Great Songs of 2014

In any given year, I struggle to keep up with the best books and movies. But I try to spend a lot of time searching out music that I really like. To the extent your tastes are similar to mine, you might enjoy the following ten songs.

1. Sales: Getting It On

For a song I liked this much, I’m not fully sure why. There’s some combination of calmness, reflection, seduction, and self-awareness that kept pulling me in.

2. Connor Oberst: Artifact #1

I thought this one of the best albums of the year, but then my tastes are inclined to sentimentalism, and few do it better than Connor Oberst. On previous albums, Oberst nailed: what’s it’s like to be sixteen, the Iraq War, and the singularity – and with this album he nails what it’s like to be in your thirties. The whole album is worth digging into.

3. Sturgill Simpson: Turtles All the Way Down

Country music with weirdness, depth, and spirituality. They lyrics are wonderful: “There’s a gateway in our mind that leads somewhere out there beyond this plane / Where reptile aliens made of light cut you open and pull out all your pain” … “So don’t waste your mind on nursery rhymes /Or fairy tales of blood and wine / It’s turtles all the way down the line.”

4. Okkervil River: Our Life is Not a Movie, Or Maybe

I like emotionally obvious songs with bouts of momentum. This song delivers on both fronts.

5. The War on Drugs: Red Eyes 

Usually, I care a lot about the lyrics of song. With this song, I can’t really understand what is being said. But there is a beautiful energy that pulls the best of the rock and roll of the 1980s into the modern era.

6. Vance Joy: Mess is Mine

While the lyrics of the song seem to be about the truth that there are no individual messes in a relationships (“your mess in mine”), the video takes this theme and expands on it, addressing climate change via a polar bear taxi driver.

7. Strand of Oaks: Shut In

A more vulnerable version of Band of Horses.

8. Cathedrals: Harlem 

Over the past two years, my tastes have been trending to include more bands with female vocalists and electronic music undercurrents – such as this great song.

9. Caribou: Can’t Do Without You

Atypical for my tastes, but I agree with the other 2.5 million people on soundcloud – everytime you listen to this song it hooks you in a little more, and by the 5th time you’re addicted.

10. Alt-J: Hunger of the Pine

Haunting.

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