2014 has been great for music and an especially fun one for me since Sound it Out launched this year. I’m super thankful to all of the great writers who have contributed to the site, and I’ve really enjoyed getting back in touch with a lot of music friends that I hadn’t talked to in years.
Here are some of my favorites from 2014. It was very hard to narrow it down.
You can check out all our Best of 2014 lists here.
1. Elbow – “New York Morning” video. Elbow’s song is a gorgeous backdrop for the story of Dennis and Lois, a New York couple who have been fanatically attending rock shows together for 40 years. I love their story and hope that Russell Bates and I can keep on rocking for at least that long – it’s been almost 30 years for us!
2. Young Fathers – “Get Up”. The most fun song of 2014. I still don’t know how this wasn’t a hit here in the US. Maybe that will change now that the band just won the Mercury Prize.
3. Future Islands on Letterman – Possibly the most fantastic and unpretentious late night performance ever.
4. The Pixes and Cat Power at the Hollywood Bowl* (9/28/14) . I didn’t think I ever needed to see The Pixies live again after 30+ shows. In fact, I had decided that I was done after a perfect concert about 2 years ago that turned out to be Kim’s last run with the band. Well, I was wrong. Seeing the The Pixies under the stars in front of 18,000 fans was a blast – the guys played their asses off and the crowd was as supportive and rapturous as any I’ve ever seen.
Cat Power opened the night. Chan Marshall was uncomfortable on stage at first – talking openly about how weird it was to perform sober and seeming out of sorts. The beauty of her voice and the strength of the songs triumphed over any awkwardness. It was a great night.
*Yeah – I happen to work for the Hollywood Bowl, which has made me appreciate the magic of the venue even more than I did before. It’s not occupational brainwashing – I swear.
5. Sabina – Tojours. The ex-singer for Brazilian Girls put out the most charming and bizarre record of the year.
6. Kid Karate - “Louder”. I’m just seeing that this was officially posted in November of 2013, but I didn’t hear it until this year. I loved a lot of stupid rock songs in 2014, but none more than this song.
7. Bank Robber Music (BRM) 10th Anniversary Party at The Bootleg Theater (4/17/2014) – BRM is a music licensing company that seems to only work with good artists. Their party included a bunch of current BRM artists covering some of their most-licensed songs. It was a night of celebratory sloppiness and (like all good celebrations) ended with cake. My highlight was Guided by Voices’ “I Am A Tree” performed by Doug Gillard (Guided by Voices), Jason Narducy (Bob Mould, Telekinesis, Split Single), Seth Olinsky (Cy Dune, Akron/Family), Chris Brokaw (Codeine, Come), and BRM founder Lyle Hysen (who I didn’t know used to be in Das Damen!).
The show ended with an all-star cover of M83’s “Midnight City” performed by Sondre Lerche, Rebecca Gates (The Spinanes), Smokey Hormel (Beck, Tom Waits, Johnny Cash), Roddy Bottum (Faith No More, Imperial Teen), Jason Narducy and Doug Gillard.
8. Operators – “True”. The latest project from Dan Boeckner (Divine Fits, Wolf Parade, Handsome Furs) is the synth-driven 3-piece band called Operators. “True” is one of those songs that keeps getting catchier the more I listen – there’s something sort of retro/fresh/sexy here that reminds me of “Love is the Drug”-era Roxy Music. This year’s EP1 wasn’t enough – here’s to hoping for a full album in 2015.
9. DMA’s – “Laced”. Pure pop fun and the song on repeat on my headphones at the moment. I predict a big 2015 for these lads.
10. Bluebuds X wireless earbuds. I listen to a lot of music while exercising or walking around, and these were a game-changer. The Jaybird earbuds are specifically made for athletes, so they fit really well and don’t jostle around. I haven’t tried another brand, but can highly recommend these.