Alongside our Top 50 Albums of 2014 feature (which has now nearly reached its halfway point), we’ve also been running out a Top 50 Songs of 2014 feature which kicked off last week. For the second part of the feature, we’ve got another 15 songs lined up which take up places 34-20. Read on to find out who has made the cut.
34. ARCHITECTS – YOUTH IS WASTED ON THE YOUNG
This ferociously brutal lead single from Architects’ 2014 album Lost Forever // Lost Together sees an ambient intro quickly swept out of the way by Sam Carter’s fierce scream of “the past is done!” over a mix of pounding drums and caterwauling guitars. If you’ve not felt aurally assaulted by this song once you’ve finished listening to it, then you’re clearly doing something wrong.
33. KASSASSIN STREET – THE ROYAL HANDKERCHIEF BALLET
There are 50 different artists in this particular Top 50. Of all these artists, Kassassin Street are the only one to not be signed to a record label. That’s pretty impressive for these five chaps from Southsea, with their debut single The Royal Handkerchief Ballet already placing higher in the list than the likes of Jamie T, Peace and even bloody Slipknot! Encompassing a mix of groove-laden beats and an oriental rhythm, vocalist Rowan Bastable’s voice is instantly recognizable as The Royal Handkerchief Ballet sets them up for great future success.
32. WARPAINT – DISCO//VERY
The four girls in Warpaint have certainly had a great 2014 thanks to their successfully hypnotic self-titled sophomore record. Out of all the downbeat tracks on the album, Disco//very stands out as the only song which has had some life breathed into it. Stella Mozgawa and Jenny Lee Lindberg set the pace with a grooving drum and bass rhythm, which eventually underpins collective moaned and squealed vocals. “Don’t you battle we’ll kill you, rip you up and tear you in two” they squeal through vocoders as Disco//very showcases Warpaint’s darker, funkier side.
31. DZ DEATHRAYS – GINA WORKS AT HEARTS
Australian dance-punks DZ Deathrays have, just like Warpaint, had a fantastic 2014. Their 2014 album Black Rat has just won the ARIA Award for best rock album back on home territory, an award which has just followed an extremely successful summer of touring and festivals throughout Europe. Gina Works at Hearts doesn’t slow down whatsoever, with its distorted, DFA1979-esque riff leading the listener through a dance-punk odyssey which even Andrew WK will be proud of. Here’s to an even better 2015, guys.
30. WOLF ALICE – MOANING LISA SMILE
London-quartet Wolf Alice may not really be a household name yet, but they will be once they finally put out a debut album. Earlier this year they were declared as the most blogged about band of 2013, whereas this morning they were put on the longlist for BBC’s Sound of 2015 award. Moaning Lisa Smile sees vocalist Ellie Roswell ooh and aah her way through 3 minutes of solid grunge which shows us exactly why Wolf Alice are worth getting excited about.
29. COLDPLAY – TRUE LOVE
You can either love or hate Coldplay, there doesn’t seem to be an inbetween. Formerly known as one of the most boring bands on the planet with their full-on balladry, 2007s Viva la Vida gave them the anthem they so desperately needed. From then on, Coldplay picked up the positivity with the upbeat Mylo Xyloto and its accompanying mega tour. This year, however, they put out Ghost Stories, 9 songs based around the breakdown of vocalist Chris Martin’s marriage. In and amongst the 42 minutes of downbeat balladry (and one dance song) lies True Love, a beautifully composed piece of music which features one of the best guitar solos of the year, courtesy of the underrated Johnny Buckland. A mix of pizzicato strings and Martin’s faux-nasal voice are the main base of the song, with an electronic drumbeat underpinning it throughout.
28. GERARD WAY – NO SHOWS
Following the breakdown and separation of the Gerard Way-fronted My Chemical Romance back in 2013, everyone was left wondering in what direction their eccentric former frontman would go. We all knew he’d go solo, but it was just a matter of how it’d sound. Earlier this year, Way unveiled Action Cat, the lead single from his debut album Hesitant Alien. The standout track from this Britpop-infused album is power ballad No Shows, which climaxes amidst a mixture of beautiful catastrophe as Way proclaims, “’cus we don’t need no shows”. It’s a world away from the “emo” rock of My Chemical Romance’s heyday, but Way’s voice will always be recognizable.
27. ANDY BURROWS FT. TOM SMITH – WATCH ME FALL AGAIN
When we wrote about Andy Burrows’ second solo album, there was one song in particular which stood out – Watch Me Fall Again. The majority of Burrows’ second album, Fall Together Again, sounded alike through its acoustic singer-songwriter pop, but Watch Me Fall Again introduced the synthesizers and featured beautifully emotional backing vocals from Editors frontman Tom Smith. Smith and Burrows go back a long way, and this song feels like a culmination of all their shared hard work over the years.
26. MARK RONSON FT. BRUNO MARS – UPTOWN FUNK
It may have only been released a few weeks ago, but this comeback track from Mark Ronson (featuring Bruno Mars) may well be the happiest song of the year. Uptown Funk is exactly what the title sets it out to be, a mixture of funky-as-hell basslines, scratchy Nile Rogders-esque guitars and bombastic horns straight outta the 70s. Ronson’s intention for this song was to ensure it would fit perfectly in and amongst any authentic 70s track, and Uptown Funk has certainly succeeded in doing so. From the chanted “ha!” in the breakdown to its accompanying music video, Uptown Funk is a perfect embodiment of funk music.
25. THE GROWLERS – CHINESE FOUNTAIN
Whereas Mark Ronson may have released the happiest funk song of the year, The Growlers have done the opposite and released an equally funky song on a very depressive spectrum. It sounds like the love child of Daft Punk’s Get Lucky and Rod Stewart’s Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?, which is a perfect combination both on paper and in practice. Frontman Brooks Nielsen’s demure vocal tone complements the grisly bassline and swooshing synths, as The Growlers get us dancing all night long.
24. FOXYGEN – HOW CAN YOU REALLY
Foxygen went through a very tough time ahead of releasing their second album …And Star Power, a 24-song double album which has left many people unsure of what to think. The album may tail off in places, but it’s still a great album which was spearheaded by the brilliant single How Can You Really. A dominant piano intro accompanies Sam France’s vocals (recorded solely on a voice recorder), as Foxygen and backing band Star Power trudge along quite nicely through three and a half minutes of old school rhythms which would fit just as nicely in the 1970s as either of the two preceding tracks in this list.
23. FUTURE ISLANDS – SEASONS (WAITING ON YOU)
Future Islands have been hailed as the hype band of 2014, which is definitely with good reason. Their smashing album Singles is a blissful mixture of electro-pop and indie rock made for the Pitchfork nation, ending up in various year-end lists across the world. Seasons (Waiting On You) opens with a nostalgic sounding synth intro, which eventually picks up the pace and turns into an anthemic masterpiece fronted by Samuel T Herring’s superb baritone vocals.
22. VIET CONG – CONTINENTAL SHELF
Both this song and the next one were very late additions to this Top 50. In fact, neither track featured in it 10 minutes ago. Viet Cong are being hailed as the stars of 2015, which isn’t too bad a guess considering the raw power and intensity of Continental Shelf. A wall of guitar-led noise and tribal drums underpins Scott Munro’s lyrics about liquid gold. These Canadians have definitely got it going for them, it’s just a matter of time before we hear more of them.
21. THE WAR ON DRUGS – RED EYES
Another band who have been star citizens of the Pitchfork nation is The War on Drugs. Just like Future Islands, The War on Drugs have been featuring very high in many end of year lists around the world with their album Lost in the Dream. The Springsteen-meets-Dylan guitars and organs of Red Eyes make it an absolute blinder of a track, with its hypnotic vocals definitely helping the listener get lost in their own dreams.
20. SKATERS – MISS TEEN MASSACHUSETTS
Skaters are probably about 10 years too late with their Strokes-meets-Ramones NYC punk rock. Their debut album Miss Teen Massachusetts, rated highly by many yet forgotten by many others, is one of the best albums we’ve heard this year. Its track of the same name opens with scrawny fuzz guitars, ahead of a big chorus which should’ve set SKATERS up for a successful year. Instead, they seem to have gone out on a whimper this year, much to our disappointment.
Check back next week for the third set of songs.