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Best Music of 2014

Introduction

If you dig these songs please consider buying them. Most can be had for less than a buck. They will also be hosted at Pruning Shears until Wednesday, so you can try before you buy over there.

Some lyrics may be NSFW. Listen at your own risk.

Here are my favorite songs this year from my RSS feeds. I use Sharp Reader as my aggregator. See the “Free MP3 sites” part of my blogroll for my current feed list.

This is roughly the top 1% of music I listened to this year, so even if you hate the songs you have to admit that’s a pretty discriminating list. If you fall in love with my taste in music drop me a line and I’ll get you the rest of the songs I considered but didn’t have room for.

Honorable Mention

I usually reserve an Honorable Mention spot for a longer song. Most years there’s at least one 7+ minute song that I like quite a bit, but since I try to get lots of different artists on the list I don’t want a single tune to crowd out several other candidates. When a longer song really blows me away I’ll make room, but overall I prefer to keep my selections under five minutes or so.

22. “Molly” – Princess (Buy)
I like the combination of the loping beat and the guitar freakout.

The List

(Fits on a single 80 minute CD.)

21. “Milly’s Garden” – Steve Gunn (Buy)
I wish I could say why I like it. There’s no one part that jumps out, it just works really well together. All I can say is, here is an extremely good song that I think you will enjoy listening to over and over.

20. “A Perfect Storm” – Casual Sex (Buy)
Brilliant minimalism. Spare percussion, guitar notes that drop in for a few seconds then disappear, and more (or less).

19. “Bleed” – Mirror Kisses (Buy)
A good solid beat and stuttering synth.

18. “Doin Fine” – Snow Tha Product (Buy)
This is kind of a cheat. Good Nights and Bad Mornings 2 (The Hangover) (recommended) was released in 2013, but I didn’t start listening to it until January. It’s a phenomenal album, so when this song was released as a single this year I had my excuse to sing its praises. Check it out.

17. “Crazy” – Nights (Buy)
If you’re only going to release one song in a year, as Nights did in 2014, this is a pretty good way to make the most of it: Ethereal vocals floating over buzzsaw guitars and a relentless beat.

16. “Heaven’s Made For Two” – Haley Bonar (Buy)
Catchy as hell, and Bonar’s vocals are wonderful.

15. “She Comes In Colour Stereo” – SlowPlaceLikeHome (Stream)
Electronica, baby.

14. “I Don’t Know You Anymore” – Bob Mould (Buy)
Off of Beauty and Ruin (recommended) which, along with Silver Age, comprise a pretty good case that Mould is making the best music of his career these days.

13. “Giving Up” – Allison Weiss (Buy)
A great pop song sounds easy, like anyone could have done it. But everyone doesn’t. Which is why effortless gems like this are so rare.

12. “Schizophrenia” – Dreezy (Buy)
This one sort of sneaked up on me. I wasn’t that crazy about it at first, but by about the fifth listen I was hooked.

11. “Psyche” – Slander (Buy)
It’s fitting that in the year Chrissie Hynde made a fine return to form, a new vocalist echoed her husky, lower register sex goddess style. Also: bassist Nick Maynard is this band’s secret weapon.

10. “International Lovers” – Daryn Alexus (Buy)
What does perfect pop R&B sound like? This. This is what perfect pop R&B sounds like.

09. “Bislett Stadion” – Oslo Ess (Buy)
Forget the Norwegian lyrics, this song speaks the universal language of ROCK AND ROLL BABY!

08. “Time of Delight” – Donna Lynn Caskey (Buy)
Many country music fans love to moan about how country has become artificial, how back in the day we had honest to God artists like Patsy and Hank, how everything now is overproduced and focus tested, how none of it has heart or soul anymore, and so on and so forth.

Those people are full of shit, and here is why.

There is plenty of real country music out there, in the form of albums like Nameless Heart (highly recommended). In addition to beautifully articulated love songs like this and “Good for What Ails Me,” it covers plenty of real territory such as coming to grips with the death of a soldier and spouse (“They Go On”), staring the reality of illness in a country that considers health care a privilege (“Who Will Care”), and generally meets just about any definition of real you’d care to use.

If the ones lamenting the fallen state of country music were sincere, they’d be talking up the likes of Caskey. Unless, that is, they are simply unaware that such vibrant music is out there begging to be discovered. In which case, too bad dummy – you get the country music you deserve.

07. “Lady Luck” – Mr Little Jeans (Buy)
Is your dance party failing to take off? Here is the cure! Off of Pocketknife (recommended).

06. “Somewhere Else To Be” – Wormburner (Buy)
Opening line: “One street over and two flights up from the laundromat,”

Guy knows how to suck an audience in. Tell me more!

05. “Lost Boys And Girls Club” – Dum Dum Girls (Buy)
Off of Too True (2014 Album of the Year). Ten songs, around 35 minutes, all great. Keepers from start to finish. Buy it now. You’re welcome.

04. “Throw It Up” – Nature (Buy)
Best beat of 2014.

03. “Someone Belongs Here” – Emilyn Brodsky (Buy)
It’s wacky and loopy and strangely mesmerizing. A three minute and fifty five second trip to an alternate universe.

02. “Things I Never Said” – DreaGreen (Stream)
Off of FINALLY VENTING (recommended). Green’s beats are catchy and her lyrics compelling. She wrestles with anger and forgiveness, certainty and doubt, and thickets of emotions from circumstances that probably aren’t terribly uncommon – but aren’t often heard in contemporary music.

01. (2014 Song of the Year) “Blue Collar Jane” – The Strypes (Buy)
Three teenagers wailing away at their instruments and a dude singing about crushing on a girl. Perfection.

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