Monday, December 29, 2014

2014 Year in Music: Top 20 Moments

Well, isn't this fun? Twenty bits of songs that are cool and awesome and stuff?

Let's dig in!

20. DJ Snake - Turn Down For What (feat. Lil Jon)
The first time...

Eventually (read: the second or third time you heard it), you realized that this was a thirty second song turned into a three and a half minute excuse for the gloriously stupid music video. The first time that hook hits, though... fucking fantastic.

19. Kitty - Barbie J33p
"I'll send you up in the air, wingardium leviosa"

I'm a sucker for a Harry Potter reference in a club rap song, I guess.

18. Swans - Just a Little Boy (For Chester Burnett)
That laughing...

The first time I heard the laughing in this song, I was sort of dozing off a bit, and it completely terrified me. Even now, it puts me ill at ease for the duration of the song.

17. Kairon; IRSE! - Swarm
The swarm arrives

Never let it be said that the post-rock crescendo is dead. "Swarm" ends up being quite generous with them, giving the listener several. It's the big one before the (fake) comedown, though, that really pushes the limits on it. Adding several elements beyond the standard "ever louder guitar and drum buzz" that most examples stop at.

16. Saor - Children of the Mist
Bring in the flutes!

It's like they always say. Black metal just isn't black metal without an extended flute breakdown nine minutes in.

15. Spoon - Rainy Taxi
"I had no good news"

 Britt Daniel's voice is generally top notch, but something about the way he delivers the line "I came home last night; I had no good news" sounds so damned cool against the driving beat and menacing bassline of "Rainy Taxi".
14. Run the Jewels - Blockbuster Night, Part 1
Doing deeds and dashing / Mike delivers coffee

"I deal in dirty work / Do the deed and then dash, ditch 'em"
"Top of the morning, my fist to your face is fucking Folgers"

The first is by El-P, the second by Killer Mike. Both lines are pretty much completely awesome.

13. Dum Dum Girls - Are You Okay
"I'm reckless at night, I'm sorry for days"

The lingering feeling of unease that's been building throughout the song finally spills over over the narrator admits she might never be over what's eating at her. That wouldd be enough, but the fact that the song kicks into pure 80's goodness on the spot just seals the deal.

12. SZA - Warm Winds (feat. Isaiah Rashad)
"...gardens, flowers, warm winds"

I like the first half of "Warm Winds" just fine, but the second half melts into a hazy reminiscing blur ("Sometimes I bite my lips and close my eyes just to pretend it's you"). For all the hype around Isaiah Rashad's album (and it does have its highlights) this is my favorite thing that he's been a part of to this point.

11. Calvin Harris - Summer

So help me, I like this song. The abrupt twang the punctuates between the crazy revved-up EDM hooks only amplifies that enjoyment.
10. Sia - Chandelier
"like a bird through the night"

The moment that the best Top 40 song of the year turns from being a pretty damned good song to being something else entirely. Her voice gives me chills even today. (the "I'm holding on for dear life" post-hook bit is also aces).

9. Sharon Van Etten - Your Love Is Killing Me
...and it's apparently a very painful death

Break my legs so I won't walk to you
Cut my tongue so I can't talk to you
Burn my skin so I can't feel you
Stab my eyes so I can't see
You like it when I let you walk over me
You tell me that you like it
Your love is killing me

8. Angel Olsen - White Fire
"When you don't know that you're wrong..."

"...or just how wrong you are."

7. Todd Terje - Delorean Dynamite
Release 1 / Release 2

I had a hard time choosing between the first release (1:09 in), where the song pays off the proceedings with a pretty nifty hook, or the second one (3:27), where you realize that the first hook was just a decoy to build the real thing off of.

6. Sharon Van Etten - Traifa
The little saxophone bit

It isn't much, but the descending three note saxophone melody works just perfectly in the chorus to my favorite song off of Are We There.

5. Alcest - Délivrance

I always forget how early this part comes in (four minutes in), and how long it lasts (about six full minutes!) For a solid six minutes, from the "built up to almost Explosions in the Sky proportions" swell to the ending, where only Neige's voice remains, Délivrance's back half is golden shimmery goodness.

4. Rustie - Attak (feat. Danny Brown)
"I ain't gotta say shit"

There are so many parts in this song to love ("got the game on lock like we changed the key", or even better "I'ma m--I'ma maniac"), but the one that towers over all of them is the ending, where Danny Brown's forceful flow evolves into shouting, which evolves into a swaggering roar. "I AIN'T GOTTA SAY SHIT, TELL YOUR BITCH TO SUCK MY DICK." works better in context, I promise...

3. Vic Mensa - Down On My Luck
"Fuck that get down"

Great song, great video... great buildup to the instrumental hook.

"Hands up, flip a finger to 'em...fuck that get down"

2. Swans - Bring the Sun / Toussaint L'Ouverture
The sun is brought

Post-Rock does not corner the market on big swelling crescendos. This one starts light, with Michael Gira chanting "bring the suuuuun" as the song starts building and building until you think it can't possibly get any bigger, lest it explode.

At that point, you are roughly halfway through the explosive climax of the first half of the song.

1. The War on Drugs - Red Eyes

The most cathartic moment (well, "moments", since it happens twice) in music since I don't know when.

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