I’ve never really done one of these before, but I feel like 2014 was the year I listened to the most music out of all my years living. There were plenty of songs that I revisited after long absences, new songs that really got me going, and songs that just made me feel some type of way, good or bad. Here are 100 songs that I had profound extrasensory experiences to. Get ready to read A LOT.
SPRING SEMESTER, JUNIOR YEAR (Testing the 2014 Waters, SXSW & Good Spring Vibes)
Not too much to say about this semester. I made a ton of new friends during this semester which I’m pretty happy about. I listened to a ton of really good music – 2014 started off extraordinarily strong. Mac DeMarco, Have A Nice Life, Future Islands, Perfect Pussy, Frankie Cosmos, Saintseneca, etc. I also went to SXSW for the first time, which was easily one of the best times I’ve ever had in my entire life. I know I was in Austin, TX, during an artificially fun time, but damn, I’d probably opt to live there. I’m sweaty enough here, might as well get real sweaty down there. Overall, I was really happy by the end of my spring semester. Still in love, optimistic for the summer, etc. Not even the dreadful, soul-destroying Connecticut winter could bring me down, from what I can remember.
Tirzah – “Inside Out”
I started 2014 on a badass, groovy note with Tirzah’s off-kilter dance jam “Inside Out” off of her I’m Not Dancing EP from late 2013. This could be considered a 2013 pick, but I was consistently jamming this into this year, so it’s my inaugural song of the year.
Mac DeMarco – “Passing Out Pieces”
The first taste of new DeMarco was an interesting one. The teaser video he put out for Salad Days was the music video for this song, only slowed down quite a bit so it sounded a bit like a drunk Beach House song. The addition of the synth took a little getting used to, but soon I was feeling woozy with DeMarco’s snide, smirking cadence.
Have A Nice Life – “Music Will Untune The Sky”
The winter of 2014 was a brutal one. One that makes climate change deniers go “SEE??” But nah, it was rough. The eternally flint skies and voracious winds of CT really tore at my soul, so I just picked up the “if you can’t beat em, join em” mentality, put on this song and let the eternal worm of darkness devour me as I look up into the void.
Hurray For the Riff Raff – “Blue Ridge Mountain”
The other side to the darkness of hell winter abandon all hope is the delightful, playful, nostalgic sense of winter. This song is the first on Hurray For The Riff Raff’s great LP Small Town Heroes and it really caught me off guard. It totally reminds me of the kind of fiddle music I listened to and played in high school, bringing me back to good times of gigs and jamming around a small room on a simple tune.
The Casket Girls – “Day To Day”
Around this time, the sun started to come out a bit more, which made me a bit happier. The huge, abrasive synths in this track made a nice pair for the blinding sun reflecting off the mounds of snow littered across campus, making for a sensory overload that I was pretty into.
Mosca – “Square One VIP”
This track came off of a Night Slugs compilation, a great label that specializes in a new strain of grimy dance music that seems to be blowing all the way up. This track bangs in the whip and has a simple, infectious beat. It’s the closest I’m going to get to a Jersey club.
Malcolm McLaren – “Madam Butterfly”
If I were to choose songs that defined my entire year, this would be one of them. I discovered this hidden gem in Fred Armisen’s “What’s In My Bag” segment that Amoeba Records does and I was instantly intrigued by the sick beat and 80s flair. Little did I know that this track was a fucking trip and a half, containing weird spoken word, opera & possibly one of the most stereotypically 80s-sounding beats & vocal performances I’ve ever heard. There’s this one bit where the singer really gets into it and the song just nails me every time. I’m pretty sure I annoyed the hell out of my girlfriend, who studies vocal performance, with this song. I will always love this song, unfortunately for her. She’ll come around someday.
Trust – “Are We Arc?”
I was moderately excited for the new Trust album at the beginning of the year, but when I heard this beautiful piece of work it catapulted the entire album into the hype stratosphere. Like I said in my “Best Songs of 2014” post, this song makes me feel like I’m floating up some giant, sci-fi chasm with pulsating lights surrounding me, like something out of an anime or video game. Listening to it while driving in the dark is also an excellent sensory experience as well.
Palehound – “Pet Carrot”
There isn’t one Exploding In Sound band that I won’t check out. It happened to be time for me to check out Palehound in mid-February and was thoroughly obsessed with their one EP from 2013, Bent Nail. This song especially was a force that I couldn’t stop – with its playful melody and eventual explosion into a great rock song, it fucking rules.
Holly Herndon – “Chorus”
So what if this sounds like a Oneohtrix Point Never R Plus Seven-era b-side. I think it sounds like a chilling piece of modern electronic music that just so happens to follow similar cues as the 0PN album. As I’m listening to this track while I’m typing, I’m connecting with the track. Herndon’s MO is dissecting the connection between human consciousness and computers – we are more connected than ever in this digital age. The vocal manipulation of Herndon’s voice paired with the synthesized noise from her computer and other technology sound perfect together, even when it sounds like they’re fighting.
Future Islands – “Seasons (Waiting On You)”
I mean, this is the song that made Letterman try and make a meme. This was the song that gained this band thousands of fleeting followers and got the band a tour documentary. It got me through a super stressful period of being stuck in the Austin, TX airport. It’s P4K’s Song of the Year. It’s a damn good song. That’s it.
Real Estate – “Suburban Dogs”
Yeah I know Real Estate put an album out this year. I thought it was very pleasant, but boring. This band is great, I can’t deny that. Their newest album, Atlas inspired me to look back at my introduction to the band with their 2009 self-titled record. The songs are slower, more lo-fi and have a more “authentic” sense of chill, whatever that means. But fucking “Suburban Dogs,” man. This really beat the winter blues right outta me. Another great sensory experience I had with this track is listening to it while walking to downtown Austin, TX from my AirBnB about two miles outside of the city. There was a nature path that lead almost directly from my BnB to the city, with a delightful river flowing next to it and was shrouded by the perfect amount of foliage. Listening to this song while watching people lazily glide down a river in MARCH was insane to me. We’re just about ready to get into the SXSW feels soon! Get ready!
Ava Luna – “Prpl”
Imagine listening to a weird, freaky rock record with a few groovy bits here and there and then getting thrown this slick majesty here. Slow jams, in my 2014? Unheard of, at this point in the year. This song is perfect in every way and I played it almost every single week on my radio show for two or three months.
Hundred Waters – “Down From The Rafters”
The first track to come into the 2014 realm from my AOTY is a great one, obviously. I loved the weird accordian-like synth that guides the track through and of course Nicole Miglis’ crystalline vocals gliding through this ice palace of a track. It didn’t sell me on the album right then and there, but it got me pumped.
Frankie Cosmos – “Sad 2”
I mean, honestly what can be said about this track that won’t make me cry? Also, the damn marimbas. “I just want my dog back, is that so much to ask? I wish that I could kiss his paws.” This song made too many of my friends cry. It’s brilliant.
Perfect Pussy – “Interference Fits”
I wrote a ton about this track in my “Best Of” list, but I’ll just say this – it’s a damn near-perfect song.
Wave Racer – “Streamers”
I got into this song around the time that UConn was getting real turnt in the March Madness bracket. I was going over to my friend’s place to watch the games and the school was actually having planned parties to celebrate the victories outside in the main stretch of campus. At one of those was the first time I drank outside in public (sorry parents, good thing I’m legal & everyone else was doing the drunken tomfoolery that got the police eyes away from me and onto the hooligans in the trees.) This song gets me turnt like no other. It’s nerdy and video game like, but also goes hard and is fun as hell.
Saintseneca – “Blood Bath”
The one song I remembered Saintseneca playing when I saw them in 2013 was this song. It was a new one, they said, out on their 2014 record. It went on to be one of my favorite songs of the year and one that I shouted out the lyrics to when I saw them live a second time. It’s a track that I would sing with my girlfriend in moments of passing. She’d always get the harmony parts cause she’s a much better singer than I am. It’s a song that defined a lot of my jubilant existence in 2014.
White Hinterland – “Ring The Bell”
I had the pleasure of having my first ever phone interview with Casey Dienel, AKA White Hinterland in March of this year and I thought it went really well. I was super excited about it because I was super in love with this track and was really excited to talk to her about her creative process in making a thunderous pop song like this one. We talked about songwriting, her gear, what touring is like for her, and WAY more. It was awesome. I hope she thought the same!
Tony Molina – “Don’t Come Back”
I remember listening to this track as I walked to my 9AM class in the blistering cold wind. I have a coat that zips up to my lips and when I put my hood on, I look like a penguin. Listening to this badass solo and riff while surrounded by all these people getting destroyed by the weather was an experience.
Jessica Lea Mayfield – “Pure Stuff”
This was also on my “Best of 2014” list – for good reason. I was turned on to this record by my other music director friends who told me “Yo don’t pass this one up, it’s so good.” They were right. This whole record is the bomb, especially this song right here. The guitar tone really begs to be listened to louder and louder, while the calm, soothing vocals almost ask for the track to be listened to quieter. It’s a battle during this track, but the guitar usually wins. That deep, bassy texture! It’s too good!
Future Islands – “Vireo’s Eye”
At this point in the year the allure of Future Islands’ newest had started to wear off, so I ventured into their back catalog to see what I could find. Their 2010 album, In Evening Air, is probably my favorite album of theirs thanks to the deeply emotional, cutting songs that they put on there. Damn! There’s some gold on this record. There’s one moment in this track around the 1:50 mark where Sam Herring’s vocals deviates from the main melody a bit in a flurry of emotion, which really sold it for me. Woof.
Sylvan Esso – “Dress”
After being bombarded by hype from others about Sylvan Esso, a group that apparently only had two songs out at the time of the conference but somehow garnered enough buzz to be one of the most sought after acts at the massive festival, I tuned my full attention into their self-titled debut, which effectively wowed me with simple, sassy synth pop. I more liked showing it to my girlfriend & roommates, who loved it. The allure eventually wore off throughout the year, but at the time, this song was my shiiit.
Shabazz Palaces – “They Come In Gold”
The last song to soundtrack my junior year the first taste of new Shabazz Palaces and damn – was it a good taste. There’s no one out there who’s making hip hop, or any type of music, that comes close to the forward-thinking nature of this. Perhaps Arca or other electronic producers, but this is seriously so good. The non nonchalant braggadocio hooked up with a weird, stretched beat is essential Shabazz, which was much needed at the height of exam season.
THE VOID (Summer of the Trains, AAM, Pitchfork Music Fest & Season Of Mixtapes)
In the summer of 2014, I commuted to NYC three days a week to work at AAM, a music promo company that I had got to know through my music director job at WHUS. From Madison, CT, it was 5 hours there and back – 2.5 hours each way. 195 hours total. That leaves a lot of time to do activities. Namely, my #1 activity this summer was probably sleeping. I have definitely been conditioned to fall asleep within 10 minutes of being on a train now, but what am I missing? I’ve memorized the Metro-North route from New Haven to NYC now (this stop is… ROWAYTON UGHHH). I read a few books, something I haven’t been able to do in a long time, and of course, I listened to a ton of music. Mostly I revisited albums that I hadn’t gotten back to in a while, along with listening to new music for my job and sweeping for swears. I also went to Pitchfork Music Festival and saw possibly my all-time favorite musician, Beck, along with St. Vincent, Kelela, FKA Twigs, Twin Peaks, etc. Speaking of Twin Peaks, I saw them on a Manhattan rooftop. That was beyond dope.
Vanessa De Mata – “Nao Me Deixe So”
For about two weeks this summer I revitalized my world music show The Musical Bazaar, where I center on one region of the world per week. In preparation for the summer long program, I downloaded a bunch of world music compilations from Latin America, Asia, Africa, etc. One gem I found was on a comp called Brazilian Beats 5. This song is like a much needed gust of wind on a hot day. An cold drink after being outside for a long time. A dreamy slice of Brazilian pop music with added traditional instrumentation and an infectious melody. This song is a blissful, summery dream.
Melody’s Echo Chamber – “Quand Vas Tu Rentrer?”
Another blissful dream that I rediscovered this year is Melody’s Echo Chamber’s debut record from 2012. It was produced by the lead dude from Tame Impala, whose own album came out around the same time, which shifted a lot of my attention towards that rather than Melody’s. I decided to check this song out and was smitten with the essential Tame Impala-sounding production, complete with giant release and all. The lyrics being in French also add an element of romantic dreaminess to the track. Ugh, too good.
Hop Along – “Kids On The Boardwalk”
I’ve been jamming on Hop Along since 2012 when this song came out, but it wasn’t until mid 2014 where I fell head over heels in love with this band. This entire record is stellar beyond belief. This song I loved most of all because of its short song length (prime for repeated listens), group vocals, entertaining yet cutting songwriting and of course the VOCALS. This song kind of just meanders around with past loves and anecdotes about love, until the last 45 seconds, where it just breaks down with the line “I want truth and beauty, I want to love someone simply, I want truth and beauty, I want to love something without it having to need me.” This song is just so powerful
Built To Spill – “Carry The Zero”
In my mind, Hop Along and Built To Spill are forever intertwined in my musical brain. I listened to Built To Spill’s Keep It Like A Secret and Perfect From Now On with Hop Along’s Get Disowned on loop for the first half of the summer. I bought the records at the same time and would often listen to one after the other. Both are very emotionally dense and really connect with me in this stage of my life. “Carry The Zero” is kind of a random pick off Keep It Like A Secret, since I think all the songs off of it are perfect, but this is one that I definitely gravitated towards. My rediscovery of Built To Spill was a great moment, too, because I had tainted memories connected with There’s Nothing Wrong With Love and thought the band was forever ruined. BUT NAH. Nothing is ruined. Everything is fine.
Hundred Waters – “Murmurs”
This was the track that sold me on Hundred Waters having my AOTY. The vocal manipulation, the huge piano sounds, Nicole Miglis’ great vocals, the assorted other electronic effects on the track – it’s a huge force to start a truly fantastic album.
Quirke – “Break A Mirrored Leg”
Again, I’ve written a bunch on this song as well, but it’s just so good! The fact that it can still make me shake my shoulders in a robotic fashion and rapidly flex my calves means it’s still hitting the spot. Which spot? I dunno, some sort of pleasure center. Please let more of this dude’s music come out.
Kiesza – “Hideaway”
Sometimes you just need a badass pop song with a great music video to really get your summer going, right? Super dancey, a little silly, but all fun. I listened to this song an obnoxious amount of times in the first half of the summer. I probably annoyed my roommates with it. Worth it.
Babes – “ATMO”
“Have you ever loved someone so much it hurts? You think of them dying and it makes you want to cry.” This is probably the song that I put on the most mixtapes this year – it has a universal feel to it that I feel like everyone would love. It even has a key change. Of course, I love wistful dream pop, so I might be biased to think that everyone loves this. But the reactions I’ve gotten have been really good. Perfect summer song.
Slowdive – “When The Sun Hits”
After I bought tickets for Pitchfork, I decided that it was high time to get into Slowdive. They were one of those bands that somehow evaded me up until this summer for no apparent reason other than laziness. I had their full discography in my library, so I really had no excuse. I used the 2.5 hour train ride to dive deep into Souvlaki in particular and was easily enamored by the entire thing, but mostly this song. I love how the guitar gets heavier in the chorus and is a great foil to the light vocals and instrumentation previously heard in the track. And of course, the CHOIR. Woof. When I heard that I was like “Okay, this is over the top.” I can see why people rival this with Loveless, even though I think Loveless is better.
Hiss Golden Messenger – “Sufferer (Love My Conquerer)”
Don’t really know what persuaded me to finally dive into Hiss Golden Messenger, but he got up into my Top 20 most-listened to artists from 2014, according to last.fm, so I think I’m doing okay. His 2013 album Haw is so devilishly good that I’d just listen over and over on the train or at work – it was pretty great. This guy’s voice is just bewitching. Definitely put a lot of his music on mix CDs this summer.
Sam Amidon – “Saro”
Revisited Sam Amidon this summer, which was a fantastic idea for those slow, summery mornings at the end of my spring semester. I was introduced to Amidon in my junior year of high school by one of my violin teachers, and I’ve been hooked ever since. I think I got back into him because of the other folky music I had been listening to around this time (Hiss Golden Messenger, Marissa Nadler, etc) and I was making mix CDs for my folky friends. It’s just so good!
Tijuana Panthers – “Cherry Street”
A song about a donut shop is always a good song.
How To Dress Well – “Words I Don’t Remember”
My mom called this “electronic rnb, which I guess I can get behind. I remember really grooving out to this one on the radio once at the end of last semester. It was a good time.
Alex G – “Hollow”
I was introduced to Alex G this summer by his fantastic full-length DSU, like many other people, I’m guessing. This track is some quintessential sad man 90s indie rock Built To Spill/Pavement/Elliott Smith what-have-you. It’s real nice and it makes me feel sad, but at the same time it’s kind of comforting.
Naomi Punk – “Song Factory”
This song starts with an abrasive, punch-in-the-face guitar riff that sounds like a decrepit, old factory in motion, instantly nailing a memorable stake into my brain, while the song name nails an accurate description of what it sounds like.
Animal Collective – “Bleed”
I went back to listen to this great EP this summer to discover that my least favorite song on there was actually my favorite song. For some reason, my high school self hated this song “Bleed” but now in my older state, I can add it in with my all-time favorite AnCo songs. Maybe cause life has slowed down a bit, really dig the slower stuff or something.
Grimes – “Go (ft. Blood Diamonds)”
The first time I heard this song I definitely thought “god damnit Grimes ruined herself with all this dubstep business.” But then I was like, this is a really genuine song and it sounds like Grimes and Blood Diamonds really wrote it to have fun and make a legit pop song. Eventually I looked past the dubstep-esque drop and looked more at the song itself and found some solace in that. Also, I saw it performed live and it was incredible – definitely put haters to rest.
Ty Segall – “Melted”
Ty Segall, rock god. “Melted” is a great song and Melted is a great album.
DIANA – “Born Again”
Another record I missed in 2013 was DIANA’s Perpetual Surrender which had this synth pop jam “Born Again.” Classic pop jams up in here – very entertaining to listen to on the train and whatnot.
Fucked Up – “Black Albino Bones”
Obviously it’s the sweet, melodic chorus that keeps me coming back to this track, but it’s clear that the rest of the song is nothing to sneeze at either. One of my friends said that he would play Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3 to this song. I don’t think that this album was out in time to be put on that game, but woah would I play the shit out of that game if that were the case.
Flying Lotus – “Zodiac Shit”
With You’re Dead! out this year, I went back to an old favorite of mine in Cosmogramma and found that the second half of this song is just so good. That damn groove is so classic sounding. I want to hear some more of that – I would seriously put this song on a loop and listen to it about 10 times in a row. Real good.
Radiator Hospital – “Fireworks”
If you wanna talk sad, emotionally wrenching songs, this one will do it.
Kelela – “Bank Head”
Kelela is responsible for one of my favorite sets at Pitchfork Music Festival – it was just so good! Pure, soulful singing and a great DJ, there was really nothing wrong with it. She was also so genuine with the audience, which really struck a chord with me. Anyways, this track is smooth and bangs at the same time. Real great production from Kingdom here. She is one of my queens. For sure. I think my others would probably be St. Vincent, FKA Twigs, Janelle Monae, Mitski, and maybe Beyonce. That’s about it.
DJ Dodger Stadium – “Never Win”
Was able to do a lot of work to this song this summer, which was really helpful in the robot work phase of my job (data entry, duh). Hard hammering beat plus repetitive vocal sample doesn’t always win, but in this case, it surely does.
Real Lies – “North Circular”
It’s really a shame that I didn’t put this in my Top 50 songs of the year. Not really sure what I was thinking on that one. But anyways, this track rules. It’s like if Burial might make a pop song. Really sounds like a brighter side of the dark streets of London. Maybe that’s true, maybe not. It’s a great tune.
Hooray For Earth – “Say Enough”
Not sure what else to say about this song besides the fact that the melody is just so perfect and yearning. Real nice.
Run The Jewels – “Blockbuster Night Pt. 1”
Three years in a row we have been blessed with new material from Killer Mike & El-P and this year came some of the most guttural and hard-hitting material we’ve heard from the duo yet. This track was the first lead single and I’m pretty sure I could have done some serious damage to UConn if I had better speakers with higher bass capacity. Goddamn. This song sounds like Bowser, Donkey Kong, Ganondorf, or whoever is just having their way with some badass evil shit all over the Mushroom Kingdom/Hyrule. I’m a nerd.
FKA Twigs – “Two Weeks”
Damn. I gotta say, when this track came out I wasn’t really pleased with it. I mean, I was, but I was so completely enamored with Twigs’ EP2 that anything than that would not satiate me. However, after listening to this track again and again, I’ve fully accepted that it’s one of the best of the year and will surely define 2014 as the decade progresses.
Tennis – “I’m Callin'”
The ideal music video for this song would be a bunch of really buff, “masculine” dudes going around a big city environment and doing ballet, or other “feminine” type dances that actually require a lot of physical prowess to pull off. Think The Knife’s “A Tooth For An Eye” video. This song is a really fun, playful cut that should be able to blur gender boundaries and let people just dance around and have fun without prejudices. Woo!
Sophie – “Hard”
I mean, c’mon. It’s Sophie. I saw him perform with A.G. Cook earlier this year at SXSW and I can easily say that it was one of the strangest/best concert experiences ever. I was quickly approaching 24 hours of no sleep, running on very little food, legs hurt like crazy, adequately buzzed off free drinks, etc etc – then out of nowhere (not in the SXSW concert calendar anyways) Sophie comes on stage and everyone is freaking out. There’s a woman (who I found out later to be QT) in an empty kiddie pool at the front of the stage drinking milk and playing with her hair, all the while this hyper, strange, demebted bubblegum pop music is blasting. I had just talked with the lead dude from Anamanaguchi moments before, plus two of my new friends from Minnesota were behind me literally pounding drinks into the ground and screaming. It was a fitting ending to an insane week. But anyways, there’s nothing out there that sounds like Sophie, so that’s about it.
Merchandise – “Green Lady”
I gave this track the “Put the Team On The Back Award” because it easily held the new Merchandise record afloat among all the mediocrity that the record tried to shill out. It’s surely different from the Merchandise that I initially fell in love with, but it’s great nonetheless. The sweeping melody of this track and interesting instrumental arrangements really puts it apart from the other tracks on the album, which all seem to the same tempo and key. C’mon Merchandise, pick it up!
TOPS – “Way To Be Loved”
This is a perfect pop song. Boom. I saw it performed live twice this year and both times I got goosebumps. They added in an extra chorus and a guitar solo at the end, which really got me. How the heck can that guitar line not get you? Simply perfect.
Ricky Eat Acid – “In My Dreams We’re Almost Touching”
A friend of mine had a dream with this song in it. The dream also included Drake, which is pretty funny. I thought this track was really interesting since the rest of this album is pretty mellow and ambient. Not this track! It bangs though, and that’s all I care about.
Craft Spells – “Your Tomb”
Craft Spells released a new album this year that I talked to radio stations about. A lot of people were telling me it was very different from their first album, which caused me to check out their first album. Woah it’s so damn good. I’m super into this track with the super New Order-y bass and the shimmering synths. Really fun and cool!
Ty Segall – “Feel”
Yeah so I almost killed this song, but thankfully I kept it alive in my library. It’s probably my all-time favorite Ty Segall song. I spammed this track on the radio, playing it for my friends, etc. It’s just too good, man. Also, that double guitar solo – holy shit! I think my roommate said it’s tracks like this that make him want to be in a rock band again.
FALL SEMESTER, SENIOR YEAR (Them Senior Feels, CMJ & A Huge Smiths Phase)
My second to last semester is now at a close and it’s interesting to look back and see my listening patterns. Compared to my junior/spring semester, I feel like I listened & connected to a lot of older music, but still enjoyed some of the great stuff that was coming out at the tail end of the year. There was also the CMJ Conference, where I won “Best Taste In Music” and was nominated for “Music Director of the Year” among some of the coolest people I’ve ever met. This semester was also packed with a ton of “senior feels” AKA reflecting on college, high school, etc with friends and getting ready for the great beyond of “real life.” Woof. I also got real depressed about midway through the semester. But we’ll get to that.
The Pillows – “Beautiful Morning With You”
This track is off of the soundtrack to a great, six-episode anime from the mid-00s called FLCL, or Fooly-Cooly. I watched it during winter break earlier in the year and hopped right on the hype bandwagon with it. I didn’t download the soundtrack, though, until the end of summer. The Pillows are basically a Japanese Ovlov, which rocks. The song switches between a slow, melancholy riff and a high-energy chorus and really sounds a lot like Ovlov, Dino Jr., whatever you want. It’s really good, is what I’m saying.
Adebisi Shank – “Mazel Tov”
I love when an album cover makes you listen to an album and the music turns out to be just as wild and crazy as the album cover. On Adebisi Shank’s newest album This Is The Third Album Of A Band Called Adebisi Shank one can see an extremely buff man with a shattered lightbulb for a head flexing in some sort of space dimension. The music matches this by being weird, clunky math rock with robot-like vocals and goofy saxophone accompaniment. I played this track so much on the radio and a ton of my DJs loved its goofiness. Tons of fun.
Vic Mensa – “Down On My Luck”
Not absolutely obsessed with this track compared to others, but it’s still a super fun, pop-rap style track with a great beat and playful flow & melody. Interested to hear what else this guy has up his sleeve for the future.
Boa – “Duvet”
This year I completed what I like to call my “Redemption Anime” list, which were the anime that I had seen clips of when I was younger, forgotten of their existence, then watch in full with an “adult” mindset. Those anime were Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi, Last Exile, Paranoia Agent & Serial Experiments Lain. I watched the first three on this list in the summer of 2012 and finally got to Serial Experiments Lain this year. These four were shown on late night Adult Swim/Toonami and a short-lived block of programming on G4 called “Anime Unleashed” that I must have watched when I was in 6th or 7th grade. Completing this circuit of unfinished memories was extremely satisfying, and this track, “Duvet,” is the theme music to Lain, which easily wrapped up all my feelings of remembrances and all that. It’s a super 90s sounding track and I love it.
Portishead – “It Could Be Sweet”
Don’t really know why I hadn’t really delved into Portishead earlier, but there was a spree this semester where I would almost exclusively listen to Dummy on repeat. I think it was because of the song above this, “Duvet,” and how incredibly late 90s/early 00s it is. There really isn’t any other era that could be paired to this damn sound of trip hop. It’s pretty astonishing. Had a great time discovering that Portishead was such a good band.
Mr Twin Sister – “In The House Of Yes”
In the wee hours of the morning, one weekday night at UConn, I shimmied my way back to my apartment from the radio station to this track. Not a soul was out at this time; it must have been about 2 or 3 in the morning. When a track causes you to involuntarily liven up a mundane portion of your day, you know it has to be some thick magic swirling around in there.
LVL UP – “DBTS”
This track/band/album really sums up my college mindset at this point. The track is appropriately distorted, the vocals are appropriately deadpan and the lyrics are abstract but relatable enough to allow me to connect with everything well. It’s seriously too good, I love this record so much.
Lydia Ainsworth – “Moonstone”
Another sleeper hit of sorts from 2014, Lydia Ainsworth wowed me with this record with a combination of great string accompaniments and weird synth happenings. I’m not really sure how to accurately wrap up the sound of this record, but it’s really unlike a lot of other things I’ve heard this year. I saw this song performed live and it gave me for real goosebumps. Highly recommended.
Aphex Twin – “Aisatsana”
This last track on Aphex Twin’s new album is dedicated to his wife, Anastasia, which must feel real nice for her. It’s a beautiful, minimal piano track with ambient noise in the background and stray bird noises, making the song sound like it was recorded in some secluded grotto, which it probably was. I’m thinking more top of the tower in Shadow Of The Colossus– type grotto, but this will work.
Aphex Twin – “Avril 14th”
The new Aphex Twin drove me to listen to older Aphex Twin and I obviously had to stop at this track on Drukqs, because it obviously was taken and sampled by Kanye on “Blame Game.” How I didn’t hear about this happening before is pretty astounding, but I love this track as it is. Aphex Twin might have been a weird-ass dude, but he knew how to make some pleasing music along with his fucked up crazy ass music.
Grouper – “Lighthouse”
Didn’t really love this album as much as other folks did, but this is one track that I really did love. Something about walking alone to this track at night really put me in a sad, but okay mood. Sometimes you have to feel sad. That justifies your reality.
Caribou – “Silver”
I gotta be honest, I didn’t really get the massive appeal of the “Can’t Do Without You,” the first track that came off of Caribou’s latest record. It garnered “song of the year” awards from many a publication this year, but I just didn’t see the whole wow factor it had to offer. Instead I saw it in the second track of Our Love, “Silver.” I love the slow, churning melody and slightly glittering synths that this track had. Walking around on campus at night was really cool, especially watching headlights relfect off of certain things, scattering
Sea Oleena – “If I’m”
Damn this record was overlooked by so many people. I probably would have missed it too if I hadn’t seen Lefse records tweet about this band. This track is a luscious, string & piano laden track that I fell head over heels for. It’s a great, mellow track that is definitely a hidden gem from 2014. It sounds like a more lush Grouper track, if that puts things into perspective.
Porches. – “Forgive (ft. Greta Kline)”
This was the last band I saw at CMJ and boy howdy was it a good show. They were the last band on a bill that included Lydia Ainsworth & TOPS at Death By Audio, which closed shortly after that show, unfortunately. I had been wanting to see Porches. for a while now, so seeing them with friends after a really long week of highs and lows was a great way to close it out. They played a killer show and had great stage presence, which is always a plus.
Wildhoney – “Soft Bats”
I interviewed this band after CMJ for WHUS and holy hell they were so good. I had a weird mix in my headphones, but it was so cool to see a band that feels like they’re on the brink of blowing up the blogosphere play in a space that I inhabit every day for work. This track is a damn good shoegaze pop track with a ripping guitar part and a bittersweet vocal melody – so luscious. Can’t wait to hear more studio recordings from this band in 2015!
The Smiths – “Vicar In A Tutu”
The Smiths – “Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others”
The Smiths – “I Know It’s Over”
Previously, in my Smiths listening history, I had really only listened to The Queen Is Dead, which was clearly a huge mistake. I had a Smiths Greatest Hits CD in high school that I listened to quite a bit, but I never REALLY got into them. I appreciated them and I liked a few of their songs, but it wasn’t until the latter half of October 2014, I retreated into The Smiths for emotional wallowing; letting Morrissey’s morbid, silly, and depressing lyrics wrap my body up and put me in a hearse. It started after a discussion with some friends about The Smiths, which prompted me to listen to them again, which was pretty normal. However, when I got the worst grade that I had ever received in my entire life + traversing rocky relationship period + overall depression, The Smiths became an even bigger entity in my life.
The Smiths – “That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore”
The Smiths – “Well I Wonder”
The Smiths – “Barbarism Begins At Home”
There was a period of about two weeks where I only listened to The Smiths. Like they’re my second-most listened to artist for my 2014 and I only spent the last three months of the year listening to them heavily. Leading the pack is Meat Is Murder, an album that I had bought in high school but never really got into. Probably because it didn’t have “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” on it. Anyways, this album is probably my favorite in their catalog now, just because of the great gradient of songs on here. There’s the upbeat but morbid tracks like “Rusholme Ruffians,” “What She Said” and “Barbarism Begins At Home;” but also had the slow, sad tunes like “That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore” and “Well I Wonder” that really nailed home my crippling, face-melting, dramatic depression. I seriously felt like I was in high school again, glorifying Morrissey’s melodrama and intertwining it within my own. Lyrics like “gasping, dying, but somehow still alive..” really got to me. I wonder how much of the depression was self-inflicted and due to me listening to The Smiths a ton, but like, whatever. I’m over it now, and plus I have a greater appreciation for an excellent, foundation band from the 80s.
The Smiths – “Panic”
The Smiths – “His Latest Flame – Rusholme Ruffians (Medley)”
The final stage of my Smiths phase was going through their great live album, Rank. This album really cemented the fact that I would probably be in a Smiths cover band if I had the opportunity, mostly because this album is just so fun. I can picture the crowd jumping up and down or dancing to almost every songs, letting their mopey, new wave sad dude attitude off for the night and allowing the killer guitar grooves from Johnny Marr & Morrissey’s wicked vocals take their night away. It kind of got me out of my depression because of the sheer fun most of the songs give off. Yeah, Smiths make some sad, morbid songs, but holy hell, they can be a blast. The two I picked here are ones that I distinctly remember replaying over and over. “Panic” is especially relevant since it has to do with radio DJs, which is a nice, self-deprecating stab at myself. For “His Latest Flame – Rusholme Ruffians,” I loved hearing how the two tracks came together and love Morrissey’s sassy vocal delivery. What I wouldn’t give to go back and hear some of these songs live. Damn. My mom is so lucky to have seen them.
Burial & Four Tet – “Moth”
This is the song that I probably had on my phone for the longest amount of time in 2014 – basically for the entire fall semester. It’s a lovely track to walk to, to write papers to, to study to, to tune out your friends to, and to vibe to. It’s all the best parts of Burial and Four Tet wrapped into one track. It’s a dream collaboration that actually works out in the end. It’s a perfect length, everything rules about this track. Damn.
Sheer Mag – “What You Want”
*Rock n roll hand gestures* *Hell yeah* *This band rules*
Mitski – “Townie”
Didn’t really have any expectations going into listening to Mitski’s music except that she had been touring with LVL UP. “Townie” was the first track I really listened to of Mitski’s and I knew after the first minute that this whole record was going to be really special to me in the remainder of 2014. “Change, change, change is gonna come, but when, when, when?”
Cherry Glazerr – “Had Ten Dollaz”
Didn’t really care for this band’s full-length from earlier in the year, but this single out on Suicide Squeeze is easily the best thing the band has ever put out. It’s a badass rock n roll song from a bunch of high schoolers(?). Definitely had a lot of fans of this track at the station, for good reason/
Panda Bear – “Untying The Knot”
The shamisen/zheng that this song has sampled is my life’s blood. Noah Lennox’s traditional drawling vocals here are also a plus too, but the kaleidoscopic plucking of this ambiguous Asian instrument in the background of the track is truly remarkable.
Crying – “Batang Killjoy”
Love love LOVE this band. This was the first new Crying song of 2014 and I’m so into it – the 8bit, the guitar, the melody; it’s all there and it’s all great. I need to see this band again live.
Arca – “Sad Bitch”
I didn’t enjoy this Arca album as much as his previous material, but it’s still a damn good record compared to a lot of other stuff from this year. This seems like a petty interlude track, but it’s one of the few tracks on here that carries momentum and feels like it’s accomplishing something. There’s true, palpable depth on this track and I love it. Each synth stab sounds like self-critical jab into one’s unconscious. It’s really cool. Love this album, though.
Ariel Pink – “Black Ballerina”
I feel like if I had ever visited LA I would understand this track a little bit more. The VHS-quality beach snapshots paired with grainy strip club footage, making one of the strangest home movies a young boy could stumble upon – that’s what this song is.
Björk – “I’ve Seen It All ft. Thom Yorke”
This beautiful track from our queen Björk is from the film Dancer In the Dark, a film that I watched in my “Film Genres” class under the unit of “musicals.” I loved this film and you all should watch it. But anyways, it’s an unorthodox musical with Björk as the lead. So good. I mean, it’s Björk, so there we go.
My Bloody Valentine – “Sometimes”
I mean, I’ve listened to this album so many goddamn times. This song included. I’ve loved this song for as long as I can remember. But for some reason it kept popping up in my head and I kept revisiting it at the tail end of fall semester. Loveless is a quintessential fall album for me, so I guess this makes sense, but this song really got me going. Maybe it was just to calm me down for the finals and whatnot. Either way, it was more MBV, so I don’t care.
Luluc – “Without A Face”
This Luluc record came out in the summer but I unfortunately missed it due to the void of summer. They played earlier in the semester at UConn, too, and that didn’t persuade me to listen more. They even gave WHUS a shoutout during their CMJ show we attended and I got to chat with them and Bob Boilen of All Songs Considered at the same time. Still didn’t get me to really take some time and listen to this. It was finals week & pre-finals week that really got me to slow down, relax, and get some studying done.
Krystian Zimerman – “Ballade No. 4 in F Minor, op. 52 (Chopin)”
Not too much to say on this one. I wrote a lot of papers and studied for a lot of finals at the end of the semester and solo piano music really spoke to me. All four of Chopin’s ballades are stellar, but I listened to this one the most.
Mica Levi (Micachu) – “Love”
This is a track off of a soundtrack of a movie I’ve never seen called Under The Skin. I’ve heard it’s a truly wonderful, artful film with Scarlett Johansson as the creepy lead. Creepy is a good word to use to describe this track. This song really pulls off the hollow feeling of depression and estranged longing, which I think is a tough aesthetic to nail. This track is spooky and disorienting.
Cold Cave – “Confetti”
My friend Dan got me into Cold Cave one day while we were working on a take home final. I was aware of Cold Cave before, but never really dove in. I took a listen to their 2011 album Cherish The Light Years and instantly regretted my musical decision to look past them that year. This song is some bonafide synth pop/cold wave/dark wave/whatever goodness. I want to make synth sounds like this.
Shamir – “On The Regular”
I mean, I’m writing this and I listened to this song like 20 times in the past two days. It gives me the same feeling as Azealia Banks’ “212” gave when I was initially really into that song. The bouncy, fun synth line that comes in is the instant hook, but the witty, “fuck you” lyrics are what made me stay in the end. It’s such a fun song.
Sales – “Getting It On”
The last song that will send out my 2014 is by Orlando, FL dream pop group Sales, who put a delightful little EP that Gorilla Vs Bear loved. I figured that since they dug it, I might as well, and guess what? I do! It’s a super simple song, with a slightly reverbed guitar line strummed throughout and sweetly cooed female vocals. I listened to this EP when I took my dog outside and watching dead leaves skate across my driveway while my dog sniffed the air made me really nostalgic for some reason.
D’Angelo & The Vanguard – “Prayer”
Man I wasn’t even close with calling the last song I would be putting on here. D’Angelo surprised everyone by releasing his first album in fourteen years and damn is it worth it. This song in particular got me with its sun-baked guitar and the inclusion of a church bell on the beat. It’s a hot, sticky, soulful example of music that we needed to end a tumultuous year.
Miguel – “Coffee”
I hate the end of this song. I’m gonna start it off like that. There really isn’t a real end – the song just cuts off. I thought something had messed up, but it just happens. That makes me really upset, but it makes me go back and listen to the short track over and over, so it can’t all be that bad. The way this beat changes really gets my blood pumping, along with Miguel’s lovely vocals. I need a new album from this dude that’s like this, only with a complete ending, please.