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Dec 30, 2014

Best Music of 2014

I've noticed an odd trend in music I like which is that a lot of my favorite albums seem to come out early in the year, in January and February. This is both good and bad. Good because the first few months of the year are generally the most difficult to get through (hello, seasonal depression), and good music really helps with that, but bad because I spend the rest of the year wondering if people have stopped making good music. The first few months of 2014 produced several albums that stayed in heavy rotation for me all year long: Angel Olsen's Burn Your Fire for No Witness, Phantogram's Voices, Dum Dum Girls' Too True, and Warpaint's self-titled album. I'm excited to see what new musical loves early 2015 has in store for me.

Favorite Albums of 2014:

1. Angel Olsen - Burn Your Fire For No Witness

Angel Olsen's sophomore album is one of only a few this year that revealed greater and greater depth to me each time I listened. Comparisons to Leonard Cohen are warranted (see "White Fire"), which is just about the highest complement any musician can receive. Plus, I just found out she's from St. Louis, which makes me love her even more!

2. Caribou - Our Love

I've been a Dan Snaith fan since back when he performed under the name Manitoba. This isn't my favorite Caribou album of all time (that would probably be Andorra) or even my favorite one he's made this decade (that would be Swim) but it's still fantastic.

3. Phantogram - Voices

Phantogram has been around for years, but they somehow completely escaped my notice until this album. Sarah Barthel's voice brings to mind Liz Frasier of the Cocteau Twins, which is an immediate selling point for me.

4. Dum Dum Girls - Too True

I'm in love with lead Girl Dee Dee's voice and the hazy, synthy, addictive songs on her band's third album.

5. Warpaint - Warpaint

While this album was less widely embraced than the band's previous one, to my ears it sounds much more developed. I was immediately intrigued and enchanted by this album's dark, swirling atmosphere, and I continue to be so.

6. Robyn and Röyksopp - Do It Again

I've already wrote a bit about this release (probably more accurately described as an EP or a maxi single than an album) but it remains one of my favorites from the year. I'm still hoping to hear more from Robyn soon!

7. Eno - Hyde - High Life

I loved both collaborations from Underworld's Karl Hyde and Brian Eno this year, but High Life was definitely the more memorable for me than Someday World. Most of the songs on the album are extended jams perfect for getting yourself into a relaxed, meditative state.

8. Rupaul - Born Naked

Did you know Rupaul is a musician first and Supermodel of the World/reality TV host second? Every Rupaul album is a treasure and the latest is no exception.

9. The War on Drugs - Lost in the Dream

An 80s style anthemic rock throwback in the best possible sense.

10. Sohn - Tremors

is another album that I seemed to enjoy more than most. Other reviewers dismissed it too quickly as a James Blake knock-off. While both produce intricate electronic music, Sohn is much warmer and emotionally charged.

Honorable Mention: Cibo Mato - Hotel Valentine; Kimbra - The Golden Echo; Kylie Minogue - Kiss Me Once; Little Dragon - Nabuma Rubberband;  Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels 2; St. Vincent - St. Vincent; Wild Beasts - Present Tense

Favorite Songs of 2014:

1. "Red Eyes" - The War on Drugs

The best song of the year by a mile for me: cinematic, nostalgic, and magical.

2. "Good Mistake" - Mr Little Jeans

I'm belatedly awarding "Good Mistake" the song of the summer title. This is a cruise around with the top down kind of song but with just enough of a melancholy edge to make it resonate a bit more than your typical summer jam.

3. "Boom" - Le1f

I think it's safe to say that no one in rap was having as much fun this year as Le1f on "Boom."

4. "Anaconda" - Nicki Minaj

Without the weak third verse this song might have been my number one of the year. It was certainly the song I fell in love with the fastest (i.e. immediately).  I just wish the rest of the Pinkprint would have blown me away half as much.

5. "In Love With Useless" - A Sunny Day in Glasgow

Just when you thought the shoegaze revival was dead, this song makes it all sound fresh again.

6. "Johnny and Mary" - Todd Terje feat. Bryan Ferry

Easily the best cover song of the year.

7. "Down It Goes" - White Lung

The feminist punk anthem you didn't know you needed in 2014.

8. "Queen" - Perfume Genius

The sashaying anthem you didn't know you needed in 2014.

9. "Wanderlust" - Wild Beasts

I had a tough time choosing between this and "Mecca" from Present Tense.  Both are amazing songs. "Wanderlust" wins on the strength of it's amazing chorus.

10. "Raised by Wolves" - U2

Everyone was so mad that U2 dared to give them free music that it seems they didn't bother to actually listen to Songs of Innocence. Not that I entirely blame them given just how bland the past few U2 albums have been. While Songs of Innocence is far from perfect, it is their most experimental album since Zooropa, and this song is the best example of that.

Honorable Mention: "Seasons (Waiting on You)" - Future Islands; "Boom Clap" - Charli XCX; "Close Your Eyes" - Run the Jewels

New Years Eve Must-Plays:

1. "Break Free" - Ariana Grande

I don't really care about Ariana Grande, but this song is amazing and I've been waiting for my chance to recreate this on the dance floor.

2. "Come On To Me" - Major Lazer feat. Sean Paul

Best comeback of 2014: Sean Paul?

3. "Freaky Money" - Rupaul feat. Big Freedia

At my dream NYE party all my friends are twerking in a circle around me, I'm throwing dollar bills in the air, and this song is playing.

4. "Do It Again" - Robyn and Röyksopp

You should probably play this one twice.

5. "Hideaway" - Kiesza

90s dance music was back in a big way this year, and "Hideaway" was my personal favorite example.

6. "Les Sex" - Kylie Minogue

Yes, the lyrics to this song are a little dumb ("higher than stilettos" just isn't very high) but ignore that and focus on how fun it is to dance to.

7. "Legs" - Chuck English feat. Chromeo

Because everyone needs an excuse to whip out some high kicks every now and again.

8. "Only Only" - Ronika

A super lazy DJ might just throw on Ronika's album Selectadisc and be done with it.

9.  "Go All Night" - Gorgon City feat. Jennifer Hudson

This song will make you feel like you can dance all night.

10. "Ghost" - Mystery Skulls

I may be feeling like a ghost of my usual party animal self this NYE seeing as I'm getting more pregnant by the second, but as this song proves that's no excuse to stand on the sidelines.

Honorable Mention:"Dead Air" - CHVRCHES; "I Got You"- Duke Dumont; "Feel Right" - Mark Ronson and Mystikal;  "On The Regular" - Shamir

You can listen to all my favorite songs of 2014 (including those listed above) on my "Feeling 2014" Spotify playlist.

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