her expressive voice matched against the moody, textural background of the music.



11.  Cathedrals - "Unbound"

Achingly beautiful track from San Francisco duo Cathedrals which mixes delicate guitar work, impassioned vocals, and a buzzy electronic undercurrent.



10.  Lorde - "Yellow Flicker Beat"

Lorde's talent keeps growing with this track that is all about mood, and the build and release.



9.  Oyinda - "Rush of You"

London-based, Nigerian-born singer Oyinda singer's "Rush of You" is a fairly minimal alt-R&B track that hits all the right marks for me. Her subtle voice is the key to this track, as it equates love to a drug addiction, with the withdrawals giving her false hope that her lover will come back. The end of the track is simply the voices in her head clipped and chopped into another instrument as the feelings wash over her.



8.  Manatee Commune ft. Marina Price - "White Smoke"

Gorgeous chillwave from Seattle bedroom producer Grant Eadie, a.k.a. Manatee Commune, featuring luminous vocals from Marina Price. The track is deceptively simple, yet the layers and layers of sound he builds are intoxicating and transcendent.



7.  Kindness - "This Is Not About Us"

There is a ramshackle charm to this track that is infectious. I love how each element is so distinctive, as if created in a vacuum separate from the others, then by some found method are aligned to each other in harmony.



6.  FKA twigs - "Pendulum"

"Pendulum" is the haunting centerpiece to FKA twigs' astonishingly assured debut record LP1. How she can use her soft voice to create a hold over you without the music overtaking her is astounding. And who hasn't been in the situation where you love your partner more than they love you, and you feel helpless watching them slip away. She nails it with the lyrics "So lonely trying to be yours/When you're looking for so much more."



5.  Arca - "Held Apart"

Venezuelan producer Alejandro Ghersi, better known as Arca, is best known for his technical virtuosity, and his ability to twist machine sounds into completely new directions. His work with Kanye West, FKA twigs, and on his early EPs is staggeringly complex and ahead of its time. When selecting a track from his masterful debut Xen, I could have chosen a number of tracks that highlighted this side of this work. But Arca is more than everything but the kitchen sink showing off, there is talent, drive, and purpose with what he does. And never more does he shine brighter than on the heartbreaking treated piano track "Held Apart." This my friends, is looking into the eyes of god.



4.  Wild Beasts - "A Dog's Life"

As they move towards being almost the electronic version of later period Talk Talk, Wild Beasts allow their innate understanding of mood, texture, and emotion to dictate where their songs head. This gut-wrenching tale of a dog's death is the perfect example from their brilliant record Present Tense, reaching an apex of almost unbearable sadness that floods one with memory and regret.



3.  Spoon - "Do You"

I have never included an album or song from Spoon in any of my lists before. I am sure I never truly gave them the attention they deserve, and for that I apologize. Their hooky as hell single "Do You" just kept gnawing at me like a hunger all summer, never shaking it from my head. It is just one of those perfect pop songs.



2.  Damon Albarn - "Everyday Robots"

"Everyday Robots" is the lonely and haunting title track from Damon Albarn's first solo record. Albarn's voice is front and center over the lurching rhythm, African samples, strings, and plaintive piano, lamenting a world where personal interaction has been reduced to the sidelines.



1.  Totemo - "Host"

I can't really provide a concrete reason for why this song has intrigued me so. It has basically been on repeat ad nauseum for months. The song is so textural, you can get lost for days in its many layers, finding new sounds and feelings with each listen. Thematically, "Host" is definitely up for multiple interpretations, for me though, it feels like a spirit taking possession of a person, feeling them fighting against them. The music plays along like a horror film, with eerie creeks and noises echoing all around, adding to a sense of haunted loss.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Favorite Songs of 2014: Numbers 50-26


50.  The Notwist - "Lineri"



49.  Klaxons - "Atom to Atom"



48.  The Raveonettes - "Sisters"



47.  Katy B - "Next Thing"



46.  The Juan Maclean - "A Simple Design"



45.  The Drums - "I Can't Pretend"



44.  Desperate Journalist - "Control"



43.  Broods - "Superstar"



42.  The Presets - "Goodbye Future"



41.  Yung Gud - "The Power"



40.  Bad Suns - "We Move Like The Ocean"



39.  Kiasmos - "Burnt"



38.  Tove Lo - "Scream My Name"



37.  TV on the Radio - "Happy Idiot"



36.  Cloud Nothings - "Pattern Walks"



35.  Lemonade - "Durutti Shores"



34.  Basement Jaxx - "Unicorn"



33.  Röyksopp & Robyn - "Monument"



32.  Reid - "Singapore"



31.  Talos - "Tethered Bones"



30.  Nero - "Satisfy"



29.  Major Lazer ft. Ariana Grande - "All My Love"



28.  TIAAN - "Dive Deep"



27.  T.O.L.D. - "Lucifer's Eyes"



26.  Billie Black - "Do You Really"