Tracks of 2014

   As we near the last days of the year, we remember all of the glory & gore of 2014. To commemorate the year's end, here's our official list of some of the most notable tracks of the year.

Iceage, who are featured in our Tracks of the Year list, by Kristian Emdal

"Do You"
Introducing a fuller, more fleshed-out sound than their previous work, Spoon have returned after a long four years and are still running strong, even after over two decades. "Do You", the first single from their new album, They Want My Soul, is an invigorating rock jam with curious lyrics, begging the question "Do you wanna get understood? / Do you want one thing or are you looking for sainthood?" "Do You" is a picture-perfect representation of the Austin, Texas six-piece's evolution over the years. Spoon's latest restored their presence in the rock world and solidified their position as the ultimate dad rock band.

Angel Olsen
Earlier last winter, the St. Louis-based Angel Olsen released her sophomore LP, Burn Your Fire for No Witness, to much-deserved critical acclaim. An enchantingly eerie, melancholy folk-rock listen, Burn Your Fire is an instantly classic album that tugs on your heartstrings with stories of love and loneliness. On "Forgiven/Forgotten", gritty guitars pervade the beautifully vulnerable track, as a slightly paranoid Olsen admits "I've wasted my time / Making up my mind / I don't know anything / but I love you." Although the lyrics may come off as weakened or fragile, make no mistake, the powerfully emotional vocal delivery makes it known that Olsen is a force to be reckoned with.

"How Many"
Hailing from Copenhagen, Iceage's third long-player is just as headily powerful as the title suggests. "How Many" finds lead singer Elias Bender Rønnenfelt pleading, "How many hollow declarations will follow / Lulled into a trance / I have been sitting in congress with nations / Rubbing my perspiring hands". A dramatically disorganized rollercoaster through some of the best three and a half minutes on the record, "How Many" is one of Iceage's most voluptuous works yet. Rønnenfelt's quavering vocals bear a strangely virile resemblance to the voice of Pete Doherty of The Libertines, you know, if Pete was the frontman of a Danish punk band.

"Where Does This Disco?"
Witty wordplays aside, Los Angeles based "belief system" YACHT's latest short but dense EP is an electro-pop goldmine. Choice cut & self-titled track "Where Does This Disco?" is an upbeat dance jam about digital love(shouts out, Daft Punk) that lyrically explores the uncategorizable genre of love. The sharp lyrical comparisons of love to CDs deserves an award by itself. Where does this disc go? With its pressurized beat and instant but lasting techno-pop gratification, it belongs in permanent rotation in your CD player, of course.

The L.A. four-piece's self-titled was a dreamy forage into the wonderful world of keys. Warpaint's sultry second effort was a compelling listen, pulling in listeners with their crooning voices, engrossing drums, and romantic lyrics weaving tales of lovelorn fantasies. "Biggy" is a prime example: a catchy synth hook and slinky guitars bring this haunting track to life while still giving it enough solitude to lurk in the shadows.

Panda Bear
"Mr Noah"
Animal Collective multi-instrumentalist and heartthrob Panda Bear(a.k.a. Noah Lennox)'s latest EP, Mr Noah, initially appeared to be a bit of an enigma. With the dizzying album artwork and fastidious pace, Mr Noah was truly one of the strangest, pleasurable, most intriguing things I've listened to this year. Disorienting dog whines introduce the paranoia-filled title track, bringing the song in and out of focus. After the near-minute-long intro, it finally gets into the swing of things. Underneath the layered synths and canine howls is a genuinely catchy song whose peculiar chants and intense beaming synths make it densely compacted, yet slightly addicting.

Bradford Cox
"Dream Logic"
For 2014's Deerhunter-sanctioned offering, frontman Bradford Cox scored the Matt Wolf film Teenage, a nostalgic documentary about the history of youth culture. No one is more fit than Cox to create dreamlike pieces of youthful sentiment. "Dream Logic" is a heartfelt instrumental, accented with the sound of windchimes and subtle piano. Emulating the likes of surf-psych bands such as The Wytches, Cox's forlorn, resonating guitar strums recall the wonder years from a hazy surf-pop perspective.

"Back to the Future (Part I)"
Last but most certainly not least, D'Angelo's newest masterpiece(and first album in fourteen years!), Black Messiah, is much too good for words. Released earlier than intended to coincide with the events in Ferguson and the Black Lives Matter movement, the prophetic album couldn't have come at a better time. On "Back to the Future (Part I)", the R&B god reminisces, "I just wanna go back, baby / Back to the way it was / I used to get real high / But now I'm just gettin' a buzz", the classy, always soulful D'Angelo longs for old times, but for the time being, makes do with the present." This piece is a laidback, mellow track that goes down smooth.

All images found here, here, here, here, here, herehere, here, and here.

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