Here are a few songs I enjoyed in 2014. I didn't listen to as many full albums this year, that's okay. I did hear some songs here and there that I thought were pretty rad, so I'm going to tell you about them.
The Decemberists - Make You Better
I have liked The Decemberists for a long time. Almost a decade at this point, which is kind of crazy. I first heard their single, "Make You Better" and thought "This doesn't sound like the Decemberists I love, its far too polished, etc" But I've heard it more since then and the slight changes to their sound haven't taken away from their old sincerity. There might be less jangliness, but underneath the polish its still them. The rock's gone through the jumbler a few rounds, but its still the same rock. There's still that cutting guitar, and Colin Meloy's intricate lyrics. "Make You Better" is about needing someone, that person needing you and how our expectations don't always match up to reality. Its a song I needed.
Broncho - Class Historian
There is an irreverence, an inescapable energy, as well as a snarl to "Class Historian" by Broncho. Their sound feels like The Kinks by way of Devo with a touch of Duran Duran but really none of those at all. Its a good song to jump around to.
Alvvays - Archie, Marry Me
I have a thing for bands with female volcalists, I also have a thing for songs that reference fictional characters. And this call out is especially good since it references the improbable Archie who constantly has to choose between his love interests Veronica and Betty. The fuzzed out shredding guitars and vocals that seem lazy yet desperate make "Archie, Marry Me" a song that would have fit in well in the 90's era girl bands.
George Ezra - Budapest
A song about leaving it all behind and starting anew if given the chance with the right person. A toe-tapping beat and Mr. Ezra's deep vocals that allow for bedroom harmonizing make "Budapest" heart-felt poppy song.
Hozier - Take Me to Church
This is a song I enjoyed greatly this year. It was a good song for driving to this summer. And I am happy to see how popular it has become. It is a spare, raw song that is filled with soul. "Take Me to Church" is about an intense romance, rather than a religious one. The piano and drums with subtle guitar work with Andrew Hozier-Byrne's voice truly create a truly electric mix.
The New Pornographers - Champions of Red Wine
Swirling synths pull you into "Champions of Red Wine", then Neko Case starts singing and everything is right with the world. This is a song for me tinged with nostalgia, of those parties that would devolve into anarchy of pouring drinks over anyone and everything in sight. Those are parties that end in drunken sing alongs and craziness. This song is harkening to that sort of cathartic party rage and the serenity that also exists in that moment. I love it.
Spoon - Inside Out
"Inside Out" builds slowly, letting the listener fall into the cloying beat before Britt Daniels desperately wails, "Time's gone inside out!" He is sounding the alarm, but yet the beat reasures us everything is just fine, and the dream continues. The entirety of Spoon's newest album, "They Want My Soul" is tightly solid. Its a compact album that satisfies from one side to the other.
Weezer - Cleopatra
Only Weezer could make such a catchy ode to a dying romance with an older woman. (Eat your heart out Simon and Garfunkle/The Graduate) The guitars shred and the band chants the years that have gone by leaving Cleopatra more distant and frigid. It feels like vintage Weezer - so good.
TV on the Radio - Happy Idiot
The Music video for Happy Idiot is a sublime tribute to Speed Racer featuring Karen Gillan and Paul Ruebens. So watch the video and then just bask in this delight of a song heralding the wonder of the happy idiot; safe guarded from worry, marching towards adventure.