Tag Archives: 2014 Tracks of the Year

2014 Tracks Of The Year: #5 – 1

16 Dec

Tracks of 2014 - 5-1

Here we are then, our favourite five tracks from 2014. We only had a couple of rules when putting this list together and if you need reminding of them, you’re in luck as here they are. We have purposefully used quite a loose definition of ‘tracks’. We are not looking at singles only but tracks that were released in one capacity or another over the last 12 months. The only other arbitrary rule we have implemented is, one song per artist.

Before we reveal the top five, here’s a quick link-a-thon to the other Tracks of the Year posts and the previous 20 of our favourite songs of 2014, should you have missed any of them or just fancy a reminder.

Part One – Tracks #25 – 21
Part Two – Tracks #20 – 16
Part Three – Tracks #15 – 11
Part four – Tracks #10 – 6

Now then, here we go with our Top 5 favourite tracks of 2014. Enjoy.

#5 The Night VI – “Heroine”

The Night VI is another band that had a very good year that culminated with the release of an extremely high quality EP and a case could easily be made for any of its tracks to feature on a best of list. Our favourite though, the one we are addicted to, is “Heroine”. It’s been subject to a couple of stunning remixes (particularly this remarkably cinematic and bold rework from Joseph Reuben) but it is the original that has stayed with us, that has slipped into our consciousness and often slipped out of our mouth as we sing and hum it to ourselves without realising. Sophie-Rose Harper’s vocals are just a dream as the track intoxicates with its melty melody and silken synths. We remain hooked.

#4 Yumi Zouma – “Riqulme”

We wrote recently about our love for Yumi Zouma so their appearance here should be no surprise. Given said love, choosing a favourite of their tracks was quite difficult but we’ve plumped for the sublime “Riquelme”.

The soft, elegant vibe of Yumi Zouma is a thing of beauty and here the subtle 80s nods they employ include a hint of Wendy and Lisa nuanced Gwen Stefani. “Riquelme” is a poignant soft focus look at relationships, all low lighting, candles and glasses of wine, tears and heartbreak. Listening to it is like drifting along on a deserted river, shoes off, a hat covering your eyes from the glorious sunshine and toes dipped in the water making barely a ripple as you pass by. Wildlife watches, undisturbed as you float calmly across gorgeous melodies and a cool caressing breeze of vocals brushes your face.

#3 Lauren Aquilina – “Forest Fires”

We’ve often spoken about the personal nature of music and how it affects each of us differently, how little things in a song can mean so much to one listener yet completely pass others by. “Forest Fires” by Lauren Aquilina was a track just like that. It might not have meant anything to many, but to us it remains a heavenly and heavily emotive piano ballad that hit us like a sledgehammer to the soul.

Simple, elegant and so very poignant, “Forest Fires” is a tale for the silent masses that suffer day in, day out, fighting a battle with our own psyche that we can never win. For each of us who think so little of ourselves that we are convinced the world thinks even less, yet paradoxically can only ever believe that the pain or anguish of a loved one is our fault.

It’s like a vast empty room, bathed in darkness and that Lauren’s voice soars and cracks in equal measure, heavy with emotion and torment like a single beam of light, broken by dust and splinters of wood in the roof, shining down on a lonely figure. It’s powerful and heart-wrenching and even now, having played it countless times, we still get goosebumps as she cries out “I don’t blame you” as the song reaches its destination and then, as Lauren sings the faint, brittle coda of ”who would ever want to be around me?”, our heart breaks just a little bit more.

#2 Spring Offensive – “Hengelo”

We’re massive fans of Spring Offensive (they placed first on our 2012 Tracks of the Year list for example) so 2014 was one of wonderful highs and depressing lows for us regarding Oxfordshire’s finest. They finally released their debut album Young Animal Hearts (which was completely fantastic) but also announced the cessation of their existence as a band. At the start of the year they have given, and then by the end they had taken away. Still, at least they left us with a brilliant collection of songs, perhaps our favourite of which is “Hengelo”.

With its unusual but intriguing subject matter, Spring Offensive did what they do best and looked beyond the narrative and into the emotion and motivation, for the humanity within. Here they deal in the mundane moments of life that can accumulate into the extraordinary; the feelings we experience everyday and likely don’t notice until it is too late. They seek and see the daily stresses of life and the unseen breaking points inside us all, reach in and mould them into songs that glide and rise, that send shivers down your spine as you recognise the reality within them but that raise you up on their deft arrangements and sublime melodies and remarkably catchy tunes.

#1 Vérité – “Weekend”

Another year, another favourite track and here today, there’s another genre represented by the winner. When Verité popped on the scene earlier this year it was immediately obvious that another sensational new pop artist had just been discovered and now, months later and with “Weekend” still played at least once a day, we feel even more confident that it is only a matter of when the chart bothering will begin for her.

Why do we love “Weekend” so? Simple reasons really, it is freakish just how infectious it is, how it compels movement, no matter how small, as you listen; it behoves a boogie. The lyrics are suitably catchy with a deliciously sing-a-long chorus and her vocals are just perfect for the dance-pop realm she inhabits. It is a pop masterpiece and one we cannot help but adore and enjoy time and time again.

2014 Tracks Of The Year – #10 – 6

15 Dec

Tracks of 2014 - 10-6

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.

2014 Tracks Of The Year – #15 – 11

12 Dec

Tracks of 2014 - 15-11

Hello and welcome to part three of our countdown of the 25 tracks this year that we loved more than any other. Parts one and two (where we listed the tracks that took the number 25 – 16) are here and here, and below we reveal who made it into the Top 15 and came oh so close to breaking the Top10. Enjoy.

#15 Daisy Victoria – “Nobody Dies”

Blog favourite Daisy Victoria was quite prolific this year, releasing two EPs. To kick off her second, she released the gorgeous title track “Nobody Dies” and we were hooked (as was Lauren Laverne who has been playing it a bunch recently). It’s less overtly dramatic than her previous offerings, showcasing a softer and altogether more swirlsome side of her musical personality. Keys peel like church bells and the rhythm tumbles as Daisy’s vocals and the melody combine in one great wispy marble of sound and colour. There was an accompanying video as well which is suitably bright and kaleidoscopic, perfectly encapsulating the cascading and swoony nature of the track.

#14 Lyla Foy – “Feather Tongue”

Taken from her sublime debut album, Lyla Foy’s “Feather Tongue” is yet more lovely melodic and wistful gorgeousness to add to Lyla’s already impressive collection. It feels mellow and subdued but ripples and bubbles like a natural hot spring hidden and hitherto undiscovered. Meanwhile the vocal (we adore her vocal) is like the steam above the water, the light catching it in the sun and creating millions of floating lights as it hangs above the rhythm, becalming, soothing and utterly lovely.

#13 Ocean Calling – “Desert Sky Scarlet”

All it took for us to fall completely in love with Ocean Calling’s “Desert Sky Scarlet” (aside from its roaming dreamy soundscapes) was Sophie Wilkie’s inflection whilst singing ‘snow’ in the chorus. That simplest and smallest of morsels that tipped us over the edge into head over heels mode for this utterly gorgeous tune. A pseudo Dr Who synthline kicks off this great adventure, but not into time and space, but across the globe, to majestic views, icy tundras and homely arcades, with everything in between. It is gorgeously nostalgic for the here and now, for the world around us that so many of us long to see and yet fail to do so. It has a sense of freedom, of innocence and of wonder infused throughout. It is a dreamy aural trip across the world, just close your eyes and let it take you wherever you want, especially if its somewhere covered in ‘snow’.

#12 Osca – “Blood”

The title track from Osca’s debut EP, Blood this piano driven ballad was simultaneously divine and ridiculously catchy. Many a morning we awoke to find the chorus swirling inside our head just waiting to be sung out in the shower (sorry for the image). It built and built in waves of melody and rhythm organically coming together with the vocals to make one of the most accomplished debut tracks we’ve heard in a long time.

#11 Taylor Swift – “Shake It Off”

Haters gonna hate but we don’t even care. Quite simply one of the best pure pop records of the year and just stupidly catchy, despite our wannabe inner cool kid shouting and calling us names, we just couldn’t help but love it.

2014 Tracks Of The Year – #20 – 16

11 Dec

Tracks of 2014 - 20-16

Here we go then with the second part of our Tracks of the Year countdown. After revealing the tracks that hit the spots marked 25 – 21 yesterday, it’s time to unveil the five songs that made it to the 20 – 16 places.

#20 Mighty Mouse – “See Through You” (feat. Ronika)

When our favourite disco loving pop starlet Ronika teamed up with famed producer Mighty Mouse, we knew the results would be great but their collaboration on “See Through You” was something else. Released as the winter cold began to set in, it unleashed a sheet of warmth and sunshine into our world with its soft disco funk vibe and luscious hook that instantly made us think of Mediterranean holidays and cocktails by the pool. The bassline grooves along with a light dancing swagger as the various layers of electronics, strings and vocals beckon you hither for a glorious night on the town in the late summer sunshine.

#19 Slow Club – “Complete Surrender”

The title track from Slow Club’s latest album caused something of a stir here at Alphabet Towers, and across the blog world, sounding as it did, quite different to their usual fare. It sounded different but “Complete Surrender” also sounded utterly fantastic. A ridiculously infectious track, it’s big, funky, brash and utterly danceable with so much going on, so much to enjoy and revel in. Rebecca’s voice soars like never before, there are hooks aplenty and some of the most gorgeously dramatic strings we’ve heard in some time. It’s a compulsive amalgamation of styles and sounds and we couldn’t get it out of our heads for weeks. Then we saw them play it live at Latitude and it settled back in our brains for another month. The video is stunning as well.

#18 Jack Garratt – “I Couldn’t Want You Anyway”

For his official debut track Jack Garratt gave us a tune rich with glacial beauty as “I Couldn’t Want You Anyway” dealt with an autopsy of a relationship. His falsetto vocals are cold and pained, poisoned with the deception he is deluding himself with; that he didn’t want her anyway. Soft, muted R&B tones blend with sharp electronic beats in order to disguise the cause of death as melodic icy fingers of rejection rest, still clamped round a warm heart, choking the last vestiges of life from it. Tears and realisation fall from within as that haunting vocal finally cracks and allows the truth to flow and his heart is given peace.

Note: The below video is a live session, not the single edit (it’s still gorgeous though).

#17 Fickle Friends – “Swim”

Our number one artist to listen out for in 2015, Fickle Friends were the first band we wrote about this year and Swim was the first track. Nearly 12 months later and it still sounds as bright, bubbly and as infectious as it did back then. There are Prince-esque jams inside this 80’s new-wave pop doughnut, with a sprinkled coating of Robyn on the outside, and it tastes gorgeous. It makes you want to dance, and not all cool and ironic dancing either. We’re talking silly and enthusiastic, drunk and probably lacking in coordination but stupidly fun dancing. We mean that kind of singing along with your arm around a mate dancing as you have one of those nights that go down as one of the best nights ever, even though its subject matter is distinctly less upbeat and happy.

#16 Public Service Broadcasting – “Gagarin”

Proving that as well as informing, educating and entertaining, they also have the capacity to surprise us, Public Service Broadcasting returned this year the incredible and remarkably funky, “Gagarin”. Deliberately incongruous to the reverential nature of its subject, it is a superbly uplifting piece of electronic-funk-pop. It is still distinctly PSB, and not just because of the sample use, with little Willgoose signatures in there (call backs to “Signal 30”for example) as well as (it sounds to us) a little Muppet Show reference thrown in too. While we are yet to master all the dance moves from the video, it is certainly a track we will be boogying on down to a fair bit over the Christmas period we reckon.

2014 Tracks Of The Year – #25 – 21

10 Dec

Tracks of 2014 - 25-21

After spending some time looking ahead in excitement at our top 15 artists to Listen Out For in 2015, it is now time to take a look back at some of the brilliant music we’ve enjoyed in the last 12 months. As is the norm, we will be looking at our favourite tracks, EPs and Albums of the year. This week will be Tracks (starting right now) and EPs and Albums will follow from next week.

So, we start our countdown of our 25 favourite tracks right here and now with numbers 25 – 21, but what exactly do we mean by a track, does it have to be a single? Well no, no it doesn’t. That may seem a bit of a cheat, but there’s a reason behind it. We have purposefully used quite a loose definition of ‘tracks’. We are not looking at singles only but tracks that were released in one capacity or another over the last 12 months. The only other arbitrary rule we have implemented is, one song per artist.

These then are the tracks that really stood out and stayed with us across the year, and we mean the whole year, many of these tracks have been out a number of months and we keep coming back to them time and time again, that’s how good they are.

We hope you like them and hopefully even find some you hadn’t heard before.

#25 Eurielle – “City of the Dead”

We love a bit of drama in our music and just from the title of this Eurielle track (and the associated image) we knew we were going to get it. Fantastically cinematic and theatrical it begins with a delicate swirl of melody, a gust of wind blowing gentle chimes across the landscape, a moment of purity and peace before the darkness and foreboding that follows. The chorus is like the opening of the door to Hades, an incantation is recounted and a terrifying, gothic world is laid bare before us, the inhabitants of which wait patiently to lay waste to the lands above. The beat, steady and strong like the stomping of a staff on the concrete below, is unrelenting as the orchestration and vocals dance their dance of the damned. Fantastic stuff.

#24 Colurmusic – “Dreamgirl 82”

Taken from Colurmusic’s May You Marry Rich album, “Dreamgirl 82” is a thing of dark and heavy, stormy and face melting fantasticness. It hits you with a deliciously oppressive and thundering drawl as guitar licks drip like molten lava; hot and hypnotic they ooze out and envelop the world around you. There is a domineering danger in the air as the rhythm crashes like buildings to the ground and you can do nothing but prostate yourself in servitude to a new master, nodding your head compulsively as blurred vocals issue inaudible commands that you will follow unquestionably.

#23 Emily King – “Distance”

When we first heard “Distance” by Emily King we simply started smiling, a big gurning grin of happiness. We liked the feeling so we played it again, and again, and, well you get the idea. It is a glorious throwback to emotive musical narratives of the past and “Distance” begins and ends like an old Carpenter’s tune with the kind of dreamy, lilting melody that would fill a house on an idyllic, relaxed Sunday morning. It has a gentle funky Motown beat as an optimistic drum beat skips along with honeyed vocals that drip with innocence, infatuation and confidence in the love it is so lost inside. It is simply gorgeous and addictive and deserves all the love it gets and more.

#22 Yellerkin – “Tools”

Yellerkin’s “Tools” is a song of subtle and intricate atmospherics, it has a yeasayery feel to it as oohs float around a forest of rhythm and genres meld into one but it’s the moment when the synths properly kick in about two thirds in that is really something. It’s bizarrely brilliant, like a wobbly house moment, or if rave culture had been built on lava lamps rather than smilies and pills. It’s woozy and bouncy at the same time, fun and fantastic.

#21 Branko – “Control” (feat. Yadi & Bert On Beats)

Featuring Yadi and Bert On Beats Branko’s “Control” is a super-bouncy, brash and bright piece of frenetic pop. Like an Arabian Robyn channelling Daft Punk, it’s compulsive, addictive. The beat is unrelenting, the bassline gripping, the hook is magnificent and Yadi’s vocals and lyrics sound wonderful. It just sounds so colourful. There’s so much going on that your senses are effectively battered into submission but hey, this is totally worth giving in to.

”Control” is out now and available to buy on iTunes.