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TRENDING: 25 must-listen songs from 2014

December 19, 2014

This post was a ton of fun to put together. I wanted to sum up something like a “Best Of 2014” playlist, from the ones I’ve featured this year in my “Track Of The Week” posts and “Trending” Playlists. I was able to get it down to 25 songs, all of which shaped the sound of 2014. Check it out.

1. “Trainwreck 1979″ by Death From Above 1979

What a way to burst back on to the scene. Featuring the duo’s signature sound (pounding drums, heavy bass fuzz & howling vocals), look for this song off the band’s release of The Physical World. (from July 11th Trending Playlist)

2. “OctaHate” by Ryn Weaver

This was my prediction for the song of the summer. Los Angeles/New York-based singer Ryn Weaver enlisted the help of some great collaborators on her debut single. The song was co-written by Weaver and Charli XCX and co-produced by Passion Pit’s Michael Angelakos, Norwegian DJ Cashmere Cat, and pop super producer Benny Blanco. (from July 4th Track of The Week)

3. “L.A.F” by Broods

What could be in the water in New Zealand to keep surprising us with new talent these days?  Broods are siblings Caleb and Georgia who enlisted “Royals” co-writer Joel Little to help on their debut album. “L.A.F.” (which, according to vocalist Georgia Nott, is an acronym for “loose as fuck”) is a great introduction to a band you should know about. (from July 25th Trending Playlist)

4. “Red Eyes” by The War On Drugs

This has been on constant repeat since it came out. “Red Eyes” is one of many great songs off the album Lost In The Dream by Philly band The War On Drugs. You’ll see this one a lot on everyone’s “best of” lists this year. (from March 7th Track of The Week)

5. “Happy Alone” by Saintseneca

Take a listen to “Happy Alone” by Columbus, Ohio band Saintseneca from the album Dark Arc. The band is led by singer-songwriter and multi instrumentalist Zac Little who originally hails from rural Appalachia. Twisting the music of the old weird America into new shapes (a la Violent Femmes or Neutral Milk Hotel), Saintseneca perform songs that sound both familiar and original, utilizing a wide range of acoustic instrumentation with more contemporary elements such as synthesizers and electric guitars. (from February 14th Track Of The Week)

6. “Inside Out” by Spoon (Tycho Remix)

This remix is so good. I’m not the craziest fan of either of these artists, but put them together and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Britt Daniel should consider this collaboration his next experiment. (from Dec 5th Trending Playlist)

7. “You Only Live Once” (Strokes Cover) by Wolf Saga ft. LYON

When I posted this track originally, it wasn’t even on the Hype Machine yet. I predicted it would do well, and what do you know, it’s one of the top 50 most popular tracks this year on the blog aggregator. Great cover, featuring Wolf Saga’s friend LYON on vocals. (from November 7th Trending Playlist)

8. “Busy Earnin’” by JUNGLE

“Busy Earnin’” by UK collective Jungle has some serious staying power. For a song that continually sings “Can’t Get Enough,” I’d have to say that’s exactly how I feel about it. (from July 18th Trending Playlist)

9. “Seasons (Waiting On You)” by Future Islands

Another monster track of 2014, another “song of the summer”. And to think, all this started with a wild performance on Letterman. (from October 3rd Trending Playlist)

10. “Swim Deep” by Brolin

I’m so stuck on this song. Produced by Raffertie, “Swim Deep” will be the first track on a debut album in the works for 2015. (from September 12th Trending Playlist)

11. “Emanate” by Phoria

“Emanate” comes from Brighton, England five-piece Phoria, who many overseas are already calling a band to watch in 2015. The song starts with minimalistic soundscapes and soothing falsetto vocals, a loop of finger snaps, and echoed claps, all tied together with a heavy bass line. Channeling a vibe in the vein of Radiohead-meets-James Blake, the song slowly builds and eventually hits its high point with an explosion of throbbing synths, echoed chorus vocal lines, and crashing cymbals. (from May 2nd Track Of The Week)

12. “Daydreamer” by Bipolar Sunshine

I’d been waiting all year for new music from Manchester raised artist Adio Marchant (aka Bipolar Sunshine). Well, he’s back with some new music called “Daydreamer” (out Jan. 25th).  The atypical pop track incorporates both the despondent and the upbeat with intelligent and unique lyrics with an all-encompassing chorus. His song is a collaboration with SBTRKT and was produced by Fraser T Smith (Adele, Lily Allen, Sam Smith).(from November 21st Trending Playlist)

13. “Unbound” by Cathedrals

Cathedrals are San Francisco duo Brodie Jenkins and Johnny Hwin, who topped the Hype Machine this year when they released their video for their “Unbound.” The track comes from the self-titled EP released on Neon Gold Records. (from October 3rd Trending Playlist)

14. “Snow In Newark (with Dawn Golden)” by Ryan Hemsworth

Canadian producer Ryan Hemsworth is back with some new music, “Snow In Newark” featuring the vocals of Dawn Golden of Houses. I’m liking this new direction for him; I’m interested to hear more. (from September 26th Trending Playlist)

15. “Giving Up” by HAERTS

This track might induce a flashback to your favourite ’80s movie, although this song is brand new. “Giving Up” is the lead single from NYC’s HAERTS self-titled debut. I’m a sucker for songs with driving drums, walls of synths and a track that just finishes so well. (from September 5th Trending Playlist)

16. “Shut In” by Strand Of Oaks

Strand Of Oaks is the recording identity of Timothy Showalter, a Philadelphia-based singer-songwriter, whose latest album is “Heal”. Showalter wrote 30 songs in three weeks after returning home from too long on the road. While his previous records were more skeletal, raw examples of folk-rooted Americana with occasional rock and electronic currents, “Heal” focuses on a new beginning—a full-tilt sound that draws on Showalter’s love of ’70s, ’80s and ’90s rock and pop, with the singer playing the intense valedictory confessor. Choosing to have alt-rock icon John Congleton mix the record, Showalter added synth expert/studio engineer extraordinaire Ben Vehorn and drummer Steve Clements to his studio recordings. (from June 20th Track of The Week)

17. “Holocene” (Satchmode Remix) by Bon Iver

While getting to know a Satchmode song I posted earlier in a trending playlist, Soundcloud recommended me of the band’s remix of Bon Iver’s “Holocene” by autoplaying it after I’d finished listening to “Hall & Oates.” It’s a beaut. (from November 7th Trending Playlist)

18. “Hard Time” by Seinabo Sey

Seinabo Sey is a Swedish pop artist who is really breaking out of the “up-and-coming” category this year. “Hard Time” settles a bit on dark pop, produced with “ghostly chanting voices, guitar riffs, and a gloomy beat as the backdrop.” (from August 29th Trending Playlist)

19. “Breathe In (ft. Wafia)” by Japanese Wallpaper

Melbourne-based 17 year-old multi-instrumentalist/producer Gab Strum has been drawing comparisons to Boards of Canada and The Postal Service with his debut EP War Peace Rocket Ships. Find this track on the soundtrack for Zach Braff’s latest film Wish I Was Here. (from August 22nd Trending Playlist)

20. “Work Song” by Hozier

Irish artist Hozier is becoming a household name these days, especially through the success of his single “Take Me To Church.” His sparse and sultry gospel song “Work Song” broke the top 50 on the Hype Machine in October, featuring soulful humming, minimal hand claps and his incredibly captivating voice. (from October 10th Trending Playlist)

21. “The Bells” by Lowell

I posted this track back in August after seeing Lowell’s awesome video for “The Bells”. The one shot video (by director and photographer Norman Wong) opens with Lowell “surrounded by a ghoulish dance gang, cheerleaders, roller derby pals and a marching band in a twisted fantastical dance party.” (from August 8th Trending Playlist)

22. “Red” by Mt. Wolf

There is just too much music out there these days.  With all the content coming at me at all directions, I always miss out on bands I would have loved to have blogged about. I’m glad though that these bands/artists keep up a presence online, so eventually (hopefully) I’ll find them the 2nd, 3rd or 4th time around. In the case of Mt. Wolf, the London band grew to become a heavily buzzed about group last year, then just dropped off the radar. I’m so glad they’re back, adding “Red” to their Soundcloud for us all to hear. (from November 14th Trending Playlist)

23. “If You Went Away” by Daniel Wilson

One of two tracks I featured from Detroit-based soul singer Daniel Wilson. “If You Went Away” also comes from The Boy Who Cried Thunder EP and has Wilson tugging at our heartstrings via “staccato piano, grave strings and Wilson’s earnest, gravelly vocal.” (from November 21st Trending Playlist)

24. “Monster” by Chad VanGaalen

I featured Calgary spooky-voiced multi-instrumentalist Chad Van Gaalen in April with his lead single “Monster,” from his album, Shrink Dust. The LP, his fifth full-length, is partially a score to his forthcoming animated film, Translated Log of Inhabitants, but it’s also—in Chad’s view—a country record, produced by Van Gaalen himself at his Yoko Eno home studio in Calgary. “Monster” has Van Gaalen experimenting with a recently acquired pedal steel guitar, a sound which unifies the album, along with themes of death, transformation, fear, benign evil, and the eccentricity of love. (from April 4th Track Of The Week)

25. “Coffee” by Sylvan Esso

Sylvan Esso have been all over the blogs this year, and for good reason. Myself, like many other bloggers, have fallen for this duo’s catchy sound. The band is a collaboration between vocalist Amelia Meath and electronic musician Nick Sanborn. Meath’s powerful voice is front and centre, unjoined by fellow harmonizers as it is in her folk group, Mountain Man. Sanborn (bass in Megafaun) creates intricate, pulsing grooves for Meath’s voice to inhabit. (from April 18th Track Of The Week)

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