Bittles‘ Magazine | Tracks of the year
Inspired by The Mercury Music Prize forum, this year I decided to form my own discussion group with the sole intention of picking out the best tracks of the year. That is why I got together with my cat (who has great taste in music), my elderly next-door neighbour and a random hipster who claimed he had nothing better to do, to compile a list of twenty songs that have made 2014 a fantastic year to be alive. By JOHN BITTLES
Much arguing and petty squabbling ensued. Yet, in the end, through bribery, idle threats and much bad feeling we came to an agreement on the twenty wonderful songs which you can see below. So, without any further ado, let us begin.
1. Caribou – Can’t Do Without You.
Can’t Do Without You is a lush, progressive house tune that brims with a sense of hopeless romanticism that perfectly captures how it feels to be head over heels in love. Featuring Dan Snaith’s own lovelorn vocals the track manages that tricky task of being able to speak to the heart as well as the dance floor. Taken from the One Love album, this was pretty much impossible to ignore this year. And rightly so! Showing how electronic music can do emotion better than an ocean of high-pitched screeching and bland platitudes, this sits justifiably as my tune of the year.
2. Shamir – If It Wasn’t True.
From the excellent Northtown EP by one of 2014’s fastest rising stars, If It Wasn’t True saw Las Vegas-based bedroom producer du jour Shamir explore his inner disco house diva. A lush bassline and a retro house feel work perfectly with Shamir’s evocative vocals to create a track so good that it physically hurts not to dance. Sounding like Donna Summer if she was a shy, retiring 20 year old male, this really is one of the most joyous pieces of disco you will ever hear.
3. Sia – Chandelier.
Like one never-ending chorus, Chandelier saw reclusive pop princess Sia step firmly into the spotlight with a three minute slice of pure musical joy. Brimming with a feeling of melancholy that is also tinged with a euphoric sense of joy, the track sounded like the best song Rihanna never made. Perhaps overshadowed by the controversial video, I found myself playing this for days, endlessly on repeat. The fact that my girlfriend only threatened to kill me twice during this time perfectly illustrates just how good this song is.
4. FKA twigs – Two Weeks.
Two Weeks was one of the many undisputed highlights of FKA twigs’ excellently fucked-up sounding debut album LP1. Challenging like all good pop music should be, the song saw the singer manage to capture a vivid sense of raw vulnerability, and decadent sexuality that entranced and seduced the listener with a skill few could match this year. The gorgeously dense sonic backing works perfectly with the vocals to create a three minute pop songs to send shivers up and down the spine.
5.Neneh Cherry – Blank Project.
Blank Project was the lead single and title track of Neneh Cherry’s first album since Man way back in 1996. And while the album is pretty fab, it is this song which stood out above all else. Furious beats, a gloriously loose bassline and Neneh’s silky smooth vocals combine to create one of the most thrilling dance floor moments of the year. Experimental, challenging, jazz inflected, yet undeniably pop, Blank Project saw a much-missed artist roar back into our lives.
6. Locked Groove – Enigma (Scuba’s Warehouse Mix).
With the original of this track being an epic slice of techno-inflected house, you would think it practically impossible to improve on something already so great. Yet, former dubstep star Scuba takes Enigma and injects it with an extra-special dollop of funk, grooviness and the decadent spirit of acid house to create a song that you never, ever want to end. A true beast of a tune, if you can‘t dance to this song then you don‘t deserve to have legs.
7. Mees Dierdorp – Aviar Alom.
From the gorgeously tranquil slo-mo house-based Green Collection compilation came this shimmering piece of Balearic brilliance. Released in October on the ever-reliable Eskimo Records the track was the undisputed highlight from a pretty damn special set. Warm trance tones combine with a gorgeous melody that recalls the glory days of progressive house to positively hair-raising effect. Brim full of emotion, this is one of those tracks that perfectly captures the reason why Mees Dierdorp is a talented little sod.
8. Indiana – Solo Dancing.
2014 was a stellar year for female singers exploring the dark and sensual netherworld that existed in the isolated alleyways of R&B and pop. The deliciously murky synth-action of Solo Dancing saw Nottingham-based singer-songwriter Indiana join the likes of Rosie Lowe, Banks and FKA twigs in giving us some of most out there dance floor moments of the year. Sounding like it could collapse into self loathing and wild recriminations at any minute, the song revels in a killer groove, and a shadowy, twisted vibe like all the best disco should.
9. Jozef Van Wissen & SQÜRL – The Taste Of Blood.
Taken from the wonderfully pretentious Only Lovers Left Alive soundtrack of Jim Jarmusch’s existential vampire film, The Taste Of Blood is a long, dirge-like instrumental rock masterpiece. From the very first moment it works with a sense of detached cool and a cocksure swagger to worm its way into both your brain and your heart. Recalling the decadent madness of the Red Room club scene in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, the song exists within a desolate, heroin-induced haze. It is also one of the greatest pieces of music that you will ever hear.
10. Shamir – Lived And Died Alone.
The second song from the startlingly wonderful Northtown EP to make it to this list is here completely on merit. Very different to the dancier If It Wasn’t True, Lived And Died Alone sees Shamir don his sad, reflective side to cover a Linda Ortea song to quietly devastating effect. Brimming with a sense of loss and loneliness, I have to admit that the first time I heard this I ended up in a flood of tears. Reminiscent of some lost blues singer, trust me when I tell you that heartbreak has never sounded this good.
And, if that’s not enough, here are ten more great tracks.
11. Blonde Redhead – Cat On Tin Roof.
12. Ten Walls – Walking With Elephants.
13. Paula Temple – Monstro.
14. Dauwd – Saleh.
15. Surgeon – Fixed Action Pattern (Dub).
16. Romare – Roots.
17. Zhu – Faded.
18. Mogwai – No Medicine For Regret (Pye Corner Audio Remix).
19. Audion – Dem Howl (Joris Voorn Mix).
20. Lakker – Containing A Thousand.