My Year In Music 2014
Sure, I may be a month and a half late but catching up on a years best music is a great excuse to remember what music made an impact on my life over the course of a year. That said, I had a look back among albums and singles released 2014 and came up with a short list of music that stuck with me over the course of last year.
This is not so much a top music of the year list as it is a music that stuck with me the most through the year list. I have decided to focus the list this year on songs rather than albums because not all of them came out of full length LPs and I liked the idea of having a nice playlist of favorites from the year. The songs found here were those which lifted me up and kept me grounded through the year as only great music can do.
Pardon my candid writing style below, I simply put on this playlist of music and wrote what came to mind as I listened to each song. That said, in no particular order, here is a handful of songs that really stuck with me in 2014, hope you find something new to enjoy! Feel free to drop your personal favorites in the comments below.
Lonely Richard by Amen Dunes from the album Love
This song immediately jumped out to me when I first heard this album because of my newly found love of this aesthetic of indie rock music. It’s steady pace and mumbled melody instantly stuck in my head and I found myself coming back to it again and again through the year. This song is just one of many standouts on this record that made adding this to my list an easy choice.
Place In My Heart by Taylor McFerrin from the album Early Riser
I caught a bit of buzz around this album before its release and eagerly waited to get my hands on a copy. On first listen I knew it would end up being a favorite, the album is full of beautiful music that pulls from a number of genres and offers a satisfying listen through and through. The track Place In My Heart is a clear standout and one that ended up giving this record an almost permanent spot in my DJ crate this year.
Reverie On Norfolk Street by Luluc from the album Passerby
I think I happened upon this while digging for new music, the modest artwork caught my eye and noticing it was a SubPop record sealed the deal. Upon listening for the first time I was quickly hypnotized. It dug up feelings of my past and reminded me of a number of like minded favorites from a period in my life where music such as this was the glue that held my emotional self together. Reverie On Norfolk Street stuck a chord somewhere in the back of my mind that had not been heard in quite some time, a welcome reminder that I have lived a life worth living, through the good and the bad.
Burbuka by Clap! Clap! from the album Tayi Bebba
Moving into totally different territory, Clap! Clap! released this gem of an album this year full of a totally new breed of dance music taking African influence and applying it to a number of modern dance genres. This easily deserves a spot on my list this year after being one of my go to albums to get my blood flowing on a slow day.
All I Ever Need by Caribou from the album Our Love
While this albums first single, Can’t Do Without You was an instant favorite when it was released All I Ever Need ended up being my personal favorite from Caribous remarkably emotional yet danceable album, Our Love.
Roots by Romare from the single Roots
Romare is set to take 2015 by storm after releasing this single as a teaser for his upcoming album late last year. The track has a beautifully slow build that is minimal but full of soul. The payoff at the end is well worth the ride as it snowballs into a hand clapping, foot shuffling good time. Keep an eye out on this one.
Radiofreeze by Francis Harris from the album Minutes Of Sleep
Scissor and Thread is one of my favorite underground electronic labels and whenever they have something new in the pipeline I can’t help but jump on board. This album, from the artist I believe runs the label, is full of beautiful meditative electronic music driven slowly along by minimal yet lush production. RadioFreeze is a perfect example of the subtle and haunting approach taken throughout the album, not one to miss.
Untitled A1 by Kassem Mosse from the album Workshop 19
Another beautifully minimal electronic album for late nights, and calm days, Workshop 19 grew on me over time and surprised me when I realized that I was listening to it way more than I initially thought I would. I ended up loving the understated nature of each track and the way they fit together with a hushed, lo-fi aesthetic.
Haller by Kettenkarussell from the album Easy Listening
Ah the one that got away. When I fist listened to this record I enjoyed it but dismissed it somewhat after hearing so many other like minded, albums this year such as that from Kassem Mosse and Francis Harris mentioned above. Moody electronic music with a touch of grit and a lot of soul. A month or two later I put it on again and fell head over heals for it. Easily among my top five favorites this year and I missed my chance to snag a copy on vinyl because of my early dismissal (Hoping for a re-press!). That said, Haller is a favorite of mine from the album, a steady, emotional break beat is the glue that holds it together as snippets of effected instruments and samples start to fill in the gaps to form an instant classic.
Darwin by Lord Raja from the album A Constant Moth
This one snuck in out of nowhere late last year and surprised a lot of people. Walking a swaggering line between genres this album is full of brilliant moments. Darwin was an early standout with its fuzzy, erratic beat and unpredictable progression.
The Meaning Of Love by Chrome Sparks from Goddess EP
While I enjoyed most of his first EP this release struck all the right notes from beginning to end. Taking cues from chill wave and hip hop this EP plants Chrome Sparks into my buy blindly category. While there was a number of standouts on this all to brief outing, The Meaning Of Love takes an emotional romp with head nodding beats and emotional synth work.
Why by Les Sins from the album Michael
Most of you know Chadwick Bradley Bundick from his work as Toro y Moi but its his release under his Les Sins alias caught my attention last year. Many of my friends dismissed it for reasons I can’t quite understand. This is a dance music album that takes a number of chances in composition and approach and maintains a surprising simplicity overall but I really enjoyed the ride and can’t help but slide it into my favorites of the year if not just for this standout track. Why is straight gold and I came back to it more times than I can remember for a quick pick me up.
The Grit In The Pearl by Clark from his self titled album Clark
Clark is nothing short of a Warp Records legend at this point as far as I’m concerned. I’m not sure of any other electronic musicians who have had such a consistently forward thinking run of albums through their carrier while still maintaining true to a core aesthetic. Clarks newest album took me some time to find its groove but once it caught me it never let go. He is never afraid to take a track into a totally different direction than you would expect and The Grit In The Pearl is a perfect primer for this album.
XMAS_Evet10 by Apex Twin from his album Syro
Ah, the now grammy award winning artist Apex Twins return to releasing music and what a beauty of a record. The music on here showcases his rare talent and folds together everything that makes him a legend. As far as I can tell, his take on electronics in music is unlike any other. His uncanny ability to control and manipulate sound, rhythm, and melody is in a class of its own. Blind praise from an old fan? Maybe so, but still, its hard to deny his influence and brilliance and this track is my favorite on Syro. A slow building but gorgeous ride and a prime example of why everyone is so excited about his return to the spotlight.
Ahead The Ship Sleeps by FaltyDL from the album In The Wild
This is the first album from FaltyDL that really connected with me and I’m excited to see where he takes us in the future. Ahead The Ship Sleeps is a steady ride through a number of influences and install my favorite cut from the album.
Taking Chances by Sharon Van Etten from her album We Are There
Another great release from the indie rock side of things. Taking Chances, I believe, was the lead single from the album. Her voice is deep and swooning and the song accents this with a melody that catches you and drags you into its unexpected warmth. When I first heard this the song was stuck in my head for days and still pops in from time to time. Its a great record for a lazy day at home.
God puts us all in the swimming pool by Ricky Eat Acid from Three Love Songs
This album was recommended to me by a reader of this site and boy am I happy I took his advice. I love this album and instantly became a recent favorite in the world of avant/ambient music. It takes you through all sorts of different, unexpected landscapes of sound, melody, and rhythm. This song was a favorite among the album that I have listened to on repeat more times than I can remember. Hopefully this release wasn’t a fluke and his signing to a well established label won’t affect his future output too much. Stay curious Ricky, it suits you.
Red Eyes by The War On Drugs from the album Lost In The Dream
I have been a fan of Kurt Vile since coming across what I think was his second solo album on Mexican Summer back in 2009 which has since become an indispensable, desert island sort of record for me. Since that release I have jumped onto everything else he has been involved with sight unseen. It was his early involvement with the band that initially brought me to follow along with them as well and have not looked back since. In fact, I had only recently discovered he had left the group long ago. This album contains some of the most beautiful rock music I have heard in years. Red Eyes is easily my favorite song from the record because of its hypnotic beat and subtle rise and fall in emotion. If I were to pull out any one of the albums mentioned on this list as my favorite from last year, I feel like this release may sit happily on top. Essential.
Heart Is A Drum by Beck from his album Morning Phase
Oddly, when many people heard about Beck winning a grammy their first response was, “Beck had a new album out last year?” I don’t think it was any fault of anyone that it went under the radar for many. A lot of his output has been released to only modest fan fare for years now yet here he is, Grammy in hand for what really is a great album. I for one love this side of his musical output. While its easy to gravitate toward the gritty, experimental pop music he has released through the years, his more folk and classic rock inspired releases are full of brilliant moments lyrically and sonically. Don’t miss this great album if you have not already heard it for yourself.
Merak by Tape from their album Casino
I have no idea how it took me so long to discover the amazing music this group produces. I happened across this album after seeing it recommended by 12k head Taylor Deupree and instantly fell for its beautiful ambient charm. While there are countless high points on this record, Merak stands out to me as a favorite that I find myself going back to often. Any fan of ambient should not go without checking out this wonderful release.
Malfunction by Tirzah from the EP No Romance
Tirzah is one of a number of projects Mica Levi has been a part of. Many may know her music from her haunting and universally praised musical score for the film Under The Skin. From what I know, this release featured her production and collaboration with friend and fellow artist, Tirzah. I loved this EP for its soulful pop sensibility mixed with an otherwise experimental approach to its creation which challenges your expectations as a listener. Surprisingly dense for music so simple and felt like an obvious choice when digging for favorites from the last year.