Annnnd we’re back! We’re counting down our favorite 50 tracks of 2014, adding 10 songs to our “Top 50 Tracks of 2014” playlist every day this week! Yesterday we covered 50-41, which included “Millions” by Gerard Way and the ambient “Inside Out”, from Spoon’s most recent album, They Want My Soul. Today we dive further down the rabbit hole to discuss and enjoy 10 more tracks that made us want to cry, party, and bounce irreverently in 2014. Below you’ll find the playlist, updated with today’s selections. Be sure to check back in every day this week at 6pm to see what else we loved in 2014! More tomorrow, friends!
Jenny Lewis – “Just One Of The Guys”
After Rilo Kiley broke up, Jenny Lewis suffered a string of bad luck that included the death of her father and bouts of insomnia. As expected, this all led to bit of writer’s block, though source material grew to infinite depths. After moving to Laurel Canyon, dabbling with acupuncture, and enlisting the production help of Ryan Adams, Lewis returned with one of the most honest albums that came out in 2014. “Just One Of The Guys” is a song that openly deals with what it is to be a woman approaching middle age and how expectations and reality seem to drift further and further apart for someone in that position. Though the song isn’t necessarily celebratory, it certainly exudes the confidence of acceptance, which is certainly sexy. Keep doing you, Jenny.
Majid Jordan – “Her”
Majid Jordan first made waves when he provided background vocals for Drake’s ubiquitous (and great) 2013 single “Hold On, We’re Going Home.” But in 2014 he finally stepped out into the spotlight for his great A Place Like This EP. “Her” is straight up, lights-off, smoosh music. “I’ve got her in the palm of my hands” is such a simple line, but when Majid delivers it in his half coo, it is enough to make everyone in the vicinity melt into a puddle.
Frankie Cosmos – “Art School”
Frankie Cosmos is the alter ego of prolific teenage songwriter (and Kevin Kline’s daughter) Greta Kline. She has released an enormous output on Bandcamp for free over the past couple of years, and finally put out a label-backed debut this year, Zentropy. For only being a 17-minute album, she manages to pack in devastating vignettes and witty little observations one would not expect from 19-year old. My favorite aspect of “Art School” is actually its ridiculous music video, which stars Frankie as a laughably Bieber-obsessed teen dancing gracelessly around her room. Of course this ridiculous visual accompaniment, save for a knowing smirk, belies her obvious maturity. There is a little bio on her Bandcamp that ends with “Frankie Cosmos is a wonderful companion” and I totally agree with that.
Caribou – “Can’t Do Without You”
You know when you’re in love and you’ve convinced yourself that you need the other person to live (you know, like, how life works)? It becomes an addiction at some point, and the incessant “I can’t do without you” sampled in Caribou’s single from Our Love sort mirrors that potential descent into madness. Sure, this song could be interpreted optimistically, but what is the fun in that?
The New Pornographers – “Dancehall Domine”
The New Pornographers are tired of being called a supergroup, according to A.C, Newman when he stopped in for our inaugural Nerdist Session this past summer. But that categorization still feels accurate, and you get the sense that the group could write catchy pop songs in their sleep at this point. Not sure if that would all require them to sleep walk into the studio together, but that is so far beyond the point. “Dancehall Domine” is one of those songs that I could envision having its own choreographed dance of the same name. You twist your partner around and at the same time, you’d mouth: “Now I’ve got, got the floor!”
Beck – “Morning”
This is one of the only times this has ever happened to me, but the first time I heard Beck’s “Morning”, I started to cry. I was driving in Chicago, just through with a doctor appointment, and gravity felt twice as heavy as soon as it came out of my car stereo. Beck is the first artist I listened to that really got me interested in discovering new music, so there was something potentially full circle about hearing one of my favorite musicians return with simple, somewhat elegiac music. It was like saying hello to an old friend I was not sure I’d ever see again. Shit, my eyes are watering now.
Pharmakon – “Body Betrays Itself”
PSA: not everyone will dig this song as much as I do, and I know it. It sounds like a animatronic pterodactyl viscerally heaving toxic sludge out of its prehistoric guts, and it fu–ing rules. It is abrasive, caustic, and life affirming all at once. Pharmakon a/k/a Margaret Chardiet used her 2014 album Bestial Burden to explore the idea that the mind and body have potentially conflicting interests and don’t necessarily need to work in unison. The upshot of that exploration: one of the most jarring and disconcerting listening experiences of the year
Blake Mills – “Don’t Tell Our Friends About Me”
Privacy is already dead, but it is because of people not technology. In “Don’t Tell Our Friends About Me” Blake Mills, a guitarist who has been complimented by Eric Clapton, knows he “fucked up,” but is losing more sleep about what his friends will think of him once they find out about it. How will he handle the shame of them already knowing, before he has even had a chance to say anything about it. And shouldn’t he be more worried about making amends with his affronted significant other? Its a simple lament, but thinking about it in the larger context of how we share information in 2014 is terrifying.
Nick Hakim – “Lift Me Up”
Nick Hakim is one of the best new musicians to gain traction in 2014, and we featured him a few times on Music Geek Track of the Day because every time he released a new single was cause for celebration. “Lift Me Up” sounds like you are voyeuristically observing a church ceremony from behind a cracked door. Perhaps it is a closed family event, or perhaps you are of another faith so you weren’t invited, but the way the sound emanates vulnerably, creaking chair and all, is very powerful. I kept coming back to this one a lot, and it helped me out.
Sam Smith – “I’m Not The Only One”
We absolutely knew Sam Smith would be a huge star the moment we heard him on Disclosure’s now ubiquitous “Latch”. But while I grew super tired of “Stay With Me”, which now sounds naggy, I continue to identify with “I’m Not The Only One”, which is a song about being suspicious, but also confident in your suspicions. There is a strange power that comes from knowing someone else’s secret, even as it directly affects you, and Sam Smith isn’t afraid to announce his partner’s betrayal with his perfectly soulful voice.