2015 is just around the corner. Before we start promising ourselves to start going to the gym, to start eating more vegetables, and to start living our lives differently, it’s also fun to look back on the people we were the past year.
For me, the past year was marked by music. Music music music. Shows, singles, mixtapes, EPs, LPs, festivals. I’ve never spent so much time or money on music as I did in 2014. So, for mostly archival purposes but also as an exercise in retrospection, I wanted throw one more ‘best-of’ log on the 2014 year-end fire. In no particular order, here are my:
Best Live Shows
Run the Jewels (The Masquerade, Atlanta)—I have never been in a crowd so hyped. Big Boi even came out for Banana Clipper. His mic was broken, but it didn’t stop the angry riot / crowd from bumping to every word of his verse. Everyone who goes to a show at Heaven says this, but I can’t believe the floor held.
Disclosure (Bonnaroo Music Festival)—This was of those great ‘roo shows where the band gets booked and in the intervening time between the booking and the festival the band absolutely blows up. The atmosphere of the crowd all cramped underneath The Other Tent reflects how popular the band has gotten in such a short amount of time. Even I wanted to jump on the nearest muscle-bound bro’s shoulders and sing along to Sam Smith’s part of Latch.
Sylvan Esso (The Earl, Atlanta)—See above. These guys sold out The Earl in no time. They were too big for the small venue, they were so pumped that ATL loved them. And it showed.
Arcade Fire (Aaron’s Amphitheater, Atlanta)—Biggest budget show I went to this year. All the fireworks, confetti cannons, and giant paper machet pope heads nicely dovetailed with the fact that I was also wearing a tuxedo.
Darkside (Terminal West, Atlanta)—Two words. Moon Mirror.
Mac DeMarco (The Goat Farm, Atlanta)—This show rolled around at just the right time for me. It was summertime, everyone I knew was driving with their windows down blaring this record, and then this guy rolled into town. He knows how to have a good time. Need proof? Watch his Narduar interview.
Run the Jewels — “Oh My Darling Don’t Cry”
Tip toe on the track like a ballerina. the tempo change midway through this track is icing on the cake — this song goes hard.
tUnE-yArDs — “Hey Life”
Lyrically my favorite song of the year. Merrill’s production is so whimsical but every now and then her lyrics really ground you. I’ve spent twelve thousand, nine hundred and forty four days alive | Amazing how a human being can still thrive
Baths — “Orator”
My favorite artist of the past few years, Baths latest EP reads as a b-side to his last record, Obsidian. But that’s by no means a bad thing. If you like Baths, you’ll love Orator.
Freddie Gibbs & Madlb — “High”
Freddie Gibb’s southern flow over a Madlib production with the most danny brownish Danny Brown verse ever? Yup.
Death Grips — “Inanimate Sensation”
Jenny Death when? Not quite yet, but if you’re into Death Grips at all there is no way you could be disappointed with this song / video. MC Ride went full Space Jam on us.
Sylvan Esso — “Play it Right”
Maybe not most people’s pick for favorite song off this album, but I found myself coming back to it again and again. I’m a sucker for thick synths.
Mac DeMarco — “Passing Out Pieces”
Another thick warbly synth sound, this song broke up the eccentric guitar MdM brings on most of the other tracks on this album.
St. Vincent — “Regret”
I’ve found myself being less enchanted by good old fashioned guitar playing recently, but ac’s heavy power chords coupled with her melancholic lyrics on this track make for a great listen. Summer is as faded as a lone cicada call.
Giraffage — “Hello”
Layers and layers of all the best bleeps and bloops, including some iPhone samples. Really fun upbeat track from a guy who is making music in a genre I really don’t know how to label.
Todd Terje — “Svensk Sås”
The entire album is a treat, and this track makes you believe in scandanavian salsa
Flying Lotus — You’re Dead!
I love a concept record, and FlyLo took us on a journey that was equal parts sobering and fun. from the epic space jazz on Obligatory Cadence to the chilled out heady verses by Snoop Dogg, this album takes us on a journey into flylo’s vision of death and brings us out the other side.
Run the Jewels — Run the Jewels 2
It’s not news, but Killer Mike is at the top of his game. The braggadocious, hyper-connected style of Run the Jewels means both KM and el-p have their fingers on the pulse of culture and deliver an album that not only casts them as larger than life cartoons, but also has you rooting for them.
Tycho — Awake
This guy. He’s handsome, designs all of his own album and show art, and makes amazing instrumental music that can just sit in the background and lull you to sleep as much as it can give you that extra boost you need while getting work done. I want to hate him, but I can’t.
Mac DeMarco — Salad Days
Jangly guitar being played by a too-smart-to-try shithead? Check. Mac gets a lot more personal on this record than on 2, but there’s still a healthy, healthy dose of sass here.
St. Vincent — S/T
Collaborating with David Byrne on Love this Giant was the best thing to happen to St. Vincent. Another concept album, Annie Clark takes on the role of near-future cult leader and combines her badass guitarplaying with a newfound self-awareness of how fucking quirky she is. hat tip, david byrne.
Com Truise — Wave 1
Another artist that I would label as ‘electronic’ but have no idea what genre this falls in. Plenty of 80s nostalgia and bleep-bloops here, but it’s so damn fun to listen to.
Adult Jazz — Gist is
These guys are small-time. Sarah found them at CMJ, but I get the same feeling listening to this record that I had when running through Alt-J’s An Awesome Wave. I end up listening to the entire record as one song more than a track listed album. Side note: A 7:33min opening track is a bold move.
Caribou — Our Love
Can’t Do Without You is lighting up all the places I like to dance, which suits me just fine. Although this is a really sad album front to back lyrically, there are some really really catchy tunes. can’t do without, can’t do without, can’t do without, can’t do without
Ryan Splitlog is the assistant director of Common Cause Georgia, the state chapter of a national organization that focuses on government ethics and transparency.