2014: Ten Songs

Posted on December 5, 2014

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I refrained from these year in review lists last year for some reason, I can’t quite remember why. Either way, I shan’t make the same mistake this year, so here we are to begin. There were a load of really wonderful songs released this year, spanning the genres and tickling different udders within all of us. Here are the ten songs that made me shit dicks the most however. In no particular order…

Grouper – ‘Holding’

Liz Harris, or Grouper as her musical entity is known’, is no stranger to end of year lists. Whenever a Grouper album is released, it invariably ends up in the upper echelons of such lists, and rightly so. Her back catalogue is a veritable ‘How to’ when it comes to creating atmospheric, reverb-drenched fragility. With her 2014 record ‘Ruins’, Harris went in something of a different direction, with the album orbiting only her voice and a single piano. No guitars, not much in the way of effects, just plain simplicity. ‘Holding’ is the penultimate song on the album, and is as close to perfection as it gets within these parameters. I’ve long been a fan of lonely sounding piano, and for longer have been a fan of female vocals that sound like they might collapse at any point, and this song is the perfect combination of the two. It sounds like being awake at 3am and wondering what the fuck is going on, not with rage but with resignation. It is the most gorgeous song I’ve heard all year, by some distance.

Eugene Quell – ‘Weird Purr’

I’ve grown to love the Pixies. Their slightly skewed take on pop music is pretty much what the genre should be after all. Despite this, I find that I am frequently hearing songs by other bands that are clearly influenced by the band, but doing it at a much better level. Eugene Quell, the latest project from general hero Tobias Hayes (Meet Me in St Louis, Shoes and Socks Off), has probably provided the best Pixies song they’ve never written in the shape of ‘Weird Purr’. It isn’t pushing any envelopes, but it is taking a pop song, adding a lazy confused feel, some high ‘ooh’s’ and much more to create something wonderful. It sounds like a song that was written in five minutes, but they just happened to be five of the best minutes of song writing one could have hoped for.

Every Time I Die – ‘Moor’

Every Time I Die are the best metal band in the world. Now, metal is a very flexible genre, and it is clear to even the most casual of listeners that they are a world away from, say, Behemoth. This isn’t the point. 2014 saw the release of ‘From Parts Unknown’, and once more it was from start to finish choc-full of riffs and fun. The albums centrepiece is something completely different however, and also manages to be the years most terrifying song all the while. It sounds like claustrophobia and paranoia, feelings obviously helped Keith Buckley’s brilliance with the pen. I’d go so far as to say he’s the best lyricist operating on such a big stage today. ‘All I want is his head and this horrible fucking world will be wonderful again. There’s so much beauty in love, and when I eat his beating heart I can bring it back to us’. If you ever wanted to write a song about angry, confused, jealous love, don’t bother. It won’t be as good as this.

Barzin – ‘All The While’

Yay for songs that remind you of people. I’d never heard of Barzin as late as April this year. In fact, it was WrestleMania night when they were first brought to my attention, and even then I couldn’t remember the name. The one man show was playing in Belgrade, and had I known of the music previously the hours before the Showcase of the Immortals would have been very different. ‘All The While’ is the opening track of the 2014 record, and as I’ve gone to lengths to stress there aren’t many feelings in music I love more than fragility. People aside, it also reminds me of Estonia for some reason, despite zero connection. Beautiful.

Timber Timbre – ‘Hot Dreams’

Lazy, lazy, lazy. Was there a lazier sounding song all year? I didn’t hear one. Seeping out of speakers like stale cigarettes, dark lights and one drink too many, this song sounds like Bukowski without the spurts of euphoria. This is a Bukowski song through tired optimistic eyes. The thing sounds like it is practically moving in slow motion. Maybe it is. The song is gorgeously brought to a close over the last minute and twenty, one of my favourite song endings of the year.

St Vincent – ‘Digital Witness’

The self titled St Vincent album didn’t really blow me away as much as I initially felt, which was somewhat disappointing but that’s how these things go. ‘Digital Witness’ was the first single from the album however, and that certainly did a good job of knocking my socks off. Annie Clark has got her shit together, and this song is just one example of how bloody fun she can be. It’s bombastic, to say the least. From start to end it is just joy to joy to joy, a fun as fun riff repeating throughout complimented by catchier than typhus lyrics and off-mic mumblings. Glorious. Heck of a chorus too.

Black Mesa – ‘Blast Pit’

I’m pretty biased, but the slow burn reveal of Black Mesa’s ‘Resonance Cascade’ album has been a total joy. Ashley Morton should have done this years ago, but the sheer quality of the songs released maybe add credence to the patience. ‘Blast Pit’ was the sixth song to be thrust upon us all, and it’s for sure my favourite so far. A mighty as dicks riff slaps throughout, but it’s the chorus that is the kicker. The chap knows a hook. Add a delightfully confusing middle, a massive half time, some typically stupendous harmonies and you’ve got one fuck of a tune.

James Vincent McMorrow – ‘Glacier’

Did I mention that I really like songs that are fragile piano and vocals? This is perfect ‘I’ve woken up and realised that things aren’t exactly perfect but, you know what, everything is fine. Everything will always be fine’ music.

Melvins – ‘Bride of Crankenstein’

Aside from being by far the coolest band in the history of the world, Melvins also happen to be one of the most productive. I’ve no idea how many albums they’ve released now, it must be somewhere around 19483, but this years ‘Hold It In’ was every bit as excellent as I’ve grown accustomed to assuming it would be. A chunky as chunk riff, a bizarrely chorus and Buzz’s wonderful growl are all it takes to create magic, and there’s plenty of magic left in them it seems. Excellent title as well.

Mongol Horde – ‘Casual Threats From Weekend Hardmen’

Unequivocally my favourite song of the entire year. I heard it years ago, a shoddy YouTube rehearsal version of course, and waited patiently for Frank Turner to delve back into noisy, noisy music. The Mongol Horde album was utterly fantastic (more on that in a couple of weeks), but in terms of sheer grin-inducing fun, this song just can’t be touched. It may only be two minutes long, but in those two minutes we find a bucketful of shitgrin riffs, some wonderful sarcastic lyrics and the most ‘OH YES’ moment of music in 2014 for me, that being the first chorus. Heavy music is the most fun of all. There is a whole world of words that can used to describe this song, and most them involve referencing massive animals. This is a musical manatee. It is fucking massive.

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