Over the last few days, we’ve looked at the tracks that we ranked 25 – 11 in our list of favourites for the year (previous posts can be found by clicking these links, 25 – 21, 20 – 16, 15 – 11) and now it’s Top 10 time. Well, specifically our favourite tracks of the year places 10 – 6 right now, 5 – 1 will come later.
#10 Arrange – “Home”
Arrange’s “Home” signalled the return of an artist whose heartfelt, honest and gorgeously atmospheric music gets us right in the soul and this was a devastating five minutes of aural majesty.
Like opening a music box it begins with a delicate innocence before it folds out into Lacey’s muted vocal that spins and twirls with guitars like a clockwork ballerina. Far away chatter like fragile memories twist like shadows and shapes in the corner of your eye, darkening and scarring as emotion soars with the tempo and energy. There are layers within, even more than before, the depths tunnel further down into darkness while the highs soar ever closer to the sun. It is the ending though, the glorious horn laden ending, that will enrapture and stir your soul. It’s like throwing off shackles that have held you down for so long, flinging the door wide as the beat intensifies and the melody builds and instantly having to cover your eyes from the brightness and optimism that awaits.
#9 Liza Anne – “The Colder Months”
Liza Anne‘s “The Colder Months” (the title track from her debut album) arrived early in the year but remains one of the most beautiful tracks we’ve heard all year.
It’s a mellifluous folk ballad, a wind whispering through a forest of trees, stripped bare by the cold but still strikingly beautiful, and beyond to a snow laden graveyard perhaps, solemn, peaceful and enchanting. Crisp white layers sit unsullied upon statues, tombs and trees. This majestic scene, like her voice, is hauntingly serene and full of heartbreak. The juxtaposition of unbearable grief and overwhelming beauty give us an exquisitely crafted musical imagining of the unpredictable and tumultuousness nature of love and loss, of the confusion and conflict within the heart. It builds gently, a greyed sky of emotion drifting overhead before bursting open into moments of glorious melodious snowfall, sounds cascading down together, covering you in an evocative and heart melting arrangement.
#8 Aquilo – “Human”
2014 has been a pretty great year for the Aquilo gents, with two EPs released to universal adulation as well as some fantastic live shows (their Latitude performance was one of the high points of our festival experience this year), so choosing just one of their tracks was never going to be easy. However, our favourite was the Sohn produced “Human” with its crisp, stark electronics and wistful atmospherics and vocals. The rhythm crunched like feet on pristine new snow while the melody cascaded gently as fresh flakes atop it. It was just gorgeous and took everything we already loved about Aquilo and added a whole new layer of beauty for us to fall for.
#7 Harry Edwards – “Lesser”
We’ve loved and supported Norwich based Harry Edwards for some time now (and will continue to do so – more on that another day) but until autumn this year it has always been his ambient and atmospheric electronic melodies we had loved. Then we saw his first ever live performance (with a band) and one track stood out above the others that made us realise just how talented this young man is. Sounding like the biologically impossible progeny of a glorious one night ménage á trois between Frank Ocean, James Blake and Justin Timberlake, “Lesser” is a remarkable composition and amalgamation of sounds, styles and ideas. It’s dark and hypnotic, music for the late night and the underground club where the magic happens.
#6 Rag’N’Bone Man – “Hell Yeah”
We’ve written a bit about Brighton’s Rag’N’Bone Man recently as it wasn’t that long ago that we first heard him so forgive us for the repetition but “Hell Yeah” is just an incredible track that sounds completely huge and ready for mainstream radio love. The vocals are raw and powerful, full of soul and heart, yet still manage to rise up into a little Bond theme-esque moment or two. The use of choral backing vocals to supplement the hook gives it an ever richer, deeper sound that fills every nook and cranny of your cranium. It adds an uplifting element to the darkness and world-weariness that runs throughout the song. It’s dirty, rundown and desperate, but there’s hope, there’s light at the end of the tunnel and there’s an incredible and surprising soundtrack.