PlaylistSounds of 2014

NeilBy | posted on 1st December 2014

As the first candles of advent are lit, so too are the fires of the annual "best things of a thing" bunfight. At this time of year you can be sure to find no hiding place from softly softly cover versions accompanying the heartwarming message to buy something slightly above your budgetary comfort zone; so too, the clatter of lists falling over one another in a bid to be first, best, most comprehensive, most controversial, least predictable. Rolling Stone give it a go, too, bless 'em.

This is not one of those lists, though there may yet still be an RRP round-up of the year. I'll try not to succumb to the easy "best albums" effort, but if it's what the people want...

No, "A half-decent summary of 2014" is just a number of tracks (I haven't finalised yet, but let's think big and aim for 50), in no particular order other than according to the fundamentals of constructing a half-decent playlist - that you take home and use as your "cut out and keep" guide to 2014 that might prompt you into involuntary head-nods. Quite possibly it will give you the odd reflex grimace; optimistically, I hope it will encourage you to check out something you might have missed along the way.

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Sounds of 2014 Cymbals Eat Guitars - Jackson This is why I don't do best-of lists very often. Hands down, Jackson is the best album opener of the year. Until I remember Our Love... from Mended with Gold by The Rural Alberta Advantage, that is, and then I'm lost in a little twisty maze of passages, or a twisting maze of little passages. >>
Sounds of 2014 The Rural Alberta Advantage - Our Love… And so to the other best album-opener of the year. Our Love... is a three minute blast of energy riding on the back of Paul Banwatt's percussion, forever on the cusp of breaking free, always remaining perilously tethered. >>
Daily music Bob Mould - I Don’t Know You Anymore Share Tagsgarage rockHusker Duindie rockPixiesrockSugarFor a guy still revered for a long-defunct garage-rock band that played it loud and played it rough, Bob Mould sure knows how to write a … >>
New music Bombay Bicycle Club - Come To The joy of Come To is all in that ringing dream-pop guitar sound. I don't know how, or why, but it does funny things to my brain. >>
News Fanfarlo - Cell Song Unperturbed by my continuing failure to review their (spoiler alert!) wonderful Let's Go Extinct, Fanfarlo have pressed on manfully, releasing another video from the album, this time for Cell Song. >>
Track of the Day Sharon Van Etten - Your Love is Killing Me Rarely has pain and hurt sounded so beautiful as with each soaring "you like it" of Your Love is Killing Me. By the end any sense of the album as leisurely stroll or light emotional dusting is long forgotten. >>
New music Torres - New Skin Four years after her first recording for Weathervane's Shaking Through series, Sharon Van Etten returned with Torres to record 'New Skin', a version of which will appear on Torres' forthcoming album. >>
New music The War on Drugs - Red Eyes With Red Eyes Adam Granduciel once more picks up the baton passed on by songs from Slave Ambient like Brothers, Baby Missiles, and Come to the City and just heads on down the highway with it in the grand rock tradition >>
New video Alvvays - Archie, Marry Me Archie, Marry Me is indie-pop perfection: it seems to have sprung out of nowhere, fully formed, all hooks and bubbles and tessellation. >>
Sounds of 2014 Fear Of Men - Waterfall Loom, the debut album from Fear of Men, is one of the year's more understated and overlooked indie-pop treasures. >>
Track of the Day Femme - Fever Boy Share TagselectropoppopFollowing on from "Touch" yesterday, today's "In Case You Missed It" pick comes from another artists chosen by a big-blog-cheese. This time the selection comes from Sean Adams, of … >>
Sounds of 2014 Flyte - Where Nobody Knows Your Name Where Nobody Knows Your Name features a featherweight piano melody, chased by a guitar counterpart, with melodies, harmonies and a flow to match >>
Sounds of 2014 La Roux - Uptight Downtown Trouble in Paradise was smooth; it shimmied and sashayed in style, sporting its influences with confidence. It opened with Uptight Downtown, and barely missed a beat from then on. >>
Sounds of 2014 First Aid Kit - Cedar Lane Cedar Lane starts out mildly enough, before slicing through the flutes and harmonies in its stunning climax. >>
News Real Estate - Talking Backwards Judging by Real Estate's new track Talking Backwards, summer will come early in 2014 - Real Estate are set to release Atlas, the follow-up to 2011's Days, on March 3rd in the UK, and March 4th in the US. >>
Track of the Day Mac DeMarco - Salad Days Salad Days is sweet lo-fi jangle on a crazy-sounding guitar that's suspiciously bright and breezy for the accompanying lyrics. >>
Sounds of 2014 Stereo Off - Photographs Photographs is the perfect antidote to the bloated and over-emoted mega-success stories of the last couple of years. >>
Track of the Day Bear in Heaven - Autumn Share Tagsfunkfuturisticspace rocksynthFuturistic psychedelic dance-rock plus funk for you now, courtesy of Brooklyn's Bear in Heaven. "Autumn" is taken from their forthcoming album Time is Over One Day Old, and … >>
Track of the Day Cherry Ghost - The World Could Turn More going on in The World Could Turn than meets the ear: an intriguing combination of old-timey piano and spacey sounds; the 12-tog string section and a lovely horn outro... beautiful. >>
New music Metronomy - Reservoir Reservoir is so simple, yet so perfect. Why spend your time or money on elaboration when you can construct pop out of a simple keyboard melody and a not terribly intricate drum programme? >>
New music Polarsets - Madrid Polarsets' new single Madrid may have an urban name, but it puts you in mind of anywhere that might serve you a cool cocktail on the beach. >>
News Beck - Waking Light Waking Light comes in various shades, all of them mellow; layer upon layer of distant strings, synths, and echoed vocals rise and fall, before giving way to the year's first truly great outro. >>
New music Empathy Test - Here is the Place With Here is the Place Empathy Test continue their perfect early run of synth-pop, making another bid for the future glory that will surely be theirs to claim. >>
RRP Recommends Woman's Hour - Her Ghost Though lacking the sinister underpinnings of the beautiful Darkest Place, Her Ghost is more evidence of their talent for harnessing simple truth into devastatingly subtle electronic melody. >>
New music Ballet School - Lux Lux is a perfect example of a lush pop song that has the beauty and power to mess with your ideas of what a guitar band should sound like. >>
News Wilsen - Magnolia Magnolia is a quite lovely piece of glistening dream pop from Wilsen. Flecks of guitar float by on the breeze of 24-year-old London native Tamsin Wilson vocals, with bandmates Johnny Simon Jr and Drew Arndt providing unobtrusive, twinkling, accompaniment. >>
Track of the Day Shura - Touch Listening to BBC 6 Music's most blogged artists of the last six months show last night only confirmed what I already suspected: I am not all that interested in writing about what everyone else is already covering. >>
Track of the Day Deep Green Marika Hackman - Deep Green Deep Green starts with an eerie-sounding chant and drumming that does nothing to prepare you for the quite incredibly lovely melody of the song's chorus, and the unexpected but perfect bass and vocal lines it takes. >>
News Rae Morris - Skin Rae Morris should be huge in 2015. Rae Morris should have been huge in 2014, but as long as it happens some time, all is well with the world. >>
New music Bis - Rulers and the States Bis have clearly been paying attention during their time off, and have sagely determined that rolling synths and disco beats are the future, the chorus to Rulers and the States features more yeah-yeah, a nifty hook and a heavy bass. >>
New music Astronauts - In My Direction Share TagsDark CaptainfolkMidlakeSomething new and pretty tasty from Lo Recordings here. Astronauts is a new project from Dan Carney, whose previous bands include Dark Captain (and Dark Captain, Light Captain, … >>
Track of the Day Gulp - Seasoned Sun Guto Pryce's future-retro sounds prove that there was more to the talent in Super Furry Animals than Gruff Rhys. >>
News Mark Morriss - Space Cadet Share TagsanimationsoloLook! It's that Mark Morriss from The Bluetones, whose d├ębut album back in 1996 got me as excited as a very excited young music fan with its brilliant hooks … >>
New video King Creosote - Something to Believe In Something to Believe In is the opening track from King Creosote's 2014 album From Scotland With Love. As beautiful as it is moving, it is accompanied by footage from the documentary film of the same name, for which the album was created. >>