Since today is New Year’s Eve, I naturally started to reflect on my 2014 music selections during the past few days which sparked a ridiculous flood of memories from the past 12 months. So I busted out my Walkman player (in place of my daily Pandora regimen) late last night for a change of pace, listening to anything but 2014 tracks when it suddenly occurred to me how wonderfully 2013 had treated my ears with new favorite albums courtesy of Arctic Monkey’s, The National, and quite a few others. Despite this, I never sat down to craft a “20 of ’13” list and the thought was saddening, because honestly, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate way to look back and document my year than through my most resected and favored tunes.
The “20 of…Playlist” is back and here to stay!
1. “Who We Are”- Switchfoot
This track was one of the first new songs I came across in 2014 and I almost didn’t recognize the band Switchfoot when I heard “Who We Are.” Their change of sound was a pleasant surprise. The track was light, airy, and summed up my youthful “wide-eyed innocence.” 2014 had just begun and there was “still time enough to choose who we are.” (Looks like I’ll still be trying to figure out that one in 2015…)
2. “The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)”- U2
Ah U2…they caused a ruckus this year by releasing their lastest album Songs of Innocence for free. The contraverrsy is still somewhat puzzling to me, because U2 made a decision they felt was right for them, therefore, the Black Keys frontman or anyone else for that matter should leave the band be. Who wouldn’t appreciate free music? As for me, having access to a free album online is not going to stop me (a CD collector) from investing in the record. U2 is an enjoyable rock band, so forgive them for trying to spread musical joy. “The Miracle of Joey Ramone” is a passionate U2 number with expressive vocals. The not too harsh yet solid guitar jams make the track catchy and radio ready.
3. “Fever”- The Black Keys
“Fever” hit the FM like wildfire but the rest of the record seemed to get tucked away. Admittedly, the Black Keys’ 2014 album Turn Blue was not my favorite, but definitely not a total bust. “Fever” is one of those songs that takes a couple listens to grow on you and can be appreciated for deviating from the Keys’ artistic norms. I was fortunate enough to attend the Turn Blue concert at Arco Arena for my birthday (I don’t care what people say, it will always be Arco) where they played mostly hits from El Camino and Brothers. Background graphics and a rather long encore were the icing on the Black Keys cake. Even my friend who enjoys criticizing my taste was bobbing his head at the concert. So if you take anything away from this ridiculously long list, know that the Keys are excellent live.
4. “Fall In Love”- Phantogram
Dare I say, I fell in love in 2014?…
Well, to say the least, I certainly showed a lot of love for Phantogram this year by sticking songs from Voices on repeat.
5. “I Never Learn”- Lykke Li
Whether someone listens to Lykke Li’s gorgeously melancholy tune in 2014, 2015 or years from now, the lyrics to “I Never Learn” hold an infallible truth to which any human being could relate. Tears, guilt, and pain are unavoidable, yet we do our best to ignore them. Will we ever learn? Perhaps, its best not to, especially if the end result is anything like the melodies of Lykke Li.
6. “Best Friend”- Foster The People
This is probably my top played song of 2014. I was completely hooked after first listen and fascinated with the accompanying video. Models eating models? Thank you, Foster the People.
7.”Klapp Klapp”- Little Dragon
Nothing could top Little Dragon’s Machine Dreams album but she did produce solid work this year that is mechanical, haunting, and a bit alarming (especially when accompanied by the music videos).
8. “All The Rage Back Home”- Interpool
One of my favorite groups, Interpool managed to please, yet again, with sexy vocals from frontman Paul Banks and smooth, catchy guitar pieces.
9.”Lazzaretto”- Jack White
Lets get technical with Jack White’s newest masterpiece (Yes, I’m audacious. I said masterpiece.) It is so perfectly flawed that the sound is both disturbing and electric. Jacks vocals fight the ears of his listeners. A great blend of chaos and skill.
10. “Left Hand Free”- Alt-J
Alt-J is fucking weird. But when their astute attention to odd and disturbing detail (in songs like “Every Other Freckle”) combines with an artful instrumental backround, it somehow works. “Left Hand Free” has got to be one of the least bizarre Alt-J songs I’ve heard where the band takes a more bluesy approach.
11.”Guess Again!”- Thom Yorke
Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes, the latest album by our dear friend Thom Yorke is sad and evokes feelings of loneliness that somehow leave you fulfilled. It is nothing to special, really, but it is a “listening” album that is thought provoking and noteworthy.
12. “Om”- NehruvianDOOM
A very impressive 18 year old Bishop Nehru has found his way through my headphones this year and I’ve gotta say, its refreshing to hear an upcoming rapper avoiding extensive profanity and degrading lyrics. As a female, listening to Bishop Nehru, I don’t feel the least disrespected and can devote all my attention to hearing the lyrical stories unfold. He teamed up with the well-known NehruvianDOOM to produce a self titled album that is short and oh-so-sweet. I enjoy “Om” for many reasons: one being that it has a spoken introduction that made me raise an eyebrow in slight confusion. The overall sound was different, yet classic in the best possible way.
13. “All This Could Be Yours”- Cold War Kids
My fingers are tiring from typing…Its a good song, m’kay?
14. “Do You”- Spoon
After too long of an absence, Britt Daniel is back! Enough said.
15.”Take Me To Church”- Hozier
The radio loved the track this year, as did I. “Take Me To Church” is a beautiful and heartfelt ballad that exudes spirituality.
16.”Mind Over Matter”- Young The Giant
A lot of mind and matter battling took place throughout my personal 2014 and this song was my escape to places far away from Sacramento. It reminds me of all the people and places I have met and missed this year. I am taken back to my trips to New York and recall the matters on my mind during those rainy city days. After more recent trips to LA, those matters seem increasingly insignificant now after being replaced with new matters my mind has to reflect upon. Maybe someday I will get to write about a venture in Tokyo where it snows…
I’ve always felt a strange personal connection to Karen O and I was left frowning after hearing that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs were on a hiatus. Turns out, I had nothing to fear, for Karen’s new solo release will be more than enough to tide me over until the Yeah Yeah Yeahs dig up a little inspiration. In the meantime, listening to the product of her angst (Crush Songs), I find myself being moved by Karen’s voice more than ever. The tracks are more soothing and dialed down than typical Yeah Yeah Yeahs songs but still pack an emotional punch that really lets her personality shine through. The recording of Crush Songs gives the impression of Karen being far off into her own world where she coos in a rhaspy voice, ” love is soft, love’s a fucking bitch. Do I really need another habit like you?” while her song “Body” sums up the album with the verse “if you love some body, anybody, there will always be someone else, so make it right for yourself.” Well said, Ms. O.
18. “Passing Out The Pieces”- Mac Demarco
Mac Demarco’s music has a unique feel and there is a genuine quality in his voice that keeps me listening. In contrast to my musical taste in the beginning of 2014, the end of the year brought me back to more raw sounding tracks, a category in which Demarco fits into nicely.
19. “Riptide”- Vance Joy
Riptide has been my personal anthem of 2014, being able to perk me up in any situation with its beachy vibes and snappy sound.
20. “Waves”- Sleeper Agent
This song conjures a feeling of closure in me and leave me feeling care free. “In the sticks, we’re bare foot friends. We chew on leaves and quote Huck Finn.” Sounds like typical lovely afternoon in a year that gave us consistently warm weather!
Well, “its over now I suppose…”
Thanks, 2014. Its been a fun ride.