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GutterBubbles Top 100 Songs of 2014 (part 1)

Here we are again! Another year in the books and another year of quality music. Much like last year’s list, 2014 served up a wide range of music that we enjoyed, from death metal, R&B and everything in between. Instead of trying to establish some sort of numerical ranking for such a diverse palate of songs (which is completely unfathomable) we’ve again decided that alphabetical order is the way to go. Each day this week, we will present to you 20 of the finest, heaviest, sexiest and flat-out best songs that 2014 had to offer.

So with that said, sit back, relax and crank up the volume. This is the best of 2014!

The Afghan Whigs “Can Rova” from Do to the Beast

Probably the least conventional song on a fine album, “Can Rova” is among the band’s most introspective compositions. It has a quiet intensity and melancholy that captures looking down on a city from a nearby hillside in the Fall and contemplate and perhaps heal from your losses. It articulates about leaving and moving on with sensitivity rather than a melodramatic display of anger. It acknowledges the hurt and the willingness and ability to feel that hurt rather than deny one ever felt anything as is the case in way too many rock songs. -Tom Murphy

 

Against Me! “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” from Transgender Dysphoria Blues

If you’re searching for a song with a killer melody, a massive chorus and most importantly, poignant and brutally honest songwriting, look no further than the title cut from the latest Against Me! album. Detailing singer Laura Jane Grace’s gender transition, the song is likely the most open and honest piece of writing released this year. Now that’s not to detract from any other song on this list, but “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” occupies a delicate emotional territory that few other songwriters dare even visit, let alone openly embrace. -Ryan Brun

 

Aphex Twin “minipops 67 [120.2]” from Syro

The whole album is a beautifully mixed bag of ideas. But it does kick off with this song that seems to be a summation of what Richard D. James has done across his career up to now. Except that the title all but makes explicit that this is a sort of weird pop song if Aphex Twin wrote pop songs. Multiple ideas and aesthetics inform its composition and it is the brilliant imagination of James that is able to weave it together to give it its own logic. This is really what makes the rest of the album so enjoyable too. –TM

 

Ariana Grande (ft. The Weeknd) “Love Me Harder” from My Everything

Admitting to enjoy an Ariana Grande song in any capacity makes my inner music snob scream bloody murder, but “Love Me Harder” has me doing a double take. The track is ‘90s R&B with one foot still planted in 2014. The Weekend nails every note while Grande gives an Aaliyah-esque performance without losing herself. It’s tastefully sensual and perfectly danceable, which is basically to say it has all the stuff that made good ‘90s R&B so good the first time around. -Emma Carroll

 

Altas – “Aokigahara” from Epoca De Bestias

Named after the infamous “suicide forest” at the foot of Mt. Fuji, this song isn’t melancholy or particularly dark. It does, however, combine rich atmospheres with intricate melodies and rhythms. To call it post-rock doesn’t really do justice to what this song really is. It is cinematic, it is instrumental but it doesn’t spend too long establishing a mood, it does creative a musical narrative with layers of sound that work not on top of each other but with each other. –TM

 

Atmosphere “Camera Thief” from Southsiders

The opening track from Atmosphere’s latest LP Southsiders features all of the elements that listeners have come to expect from the group. A haunting yet infectious beat permeates the song and is the latest in a long line of Ant produced masterpieces, while Slugs forthcoming wordplay will have you dissecting its meaning for days on end. These guys have started to slow down in recent years, but “Camera Thief” is proof that indie hip-hop royalty is alive and well and resides somewhere in the cold northern sprawl of Minnesota. –RB

 

Aurelio Valle “Electraglide” from Acme Power Transmission

One of the more unexpected surprises of 2014 was Aurelio Valle’s Acme Power Transmission; especially considering that the last time anyone heard from Valle was nearly seven years ago, as the frontman for indie rock stalwarts Calla. While the album as a whole is a great listen, the real standout of the set is the sultry “Electraglide”. Enlisting the help of The Cardigans’ Nina Persson on vocals, “Electraglide” seductively demands your attention and takes you on an unforgettable journey through Valle’s electro-infused indie rock soundscapes. –RB

 

Band of Skulls “Asleep at the Wheel” from Himalayan

While there are a lot of really special moments scattered throughout this list, my personal highlight of the year is found on “Asleep at the Wheel” which begins the Band of Skulls’ latest effort Himalayan. More specifically, about a minute into the song after plodding along at a healthy pace, the band holds up, slows down and unleashes an absolute monster of a riff that’s part Sabbath, part Kyuss but all fucking business. It’s a powerful moment to say the least, a massive slab of fuzz about as subtle as a brick to the face, but that moment alone is one that’ll keep you coming back for seconds…and thirds….and….-RB

 

Bear in Heaven “Time Between” from Time Is Over One Day Old

Really any of the songs on this album could have been chosen because Bear in Heaven doesn’t really do much in the way of throwaway tracks. This one is a bit moodier and darker than the bright yet melancholic songs on the record. It has a thick rhythm that gives it some force and momentum in addition to the dreamlike melodies that make the music drift into your imagination and light it up. –TM

 

Beck “Blue Moon” from Morning Phase

For nearly 20 years, Beck has kept his audience guessing every time he releases a record. Will it be a funky, electro-tinged dance fest? How about a contemplative, primarily minor-chord dirge? Perhaps some combination of the two? With Morning Phase, Beck revisited the low-key sound of 2002’s Sea Change, albeit with shades of optimism this time around. “Blue Moon” encompasses the best of both sides of Beck, with its melancholy lyrics but hopeful melody; the song is guaranteed to leave you wanting more, whatever it sounds like. –RB

 

Blonde Redhead “Seven Two” from Barragán

This song lets Kazu Makino and Amedeo Pace trade vocals in one of the group’s most gorgeously ethereal songs. Whereas some of the rest of the album experiments with texture and atmospheric texture with mixed results, here, the album’s most abstract and enveloping song, both types of experiments produce a song that feels like a seabreeze on a foggy morning with your head still swimming in the afterglow of a mysterious dream that wants to draw you back into it. –TM

 

Bludded Head “Shitsucker Blues” from Reign in Bludd

In the crowded field of doom rock Bludded Head might fit in by default for one element of its sound. But this song sounds like it could have come from weirdo post-rock like Slint and Codeine if those bands went in a sonically heavier direction and got into some of the early so-called stoner rock bands like St. Vitus and Sleep. It’s not something that lends itself well to easy categorization because these guys aren’t limiting themselves to clumsily arbitrary combinations of genre. It’s like dark, bludgeoning blues with no short measure of desperation driving its dynamics. –TM

 

The Brian Jonestown Massacre “Food For Clouds” from Revelation

Anton Newcombe is no stranger to reinvention or drawing on new and exciting sounds before anyone else. He does both on “Food for Clouds”, taking the band’s ever-evolving sound in a distinctly eastern-influenced direction. The drums are tighter, the guitar is direct, the synth is flawless and the rhythm is perfectly controlled. 24 years since forming in San Francisco, the BJM prove that youth isn’t required to find a new sound. –EC

 

Brian Setzer “Let’s Shake” from Rockabilly Riot! All Original

You would be forgiven if you suggested that Brian Setzer has been writing the same song since his debut with the Stray Cats in the late ’70s, largely in part because…well, he has. But what makes Setzer so special is the fact that he makes the same type of song sound so damn good (and fresh) year after year after year. “Let’s Shake” has all of the Setzer-ian elements that we’ve come to expect; catchy melody, stunning guitar work and crafty wording, but the songs most most telling accomplishment is its ability to bring a slice of good old fashioned rock n’ roll straight out of the ’50s and into the modern era without sounding stale. –RB

 

Bruce Springsteen “High Hopes” from High Hopes

Normally, an album composed of covers, re-imagined classics and B-sides is a largely forgettable affair only appreciated by hardcore fans. That is not the case with Bruce Springsteen’s 2014 album High Hopes. Any fears surrounding the albums playability are quickly put to rest in the opening moments of “High Hopes” which is a balls-out declaration of perseverance, complete with passionate group vocals and a flourishing horn arrangement. Oh, and Tom Morello shows up to add his own bit of flavor to the E Street Band. Not many artists could pull off a song like this, let alone an entire album. They call him ‘The Boss’ for a reason. –RB

 

Cavalera Conspiracy “Cramunhão” from Pandemonium

Perhaps the single greatest development of Max Cavalera’s career can be traced back to 2004 when he began working with virtuosic guitarist Marc Rizzo. Since then, Rizzo has been a mainstay in most Cavalera related projects, including Cavalera Conspiracy, which also features Max’s brother Igor on drums. “Cramunhão” finds the bands firing on all cylinders, with a bludgeoning riff that only Max Cavalera could dream up, unreal guitar leads courtesy of Rizzo and Igor’s thundering drums sounding like Zeus pitching a heavenly fit. Imposters take note; these are the real Brazilian metal maniacs. –RB

 

Chromeo “Old 45’s” from White Women

The modern-day “FUNKLORDZ” defend their title with a track that proves extreme danceability doesn’t require excess. A minimal bassline and easy beat glide under Dave1’s silky smooth voice, riding all the way to that irresistibly sexy chorus. The perfect blend of dance and funk makes “Old 45’s” ideal for those last moments before the lights go down. –EC

 

Cibo Matto “Déjà Vu” from Hotel Valentine

With only two full length albums produced in the ’90s, the duo Cibo Matto rocked the alternative rock world blending hip-hop, pop, and anything else that caught their ear before disappearing from the music scene for 15 years. Now, finally, that third release we were all hoping is here and its everything we hoped it would be. “Déjà Vu” blends groovy funk with a fun pop melody. And while it would have fit perfectly on Sterotype A, their sophomore album, it kicks of this new set of eclectic, sample-laden tunes just as perfectly. -Rob Dixon

 

clipping. “Dream” from CLPPNG

These guys make a lot of great, relentless hip-hop that both honors the standards of the art form while deconstructing it. With this song it’s a hushed walk through a dark night in a big city when the streets are empty and a clock tower improbably rings out several times in a few minutes like a death knell or a bell for a mystic initiation ceremony like a negative image of the group’s other songs. –TM

 

Cocksure “Ah Don’ Eat Meat Bitch!” from TVMALSV

Remember back when industrial music was fun? There was a time when dancefloors were a living organism, pulsating along with every four on the floor beat that could be found and musicians weren’t merely a living portrait of Teutonic-sized seriousness. Although that may seem hard to believe, it’s true. Clearly the memo never got to the guys in Cocksure, who turned in the most exciting industrial record in years. Case in point is “Ah Don’ Eat Meat, Bitch!” with its driving beat, propulsive bassline and Chris Connelly’s stream of conscious ranting. It’s a steadfast reminder that even industrial music is allowed to be fun now and again. –RB

 

More Top Songs of 2014: part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5

 

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