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GutterBubbles Top 100 Songs of 2014 (part 4)

As varied as our Top 100 Songs of 2014 list has been so far, today’s offerings are probably the most diverse on our list. Hell, this collection of songs might just be the most diverse list this year! Case in point, what other list would feature Mayhem, Michael Jackson and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart back to back to back? Not many that we know of! Hopefully you’ve got some eclectic tastes cause you’re in for a thrill ride today!


Mastodon “Aunt Lisa” from Once More ‘Round the Sun

Using metal to process sadness has to be one of the best ideas ever. This song, written to eulogize drummer Brann Dailor’s eponymous mothers’ sister who died of leukemia is a strong argument in favor of such a form of therapy. Antsy, creative prog-metal for most of its length, “Aunt Lisa” discharges its gratitude for the carpe diem spirit of its namesake in a simple, old-school bit of rock-n-roll whoop-ass at the end that anyone would be proud to have dedicated to them. -Nick Abaddon


Mayhem “Throne of Time” from Esoteric Warfare

Oh yes, the wild brutality and disorientingly relentless rhythms and animalistic vocals coupled with almost cartoonishly dark lyrics are here. Mayhem has perfected that. But this song actually has some creative dynamics and hanging atmospherics that give the music some breathing room. Mayhem doesn’t just pummel us with demonic images; it takes time to let Attila Csihar’s vocals speak clearly and for nuance in a genre of music where the nuance has not always been so pronounced. -Tom Murphy


Michael Jackson “Love Never Felt So Good” from Xscape

It seems like nothing can stop Michael Jackson, not even death. Released five years after Jackson’s untimely passing, “Love Never Felt So Good” is a slice of heavenly pop songwriting. The song has got all of the hallmarks of a classic Jackson track, from the flawless vocal delivery to the infectious chorus melody. Even more remarkable is that the track was originally written in 1983, but not considered strong enough for Jackson’s albums. Thankfully, Jackson’s estate got this gem of a track gussied up and reminded the world why MJ truly was the King of Pop. -Ryan Brun


The Pains of Being Pure at Heart “Until the Sun Explodes” from Days of Abandon

If the giddy feeling that comes with a crush had a theme song, this would be it. Kip Berman and friends serve up a sparkling number that splits its 80s indie rock influences directly between the Smiths and the Cure. Warm synth, full harmonies, handclaps, and Johnny Marr-esque guitar make the sugary sweet track stick. What’s not to love? -Emma Carroll


Parquet Courts “What Color Is Blood?” from Sunbathing Animal

“What Color Is Blood?” comes tumbling out the window of a trashed fraternity, using loose drums, scratchy guitars, and half-sung, half-yelled vocals to conjure the regrettable one-night-stand aesthetic. But don’t let the drunken vibe fool you: the tightly constructed melody and smart lyrics lend a grimy appeal and searing intelligence to the band’s interpretation of bro-punk. –EC


Phantogram “Fall In Love” from Voices

With Eyelid Movies and Nightlife, Phantogram established itself as a noteworthy electro-pop band. But these people really outdid themselves with Voices because pretty much every song is an example of some of the strongest pop songcraft going. “Fall In Love” actually has some complexity in its structure but just comes off like a great R&B song with a simple melody, a minimalist beat and counter melody working together to make the song really fly with an expansive spirit.  –TM


Phantogram “Bill Murray” from Voices

If you were to glance through the tracklisting of Phantogram’s latest offering Voices, you may expect a song named after Bill Murray to be an upbeat, fun party song. Or at the very least a quirky bit of electro-pop. But much like this songs namesake, things aren’t always as they appear. “Bill Murray” is a delicate, down-tempo drone that touches on isolation, loneliness and ultimately loss. It’s a touching piece of songwriting that’s as beautiful but confounding as the man it’s named after. –RB


Pharmakon “Body Betrays Itself” from Bestial Burden

Bestial Burden, the second LP from Margaret Chardiet’s Pharmakon isn’t exactly a walk in the park. Partly inspired by Chardiet’s own medical malfunction, Bestial Burden is easily one of the most intense albums of the year, proof of which can be found in “Body Betrays Itself.” Tortured screaming and droning percussion permeate the track but underneath all the anguish a sense of calm prevails. It is a genuinely unsettling experience and one that should vault Pharmakon into the upper echelon of noise/electronic acts to watch. –RB


Philip Selway “Coming Up For Air” from Weatherhouse

While bandmate Thom Yorke got most of the press regarding Radiohead member solo albums this year, the real surprise came from drummer Philip Selway. Yes, he sings, and plays guitar.  But unlike his first solo album which was a slow, mostly acoustic affair, this new album layers in electronics and features the drums much more prominently. But while the production is on a whole new level, it’s the songwriting that make this album really stand out. This echoing melancholy tune opens the album and sets a mood harkening back to Violator-era Depeche Mode, but made with a lighter, softer touch. -Rob Dixon


Rabbit Junk “Pop That Pretty Thirty” from Pop That Pretty Thirty

After 2010’s ultra-ambitious Project Nonagon concept album, Rabbit Junk seemed to kind of just fade away. Aside from a handful of singles, the band didn’t make too much noise. But that changed this year with the Pop That Pretty Thirty EP. The title track wastes no time, leveling everything that stands in its path with a guitar and drum assault heavier than many metal bands could muster. Add in a healthy dose of ground-shaking bass and foxy female vocals and you quickly realize that the ultra-heavy beat never left Seattle, it just changed ownership. –RB


Rancid “Malfunction” from …Honor Is All We Know

Punk rock can’t really be considered a bastion of experimentation. Step too far out of the lines for what’s acceptable in punk rock, and cries of “sell out” will be sure to follow. Thankfully, as they’ve maintained for years, Rancid doesn’t really give a fuck what you think. How else could you explain this gem of a song which takes the best bits of bands like the Kinks and Rolling Stones and rubs it around in the gutter for a bit? This is Rancid at their finest and another notch in the songwriting belt for the duo of Armstrong and Frederiksen. –RB


Reverend Horton Heat “Let Me Teach You How to Eat” from REV

There aren’t many artists that could carve out a career as long as the Rev has. For over 20 years, Heat & Co. have delivered their unique brand of country punk n’ roll and they haven’t showed any signs of slowing. The lead single from this year’s REV is a frenzied display of virtuoso with a dash of sexual innuendo thrown in for good measure and sounds like it’s about one martini short of blacking out and making some bad decisions. So yeah…it’s a typical Reverend Horton Heat song. And it couldn’t be better. –RB


Royal Blood “Loose Change” from Royal Blood

Find a boulder on a hill. Grab a greasy handful of stank. Rub it in real good and give the rock a shove. This song is as heavy as that metaphor implies and finishes with just as awesome a crash; it’s primal, swaggering, simple and unquestionably bad of ass. –NA


Run the Jewels (ft. Zach De La Rocha) “Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck)” from RTJ2

Coming hot on the heels of last year’s debut album, Killer Mike and El-P, collectively known as Run The Jewels turned in their second effort, RTJ2. The second chapter for the group featured all of the elements that made the first record a success, from El-P’s jaw-dropping production to the back and forth wordplay between MC’s, but it was a rare appearance from Rage Against the Machine’s Zack De La Rocha that took this track to another level. Sure, the song would’ve been fine without him, but hearing Zack destroy a mic is all too rare these days and honestly, he couldn’t have found a better duo to appear with. Fuckboys beware. –RB


Scott Walker + Sunn O))) “Brando” from Soused

Soused is not necessarily the easiest record to get into much less its opening track “Brando.” But there is a strange quality to Scott Walker’s voice that is impossible to fully explicate and that kept me coming back. The melodramatic quality of the music of both Scott Walker and Sunn O))) is pretty much what sets each apart from some of their supposed peers. Also a kind of otherworldly, transporting quality is what draws me in. So “Brando” struck me as something that shouldn’t work but does anyway because all the strangeness, potential awkwardness and imagination that went into this song is what makes me love Dario Argento’s best films not to mention the work of Alejandro Jodorowsky. It’s not for everyone but brilliant partly because it doesn’t try to have a universal appeal. Rather it demands you take this music on its own terms. At a time when too much music is trying to be something else or otherwise not completely trusting in its own strange vision, this was completely refreshing. –TM


Sia “Chandelier” from 1000 Forms of Fear

Having penned songs for Beyoncé, Katy Perry, and Shakira, it’s nice that veteran hitmaker Sia finally saved one for herself. Yes, it’s a song about partying until sunrise, but a shameful sense of self-awareness accompanies the booze-fueled euphoria. In the space of one well-received single, Sia proves that electropop doesn’t have to be dumbed down to enjoy airplay. Fingers crossed that this is just the beginning of a new era of intelligent pop. –EC


Slipknot “AOV” from .5 The Gray Chapter

By all accounts, Slipknot shouldn’t even be around anymore, let alone releasing career-defining albums. Over the last few years, the band has endured the loss of two integral members, both of who were instrumental in the band’s sound and success. Most other groups might’ve just said “fuck it” when facing odds stacked against them, but not Slipknot. Sure, the masks and “evil” stuff is a bit gimmicky, but there’s no denying the riff-powered brutality of “AOV” which comes across more like an exorcising of past demons than a song on a rock record. You can literally feel the passion, pain and everything in between with each note played and sung on the track, an emotional quality that metal bands often strive to reach but fall well short of achieving. –RB


The Smashing Pumpkins “One And All” from Monuments to an Elegy

A song like this has been a long time coming for the Smashing Pumpkins, and that’s coming from a fan of Smashing Pumpkins v 2.0. Billy Corgan (and whoever he may have in the band at this point) hasn’t sounded as vital and hungry as they do here in nearly a decade. But “One and All” is a genuinely sneaky song. The guitar riff is relentless in its simplicity and Corgan’s vocal delivery is unassuming at best upon first hearing it. It’s not until hours later when you realize you’ve been humming the tune all day that you fully understand what a good god damn tune this is. That really is the beauty of it all, something Corgan likely recognized as the song came pouring out in his Highland Park home. –RB


Snake Rattle Rattle Snake “Evil Eye” from TOTEM

Comparisons will abound with this song and the album in general but it seems to me a kind of bold step in the right direction for the band. Rather than stick to an already successful formula on the material for its last album, SRRS went for moodier, darker and emotionally more dangerous territory. This song is the proof. Giorgio Moroder probably wasn’t in mind in the songwriting but there is an updated dark disco quality to the song and it evokes the vibe of 70s dystopian science fiction in a way that isn’t played out at this point. –TM


Sons of Magdalene “Hold On Hold Still For a Second” from Move to Pain

Sons of Magdalene mastermind Josh Eustis has experienced his fair share of pain over the last few years, most notably the passing of his friend and musical partner Charles Cooper, with whom Eustis worked with in Telefon Tel Aviv. So it came as a bit of a surprise to hear the danceable, upbeat sound of “Hold On Hold Still For A Second,” the opening cut from the Sons’ debut Move To Pain. Borrowing a page out of the Depeche Mode playbook, Sons of Magdalene confronts the hardships of living head on with nothing but a vocal hook and an 808. It’s not a new sound, but a time tested one that was given a slight sonic facelift and allowed its creator passage through the dark hallways of grief. –RB


More Top Songs of 2014: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 5


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