What better way to spend the beginning of a new year but to look back on the one that’s just passed. I decided to do a list of songs I liked (rather than albums) because I couldn’t think of enough albums to make even a Top 5. I know that sounds bonkers but there were very few albums that worked from beginning to end for me this year. I didn’t want to include too much pure pop here either (although there were plenty of great pop tracks around… Boom Clap, Shake It Off, Dark Horse, Fancy, Problems, Thinking Out Loud etc. etc.) This list is a mixture of Irish and international acts too.
Little xs For Eyes – Love Gets Lost
A multi-coloured and delicious video for a bright and catchy song from this six-piece Dublin-based indie-pop band. They are set to release their sophomore album in 2015 and I guess this track is a taster of things to come…which is encouraging to say the least!
The Horrors – Change Your Mind
Yes, The Horrors are still a thing believe it or not. And, as of 2015, they’re a decade old. They released their fourth (dreamy, electronica-pop) album Luminous early 2014 and ‘Change Your Mind’ is a beautiful prime cut from the album’s rump.
Neon Trees – Voices In The Hall
Think Rufus Wainwright strung out on an 80s synthpop buzz. Really, really gorgeous song (with a not so gorgeous video) from the American band’s third album Pop Psychology.
Villagers – Occupy Your Mind
A stand-alone, non-album related single from Ireland’s eminent troubadour Conor J. O’Brien. A propulsive and catchy song that takes a dig at Putin’s anti-gay laws. The song’s release coincided with the opening of the Winter Olympics in Sochi and the video was suitably creepy yet engaging. Album number three should reach our ears this Spring…and it might just be the most beautiful and heartfelt Villagers album yet!
Sinead O’Connor – Take Me To Church
Well I’ve always had a major soft spot for Sinead, so I’m glad she’s come back into the media limelight in a positive way in 2014. Although the album I’m Not Bossy, I’m The Boss largely doesn’t live up to the über-excellence of this song (due to excessive layering of vocals for what seems like every line of every song and the generally dated-sounding instrumentation), ‘Take Me To Church’ (and the flow-up single ‘8 Good Reasons’) proves Sinead is still the best and most passionate female vocalist in Ireland. I do love her. (Give us an auld buzz Sinead…I wrote a rake of songs specifically for you to sing…and they’re really good too!)
Future Islands – Seasons (Waiting On You)
A true ‘moment’ form the year was seeing the live performance of this song from the David Letterman show. Great song. Great performance. Great crazy dancing! Very emotional and affecting track altogether. And the live version is even better then the recorded one…a rare occurrence!
Marilyn Manson – Third Day Of A Seven Day Binge
So Mr. Manson is still alive and making music? Yes, it’s true! The Pale Emperor is Manson’s upcoming ninth studio album and this track was given away for free as a taster/enticer via his website. It bodes well for the album if you ask me. A really catchy, bluesy, intoxicating and slouching beast of a track. Who knew?
Lana Del Rey – Shades Of Cool
It’s not that ‘Shades of Cool’ is her best song per se, but Ultraviolence was the best album of 2014 – à mon avis! It works as an entire piece of music and is as bewitching as it is gorgeous from beginning to end. Simply full of dulcet tones! Lana got accused for being misogynistic and glorifying violence against women with this album but I believe she is knowingly playing with/exploiting the stereotypes of femininity and masculinity as well as exploring the deep, dark and dangerous longings of the ultimately unrealisable (yet unavoidable) romantic ideals which infect us all. And she does it all with a giant two-finger salute to any and all haters to boot! So well done Miss Del Rey!
Nicki Minaj – Lookin Ass N*gga
Nicki be spitting all over this track like a monster rapper mothef*cker from the depths of Hades. This track was featured on the compilation album Young Money: Rise of an Empire and was meant to herald a return to focusing on rap for Nicki’s next album (which dropped just there in December 2014). Alas, this song never even made the album (The Pinkprint) and the album also didn’t focus on her nasty rap side like she initially indicated. Shame really. Would love to hear an entire album in the vein of ‘Lookin’ Ass’ (which features the n-word an unbelievable 42 times in 2 minutes and 49 seconds). Video by the always excellent NABIL.
Mykki Blanco – Fulani feat. Ian Isiah
Mykki released the free mixtape Gay Dog Food in October and, well, it was free! So you can’t really criticise that! Some really stomping industrial-rap songs on it (‘Moshin’ in the Front’ is also great) and I can’t wait to hear Mykki’s debut ‘proper’ album due for release on !K7 records later this year. Blanco, a.k.a. Mia White, is also the artist I most want to see live…so I hope she graces these emerald shores in 2015. You be slayin’ ‘em Mykki! Go forth and conquer.
Girl Band – Lawman
This Dublin 4-piece pretty much conquered 2014 over any other new Irish act. Live they are a tour de force and a must-see (and they have recently left the spectacular Any Other City records stable and signed a publishing deal with Domino as well as a record deal with Rough Trade – so onwards and upwards). Young. Loud. Trashy. Hypnotic. Shouty. Enjoy.
Money – Goodnight London
I randomly came across the video for this one day and I was stopped dead in my tracks. I think this song technically came out in 2013 in Europe but 2014 in USA. Regardless, the video was only released in June 2014 – so that settles it! I think this song is amazing and beyond beautiful. Video is lovely too. Very touching and very sad and yet full of hope. Another song, ‘Black,’ from this English group’s debut album The Shadow of Heaven is also superb. Yes! Yes! Yes! More of this please.
[Money is the band pictured in the black and white photo at the top of this post].
UPDATE (LATE ADDITION):
Against Me! – Talking Transgender Dysphoria Blues
Agh! Really wish I had remembered this when I wrote the original listing. Don’t know how it slipped my mind! Amazing punk rock album Transgender Dysphoria Blues by American outfit Against Me!, fronted by the wonderful Laura Jane Grace. Simply excellent album and song…#ZEROisBESTanyways