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Music, Year in Review 2014

Year in Review: The Best Songs of 2014

Year In Review: The Best Songs of 2014

From Foo Fighters’ hard-hitting track “Something From Nothing”, to the bluesy rock style of The Black Keys’ “Fever”, to Caribou’s intense, meaningful and beautiful “I Can’t Do Without You”, to Alvvays’ earworm “Archie, Marry Me”, to Stars’ disco-inspired “No One Is Lost”, to Haerts’ 80s new wave-influenced “Wings”, to Sloan’s psychedelic “Three Sisters”, 2014 has been a strong year for great songs, and below are our picks for the best songs of 2014.

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Song: Something From Nothing
Artist: Foo Fighters
Album: Sonic Highways
Label: RCA Records
Released: November 10

Foo Fighters - Sonic Highway

The first time I heard this song I thought to myself, “It’s good, but it’s not an instant Foo classic.” But like many Foo Fighters songs before it, as you hear it more and more, it grows on you and you start to really appreciate the intricacies and the epic build up. You’re forced to push it further up the year’s best ladder until it inevitably hits the very top and you’re singing along and thrashing your head every time it comes on the radio. The ending pay off is incredible, but possibly my favourite part comes at the very beginning when we switch from a single echoey guitar to a twangy electric and drums while Dave drops the line “Here lies a city on fire…”

– Adam Harrison

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Song: Fever
Artist: The Black Keys
Album: Turn Blue
Label: Nonesuch 
Released: May 12

The Black Keys - Turn Blue

Sometimes simplicity is best and The Black Keys have mastered the KISS rule (keep it simple, stupid). The keyboard riff alone makes this song what it is. Add in some bluesy vocals and a basic drum beat and you’ve got one of the catchiest songs of the year.

– Adam Harrison

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Song: Holding On For Life
Artist: Broken Bells
Album: After The Disco
Label: Columbia
Released: January 31

Broken Bells - After The Disco

This song is just so bizarrely fantastic and captivating. It starts with a strange outer space noise paired with drums, leading into an acoustic verse, followed by a chorus that is so Bee Gees you’ll think the Gibbs brothers had risen for one last show. The notes hit by singer James Mercer are so high-pitched; your dog will likely want to dance along with you.

– Adam Harrison

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Song: “Brothers and Sisters”
Artist: Band of Skulls
Album: Himalayan
Label: Electric Blues Records
Released: March 31

Band of Skulls - Himalayan

This album contains so many remarkable, hard-rockin’ tracks, it’s difficult to pick my favourite. This song isn’t even a single, but the guitar riff will have you hooked from the very beginning. Then comes the flowy and cheeky verse that builds up to the power line “We’re all brothers and sisters in the end.” However it’s only a tease for the second verse before we’re treated to the melodic humming chorus. You’ll want to put this one on repeat for a while.

– Adam Harrison

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Song: “Coming of Age”
Artist: Foster the People
Album: Supermodel
Label: Columbia Records
Released: March 14

Foster The People - Supermodel

Foster the People have this amazing ability to take very serious subject matter and turn it into a likable light-hearted song. In this case, acting as a confession about maturity and growing up. It was the last song they wrote for the album, but it turned into the first single. The stylized guitar rhythm will suck you in and then you can’t help but stay to sing along with the chorus.

– Adam Harrison

 


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Song: “Passing Out Pieces”
Artist: Mac DeMarco
Album: Salad Days
Label: Captured Tracks
Released: March 31

Mac DeMarco - Salad Days

Mac DeMarco is known for being a bit of a joker, but in “Passing Out Pieces”, he grows world-weary; his manic, gap-toothed grin begins to fade as he sits back and reflects on his life.

– Maria Sokulsky-Dolnycky

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Song: “Bored in the USA”
Artist: Father John Misty
Album: I Love You, Honeybear
Label: Sub Pop
Released: February 10, 2015

Father John Misty - I Love You, Honeybear

A sobering commentary on the strangeness of life and society set to haunting piano and a frisson-inducing, scathing laugh track.

– Maria Sokulsky-Dolnycky

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Song: “Hey Mami”
Artist: Sylvan Esso
Album: Sylvan Esso
Label: Partisan
Released: May 12

Sylvan Esso

This song combines Appalachian folk singing with gut-busting electropop to create something magical.

– Maria Sokulsky-Dolnycky

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Song: “Talking Backwards”
Artist: Real Estate
Album: Atlas
Label: Domino Record Co.
Released: March 4

Real Estate - Atlas

This song juxtaposes an upbeat tempo and buoyant guitar lines with melancholy lyrics to create a bittersweet masterpiece.

– Maria Sokulsky-Dolnycky

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Song: “All The Time”
Artist: Bahamas
Album: Bahamas Is Afie
Label: Brushfire Records

Released: August 19

Bahamas - Bahamas Is Afie

Stellar hocketed call-and-response vocals and crunchy guitar riffs make this simple tune shine.

– Maria Sokulsky-Dolnycky

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Song: Archie, Marry Me
Artist: Alvvays
Album: Alvvays
Label: Royal Mountain Records
Released: July 22

Alvvays

There’s a reason why Ben Gibbard called “Archie, Marry Me” his song of the year, and there’s a very good reason why CBC Radio pegged Alvvays’ first LP as their number one Canadian album of 2014. It’s a summer afternoon on the beach kind of record, heavy on nostalgia and C86-inspired jangly guitars, and just excellently executed pop music. The standout on the album is, of course, the song about Archie and young (ish) love, with singer Molly Rankin pleading in the chorus and singing “too late to go out/too young to stay in” – a line that most late twentysomethings will understand perfectly.

– Laura Beaulne-Stuebing

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Song: I Can’t Do Without You
Artist: Caribou
Album: Our Love
Label: Merge Records
Released: October 7

Caribou - Our Love

“I Can’t Do Without You” is the opening track of Caribou’s Our Love, another excellent 2014 offering and Dan Snaith’s 6th LP under the Caribou moniker. The song starts with a repeated “can’t do without, can’t do without, can’t do without”. And then Snaith’s own quiet “I can’t do without you” comes in, again repeated, building up to about 1:30 in the song, when the beats get heavier and the volume picks up and the track very truly starts to move. Snaith is a master at volume control, creating a series of builds that need nothing but those five words to make something intense, meaningful and beautiful.

– Laura Beaulne-Stuebing

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Song: Wings
Artist: Haerts
Album: Haerts
Label: Columbia
Released: October 27

Haerts

‘Wings’ by Haerts isn’t technically a 2014 tune; it appeared on Haert’s 2013 EP Hemiplegia, but the band added that song, and the three others from the EP, to its full length self-titled album that came out in October. “Wings” (and the whole album, really) recalls the best of 80s pop music; it’s a new wave-esque groove, that builds with synth and an echo-y guitar and Nina Fabi’s piercing vocals. I’d want this song to play during a highly emotional moment if John Hughes-directed a movie of my life.

– Laura Beaulne-Stuebing

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Song: No One Is Lost
Artist: Stars
Album: No One is Lost
Label: Soft Revolution
Released: October 14

Stars - No One Is Lost

Stars’ 2014 offering was polarizing, wasn’t it? A move from their twee indie days to disco-inspired dance music didn’t sit right for some – but those opinions hardly mattered to my ears. The title track is one of the best ones on the record and when I first heard it, weeks before the album came out, I just sat at my desk, headphones in, listening and smiling. It forces you to dance (unless you have self restraint at work), to embrace nights out with friends and with good music. I knew I’d be dancing to this one for the rest of the year, and I have been.

– Laura Beaulne-Stuebing

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Song: Wrecking Ball
Artist: Ryan Adams
Album: Ryan Adams
Label: Pax Am
Released: September 9

Ryan Adams

The standout song on Ryan Adams’ latest full-length release, for me, was “Wrecking Ball”, a soft and quietly sad track. “Driving through the streets tonight, it’s hot, I’ve got the windows down. I wish I could call you, I wish you were still around,” Adams croons, backed by an acoustic guitar and not much else. And he doesn’t need much else as he chronicles what it feels like to lose someone important to him.

– Laura Beaulne-Stuebing

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Song: Day Go By
Artist: Karen O
Album: Crush Songs
Label: Cult Records
Released: September 9

Karen O - Crush Songs

A great deal of Karen O’s music on the new album Crush Songs is gentle and light with deep lyrics. However, “Day Go By” is one of the more upbeat songs still under the theme of heartbreak. This song has a more positive outlook on love compared to others like “Rapt” and “Visits”. She sings that her pain is gone and the doctor doesn’t need to be called. Karen O wears her heart on her sleeve with this song and the whole album.

– Olivia Goheen

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Song: Are You What You Want To Be?
Artist: Foster the People
Album: Supermodel
Label: Columbia
Released: March 14

Foster The People - Supermodel

We live in a world that tries to conform people to dress, look and act a certain way. Despite that, Foster the People asks a valid question in their song “Are You What You Want To be?” Take this song as a piece of motivation and make yourself into what YOU desire to be and never give up. Besides the inspirational name of the song, this is an upbeat, unique track that can get any party started.

– Olivia Goheen

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Song: Something From Nothing
Artist: Foo Fighters
Album: Sonic Highways
Label: RCA Records
Released: November 10

Foo Fighters - Sonic Highway

Foo Fighters released the single “Something From Nothing” from the Sonic Highway album and this track has been receiving a lot of airtime. What makes the song so good in addition to the pure hard rock sound, is hearing a magnificent, unexpected funk riff two minutes into the track. That bit of funk adds to the build up of the song. The song starts off quiet and gradually gets more intense with the sound and vocals. By the end, Dave Grohl explodes with a fierce yell that is raw and powerful.

– Olivia Goheen

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Song: Three Sisters
Artist: Sloan
Album: Commonwealth
Label: Yep Roc Records
Released: September 9

Sloan - Commonwealth

Sloan’s new mellow song “Three Sisters” is the perfect track to kickback and relax with. Jay Ferguson’s soft vocals act as an odyssey that draws listeners in for the ride. When you’re listening to this tune, take in the awe of the psychedelic feel it gives you.

– Olivia Goheen

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Song: 11:11
Artist: Arkells
Album: High Noon
Label: Arkells Music Inc./Universal Music Canada Inc.
Released: August 5

Arkells - High Noon

Who hasn’t wished for something when the clock hits “11:11”, and in an Arkells song someone does and their wish comes true. This cute song is a love song that makes you feel hopeful for romance whether you’re in a relationship or not. This band always seems to make people feel nice with their lively sound. Listen to this track and believe in love again.

– Olivia Goheen

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Song: Close your Eyes (and Count to Fuck)
Artist: Run the Jewels
Album: RTJ2
Label: Mass Appeal
Released: October 24

Run The Jewels

Of all the tracks on Run the Jewels’ 2014 record RTJ2, this one most faithfully captures the duo’s explosive energy and anger, humour and hubris. Killer Mike and El-P make their own list of mortal enemies and then burn them to the ground, including prison/military industrial complex, corrupt police, politicians and the clergy. It’s the perfect backdrop for the return of rage-rock’s prodigal son, Zach De La Rocha. What in the hell has that guy been up to for 14 years anyway? This is a barn burner of a tune – as angry and bombastic as hip-hop gets.

– Daniel Gerichter

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Song: Brill Bruisers
Artist: The New Pornographers
Album: Brill Bruisers
Label: Matador
Released: August 26

The New Pornographers - Brill Bruisers

After 15 years, The New Pornographers have evolved from a scrappy indie gang into a collective ofmasterful, seasoned musicians. “Brill Bruisers” is in step with the top-down sound they’ve honed, at one time nuanced, weird, personal and epic. A.C. Newman, Neko Case and co. bring their A-game with this single, combining big riffs with Mamas & the Papas-style backing vocals that you can’t get out of your head and turn synths into quaint little guitar solos. “Brill Bruisers” feels just as much at home on the festival circuit as it does in a Nike ad. That’s of itself an accomplishment. The New Pornographers happen to be the only band on earth that can make that complex task seem effortless.

– Daniel Gerichter

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Song: Figure it Out
Artist: Royal Blood
Album: Royal Blood
Label: Warner Bros.
Released: August 25

Royal Blood

The UK duo’s most palatable single is also their most visceral. “Figure it Out” creeps in with singer/bassist Mike Kerr crooning and vamping on a simple riff. Just don’t get used to it, because every time the song doesn’t just switch gears – it punches the accelerator. “Figure it Out” is a kamikaze mission, ending in a fireball of its own creation. This is a song that proves riff rock is as enduring as bands want it to be.

– Daniel Gerichter

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Song: Archie, Marry Me
Artist: Alvvays

Album: Alvvays
Label: Royal Mountain Records
Released: July 22

Alvvays

Who knew that a fuzz-filled indie tune from Toronto could be 2014’s most foremost anthem for romance? Alvvays’ self-titled record is addictive, as much for singer Molly Rankin’s honey-tinged voice as it is for their sunny, distortion-filled instrumentation. “Archie, Marry Me” strips the idea of love down to its philosophical foundations with wit and charm to spare. How powerful was this song in 2014? Well, during Stars’ Riot Fest Toronto performance in September, the crux of their (awesome) set came from their rousing cover of this song. Clearly, it belongs to anyone who believes in it enough.

– Daniel Gerichter

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Song: World Restart
Artist: Kindness (ft. Kelela & Ade)
Album: Otherness 
Label: Casablanca Records
Released: October 13

World RestartThis song is what I listen to when I’m trying to get out of bed but don’t feel motivated, or on my drive home from work when I just feel so exhausted. This song livens me up and get me stoked on life. It’s literally impossible to listen to it and not dance your heart away.

– Julio de la Torre

 

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Song: 0 to 100
Artist: Drake 
Label: Young Money Records
Released: July 15

Drake

Warning about this song, if you listen to it while you drive, you may “accidentally” go faster than the speed limit. This is just a good song to drive to. Drake has created a lot of different sounds for himself but this song is probably one of my favorites this far. It’s also fun to jam out to this one with all the homies.

– Julio de la Torre

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Song: i
Artist: Kendrick Lemar
Label: Top Dawg Entertainment
Released: September 23

Kendrick Lamar

I love this song for a few different reasons. My first thought about this song is how different it sounded from his older stuff. It was kind of hard to swallow at first, but after a few listens I was in love with this song. It’s so upbeat but yet it’s not just a song to dance too. It has such a great message. It’s all about loving yourself when the world seems to hate you.

– Julio de la Torre

Discussion

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  1. Pingback: All Those Best Of…Music Lists of 2014 | That Eric Alper - December 20, 2014

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