Lately, I have been weighing the cost/benefit of cloning. The Rumble suffered this year due to a certain Bond-ian syndrome that’s taken hold of my extra time and writing life, those precious, wee hours when I’m not arguing with a 2 year old (about everything) or discussing My Little Pony minutiae with the 5 year old. The good news here is that I’m nearly done with the first draft of my James Bond manuscript of more than 80,000 words. Huzzah! Bad news. Now I need to send some feelers out for publication and start work on revisions so the Rumble will likely still suffer from content jealousy. Somewhere along the way, I listened to a metric crap tonne of music in 2014. And I have to admit that the year merely whelmed. I found the usual handful of albums to adore (nothing swept me up like CHVRCHES’ The Bones of What You Believe), but few standout tracks to call “legit jams.” The last two years have spoiled us all for new music. 2014 brought us all back down to earth. Unless you’re Iggy Azalea, Taylor Swift or Lorde, all of whom were last spotted soaring somewhere near Uranus. Maybe Neptune. Even more damning of 2014 is that I found reason to put two of those artists on my list. (Ugh.)
My playlist containing every track in iTunes from 2014 has 7 days worth of music in it. And that doesn’t even count all the stuff I check out on Spotify and dismiss. But even with all that listening, it’s blind, dumb, stupid luck when a certain song catches my fancy. Consider how much music is released each and every week. The music from major labels, indie labels and everything in between. Some songs are unavoidable. Some songs I hear once, a chance meeting during My Old Kentucky Blog’s noontime hour on XMU. Great songs get left off my list every year just because I first heard them in the wrong frame of mind. There are dozens, nay hundreds, of equally worthy songs that just didn’t catch my fancy when the fancy was loose. I always make an effort to value visceral enjoyment more highly than intellectual appreciation when selecting and ranking these tracks. In a couple of instances over the years I’ve come to regret this plan of attack. Honesty will condemn me before all 100101 102 of my favorite tracks from 2014 have been weighed and measured. The 30Hz Top 100 Songs of 2014:
101a. “Boom Clap” – Charlie XCX
For whatever reason I’ve decided that Charlie XCX has more individual talent than all of the other naked and bouncy pop stars I dismiss without a second thought. I blame her first record, which was actually quite good. Though I like the new one too. (Shit. Am I a Charlie XCX “fan”?) Oh, and this song’s featured in a movie about cancer-ridden teens, so it’s, like, deep, right?
Got a Girl is hip-hop producer Dan the Automator and actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Does this reek of She & Him? Yes. Yes it does. Are you tired of Zooey Deschanel? Probably. This is not She & Him. Now let me give you fivesix seven reasons you need to pay attention to Got a Girl.
1. Dan the Automator produced one of the greatest hip-hop records in history: Dr. Octogon’s Octogonecologyst.
2. The collaboration between Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Dan the Automator came after their meeting on Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Dan contributed to the soundtrack and, Mary Elizabeth, of course, starred as Ramona Flowers. If there’s one thing we should all know by know, it’s that only brilliant things come from Scott Pilgrim. Here’s Romona and Roxy’s battle, just because:
3. Got a Girl has also created these deliciously retro/mod performance art videos as teasers for the upcoming record. Do I completely understand how this is going to sell more records? No. But maybe that’s not the point. All I know is that I felt compelled to watch all of them. MEW is porcelain perfection in high contrast black & white, and Dan the Automator as Mad Men-era sophisticate sipping wine, drinking scotch and schilling fake cologne strikes a chord untapped by anyone other than the Most Interesting Man in the World. Visit the Got a Girl website to view all of the videos. Here’s one I find especially topical. MEW and vinyl:
4. Mary Elizabeth Winstead first showcased her pipes singing a cappella in Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof. Quentin Tarantino has excellent taste in music. By the reflexive property of approval, Quentin Tarantino approves of MEW.
5. The Got a Girl Instagram. This might overlap with #3, but I’m okay with that. It’ll give me a reason to check my Instragram feed again.
6. MEW said their intentions were to marry “French 60’s pop, Jane Birkin… and Dan’s sensibility, which is his beats and a little bit of that low-key hip-hop vibe.” If all you know about French pop music from the 1960’s is Gillian Hill’s “Zou bisou bisou,” let’s add another name to that list: Françoise Hardy, perhaps the most enduring of all the artists to come out of yé-yé (the French “bubblegum” pop) artists.
7. Got a Girl is really, quite f’ing good.
Quick link to Amazon for ordering artists featured in this post:
This new album from the Chapel Hill band Lost In The Trees has been out for a few weeks now, but this title track to the record still has me in a trance. I can’t get enough and yet it affects me every time. It’s haunting and somehow hopeful. Although the record never hits another high quite like this, the rest of the tracks are solid, top to bottom. Lost In The Trees has been good band for some time, but this track could easily be considered their masterpiece.
Lost In The Trees: “Past Life”
And if you want to take a step back, here’s the track that first put the band on my radar back in 2010, performed for NPR as one of their Tiny Desk Concerts:
You might have heard me plug the band Fanfarlo on here in the past (here, here and here). If not, no worries. I’ll catch you up. I dig Fanfarlo. Now that we’re up to speed, I should let you know that Fanfarlo released a new record today called Let’s Go Extinct. It’s a more unified sound than their past records — though everything they’ve done all hinges around the kind of mid-tempo pop music perfected by the Talking Heads. Let’s Go Extinct could be read as a kind of concept album, but I haven’t had enough time with it to really consider whether that notion carries. What I will do is share one of my favorite tracks off the new record. Here’s their video for “A Distance.”
I’m only one dude. I essentially have four jobs. I have no idea when I find the time to listen to enough music to come up with 100 favorite tracks. My 2013 playlist contains more than 7 days worth of music. And that doesn’t even count all the stuff I check out on Spotify and dismiss. But even with all that listening, it’s blind, dumb, stupid luck when a certain song catches my fancy. On some occasions, a song is thrust in my face with the force of the 800 lb. mainstream music machine and those songs must endure hundreds of listens. Staying power, m’f’ers. See: Arcade Fire, Daft Punk. Other times I fall instantly in love with a record. The songs grab me immediately. Those are the easy ones. The bands and the songs I control. See: Frightened Rabbit, Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, Polica. And then there’s that final category. Hearing a song, being in the right frame of mind to accept its advances. You might hear a song a dozen times before it catches you at just the right moment. See: half the songs on this list. For every great song on this list, there are hundreds of equally worthy songs that I just didn’t hear or didn’t hear at the right time in the right place. And to those songs, my apologies. Try harder next time. Everyone else, enjoy the list. Find some new music. Support great artists and music worth listening to and so on and so forth. And keep in mind that the ranking system is just for fun. Any of these songs could movie ten spots in either direction given my mood…