Monday, December 8, 2014

THE TOP 100 SONGS OF 2014: PART 1 (#81--#100)

Another year full of impressive songs even though I got the impression that many acts decided to sit this year out. Here is the opening part of the year's best songs...

81. Forgiven/Forgotten (Angel Olsen): an inspired blast of scorched-earth psych-pop—all charred distortion and kick drum blows that sounds like somebody's trying to stomp out a fire. Olsen's voice grows in power as it rushes towards its bared-heart chorus, "I don't know anything! I don't know anything! But I love you." At that, the kick drum steps off. May as well let it burn. (Pitchfork)

82. Fashion (Paolo Nutini feat. Janelle Monae): we all pretty much thing Janelle Monae is awesome but here she finds herself contributing lyrics to Nutini’s ode to her unique pop style. And it’s quite the nifty pop track too.

83. Problem (Ariana Grande feat. Iggy Azalea): ultimately, Problem deserves praise because all of its elements were perfectly groomed into one champion pop single. Audacious sax riffs, pristine vocals, a bouncy Iggy verse that actually adds to the song, and the universally known theme of still wanting that ex-someone regardless of the havoc he or she wreaks on your emotions make it a tour de force that’s nearly unbeatable by its pop counterparts. (Consequence Of Sound)

84. No Way (Young Fathers): explodes out of your headphones like a particularly vicious jack-in-the-box after a misleadingly calming harmonium sequence gives way to driving bass, with Alloysious Massaquoi and Kayus Bankole leading the way with a tribal like chorus that laments the “AK-47 take my bredrins straight to heaven”. (Drowned In Sound)

85. De-ja Vu (Cibo Matto): The allusive nature of their lyrics sometimes lets slip the occasional glibly funny detail or observation. And the paranormal angle to this song is simultaneously odd and mournful, with enjoyable quirks like Hatori's deadpan rapping. (Pitchfork)

86. Class Historian (Broncho): hints at an emotional core that’s largely ignored on the catchy chorus but still with a krauty post-punk ominousness and an effective, atmospheric guitar jam. On the track, there’s an edge and gritty, ambitious guitar work. (Consequence Of Sound)

87. Shadows (Childish Gambino); finds Gambino in a whimsical melancholic rhapsody; he sings “Tuesday afternoon, I ain’t got shit to do, but fall in love with you” on the hook and towards the end of the song muses, “I hope you understand, we were never friends.” It’s Glover’s charmingly morose portrait of a relationship gone awry. (Paste)

88. Mister Main (Ty Segall): Ty Segall’s attempt at seeing what happens when he makes records with the handbrake on, the results are emphatically emboldening. (Sputnik)

89. Big Shot (The Pack A.D): bares it teeth with wah-wah and fuzz-based ferocity while continuing their trademark assault with overwhelming volume and pounding drums that kick ass and take names. The many sides of the track pleases the ears as it stretches itself into a space time vortex before flying out of control. (TheFireNote)

90. All The Rays (Grumbling Fur): launches straight into a ridiculously catchy pop chorus. Opening a song with its strongest moment is a brave gambit because there’s often nowhere to go from there, but Grumbling Fur have plenty of hooks and vocal melodies in store and keep it rolling from start to finish, surfing across vocal hooks with an assured swagger.(MusicOMH)

91. Love Situation (Tarrus Riley): With Tarrus Riley's distinctive lead vocals and beautiful harmonies, accompanied by guitar and finger snapping, it creates a mood and vibe reminiscent of the vocal groups that played a prominent role during the rocksteady era. A truly beautiful lovers tune. (Reggae-Vibes)

92. Lazy Crossbones (Carla Bozulich): ’a continued de-affirmation through chaos and wanton destructions great and small. What seems to be lacking more often than not is the cold light of day. (TinyMixTapes)

93. The Worst Hangover (Nicole Atkins): first switches structures effortlessly in just under four minutes, then closes with a haunting organ and Nicole’s refrain: “Operator, operator / Get me number 911 / I’m dying…”, both getting increasingly distorted, until almost beyond recognition. (AntiQuiet)

94. Passing Out Pieces (Mat Demarco): you can see the scope of just how imaginative DeMarco truly is, and that his childishness isn’t just limited to how goofy he is. He has no limits, and thus we get this inspiring zone-out. Everything is in control with DeMarco here. DeMarco is sharing a bit of himself in all of his songs, and here he acknowledges it, as he says “nothing comes free”: Not even fame. It’s a bit of a sad song, but it shrugs its miseries and keeps on going. (Live In Limbo)

95. In The House Of Yes (Mr. Twin Sister): flashes back to the sounds of the French touch at its most opulent. But the song goes way beyond mere pastiche. The pneumatic pianos and wispy atmospherics also suggest it's slinky, seductive, and somehow timeless. "I'm in the mood/ To let the rhythm push me out of my head," Estella sings, locked in her room with a drink or three inside her—a paean to letting go and cutting loose. (Pitchfork)

96. Flesh War (Total Control): While the song's title would suggest a 25-second hardcore cut, the song is actually very calm, controlled, and streamlined. There are these glowing, beatific synths that hang over everything else when the chorus hits. It's a track with momentum and warmth. The song might require an adjustment for fans who carried a torch for Henge Beat, but Human League stans will be pleased. (Pitchfork)

97. Nobody Wants To Be Here And Nobody Wants To Leave (The Twilight Sad): coalesces every one of their modes into a gray, midtempo whole that curtails the extremism on both sides. Eerie synth wobbles interrupt the hypnosis brought on but otherwise, the electronics cloak the song in musty shadows. Andy MacFarlane’s once-volcanic guitar work has cooled to an ashy remnant, as he favors curlicued melodic patterns. fans who carried a torch for Henge Beat, but Human League stans will be pleased. (Pitchfork)

98. Everything (Neneh Cherry): Minimalism is all the rage in the more hip-hop-aligned parts of the pop world, making the track feel modern and stylish without exactly sounding fashionable. The song, and the woman steering it, are not only comfortable with their eccentricities but strengthened by them, and the effect is enthralling—not to mention a thorough schooling for the performers working in Cherry’s wake on how exactly to do the dead-cool, stripped-down thing. (Pitchfork)

99. You Stressin’ (Bishop Nehru): finds the 16-year-old rhymesayer plotting his conquest of the hip-hop game and taunting the competition in characteristically complex, confident verses. Produced by Disclosure, they are ably backing Nehru’s bars with chopped keyboard loops and a leisurely, syncopated rhythm section. (DJBooth)

100. Disco-Very (Warpaint): Patience and time reveal that to be a false first impression, at least in part. On headphones, there are fine moments when Wayman and her bandmates find what they were aiming for. Beneath its thin layer of distortion, the song turns out to be a gorgeous exercise in delicate dynamic shifts, quietly surging then dying away, drums and electronics gently fading in and out of focus. (The Guardian)

Top 10 Most Disappointing Albums of 2014:

For clarification, being on this list doesn't necessarily mean the album was awful but it does indicate that I expected much more. Many of these artists are brilliant but somehow the artistry didn't click here or the songs simply just didn't inspire:

1.Fryars Power: reinventing Britpop five years ago has apparently taken a toll on Ben Garrett. Wake me up when he does. (METACRITIC N/A)

2. Foxygen …And Star Power: after a stellar 2013, the band returned with the worst April Fool’s trick ever: drunken snippets posing as an album. (METACRITIC 6/10)

3. Mac DeMarco Salad Days: Demarco treads a fine line and he crossed it. (METACRITIC 8.2/10)

4. Moonface City Wrecker: Spencer Krug continues his pinning while we all wait for the lover’s backlash.

5. Popstrangers Fortuna: ragged and disjointed sophomore slump. (METACRITIC 7.4/10)

6. Sharon van Etten Are We There: at the pedestrian rate this album goes, I dount van Etten will reach to her destination. (METACRITIC 8.6/10)

7. The Doppelgangaz Peace Kehd: not bad but not an improvement on their previous outing. (METACRITIC N/A)

8. The Black Keys Turn Blue: alt-rock’s most consistent band finally put out an album without that special touch. (METACRITIC 7.2/10)

9. Tricky Adrian Thaws: though his riffs remain engaging, this album finally put the boring atmosphere squarely in this phase of his career. (METACRITIC 6.7/10)

10. Spoon They Want My Soul: after four years away, I expected a tad much more.