While the songs I listened to most in 2014 reflect a different scope of music, my top songs of the year were enjoyed in perfect proportion, making each listen a valuable use of my time. They were not often on repeat, but they could have been quite easily. Each song deserves a listen, regardless of your tastes in music. Here we go:
5. “Balmain Jeans” by KiD CuDi feat. Raphael Saadiq – Having developed his own spacey production sound, Scott Mescudi takes us on a cosmic sexual journey that pretty much has nothing to do with Balmain jeans except for their removal from his body. The deep horns and background guitar CuDi developed with WZRD cohort Dot da Genius accent the track perfectly, and a bridge/backing vocal feature from the relatively unknown Raphael Saadiq complements CuDi’s deep vocals to round out the most cohesive piece from his February project Satellite Flight: the Journey to Mother Moon.
4. “Red Eyes” by The War on Drugs – When I saw The War on Drugs live at the Majestic Theater in Madison, Wisconsin, I believe “Red Eyes” was the only song from their set the audience started jumping around and pseudo-moshing to. It was the most fun and carefree moment of the night, separating itself from the inherent chill factor associated with The War on Drugs, and solidifying it as the best song from their new album. If the clean synths and guitar leads don’t pull you in, Adam Granduciel’s yelling of “WHOO!” definitely will.
3. “Attak” by Rustie feat. Danny Brown – I don’t think I heard this song at a single party in 2014, but I’ll be damned if that happens again in 2015. Rustie’s thumping bass and punching high end fuel the turn up on half of the track, while a sweeping high end fuels the other. Danny Brown’s flow mimics these different sounds well, as he almost sweeps about with his high tone and punches with his snarling bars. “Danny Brown bitch and that boy Rustie got the game on lock like we changed the key”. Well said Daniel, well said.
2. “Morning” by Beck – Known most widely for his ’93/’94 single “Loser”, Beck was obviously going to get coverage for his 12th studio album (the first since 2008) Morning Phase. The album showcases the softer side of Beck’s work, which is chill AF and beautifully calming to listen to. The masterpiece of the album is without a doubt one of the album’s two title tracks “Morning”. The vocals, the acoustic guitar, the percussion arrangement; it’s all there in perfect harmony and could not be improved upon in the slightest. In my mind, a true opus by the traditionally alternative musician.
1. “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” by Against Me! – I have a bad habit of not listening to or dissecting songs’ lyrics while I listen, but “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” is one of the many songs on the Against Me! album of the same name that stand out in this category. Against Me! frontwoman Laura Jane Grace came out as trans woman early in 2012, and with Transgender Dysphoria Blues being the band’s first album released since, she has plenty of things to say. Singing over a continuous snare roll and a simple guitar arrangement, Grace makes her statement:
“You want them to notice,
The ragged ends of your summer dress.
You want them to see you
Like they see every other girl.
They just see a faggot.
They’ll hold their breath not to catch the sick.”
While these are far from the only lyrics addressing living as a transgender individual, they are definitely some of the most biting. This song (and the album as a whole) makes a strong point without belaboring it, in a style that only punk can provide. The message is heartfelt and real, and that’s as awesome as music can get.
Thank you all again for reading. You can see my top songs of 2013 here.