Tracks of 2014 – Editor’s Picks - Articles - Soundblab

Tracks of 2014 – Editor’s Picks

by Rich Morris Rating: Release Date:

So I was gonna chose my favourite tracks of the year to write about (rather than albums, which always take me longer to identify), but then I thought, rather than just picking ones which make me look uber-cool, why not look at my iTunes and go by what I’ve actually played the most this year?

So below are the tracks released in 2014 that I’ve listened to the most, plus the play-count. What I discovered by doing this was interesting: the tracks I’ve been playing repeatedly are not necessarily ones by bands I’m a huge fan of. Sure, there are firm favourites like Aphex Twin, Polar Bear and Dum Dum Girls in there, as well as new loves like Tacocat, but I barely know who Jon Porras is, even though I’ve been playing his track ‘New Monument’ obsessively.

Obviously, doing it this way skews things a little; I’ve had more time to listen to older tracks, but then again the Ariel Pink album only came out last month, and I’ve been listening to ‘Nude Beach A-Go-Go’ so much I’m already a bit sick of it.

So here, in ascending order, are the top 10 tracks I’ve had on heavy rotation this year, with a bit about why you should be playing them too.

Polar Bear - Open See (28)

In Each and Every One saw perennially brilliant avant-jazz outfit Polar Bear delve deeper into electronica than ever before. ‘Open See’ was the standout moment: seven minutes of ambient bliss and free-floating sax. The perfect song to play late-night and alone.

 (This is titled 'Be Free' for some reason)

Aphex Twin - Minipops 67 [120.2][Source Field Mix] (29)

Not everyone was impressed with Richard D James’ return to the mainstream, but that was because they were expecting him to completely rewire the way their brains processed soundwaves or something. OK, Syro might have sounded like something he could have farted out in his sleep, and who knows he didn’t, using some sort of fiendish homemade fart-Auto-Tune device stuck up his bum? But so fucking what?

‘Minipops…’ sounds like no one else. There are artists who make beats like Aphex, and artists who write melodies like him, but there is no one who combines the two the way he does. That’s why he’s still the don.

Lilacs & Champagne - Shower Scene (30)

I really don’t know much about this act or Midnight Features Vol. 1: Shower Scene, the album this track is from. But its mix of film noir soundtrack, warped 60s psych and stoned hip-hop beats is perfect. They used to have a name for stuff like this – what was it? Oh yeah, trip-hop.

Jon Porras - New Monument (30)

Jon Porras is apparently in Barn Owl, which is a terrible name for a band and explains why I don’t know much about him. ‘New Monument’, however, is one of the most beautiful things I’ve heard all year: pure ambient synth washes, faraway taps and clanks and, well, nothing else. For over five minutes. I could play it endlessly.

Can't fiind a link for 'New Monument' so here's this instead: 

Ariel Pink & Azealia Banks - Nude Beach A-Go-Go (32)

I was a big fan of Banks’ notorious hit ‘212’ back in 1975, or whenever it was first released, but Ariel Pink seems like a bit of a prat, frankly, and what I’ve heard of his in-jokey hipster-fests has failed to impress. However, this collaboration, which features on both artists’ 2014 albums, rivals ‘212’ as the best thing Banks has done. It’s a swinging, summertime surf-pop anthem with half-rude, half-gibberish lyrics and a hook so bloody addictive there’ll probably be a gritty HBO drama based on it soon.

Tacocat - Crimson Wave (34)

‘Crimson Wave’ is a surf-rock, punk-pop blast about being on your period, which is amazing. The lyrics are funny, smart, and feel completely true, while the breezy, Ramones-y tune turns a song about cramps and crying into an irresistible, sing-along classic.

TOY - Conductor (Mikey Young Remix) (35)

I don’t even know what the original of this sounds like. I just know how much I love this remix’s motorik, cruising-through-the-night-to-the-break-of-dawn feel. If I had a car, this would be on the stereo constantly. I don’t, however. Still, this makes for a good washing up soundtrack too.

Dum Dum Girls - Cult of Love (39)

DDG have gracefully glided from their original garage-punk to a more 80s indie sound, and ‘Cult of Love’ swirls like dry ice on a darkened dancefloor. I’ve been listening to it for months and I’ve just realised I have no idea what it’s about or, besides the title, what Dee Dee’s singing. But it doesn’t matter, because the sound is pure dark-pop perfection.

I Break Horses – Faith (42)

Another one that’s on heavy rotation in my 80s nightclub of the mind. Again, no idea what it’s about or what the lyrics are. In fact, a couple of weeks ago I was talking to a friend about how much I love this song and then realised I couldn’t even remember the name of it.

It’s called ‘Faith’, it’s not a cover of the George Michael song, and it’s bloody good. That’s all you need to know.

Mogwai - Simon Ferocious (47)

An odd one, this, since I’ve never been a huge Mogwai fan. I mean, I generally like and approve of them but their music, like most post-rock, often leaves me a little… Well, bored, if I’m honest. But ‘Simon Ferocious’ is different.

I think it’s the great, meaty analogue synth-bassline which underpins it. I’m just a sucker for vintage synth sounds, while everything over the top – the guitars especially, which do their usual post-rock rising/falling, quiet/loud routine – is very nice as well. The whole thing fizzes along, being melodic and beautiful and just a little bit ragged, until it all eventually dissolves into nothingness, like tooth enamel in a sea of Coca-Cola.  

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