End of the Year 2014: Top 10 Songs
Zack Baker, Editorial Director
I generally tried to highlight songs from releases that didn’t make my top 10 albums list because I’m a born wimp and this year had way too much good music to limit to just a handful of highlights:
1. “An Introduction To The Album” – The Hotelier
This song does something to me that I can’t really explain. I grin like an idiot, belt out every word at the top of my lungs no matter how inappropriate the venue and I forget about where I am for the entirety of its raucous, heartfelt runtime. I’m making myself sick just reading over the praise-vomit that I’m spewing about it. Home, Like Noplace Is There is an album that has held my listening time hostage since it’s release, and “An Introduction…” does exactly what it says: sets the listener up for the magic that’s about to follow. Plus, I’ve listened to this track so damn much that I can recognize it just from the few seconds of crackling static that kick it off.
2. “Fireworks”/”Fireworks Reprise” – Radiator Hospital
I could write up a sob story about the way the romantics in this pair of gorgeous songs helped me through a particularly tough time in my life this year, but that’s underselling how wonderful these tracks are on their own. The tragic, doomed, back-and-forth relationship topic has pretty much been beaten to death at this point, but Sam Cook-Parrot worked his infallible songwriting magic to create a pair of songs that are just as beautiful as they are real. Real relationships aren’t simple like so many songwriters try to make them seem, and these songs capture all the fucked up, complicated emotions that real love is all about perfectly.
3. “Attak” – Rustie ft. Danny Brown
Rustie’s Green Language may not have been the godsend of a sophomore album that I was hoping for, but it did deliver “Attak” and I think that makes its existence more than warranted. The track is a scorcher from start to finish, and Danny Brown’s dizzying machine-gun flow rivals anything on pretty much any actual hip-hop album that came out this year. All the excitement of the Rustie-produced tracks from Brown’s Old are here but even more instrumentally solid, making “Attak” a certified banger appropriate for almost any situation.
4. “Never Catch Me” – Flying Lotus ft. Kendrick Lamar
As the first peek at what the world could expect from FlyLo’s hotly anticipated You’re Dead!, “Never Catch Me” absolutely set the music community abuzz. A scorcher of a verse from the previously reclusive Kendrick alongside one of the most intricate and explosive instrumentals FlyLo has ever put out set the stage for Lotus to really show off the influence he’s been quietly exerting on rhythmic music of all styles for years. While many balked at the record when it did finally drop–a jazz album that people wanted to be a hip-hop album–those people are missing the point. FlyLo’s always been ahead of the curve, and hip-hop is heading back to jazz for inspiration. Just wait until next year, or check out either of the tracks Kendrick has revealed from his upcoming release. “Never Catch Me” is a killer track that people will be calling back to for the next year. Or maybe I’ll look back on this and laugh and how wrong I was. But this track will never cease to be fire.
5. “Catalina Fight Song” – Joyce Manor
There are a lot of great songs on Never Hungover Again, but “Catalina” is the song that sums up what I love about the record. It’s fast, loud and way more fun than a pop-punk track deserves to be. There’s not much to the song, but that’s okay. Not every song needs to be a magnum opus. Sometimes all it takes it a catchy hook, some emotion and some seriously great guitar riffs to be magnificent.
6. “Center” – Quarterbacks
In less than two minutes, “Center” manages to tell the story of an entire relationship or fling or crush in a way that’s so incredibly honest that it can be kind of hard to listen to. Everything’s laid out: insecurities, regrets, that feeling of excitement when you realize you’ve found someone special. It’s not reaching for ballad status or even trying to win back the romantic interest in question, and that’s what makes it perfect. I know I’ll get crap from friends for even saying the word lo-fi, but the tape hiss and occasional sour note makes it feel spur of the moment, like you’ve stumbled upon Dean Engle’s audio diary and not something official enough to be on Bandcamp.
7. “Grid” – Perfume Genius
Too Bright is Perfume Genius’ truly defining record. The album covers personal issues as Mike Hadreas always has, but this album finds him tackling issues of sexuality and harassment and abuse in such incredibly aggressive ways that it’s staggering. I adore the album but I don’t feel qualified to discuss much of its themes. I can’t pretend to understand Hadreas’ struggles with sexuality, but his visceral new approach to songwriting made it impossible to not listen to every heart-wrenching detail and want to understand. The album’s darker moments stand out the most, and “Grid” is about as dark as it gets. The harsh electronic screeches and lyrics full of hopelessness show the pain that Hadreas has been forced to endure. Not to mention the killer production and undeniable groove.
8. “Old English” – Young Thug ft. Freddie Gibbs, A$AP Ferg
Young Thug is no holds barred the most interesting and exciting new rapper of the year. He doesn’t even have an official major label album out, and he’s still the hottest rapper coming up right now. Deciding on just one of his tracks for this list wasn’t easy, but “Old English” just has so much going for it. Thugga brings all the madcap rhymes and adlibs you would expect, Gibbs proved that he can still slay trap beats after his incredible fling with the more old-school style of Pinata and A$AP Ferg reminded the hip-hop world that “Work” wasn’t just a fluke.
9. “Waiting For You To Come Home” - Dogs On Acid
You would think that new music from members of essentially the two most important emo revival bands would be kind of a big deal. But when Dogs On Acid, the new band from a few of the people who gave the world Algernon Cadwallader and Snowing, dropped a two-track EP back in August it kind of snuck under the radar. “Waiting For You To Come Home” abandons the twinkle of their old bands for a more straightforward punk sound with a little bit of power pop thrown in. I can’t wait for more, and I’ll be listening to the two tracks that are out there until they burn out my hard drive or whatever the modern equivalent of wearing out a cassette is.
10. “Hot Dad Calendar” – Cayetana
If you’re not already listening to Cayetana, you should be. The three-piece from Philly put out on of the best, most energetic records of the year and are far and away standouts in a city that’s basically become a factory for churning out killer bands. “Hot Dad Calendar” is fun, fast and raw, and perfectly captures everything that Cayetana is about (to me): Trying your hardest not to give a fuck even though that can be the hardest thing on earth.
11. “Blank Space” – Taylor Swift
I’m cheating and naming 11 songs instead of 10 because I’m a jerk and I had to figure out a way to get this song on my list even if it means bending the rules. Anyone who knows me that I have a deep and deadly serious love for Taylor Swift, and I will never apologize for that. Now, 1989 is certainly no Red, but “Blank Space” is probably the best song Taylor has ever released. It’s catchy to a fault, tongue in cheek and charming. I could talk about this song for hours, but I’ll settle for this paltry little blurb.
Megan Fair, General Manager & Copy Chief
I have tried to exclude bands that I put in my top 10 albums as to avoid 100 honorable mentions.
1. “An Introduction to the Album” - The Hotelier
Okay, this is the only exception to the comment you just read, I swear. My first experience
listening to “An Introduction to the Album” put me in a vulnerable trance, sucked into every word
and subtle nuance of the first few minutes. There are many words, and two really important
movements in this song. It’s simple, its complexity is discreet, but it manages to singlehandedly
pull you into a mindset that has your heart racing and your face turning red as vocalist Christian
Holden grits, “And the pills that you gave didn’t do anything / I just slept for years on end,” and
your throat tightening and tears forming as Holden desperately screams, “I had a chance to
construct something beautiful and I choked, I choked, I choked.” I’m crying as I write why this is
my top song of 2014. There’s your flippin’ answer.
2. “90s Music” - Kimbra
With “90s Music” Kimbra has managed to recall the nostalgia associated with our favorite 90s
artists through a song that is too futuristic to be a copy of the music it celebrates. The track’s
avant-garde production, topsy-turvy pop and unforgettable hook marries to create a song that
induces dancing and embarrassingly loud sing-alongs. The lyrics spin a tale that expresses the
very real experience of listening to the songs we loved as children and feeling so far removed
from that time and space, all the while still feeling the same affection for the music and the
memories. Kimbra’s ability to capture a feeling in a pop song that sounds like no pop song
before it is kind of insane.
TWIABP took a risk by putting out an EP that it knew many would raise a stink over. Not
everyone is into spoken word, after all. In my opinion, the risk was so worth it. On “Space
Exploration To Solve Earthly Crises,” the group created ethereal, sweetly haunting post rock and
Chris Zizzamia’s poetry joined with it to create a piece of art that provides comfort to anyone
who has lost someone dear to them. Listening feels like floating gently through the infinite
reaches of our universe as we lay in our beds and consider our mortality. “Infinity didn’t feel like
anything until I was among the stars, searching for something that I had loved and lost,” speaks
Zizzamia, the heartbreak in his voice audible. After losing my grandfather this fall, I’ve never
been able to find a song that really gives me comfort like this track does. Kudos, TWIABP and
4. “Forgiven/Forgotten” - Angel Olsen
The first time I heard this song, it caused me to listen to it on near repeat for the next two weeks. “Forgiven/Forgotten” is bouncy and raw, its jangly drive and Olsen’s unbelievably perfect voice make a beautiful pairing. The grungy guitars and driving rock drums lift her soaring, crystal-clear vocal work to create a jam that oozes desperation and adoration. The initial lyrics tease out closure, while the latter lyrics and the music’s subtle touches express a very real disorientation. “I don’t know anything,” exclaims Olsen repeatedly, “but I love you. Yes I do,” she concludes. The dissonant, spastic guitar work over the conclusion seems to perfectly capture the angst of the tune. A perfect track for screaming in your car while you drive late at night.
5. “Guilt Trip” - PUP
What’s better than creative riffage and weird time signatures in a nifty punk rock package? Very few things, I’d venture to say. Canada’s exceptional act PUP show off their charm and individuality with “Guilt Trip,” a brutally honest punk piece with wailing riffs, math-y drums and raw vocals. Apathetic declarations tossed in with very empathetic and complicated emotion is a common theme on PUP’s self-titled album, exemplified in “Guilt Trip” when Stefan states, “And I can’t explain anything anymore anyway,” and then later exclaims, “If I had my choice / I would die by your love.” Oooh, how complicated, dark and mysterious! But seriously. “Guilt Trip” is the definition of a freaking banger.
6. “Chlorine” - Title Fight
Title Fight has done it—they’ve gone full on shoegaze. TF’s evolution from punk-y hardcore to
grungy, alternative hardcore to shoegaze soaked alternative emo with hardcore elements isn’t
offensive or jarring; In fact, it makes a lot of sense, and “Chlorine” just proves that the direction
definitely works. The lyrics are hyper-simple, the music is at times both dreamy and unnerving,
and yet it still makes you wanna bang your head. What’s up with that? The airy and lilting
instrumental before the dissonant, low-end heavy bridge really seals the deal. It creates a mood
that is both mindless and paranoia-inducing, the production’s crisp execution making every
element of the song serve to tantalize and capture the audience. Front to back, “Chlorine” is
creative, interesting and hypnotizing.
7. “Total Bummer” - Divorce.
Pittsburgh-native Divorce. put out a spectacular EP this fall called "Lifers", and “Total Bummer” just so happens to be my favorite track on it. The riff in the bridge after the choruses are air-guitar inducing, and the whole effort is peppered with well-placed group shouting, expert movements and brilliant lyrics. Escalating into one big cacophony of shouting, the group exclaims, “I didn’t want to die anymore,” and it feels like a strange desperate celebration, a manic call to live. Insert that quote from On the Road about Roman candles. But seriously, listen to this track, bang your head and enjoy the beautiful honesty of Divorce.
8. “The Only Thing That Haunts This House Is Me” - Fireworks
Fireworks has this incredible gift of writing really dark records full of death, quarter-life crises and uncertainty while making it sound bouncy and fun. Granted, Oh, Common Life definitely had slow, dark moments, but one of the most stark examples of fun music to express real issues is “The Only Thing That Haunts This House Is Me.” “I use metaphors to write about what I really should, should say aloud / Wish I could piss on a strip to see / what’s really going on inside of me,” croons vocalist Dave Mackinder over the song’s ballad-esque conclusion. Paired with ripping guitar work that manages to avoid cheesiness, the song sounds kind of surf-rock but also like good old-fashioned pop rock. How Fireworks manages to keep on churning out the hits, I’m not sure, but I hope it never ends.
9. “Bestial Burden” - Pharmakon
If you had said to me this time last year that an industrial noise artist’s work would have been in my top 10 songs list or nearly in my top 10 albums, I would have scoffed at you. But lo, and behold, Pharmakon appeared in my life with an insanely real record about the divide between our bodies and our minds, and I finally “got” noise. Not only did I get noise, I fell in love with it. Especially the track, “Bestial Burden.” As someone who grow up experiencing all sorts of weird health problems, I feel a strong empathy in Margaret Chardiet’s manic screams about not belonging in her own body. Seven minutes of chilling, droning noise, screams and laughter feel weirdly comforting whilst unbelievably unsettling, its cacophony so important that it never really leaves you for the few hours after you listen to it.
10. “Your Head / Your Heart” - Hostage Calm
Hostage Calm (RIP) is one of the best bands at creating a distinct sound. It’s punk, it’s doo-wop, it’s pop, it’s fun, it’s full of heartbreak and angst, it’s honest and theatrical, but it isn’t goofy. In other words, Hostage Calm’s killin’ it with the balancing act. When the Max Moore video for this song came out, I probably watched it 100 times, and I immediately pre-ordered the record. The fetching chorus was all I hummed, and I sang it into a brush as I got ready in the morning. I’m not sure if it’s the twinkling glockenspiel, decisive drum work or melodic guitar work, but something here makes this song alluring and unforgettable.
Xavier Veccia, Managing Editor
2014 was the year of hooks in hip-hop. I mean, Young Thug is a walking, talking, singing-ish hook himself. But no hook was as addicting and satisfying as Rashad and SZA syncing up to sing about love and suicide. I’ve listened to this song probably a hundred times by now and it still gives me the chills.
2. “Drops” - Jungle
Jungle puts the “fun” in “funky” and no song shows this better than “Drops.” The harmonizing mixed with the organ and horns in the background make for a brilliant opening, but the beat keeps building and building until there’s nothing else you could possibly want from them.
3. “Hands Up” - Vince Staples
That beat, doe. Yeah, there’s insightful lyrics mixed with gangsta rap, a style that has become Staples’ norm. But that beat, doe.
4. “Under Pressure” - Logic
I wasn’t a huge fan of the album, but this song was enough to maintain hope that Logic could be one of the best in the game soon. The single version is plenty good, but the album version, with the massive outro involving Logic’s family, is a whole other story.
5. “Take It As It Comes” - J. Roddy Watson and the Business
Just the perfect summer song. Catchy hook? Check. Carefree lyrics? Check. A YOLO attitude? Double check. As soon as you hear that opening drum beat, you just want to go crazy.
6. “High” - Freddie Gibs & Madlib
I felt bad for liking YG’s album more than Gibbs’, so I hope putting him above my ratchet songs makes up for it. “High” is an infectious old-school hip-hop song, but the Danny Brown feature is what really makes this song stand out.
7. “Am I Not Your Boy” - Young Fathers
Here’s some insight on how hard putting this list together was. I spent probably five minutes alone just deciding on which Young Fathers song I wanted to include. The dance-y “No Way” had an early lead, but ultimately I knew there was no way I could leave off the heart-wrenching ballad listed here.
8. “Taking Chances” - Sharon Van Etten
When I first heard this song, my first thought was, “This beat is fire” before singer-songwriter Van Etten took over. Any ballad that makes me want to hear a A$AP Rocky remix is worth endorsing.
9. “Love is to Die” - Warpaint
Got super into this song super late in the year, but I cannot get it out of my head, so gosh darnit is it going on my list.
10. “Zombie” - Jamie T
Sounds like an early Arctic Monkeys song. It’s fun, mindless and catchy while also musically impressive. If Jamie T keeps this up, he could be the next Brit to make it big in the States.
As ACRN's resident hip-hop head, Xavier also put together a list of his favorite Certified Bangers of the year:
1. “Lifestyle” - Rich Gang
It’s hard to not love what is basically a four-minute hook sung by the two most recognizable artists out right now: Young Thug and Rich Homie Quan. But the reason this song is tops? Three words: Puffin’ on clouds.
2. “No Type” - Rae Sremmurd
Oh Rae Shakakhan, you had me at “No Flex Zone.” But after “No Type,” I am eternally yours.
3. “U Guessed It” - OG Maco
“Xavier’s doing a top ten list for bangers? OG Maco has to be on it.” You-you guessed it! You was mother loving right!
4. “I Won” - Future
“Sexist undertones” is probably a pretty favorable review of this song, but I haven’t been able to get this song out of my head all year long. Plus, Future looks like a hip grandma on the beach in the music video.
5. “Or Nah” - Ty Dolla $ign
The sexiest song of the year, by far. Plus, can you beat the line “can she really take d***, or nah?”
6. “Tuesday” - ILoveMakonnen
I’m talking the pre-OVO version. Drake’s cool and all, but only Makonnen can croak out about partying on the weekdays and graveyard shifts this well.
7. “Friends Maybe” - Rome Fortune
Rome Fortune is far from a traditional rapper, but next to ILoveMakonnen’s goofy hook, Fortune sounds like Nas. The beat matches Makonnen’s tone to make for an insanely catchy song.
8. "Hot N****” - Bobby Shmurda
Shman, this shmusician really finished the year in a shmelancholy shmanner. But this doesn’t shmodify this writer’s shmind. “Hot N****” was a shmerry shmelody all year long.
9. “Look at Wrist” - Father
The calm, cool and collected leader of Awful Records shows why he’s running the show on the aloof “Look at Wrist.” KEY! and ILoveMakonnen also come through to make this song into an anthem for the rising ATL artists.
10. “ATM” - Migos
Ha! You thought ATM meant Automated Teller Machine? Wrong! As Migos so graciously tells us, it means “Addicted to the money.” Migos has a special flow and there’s no song that showcases this better than the loud and ign’ant “ATM.”
Abbie Doyle, Reviews Editor
(In no particular order)
“Daddy’s Car” – Eno & Hyde
I have no idea what Brian Eno is doing with his pal Karl Hyde, but I do know this song is fun as all get out and all the little things that are happening are happening in a very excellent manner.
“Brooklyn Baby” – Lana Del Rey
I’m not a throbbing Del Rey fan, but this song is rather superb. The pouty, hyper-pretentious lyrics flow in perfectly designed tandem with Dan Auerbach’s too-cool-to-try-too-hard guitar... “I’ve got feathers in my hair / I get high on hydroponic weed” ... “And my boyfriend’s pretty cool / But he’s not as cool as me.” I am so into it.
“Your Love is Killing Me” – Sharon Van Etten
The undulating yet constant gravity in this song is unreal, as sparse percussion rolls along in tandem with a somber organ, all drenched with Van Etten’s painfully expressive heartache. “Break my legs so I won’t run to you / Steal my soul so I am one with you / From a distance I am onto you / But I’ll stab my eyes out so I can’t see.” DAYUM.
“Springful” – Adult Jazz
It took me a long, long time to decide which Adult Jazz track to put in this slot, but I had to choose “Springful” because it does that thing music sometimes does, when it takes up room in your bones and you realize it is probably part of your genetic makeup... That thing happens when I listen to this song.
“Clarity!” – Ought
Oh, a song that perfectly illustrates how self-absorbed and petulant people can be, while simultaneously serving as a sweet reminder that you’re not a special snowflake and sometimes life isn’t what you want? I’m on board.
“What You Wanted” – How To Dress Well
A trip-hoppy beat glitching along impassioned vocal harmonies really gets me grooving, more than any other song on a well-produced album that just couldn’t grab all of my attention.
“Lie Cheat Steal” – Run the Jewels
I was strolling through campus one day while listening to this song, and as soon as that chorus jumped in I was smiling like a goofus, because the sounds in this song simply make me a very, very happy camper.
“Depths” – The Wild Family
Watching The Wild Family perform this song with utmost feeling in a cramped kitchen was only improved by my listening to the studio version, which sounds just as good. The build-up is expertly crafted, the musicianship on point and the modern twist on country vibes is golden.
“Dripping” – Blonde Redhead
This song as sultry and hot as hell, another piece of music that I’d like to listen to in a poorly lit room while getting smashed.
“Palace” – The Antlers
The first couple minutes had me like “Okay, a little boring but not bad, it’s getting there,” and then there were horns and strings and SWELLING EMOTIONS and the song got there. It really got there. It blew me away.
Honorable mention: Taylor Swift’s cover of Vance Joy’s “Riptide.”
Sammi Nelson, Blogs Editor
In no particular order:
"Moor" - Every Time I Die
"Attak" - Rustie ft. Danny Brown
"Cat Rider" - Little Dragon
"Sober" - Childish Gambino
"Push Pull" - Purity Ring
"Evergreen" - Ben Howard
"Without You" - Spooky Black
"90s Music" - Kimbra
"Jesus Piece" - Lakutis
"Fall in Love" - Phantogram
Travis Boswell, Staff Writer
1. “Sweet November” - SZA
Singing over a Marvin Gaye instrumental is a bad idea. People already picture what Gaye's vocals would sound like on the track. However, SZA's sultry, echoing voice is a perfect fit for the 1970s rarity. Not only does she improve the song, it sounds like she was meant to be there all along. Who else could possibly pull that off?
2. “Too Ill For The Law” - Lakutis
He doesn't show it often, but Lakutis has incredible rap skills. On this track, his raps are more complex and faster than any other song he's made so far. Not only is he showing off, he's providing a cathartic release by flipping a giant lyrical middle finger at the police. The Joanie Sommers sample used is the most brilliant sample I've heard in a long time.
3. “Blockbuster Night, Pt. 1” - Run The Jewels
This song just SOUNDS filthy. Everything about it, from the rumbling bass and Killer Mike & El-P sounding pissed off nails the grimy vibe Run The Jewels strive for. Their chemistry on this song is nearly psychic, as they trade off lines without missing a beat.
4. “Oh My Darling Don't Cry” - Run The Jewels
This song and “Blockbuster Night” are inseparable partners. Contrasting the pulsing menace of its counterpart, this song builds to a climax where the beat goes crazy and both men are spitting rapid-fire raps like bullets out of an AK. And they keep trading lines back in forth like they've been collaborating for decades.
5. “Fuck Seaworld” - Sir Michael Rocks
Michael Rocks is the coolest rapper alive. He raps about training baby apes to freestyle, crying over Aerith's death in Final Fantasy 7 (admit it, you did too), and copping expensive Street Fighter memorabilia. No other rapper dares to rap about what Mikey Rocks raps about, because none of them are cool enough. Also, his closing diss towards Seaworld is the most savage diss in any song this year.
6. “Wedding Bells” - Cashmere Cat
In 2012, Cashmere Cat released the nearly perfect “Mirror Maru”. “Wedding Bells” is its spiritual sequel, similar and radically different all at once. “Mirror Maru” kept you waiting for a beat drop that never came; “Wedding Bells” provides that drop five times over. “Mirror Maru” was brilliant, but the beautiful chaos of “Wedding Bells” tops it.
7. “Gotta Be You” - 2NE1
I cannot understand a single word of Korean. What I can understand is CL's rhymes are fierce, and I want to dance to the hook every time I hear this song.
8. “Les Sex” - Kylie Minogue
Twelve albums in, Kylie Minogue has released one of her best songs yet. The mash-up of loud dubstep and slinky electropop is like chocolate and peanut butter. Minogue whispers her lyrics, seducing listeners to do dangerous things with her. It's a club banger and the sexiest song of 2014.
9. “Melting” - Superfood
Superfood's music is delightful. When they say “go outside and play!” I really want to drop everything and go make snow angels. Special thanks to the grunge breakdown in the middle of this upbeat pop song.
10. “Lava Glaciers”- RiFF RAFF feat. Childish Gambino
What an odd couple. These two have nothing in common, but still made a dope song together. RiFF RAFF drops bars about his beautiful hair and and cars, and Gambino ponders if his fans really love him. It's all tied together with Harry Fraud's dreamy, psychedelic production. This could be the start of a great, bizarre friendship.
Chris Reinbold, Staff Writer
1. “For Mayor in Splitsville” – La Dipsute
The drums murder this song! I hated this, at first. I thought La Dis went pop. Who knew it would grow to be my favorite track from their stellar album Rooms of the House. The guitars are playing straight-up jazz chords and the chorus-like part’s chord progression is nearly tear inducing. On top of all of this, Jordan Dreyer’s lyrics illustrate a dissolving marriage and not wanting to recreate that with your own relationships. Perfect.
2. “Reservoir” – PUP
This is the first track I heard from their self-titled debut. The verse just beats you over the head and goes into such a sing-along chorus: “You’re on your own / I’m letting go at the reservoir.” From this song on out, PUP had me hooked like a junkie. Also, for a punk band, their
musicianship is impeccable.
3. “Yours” – White Wives
Roger Harvey’s voice is raw and unapologetic and is complemented perfectly by the buzz-saw tone of the guitars, the crunching bass, and the snare-cymbal interplay on the drums. You’ll be humming the chorus by the second time it comes around. The mix is incredible, especially when you consider how textured every instrument is.
4. “Raised” – Hostage Calm
I remember jamming this album in my car with my Mooney Tyson band mates on the way to
practice. When the chorus to this track kicked in, I remember us all saying, “Holy shit! Is that
Chester Bennington screaming?!” Seriously, this chorus absolutely slays!
5. “Ecco” – CHON
Bassist/vocalist Drew Pelisek’s voice does nothing special or virtuosic here, but his voice is
great, the perfect combination of buttery smooth and rough around the edges. The guitars are
dreamy clean and divulge into an absolutely beautiful shimmering jazz-influenced section.
Really mellow jam.
6. “Calibrations” – Mace Ballard
My Pittsburgh homies in Mace Ballard have showed some impressive improvement, sonically
and in their writing, from their previous release on this sneak peek song issued on the A-F
Records summer sampler. The guitar riff is sick-nasty and the tom work is fantastic. If you’re a
sucker for gang vocals, this is all you.
7. “Cake Eater” – Survay Says!
Guitar slide right into the horns…. Dat intro! ‘Nuff said.
8. “Your Head / Your Heart” – Hostage Calm
Hearing this first single from Die On Stage, words simply cannot do justice. I was stoked. I was
singing along to this sucker by the end of the song. The main repeating riff and chorus stick with
you like a criminal record. Crazy good.
9. “Rude” – Magic!
Magic! is such a guilty pleasure. They are crazy poppy, but I can still enjoy them because this
song sounds like its instrumental was clipped from The Police. The key to my heart for a modern
pop artist … Emulate The Police. Magic! does it.
10. “Ole Fishlips is Dead Now” – Chiodos
Flashback time! I remember sitting in my dorm when I found the new music video on
PropertyofZack. Ecstatic, I watched the video. The intro is crazy heavy, then Craig went into his
cleans for a verse and then a banger of a chorus. Thomas Erak’s playing was made VERY
apparent when the solo rolled around. My heart skipped a beat … Too bad the rest of the album
Honorable Mention: “High Road” – Mastodon
Eric Perzanowski, Programming Director & Contributor
In no particular order:
“Sail Into the Black” - Machine Head
“Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer” - Behemoth
“Send Help” - The Acacia Strain
“A Great Mistake” - Black Crown Initiate
“Madness Opus” - Revocation
“Face Down” - Killer Be Killed
“Threshold of Perception” - Allegaeon
“Diggs Road” - Whitechapel
“Heroes Among Us” - Crimson Shadows
“Halloween” - Mastodon
Tony Cardwell, Contributor
1. “An Ocean Between The Waves” – The War On Drugs
By far my favorite track from Lost In The Dream. The way the whole thing comes together after building through the first four minutes is magical. This song could bring a grown man to tears, not saying that it hasn’t already.
2. “Lipstick” – Ariel Pink
The perfect 80’s revival track on the planet. The song is sexy, dark, and very dramatic. Just imagine a very stylized version of L.A. and you’re a cop in an alleyway. Just then you hear a gunshot and your buddy pulls up in your ole black and white. The camera shoots to a falling cigarette as you put it out with your foot. The camera stays on the ground as you walk to your partner beckoning you to hop in the passenger seat. As you walk, Ariel Pink’s “Lipstick” plays and the opening credits roll. Yeah, this song is the real deal.
3. “Tuesday” (ft. Drake) – I LOVE MAKONNEN
I am absolutely in love with this song. I don’t know why but this song just does something for me. This song is the best thing to happen to college parties.
4. “Heart Tattoo” – Joyce Manor
I absolutely love singing along with this song. There is no way you cannot sing along to this song. This is the reason I feel in love with pop punk. Songs like this, songs that I honestly don’t care what I’m singing I just want to sing off key, are what make life worth living.
5. “Work Work” (feat. Cocc Pistol Cree) – Clipping.
Easily the most accessible song from CLPPNG and for good reason. The song shows off the group’s experimentalist production along with Diggs amazing prowess on the microphone but it gives it you in small doses. A great teaser track, otherwise known as, a single.
6.“Blank Space” - Taylor Swift
I have a MASSIVE soft spot for Miss Swift and I’m not ashamed to say I’ve listened to her full length cover to cover and I thoroughly enjoyed it. “Blank Space” is the best song on 1989 and boy am I happy Swift is finally embracing pop anthems because she does them right. Also this song is ten times better than “Shake It Off”. Just sayin.
7. “Apartment” Modern Baseball
The one song I show people who want to hear Modern Baseball’s more heavier “I’ve been there” side. I feel like “Apartment” describes all of my awkward interactions with every girl I’ve ever talked to in existence.
8.“Crown” (feat. Diane Coffee) – Run The Jewels
This song speaks to me for some very strange reason. It could be because Killer Mike is referencing some very dark stuff here with the lyrical content or because his flow and the production are just so encapsulating. Even I feel guilty for giving a pregnant woman cocaine, and Killer Mike has even said that event didn’t even happen. You can really feel the pain and remorse in Mike’s voice on this and I really love that.
9. “Sunday Candy” – Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment
I have a very real obsession with Chance The Rapper and his group, The Social Experiment. SOX released a single this year leading up to next year’s full length LP Surf. Holy hell is Sunday Candy good. Gospel influences are thrown all over this and the instrumentation is just so uplifting. This song is the embodiment of the happier family reunions.
10. “Red Eyes” – The War On Drugs
Holy cannoli are The War On Drugs good.
Charlie Walden, Guest Contributor
These are ten songs from releases I liked that aren’t in my top ten records list. S/O to Young Thug.
“Hard Enough” - Brave Bird
“Glass Bones” - Citycop
“Keef Ripper” - Donovan Wolfington
“Lavender Town” - Free Throw
“Christmas Card” - Joyce Manor
“Lifestyle” - Rich Gang
“Fed Up With Hunger” - Saintseneca
“Child's Pose” - Spencer Radcliffe
“Everything Around Me” - Trace Mountains
“Regional Dialect” - You Blew It!