Narrowing down the hundreds and hundreds of songs that were released in 2014 down to just 5, and then choosing an order, and saying that there was one song that was better than every other song in any given year is a fool hearted act of hubris. But it's the one fool hearted act of hubris that every music journalist looks forward to every single year. All year I have been making mental lists, inking them up, crossing out the bums, and justifying my top picks against a mental criteria that is purely subjective and highly unscientific. And this is what I have come up with. My favorite songs of 2014.
5. Song of the Year: Parquet Courts- “Uncast Shadow of a Southern Myth”
Parquet Courts had a big year in 2014. They released two albums. One as Parquet Courts and one as Parkay Quartz. I loved both releases. The band has a slacker style and sound, but their work ethic is anything but. Their output proves that these slackers have something to say. Their word drunk lyricist Andrew Savage often drops melody completely, favoring the role of a poet or a rambler to lead singer with a pretty voice. They are a band that is idea heavy, and that is what gives them staying power.
Parquet Courts can punch their way through a song under two minutes or they might amble and drift through a song stretching upwards of six minutes. "Uncast Shadow Of A Southern Myth" weighs in at 6:27 seconds long, this song is not in a hurry to get anywhere. And it shouldn’t be. Parquet Courts is about the journey, not the destination.
- Parquet Courts released their album, Content Nausea in November 2014, under the name Parkay Quartz.
- Listen if you like: Townes Van Zandt, John Steinbeck, ambling ramblers.
4. Song of the Year: Slow Club- “Tears of Joy”
There was a time in the 70’s where this kind of smooth sexy love song was actually sexy, sensual, and got those boots knockin and booties rockin’. Then it got over-cheesed. It got played out to the point that it became camp. Flight of the Concords and Jimmy Fallon made songs that were like them, but made fun of them. But they made those songs for a reason. They sound f***ing good. Slow Club brings it full circle, past camp and into respectable, beautiful, baby making music. This song makes me want to pull my arm tight to my body, close my eyes all tight (because I’m really feelin’ it), pop my pelvis as seductively as possible, and make love, not “have sex”, this song makes me want to make love.
- Slow Club’s album, Complete Surrender, was released in July 2014.
- Listen if you like: sensual baby making music, Barry White, Jimmy Fallon’s “Idiot Boyfriend.”
3. Song of the Year: Sylvan Esso- “Coffee”
Nick Sanborn, the Milwaukee native, and the guy that does makes all the beats for Sylvan Esso told me that the highest compliment you can give a song is to say that it has a simple hook that no one has done before. And I am going to turn that compliment right back to Nick Sanborn on this track. “Get up/Get Down Get Up/Get Down.” Is a simple hook that no one has done before. And that’s not even the only simple hook in this song. It seems to swing from vine to vine from one simple and beautiful hook to the next. And I mean that as the highest compliment to Nick Sanborn and this song.
- Sylvan Esso’s album, Sylvan Esso, was released in May 2014.
- Listen if you like: synthesizers and soul, simple hooks that have never been done before.
2. Song of the Year: Tacocat- “Crimson Wave”
Lo-fi skuzzy garage rock. Gimme that all day. I eat it like candy. This song plays right into my musical wheelhouse. Lo-fi guitars with a tight pop structure. Verse/chorus/verse/chorus/ killer mini guitar solo/ back to the chorus. There is no fat on this song. Not a note out of place. And, it’s an anthem about a girls getting their periods, wanting to listen to the Cramps, and surf her girl problems away. It’s real, honest, and fun. I love it.
- Tacocat’s album, NVM, was released in February 2014.
- Listen if you like: traditional song structure, fun lyrics, garage rock.
1. Song of the Year: Glass Animals- “Gooey”
Narrowing 2014 down to one song was not easy. I wrote about over 200 songs, and I had to narrow it down to just one. One song that I really can’t stop listening to. And that song is Gooey by Glass Animals.
This song is cohesive in its atmosphere. All the elements come together to form this rainforest, canopied with natural sound elements and a breathy whisper. Drawing you in, begging you to come closer, and once its got you in its warm embrace you’re living in those peanut putter vibes. This is my favorite song of 2014.
- Glass Animal’s album, Zaba, was released in June 2014.
- Listen if you like: The best song of 2014, groovin’, peanut butter vibes.