- Haim-Days Are Gone
- Janelle Monáe-Electric Lady
- Arcade Fire-Afterlife
- Childish Gambino-3005
- M.I.A.-Come Walk With Me
- Beyonce-XO/Drunk In Love
- Cults-We’ve Got It
- Best Coast-I Don’t Know How
- Paramore-Ain’t It Fun
- Sky Ferreira-You’re Not The One
- Kanye West-Black Skinhead
- Semi Precious Weapons-Look To The Stars
- The Julie Ruin-Ha Ha Ha
These are thirteen songs, in no particular order, that I danced, sang, or listened to on repeat last year that still require your immediate attention.
When I hear a song I usually associate said song with an emotion, image, or person. The song immediately becomes a memory to me, cataloged and stored in the jukebox that is my brain.
I don’t discriminate against music but I am critical of artists and their creative decisions or lack thereof. These songs are from artists I am mostly familiar with and a couple I’ve only come to discover recently.
I first heard Haim on the radio last summer. Forever was the single they were pushing off their first EP. These girls, sisters actually, sound like angels with leather jackets on leaving behind a trail of broken hearts wherever they go. Their husky voiced harmonies slay and would make Wilson Phillips green with envy.
I chose Days Are Gone because when I hear it I can’t help but sing-along. This song is perfection. It’s dramatic, catchy, and, like the rest of the album, isn’t about being dumped or heartbroken. This album is about wising up and moving on.
Janelle Monáe is a weirdo and I love her. While her previous efforts were ambitious, they also seemed highfalutin and inaccessible.
Electric Lady is a true achievement capturing her creative spirit and featuring some of her best work, both retro and soulful. The title track is smooth and irresistible, a funky Soul Train inspired shakedown featuring the incomparable Miss Solange Knowles. Shock it, shake it baby!
Arcade Fire’s Afterlife is heartbreaking and unnerving. This track, from their double LP Reflektor, is a haunting lullaby pondering the loss of life and love. And oddly enough might remind you of Greta Gerwig in an elaborate modern dance number, if you are lucky enough to have stumbled upon the YouTube music video. I’m currently learning the routine.
Donald Glover’s Because The Internet is polarizing, nerdy, moody, and sometimes even enjoyable. I’m quite partial to 3005 because, ironically enough, it sounds futuristic. I mean what is popular now is derivative of what everyone “agrees” sounds pleasing to the ears.
This sounds like an evolution, leaps and bounds ahead of the bitches and hoes rap/hip-hop bullshit. 3005 sounds like everyone’s new favorite song. Childish Gambino is looking for future sounds.
M.I.A. is one of my favorite shit talking, ass shaking, pot stirrers and Matangi is just another notch in her belt. She’s master of her craft and still full of ambition and creativity.
Come Walk With Me is a psychedelic groove morphing into a funky world beat. You might get confused dancing to this but that definitely won’t stop you from trying.
Beyoncé Knowles has silenced her critics and naysayers with the surprise release of her self-titled “visual” album complete with seventeen music videos. 17, seriously. This risky endeavour has turned out to be the biggest milestone in her career to date.
I had to pick two songs for you to indulge in as I have over and over again. This isn’t just some of her best work, Beyoncé is one of the best albums released last year. A slow jam, stripped down, in your face musical experiment that oozes with passion, sex, and charisma.
XO is a super sonic love song for the ages. A sweet melody slowly building into a bombastic stadium anthem. Drunk in Love is a sultry snake charmer flute song working everyone into a frenzy. Beyoncé does not play some cheap NSFW video vixen, she’s a goddess. Bow down bitches!
Cults are my favorite creepy cool indie retro rock duo. Their unique sound is part doo wop 60s girl band and grungy garage rock. Despite the dissolution of their own romance, Cults has thankfully continued on as a band with the release of their second album Static.
We’ve Got It is one of my favorites and somehow reminds me of black and white horror movies and cemeteries. Madeline’s vocals tip toe across tambourines and cymbals clashing back in forth with the slow strum of menacing guitars. Her haunting vocals have always left a huge impression on me and I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying them live.
I have tirelessly worshipped at the altar of Bethany Cosentino and 2013 was no different with the release of their EP Fade Away. True to form this lo-fi surfer rock duo has perfected their craft and offered up another stellar selection of confessional pop.
I Don’t Know How is Best Coast’s Wrecking Ball and Bratty B is always on point when it comes to bringing on the heartbreak.
This is what it feels like to have your heart stomped on. And this is what it feels like to watch the stomper carelessly walk away like they never even knew your name. Classic and timeless, I’ll never stop praising Best Coast for their honesty and effortless musicality.
Call them what you want, Paramore have transformed themselves. The trio’s self titled release defies genres and defines the band on their own terms. Besides the ukulele interludes that frame the album perfectly, gospel choir guest spots, and killer hooks Hayley Williams and company have always provided, there is also something different this time around.
Paramore have become more adventurous and grown much too big for the pop-punk sandbox they have been holed up in and are finally stadium rock ready. Ain’t It Fun is a clap your hands fancy free sing along about how shitty it is to have to grow up.
Williams’ vocals are always sugary sweet and delectable but bittersweet lyrics, thrashing guitars, and throbbing drums have always grounded the band somewhere accessible for everyone to enjoy. Not to mention the gospel choir in the bridge, take em to church Hayley.
Sky Ferreira is a beast. Her chameleon fashion sense is enviable and her music varies from indie-pop, folk, and grunge. She’s as talented as she is unpredictable and I impatiently await her every move. I’ve been smitten and apparently so has Miley Cyrus who has invited her to join the BANGERZ world tour she is about to embark on.
You’re Not The One is an 80s riff revved up and pulsing over Ferreira’s aching vocals. The ultimate kiss off. Her siren song is vicious and her latest videos are all love letters to David Lynch. :swoon:
I don’t care what you say about him, Kanye West is not going anywhere. And believe it or not, music would not be the same without him pushing buttons and breaking the rules. His ego is simply a result of the popular culture we have all perpetuated and he is one of our tamer creations, suck it Bieber!
Yeezus sounds like a big mess, but it’s a calculated move from a meticulous and maniacal genius. And there’s a staggering list of producers, samples, and collaborators to prove it.
Black Skinhead is Yeezy’s big black middle finger pointed in every direction. A battle cry full of pomp and fury as he charges against the masses. The unapologetic hellion is far from finished crafting his legacy.
Semi Precious Weapons will finally see the release of new music in 2014 and hopefully, finally, the recognition they deserve. Justin Tranter is an androgynous and electrifying frontman that is equal parts, Freddie Mercury, Iggy Pop, and Elton John. The energy on stage when he performs with the band is unmatched, raw, fierce, and unforgettable.
Look To The Stars is just a tease off their next full length release and I’m already salivating for more. While their kinky and edgy previous albums have never felt half baked, this isn’t the band I’ve heard before. Look To the Stars is new and different with a star vocal turn by Tranter reaching incredible new heights. A beautifully crafted earworm ready to be your new obsession.
Kathleen Hanna is a rebel queen but, unfortunately, you probably don’t even know her name. I thought I knew who Hanna and now I really get it. She’s one of the lone voices of feminism this generation has seen and mostly forgotten. She has a knack for speaking her mind and lucky for us she has still a lot to say.
Last year her new band, The Julie Ruin, released the album Run Fast. The Julie Ruin is some happy median between Le Tigre and Bikini Kill and equally as vicious. Ha Ha Ha is manic and synth laden laughing off an impending apocalypse. Rattle and hum brought to you by the original upstart.