Look, I know it’s January 7th. I am acutely aware of that. And if you’re anything like me, you’re so fucking tired of “best-of” lists that you’d rather kiss a spinning bike tire than read another one, but I hope in this case you’ll indulge me just a little bit.
This is the time of year (well, actually, this is past the time of year, but whatever, fuck you man, it’s my blog) I like to put together a list of music. This list is not necessarily the best music of the year, and in some cases, the music wasn’t even released in 2014; rather, this is a list for the procrastinators (like me!) who never got to listen to all the music they wanted to in 2014. So, onward we go, and as always: If you don’t like my choices, feel free to throw some down in the comments. Or don’t, it’s your call.
Foals: “Red Socks Pugie”
I’ve expressed my admiration for Foals before, and I’m planning on a post for them in the same vein as my ramblings about Arctic Monkeys and Kavinsky, so I’ll keep this brief. Foals are a lot like Radiohead to me: they don’t match every mood and they can be kind of tough to listen to at times, but somehow I continue to find myself discovering songs of theirs that I hated at first and have now grown to love. Lead singer’s still kind of a dick, though.
Tame Impala: “Sundown Syndrome”
I read an interesting article about Tame Impala (which I’m not going to link to here, so as far as you know I’m full of shit) that said they were terrible live when they first started. Like, didn’t-talk-to-the-crowd, showed-up-barefoot-to-their-shows terrible. And now they’re headlining Coachella. Just goes to show you that you can do anything if you practice at it. It also helps if you’re as talented as they are, because fuck me, what a good song. It reminds me of a summer afternoon/evening: not quite sunny, not quite dusk; the gloaming, if you will. Like you just finished a long day doing something you love and now you’re driving down a beautiful stretch of road on your way to a party: you’ll crank it back up when you get there, but this moment is all about you. Enjoy it.
Beware of Darkness: “Heart Attack”
Any song that starts a verse with “Come onnnn/Like anybody cares you’ve got cancer/Why should/Anybody in this life care about youuuu” is right up my alley. If you’ll allow me to get all Pitchfork-y for a moment: Rock & roll perhaps more than any other genre (save for hip-hop) celebrates youthful sensibilities. Those sensibilities might not always be tasteful, and in some cases they’re downright nihilistic, but sometimes that nihilism is refreshing. It doesn’t all have to be “Life in the Fast Lane,” because that song doesn’t mean anything other than “Being a rock star is cool!” There’s more to life than the ups and downs, and there’s more to the downs than minor setbacks. This song pokes mercilessly at the wounds, and the arrogance of youth makes that possible.
Its stature is also boosted by the fact that this song is preceded by the most plaintive, melancholy song about death I’ve heard in a long time (“All Who Remain”). Easy come, easy go.
The Eagles: “Life in the Fast Lane”
Look, just because a song doesn’t mean anything doesn’t mean I can’t like it. Also, if you haven’t watched the Eagles documentary on Netflix, I strongly recommend you do so now, whether or not you’re a fan. It’s interesting stuff.
Parquet Courts: “Stoned and Starving”
I normally hate bands like this; that is, bands whose lead singer has no singing voice to speak of and just drones over the music. But Parquet Courts are musically gifted enough to make all their songs sound dynamic even with a limited vocalist.
Side story: I put this song on when I was riding in the car with my parents recently, and my mom leaned forward (she was in the back seat because THAT’S WHERE I TOLD HER TO SIT just kidding love you Mom but seriously I do take shotgun) and asked “Do you like this song because of the melody?” Like she was testing my musical tastes, since nobody could possibly want to listen to this song just to hear a droning lead singer. I told her yes. I think I passed her test.
Gil Scott-Heron: “I Think I’ll Call It Morning”
You know, for the longest time, I didn’t realize Gil Scott-Heron did anything aside from pro-Black spoken-word poetry. In fairness (to someone), I didn’t realize that because I’d never listened to his music, but it’s refreshing to be proven wrong. His voice isn’t great, though by no means is it bad- it’s got an unassuming way about it. Like it’s saying “Yeah, I know I’m not Luther Vandross, but it’s good enough.” And you know what? He’s absolutely right.
For the longest time, I lived in the Lower East Side, and there’s a mural of Gil Scott-Heron on, I think, 9th and Avenue C. And now that I’ve gotten into his music, I wish I were back there so I could properly appreciate it. (Granted, I live in Brooklyn and I could easily make the trip back to see it, but it’s so cold. Maybe in July.) Also, only someone as effortlessly cool as Gil Scott-Heron could get away with singing “Birds have something to teach us all/About bein’ free, yeah.” Because…BRUH.
The Church: “Under the Milky Way”
Yeah, they kinda sound like a Smiths cover band. Whatever, it’s a cool song. In case you haven’t noticed, I like melancholy music sometimes; as Jesse Hughes (frontman for Eagles of Death Metal) once put it:
“…I use music to make me feel shit—so I can feel it when I want to, not when the feeling wants me to have it. For instance, if I know I’m about to feel sad or have a heartbreak, I want to take the punch right away.”
Nothing is as perfect as that quote. God bless you, Jesse Hughes.
Sigur Rós: “Goobledigook”
I’m gonna be honest here: I can’t listen to more than two Sigur Rós songs in a row. There’s just something irksome about not being able to decipher what the fuck a singer is saying. But that said, this song is great: mournful and driving, like an accelerated bout of depression. It reminds me of a rainy day, but the kind of rainy day where you’re stuck in the woods with no signs of civilization for miles. Just you, your thoughts and the cold, dreary rain peppering down on you.
Black Sabbath: “Hand of Doom”
You know, I never realized how good a singer Ozzy Osbourne was until I heard this song. I always thought of him screaming “ALLLL ABOOOOOOOOOOARD” whenever I thought of his singing, but early Ozzy? Sabbath Ozzy? You can’t fuck with Sabbath Ozzy- he’s got some pipes, man.
Some Weird Fucking Kid: “Nu Thang”
I mean…Jesus Christ.
No, seriously. Jesus Christ.
Double Turds: “Crankin’ My Hog”
This is hands-down one of the best songs I’ve ever heard. 35 seconds of pure, unadulterated genius. I would like to buy this person a beer (provided they’re not 13, as the video clearly indicates).
So there you have it- the last “Best of 2014” list you’ll ever read.
One more thing: anybody else catch “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” with Carson Daly and Terry Crews? Terry…please just put a shirt on next year. There are families watching. Also, Carson Daly remains as wooden as he was when he hosted “TRL,” so in a way, it’s like no time has passed at all! Happy New Year, everybody.