It goes without saying that 2014 like every other year has spoilt us for music, and it is impossible to compress 6+ months of music into 10 stand-out tracks without leaving some out, but I did it anyway. So treat this as an essential playlist if you like.
Lorde- Tennis Court (Flume Remix)
Tennis Court was a better track than Royals anyway but the latter had the benefit of being easy to sing-a-long to for people with lazy mouths. Basically, Royals didn’t do much, except make a truck-load of money and introduced the majority of the planet to Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor. Who, apart from being mistaken for a member of House Slytherin at The Grammy’s & possessing arguably the most fabulous name ever is also a terrific pop-star. And this is no more evident than on Tennis Court with its reflective/transition into adult hood lyrics “Pretty soon I’ll be getting on my first plane, I’ll see the veins of my city like they do in space” which is why I’m glad the track is circulating again. But this time round Australian wonder-kid super producer Flume has blasted reams of sparkle at it transforming it into a six minute colossal glitter-ball.
St. Vincent- Digital Witness
A three and a half minute bombastic stomp through the changes of attitude through the outlet that is social media, “What’s the point of even sleeping if I can’t show it, you can’t see me?” In a recent interview Annie Clark (St Vincent) says of Tinder and other social media that “We’ve created this other place where there are no real-life consequences for being an asshole.”
The War on Drugs- Red Eyes
Taken from the album Lost In The Dream, (in which the title is practically a review of itself)The War on Drugs stepped out from the shadow that previous band member Kurt Vile had cast over them since leaving, and the result is one of the most beautiful rock records in recent times. Red Eyes is one of the album’s most subtle songs yet it will still have you longing to cruise through Middle-America’s Waste-Lands in a Mustang. Sadly, the real world alternative is watching True Detective with a beer in a vest, or exploring Crystal-meth dessert country on Grand Theft Auto V.
Katy B- I Like You
Realistically, any track from the opening third of Katy B’s second album could have sassed its way into this list but I Like You is the instinctive reminder that a dance-pop cross-over doesn’t have to be disposable Balearic “Hands in the air” nonsense. Basically that people would still remember it after its six months shelf-life. Katy’s rapid ascent from the underground set the bar for artists like Disclosure and Jessie ware to arguably higher levels. But I Like You is a House belter with flecks of Garage thrown in for good measure, and if like me the resurgence of ‘radio- friendly House’ hasn’t taken your fancy, this just might.
Kelis- Jerk Ribs
Anything that carries a hook Stevie Wonder wouldn’t turn his nose up at can only be a good thing surely. This, the first track taken from Food, couldn’t be any further away from the robot-infused dance euphoria that made up her last album. There are also some flourishing’s of brass as Kelis re-discovers her soul. But Kelis has always been ahead of the pack sonically, so while it evokes soul’s golden age of the 60s it’s all un-mistakably current, a bit like dressing up to take your fiancée out for dinner, only to end up at a Little Chef off the M5 Northbound because they have free wi-fi there.
Jungle- Busy Earnin’
Last month DIY hailed Jungle as ‘possibly the most exciting band in the world’ which is quite a statement but on the basis of their debut album they just might be right. if Earth, Wind & Fire were a band that came out this year they’d have been called Jungle and would be two mysterious white lads from London. So disgustingly infectious that while you may want to go out there and get busy earning yourself that would require you to stop listening to this song and that just isn’t an option.
TOURIST- I Can’t Keep Up
Having already mentioned the surge of ‘Radio-friendly House’ assaulting the charts these past few months, if you’re the type who likes to sulk in the corner of the nightclub cloaked in darkness because that’s not your scene, then this is for you. It’s dance music for those who don’t like to lash their body around awkwardly while wondering if they look sexy or not. A heart-felt electronic lathering to indulge in while that girl you totally fancy gets with the guy who’s quite happy to spend the whole night “dancing.” Shame on you.
Little Dragon- Klapp Klapp
Little Dragon and vocalist Yakumi Nagano have always had a gift of making condensed- dark music without making you feel gloomy and rubbish and lead single off forthcoming album Nabuma Rubberband is another fine example of that art. Klapp Klapp is the sound of chaos spread over space-age synths and, urm, huge drum claps. It’s like being invited to the world’s best disco but being told you’re going to be mugged and beaten almost immediately afterwards.
Royal Blood- Little Monster
Part of me wanted to leave this out, just for the sake of being awkward and that everyone is talking about them anyway. But sometimes you have to accept that the hype is justified. After recently seeing them play live, al-be-it only for an incredibly noisy half an hour, which is fine as any longer and the building may have fell over I can confirm they are the real deal. If first single Out The Black was them laying the foundations Little Monster was them cementing their sound as the city-sized chorus and the ouu-er sexed up tones almost resembled the sound of a band at their peak. Saying that sounds understandably ridiculous but once in a while it’s good to be optimistic rather than cynical right? That’s what my Mum says anyway.
Hercules & Love Affair- Do You Feel The Same?
Being so unmistakably camp and weird has sounded so great since Prince built a career upon it in the early 80s. It’s a nasty bass-line and a true diva of a track that truly encourages finger wagging and booty shaking. The vocals, provided by Belgian singer Gustaph are so effortlessly infectious that I’ve had to put an embargo on listening to the track on public transport incase I accidentally sing at strangers terrified of making eye contact with the 24 year old man child that is me.