The Sunday Best of 2014

Run the Jewels

Run the Jewels

by Jeff Yerger

Remember me?

As I sit here in my new apartment (waiting for some water to boil so I can eat some damn pasta), I think about what a crazy year 2014 has been. For me personally, it’s been a tale of two cities: I entered 2014 cozy and familiar in New York and as 2014 begins to wave goodbye, I find myself living in Philadelphia, in a whole new comfort zone. My life has changed in oh so many ways, and I’ve had music with me every step of the way.

2014 has been a great year for music. It’s been a year full of unexpected (literally, being that one morning the whole world woke up with a strange U2 album on their iPods) and powerful music. Where 2013 saw the big guys like Daft Punk, Arcade Fire, and Kanye West remind us why they’re the best, 2014 brought us some fantastic newcomers and not-so-seasoned pros who produced damn-near masterpieces seemingly out of nowhere.

I love music, and since I don’t have all of your sock sizes, I wanted to share the gift of my favorite music from 2014 with you.

But first, some accolades…

Best TV Performance

It’s a shame that David Letterman will be retiring next year, especially because he brings in fantastic musical guests, and each musical guest he has always seems to bring their A-game. This performance by Future Islands is by far the performance of the year. I mean, it really doesn’t get any better than this. Here’s hoping they come back for an encore before Letterman bows out. In the words of the man himself, I’ll take all of that ya got!

Best Live Show

I really wanted to give this to Sleigh Bells, who always seem to deliver (and more) during their live show. I also wanted to give this to Foxy Shazam, another stellar live act. Hell, I even wanted to give this to Kanye West, who I didn’t even see live this year, but video evidence shows me I missed out big time. While all these artists have great live shows in their own way, I have to give this award to none other than The Replacements. Seeing them at Forest Hills Stadium in September was a religious experience, which is the only way I can describe it. Tommy Stinson and Paul Westerberg still rock like hell, and perhaps finally, after 30 years, they’re finally getting their due. If they come around at all in 2015, be sure to go see these heroes of indie rock.

Top 5 Pop Singles from 2014

(admit it, you like these songs and dance like there’s no tomorrow whenever these come on at the bar)

5. Iggy Azalea feat. Charli XCX – “Fancy

4. Ariana Grand & The Weeknd – “Love Me Harder”

3. Clean Bandit feat. Jess Glynne – “Rather Be”

2. Nick Jonas – “Jealous”

1. Taylor Swift – “Shake It Off”

Now for the good stuff…

Top 50 Songs of 2014

  1. Ryan Adams – “Gimme Something Good”
  1. St. Vincent – “Prince Johnny”
  1. Coldplay – “Magic”
  1. La Sera – “Fall in Place”
  1. Sylvan Esso – “Hey Mami”
  1. Run the Jewels – “Oh My Darling Don’t Cry”
  1. Real Estate – “Crime”
  1. The Orwells – “Who Needs You”
  1. The Black Keys – “Gotta Get Away”
  1. Phantogram – “Fall In Love”
  1. White Lung – “Down It Goes”
  1. Foxy Shazam – “In This Life”
  1. Grimes feat. Blood Diamonds – “Go”
  1. Charli XCX – “Gold Coins”
  1. Dum Dum Girls – “In the Wake of You”
  1. Future Islands – “Fall From Grace”
  1. Bleeding Rainbow – “So You Know”
  1. The Raveonettes – “Sisters”
  1. Deluka – “Dead of Night”
  1. Spoon – “Let Me Be Mine”
  1. Cloud Nothings – “I’m Not Part Of Me”
  1. Parquet Courts – “Sunbathing Animal”
  1. The War on Drugs – “Burning”
  1. Fucked Up – “Glass Boys”
  1. St. Vincent – “Digital Witness”
  1. Run The Jewels – “Blockbuster Night Part 1”
  1. Pup – “Resevoir”
  1. Angel Olsen – “Stars”
  1. Ryan Adams – “Feels Like Fire”
  1. Alvvays – “Archie, Marry Me”
  1. TV on the Radio – “Careful You”
  1. Against Me! – “Transgender Dysphoria Blues”
  1. Coldplay – “Midnight”
  1. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – “Kelly”
  1. The Horrors – “So Now You Know”
  1. La Roux – “Let Me Down Gently”
  1. King Tuff – “Eyes of the Muse”
  1. Bleeding Rainbow – “Tell Me”
  1. Merchandise – “Little Killer”
  1. Spoon – “Inside Out”
  1. Run the Jewels feat. Zack De La Rocha – “Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck)”
  1. Charli XCX – “Need Ur Luv”
  1. The War on Drugs – “Suffering”
  1. Fucked Up – “The Art Of Patrons”
  1. Sharon Van Etten – “Your Love Is Killing Me”
  1. Alvvays – “Adult Diversion”
  1. Future Islands – “Seasons (Waiting On You)”
  1. Merchandise – “Green Lady”
  1. Sylvan Esso – “Coffee”
  1. Cymbals Eat Guitars – “Jackson”

As I mentioned earlier, I moved to Philadelphia back in September. It’s been a big lifestyle change for me. For the first time since college, I’m living on my own and really for the first time ever in my life, I’m fully independent. While it’s been a good thing, I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss home in NJ at least a little bit. The song “Jackson” by Cymbals Eat Guitars captures this feeling for me perfectly. As the song builds up, Joseph D’Agostino yelps and strains words about hanging out in Jersey with your friends (more specifically, Six Flags). It’s a song about nostalgia and dear friends, and the music itself is uplifting and I love every minute of it. Make sure you at least give this song a spin, if anything. Truly a special song from a special album.

For the Spotifically inclined…

And now for…

My Top 25 Albums of 2014

25. Phantogram – Voices

24. King Tuff – Black Moon Spell

23. Parquet Courts – Sunbathing Animal

22. Dum Dum Girls – Too True

21. St. Vincent – St. Vincent

20. Real Estate – Atlas

19. The Horrors – Luminous

18. Restorations – LP3

17. White Lung – Deep Fantasy

16. The Raveonettes – Pe’ahi

15. Sharon Van Etten – Are We There

14. Pup – Pup

13. Future Islands – Singles

12. TV On The Radio – Seeds

11. Spoon – They Want My Soul

10. Charli XCX – Sucker

9. Cymbals Eat Guitars – Lose

8. Sylvan Esso – Sylvan Esso

7. Fucked Up – Glass Boys

6. Bleeding Rainbow – Interrupt

5. Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues

4. The War On Drugs – Lost In the Dream

3. Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 2

2. Alvvays – Alvvays

1. Merchandise – After The End

b5ba2d72

Last year, my album of the year was Kanye West’s divisive Yeezus, and while that album is great and mind-blowing in itself, I did enjoy it as much as I enjoy After the End by Tampa Bay’s own Merchandise. In fact, I’ve come to realize that there are very few albums I love and enjoy as much as After the End. Admittedly, I had never heard of Merchandise before this summer. Since then, I’ve checked out their back catalogue, which consists of just a few small EPs of skuzzy, lo-fi post-rock. While these albums had their moments, I never would’ve expected something of this magnitude from Merchandise. After the End is a grand, triumphant album that sounds like nothing else in 2014. I honestly couldn’t pinpoint what exactly it sounds like; I hear everything from The Smiths to Arcade Fire to Duran Duran to The Cure to fucking Coldplay.

Where Yeezus was a beautifully distorted mess, After the End is absolutely flawless, and it’s apparent through the sound and production that this was the intention. After “Corridor” sets the scene, the run of “Enemy,” “True Monument,” and “Green Lady” is the best three-song punch I’ve heard in a long time. It takes most bands years to write just one song as good as those, and Merchandise has THREE of them at the beginning of this freakin’ record. After that, other standouts like “Telephone” and the excellent “Little Killer” are just icing on the cake.

Please do yourself a favor and listen to this album. Obviously, all of the albums I’ve listed on here are fantastic and worth a listen. The top 5, in particular, could all easily be number one here, but for me, I have listened to and enjoyed no album more in 2014 than After the End by Merchandise and I hope you will too.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s