It’s that time of year again, and as a team, we had to pick our favourite songs of the year. For a group of people with such varied music tastes, it wasn’t easy, but here it is! In no order, these are twenty of On Record’s favourite songs of 2014. Oh, and just because Taylor Swift isn’t on the list, it doesn’t mean that ‘Shake It Off’ wasn’t the song of the year (because let’s face it, it totally was).
Sia – ‘Chandelier’ (1000 Forms Of Fear)
Of the many pop hits we had to refrain from putting on this list, ‘Chandelier’ by Sia managed to slip through the net. This single sees her demonstrate her award-winning songwriting skills with sullen verses contrasting against euphoric choruses as she sings about her struggles with alcoholism to create a dark and emotive track that is thinly veiled as a pop song to hide the sobriety of the lyrical content.
Röyksopp & Robyn – ‘Do It Again’ (Do It Again EP)
FKA Twigs – ‘Two Weeks’ (LP1)
Unrequited love is a subject that is all too common in pop music. Unrequited lust though rarer is, judging from this track, a lot more interesting. FKA Twigs fashions this pop monster from a bubbling Timbaland-inspired beat as filthy as the lyrical content (“My thighs are apart for when you’re ready to breathe in”) which contrasts beautifully with her angelic Mariah level vocal inflections. In a year of women continuing to exercise their sexuality ‘Two Weeks’ fits right in.
Nick Mulvey – ‘I Don’t Want To Go Home’ (First Mind)
Architects – ‘Broken Cross’ (Lost Forever // Lost Together)
We have covered Architects a lot this year and with good reason, Lost Forever // Lost Together is a phenomenal album and Architects continue to get better with age. ‘Broken Cross’ is a prime example of their current state, it’s visceral, it’s angry, it’s dirty, and you want to play it over and over on repeat. Sam Carter’s delivery of lyrics like “God only knows why we were born to burn” is punishing, while the combination of Dan and Tom Searle’s guitars and drums hammer the message home, that Architects still have a point to prove, and prove is what they have done.
Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness – ‘High Dive’ (Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness)
Future Islands – ‘Seasons (Waiting On You)’ (Singles)
‘Seasons (Waiting On You)’ is one of those tracks that was there all along. On the radio in the background or as a remix in a bar, the synth-pop sounds of ‘Seasons’ had been soundtracking the year without people even realising it, and the melodies became ingrained into people’s memories.
Screaming Maldini – ‘Abyssinia’ (Everything Unsaid)
Run The Jewels – ‘Oh My Darling Don’t Cry’ (Run The Jewels 2)
When Run The Jewels 2 dropped in October and this came on as the second track, it instantly stood out as a future favourite. El-P and Killer Mike’s unique brand of hip-hop isn’t exactly the sort of music you’d expect to have mass appeal, but the duo have really made a name for themselves in the mainstream. This track has even been played on BBC Radio 1, although there were so many gunshot sounds covering up swear words and sexual innuendos that it was almost unrecognisable, and sounded almost as if Zane Lowe was playing Call of Duty in the studio and had forgotten to turn his microphone down.
Behemoth – ‘Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel’ (The Satanist)
Fall Out Boy – ‘Centuries’ (American Beauty/American Psycho)
Fall Out Boy really shocked the world when they announced they were back in action last year, and since then they’ve managed to claw their way back up to the top spot that they so dearly held in the 2007 heyday of emo. It’s been proven in 2014 that Save Rock and Roll was not any kind of final goodbye, like some people suggested, as the have band announced that, early next year, they will release their sixth studio album, American Beauty / American Psycho. Earlier this year they debuted the first single from the record, ‘Centuries’ that had an incredible impact on the band’s unsuspecting fanbase – not to mention Rick Ross makes a cameo appearance in the music video. Infinite cool points.
PVRIS – ‘St. Patrick’ (White Noise)
Against Me! – ‘FUCKMYLIFE666’ (Transgender Dysphoria Blues)
After a long wait, Transgender Dysphoria Blues became one of the biggest statements of 2014, with the album clocking in at just under half an hour, it was a short burst of aggressive energy which had a great deal to say. Tucked into the record on side B, ‘FUCKMYLIFE666’ puts fear and anxiety into fifth gear and doesn’t look back with frontwoman Laura Jane Grace’s nervous energy being pushed to the forefront in her lyrics “Don’t want to live without teeth, don’t want to die without bite. I never want to say that I regret it”.
Cloud Nothings – ‘I’m Not Part Of Me’ (Here And Nowhere Else)
The Pretty Reckless – ‘Heaven Knows’ (Going to Hell)
Some people may laugh at The Pretty Reckless in the metal scene, seeing as lead singer Taylor Momsen began her entertainment career by starring as Cindy Lou Who in The Grinch, and not to mention a long-lasting appearance as Little J on Gossip Girl. That may put her at a disadvantage, but that hasn’t stopped her from being one of the most badass chicks in rock and truly proving that she doesn’t care about what anyone thinks. The quartet released their second album early this year, and last month saw the phenomenal track ‘Heaven Knows’ released as a single, which quickly reached number one on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Songs chart. If that doesn’t convince you it’s a jam, the chilling bassline and general old school rock theme will!
Nick Santino – ‘Long Way Home’ (Big Skies)
The War On Drugs – ‘Suffering’ (Lost in the Dream)
Sun Kil Moon drama aside, the slow burning ‘Suffering’ was a true highlight from The War On Drugs breakout album Lost In The Dream, on it frontman Adam Granduciel delicately assembles a mesmerising backdrop to project his insecure doubt over which you can hear in his nervous croon. The pacing of the track leaves a great deal of room for grander changes and when the song climaxes almost three minutes in, it’s an overwhelmingly layered sound which could fill up a cathedral.
Grimes – ‘Go feat. Blood Diamonds’ (Go)
Bring Me the Horizon – ‘Drown’ (Sempiternal)
Over the course of their four albums, Bring Me the Horizon have transformed themselves from stereotype deathcore poster boys, to genuine challengers for festival headline slots and into one of the most exciting British bands in years. Early December saw them sell out Wembley Arena, the first British metal band to do so in 25 years, and while it marked a huge milestone for the band, tied with the release of Drown it feels like it could just be the beginning of a new era for them. Drown is a marked change in sound for the now more experimental BMTH. But it is still very much one of their songs. Oli Sykes has adapted his technique in line with vocal chord issues, and it has pushed the songwriting as a result while the band adapt to the change as well. If Drown is a Sign of things to come, 2014 will be tiny in comparison to the next stage in their career.
Moose Blood – ‘Boston’ (Boston/Orlando)
This list barely begins to scratch the surface of the great music that we heard in 2014, a year that saw fantastic releases across all genres. Look out for another feature coming soon where we’ll pick out some of the best tracks of the year that you might’ve missed!