This here is a playlist of songs from the year 2014 that a handful of individuals have picked out with the belief that they are some of the finest cuts of musical meat out there on the market right now. We have the two heaviest opinions on this list represented by myself, Trevor Morrison, AKA the Music Director of WHUS, as well as Ryan King, the General Manager.
The other songs that made this list came together pretty simply: just an easy Facebook status asking for people to send me their favorite songs and their reasons why they love them so much. Ryan and I played our own and talked about why we liked the songs, then switched gears to play the requested songs.
The songs came from my two groups of friends that are most heavily involved in current music: WHUS DJs and other Music Directors. There were three very respected student WHUS DJs, DJ Famous Warrior, DJ Try Hard & Chad, as well as three other Music Directors from highly-esteemed radio stations from across the country: Eric from Radio UTD in Dallas, TX; Michelle from WDBM in East Lansing, MI; and Ross from Radio K in Minneapolis, MN.
Let’s get into this list, shall we?
DISCLAIMER: I put this article together so I had the chance to write why I liked all of my songs at length and my lovely co-host Ryan did not have that luxury. Perhaps he’ll see this and whip up something quick, but I think we can all trust his judgement enough to accept that these are damn good songs he’s chosen.
Saintseneca – Blood Bath – Dark Arc
The opening track of the show is also the opening track of one of my favorite albums of the year so far. The song starts innocently enough, complete with great vocal harmonies and stomping percussion. But when the stomping percussion amplifies to house-shaking volume as illustrated by rattling cups and silverware, that’s when you know that the song is ramping up into something great. The insanely anthem-like chorus is impossible not to sing along to and is one of the greatest resounding moments of music this year, in my opinion.
St. Vincent – Prince Johnny – St. Vincent
– Coming into 2014, St. Vincent’s new LP was my most anticipated. It not only didn’t disappoint, but also dethroned her previous effort, Strange Mercy, as my favorite St. Vincent album. This song contains all the classic St. Vincent-isms and weaves in all the glitz of her major-ish label debut to make it a real bright spot on an already shining album.
Perfect Pussy – Interference Fits – Say Yes To Love
– Terribly fierce in all realms of this song’s structure, singer Meredith Graves navigates this volatile environment with grace until taking in one last breath and releasing all her emotions in one absolutely unbelievable conclusion, which definitely brings the song to dazzling heights.
Frankie Cosmos – Sad 2 – Zentropy
– “Sad 2” was the perfect foil against the overblown ferocity of Perfect Pussy, I thought. The low key vocals singing simple lyrics of sadness over losing her dog, plus the effective instrumental arrangement of guitar, synth and marimba(!) unclouded the musical atmosphere after PP and delivered a payload of “the feels” straight to the brain.
Sylvan Esso – Wolf – Sylvan Esso
St. Vincent – Digital Witness – St. Vincent
Kishi Bashi – Hahaha Pt. 2 – Lighght
Lake Street Dive – You Go Down Smooth – Bad Self Portraits
Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – Stranger To My Happiness – Give The People What They Want
Movement – Control You – Movement EP
– Intensely moving, potential baby-making music material right here, folks, so take inventory of your loins while listening to this song. This song is DRIPPING with dark, moody sexiness. The minimal synth lines remind me of faintly strobing lights in a foggy hotel room, while the singer fills the protagonist role in some awesome spy movie or something. The amount of breath taken by the singer also adds to the thick, sexual atmosphere of the song, making it a certified WHUS BONERJAM OF 2014.
Trust – Are We Arc? – Joyland
– If we want to talk about highly immersive and cinematic songs, we should start here. The echoing vocals and blinking synths immediately remind me of some kind of insane anime action scene, or a preparation for said action scene. Maybe it’s because I just finished watching a series the other day so anime is on the mind, but the euphoric highs of the synths, plus the wistful vocals really make me feel like I’m floating up into some grand sci-fi terminal. That feeling of immersion within a song is what I live for.
Holly Herndon – Chorus – Chorus EP
– Never have I heard the sounds of the internet-minded age summed up so brilliantly since Oneohtrix Point Never’s “R Plus Seven” until I heard this song. Herndon uses the sounds from her laptop (the fan running inside, Skype notifications, overall computer function sounds) and her own voice to make a deconstructed, experimental techno/dance song with blistering beats and glitched-out, spacey production. Everything is sterile, manipulated and digital. It’s infectious, a little terrifying and I can’t stop listening to it.
Sophie – Hard – Lemonade / Hard single
– This is a direct shot of sugary sludge to the brain via an iron bar being smacked into your head. I know, strange and convoluted metaphor, but just go with it. This song is equal parts sugary sweet and alarmingly violent. The smashing metal sound effects juxtaposed with sugar sweet female pop vocals make this song a strangely jarring experience that I just so happen to listen to multiple times in a row.
Sharon Van Etten – Your Love Is Killing Me – Are We There
The Jezabels – No Country – The Brink
Real Estate – Past Lives – Atlas
Cloud Nothings – Psychic Trauma – Here And Nowhere Else
– Our first recommendation from a WHUS DJ was from Louie, AKA DJ Famous Warrior!
“This song is practically a roller coaster. It’s energizing, ferocious, and implodes in the most beautiful way possible.”
A Sunny Day In Glasgow – Golden Waves – Sea When Absent
– Our next recommendation came from DJ Try Hard, AKA a secret astronaut AKA maybe Taylor! (Definitely astronaut, tho.)
“It goes from soft and melodious to some crazy catchy noisey shrill cacaphony. Then it’s just backed up by these sweet vocals that just lend themselves to the shrillness so perfectly. There’s a great part after all this noisey layering that’s so refreshing it gives me chills.“
Your Friend – Tame One – Jekyll/Hyde
– This recommendation came from our own pharmacologist DJ, Chad!
“I admit, I might be biased here considering they’re Lawrence, Kansas (the college town that holds so many of my greatest memories … about music and well … everything else). I’m also a sucker for the sad/somber. This track has that just below the surface until it eventually bursts into noise rock greatness.”
Todd Terje – Delorean Dynamite – It’s Album Time
– Here’s another one from Louie! This is one of my favorites of the year as well. Just a stunner on the dancefloor, for sure. Personally this made me think of driving down a highway by the beach real fast in a real cool car with lazers and all that stuff. Overall, we thought of pretty much the same thing – awesome, 80s driven scenario. Also I’m guessing that we’ve both played Hotline Miami, but that’s a different article.
“This song takes me back to Miami, FL 1987. Gyrating synths, tight drums, and an infectious groove that can command anyone to start dancing.”
Ricky Eat Acid – In My Dreams We’re Almost Touching – Three Love Songs
– “In my dreams we’re all listening to this song and eating bagel bites at my apartment at 2 am and then Drake shows up and wants to watch Degrassi and we’re like ‘Drake isn’t it weird enough that we’re listening to this song with a sample of a girl covering your song?’ and Drake gets mad and leaves and we’re all like ‘ok take care’ and just keep bumping this sick track”
This is what Eric from Radio UTD in Dallas, TX, thought of when listening to this song. Sounds like a pretty good deal.
FKA Twigs – Pendulum – LP1
– Ross from Radio K in Minneapolis, MN recommended that I play “anything off of FKA Twigs’ new album, because so far I haven’t not been turned on by this every time I listen to it.” Ross is right – FKA Twigs makes some truly sexy music by staying gender neutral in her lyrics, assuming dominant and submissive roles, the rolling, sensual beats & of course the dripping sexuality of her vocals. Wooof. What a musician.
Sylvan Esso – Dress – Sylvan Esso
– Michelle from WDBM in East Lansing, MI recommended anything off of the new Sylvan Esso album, so I played my favorite song off of it since Ryan already played his favorite song. This and St. Vincent are the only two artists of this show that got played twice! How about that?
Radiator Hospital – Blue Gown – Torch Song
– This song is a pretty heavy breakup song, but it still deals with love in a certain way that makes me think about my significant other in ways that other music doesn’t. It makes me feel the emotions if I were to be broken up with her, even though I’m still with her right now. It’s an emotional crowbar, that’s what this is.
Future Islands – Seasons (Waiting On You) – Singles
– The semantics I have tied to this song includes a pretty terrible story. I missed my flight out of Austin because the wrong information was printed onto my boarding pass by the airport. Great. I’m put on standby, which basically means that if someone doesn’t show up to their flight, you get their seat. I waited for three hours after already waiting for five hours before that until I finally was able to get onto a plane to Dallas from Austin. During takeoff, this song came on and I had a moment right there in my cramped middle seat. Fuck you, American Airlines.
Hundred Waters – Murmurs – The Moon Rang Like A Bell
– The final show of the evening comes off of potentially my #1 album of the year so far. The song is extremely engaging with an ever-changing instrumental line and the crystalline vocals of Nicole Miglis, frontwoman of Hundred Waters. It’s just such an expansive song that it instantly gripped by heart the instant I heard it.
Here’s the full list, once again:
- Saintseneca – Blood Bath – Dark Arc
- St. Vincent – Prince Johnny – St. Vincent
- Perfect Pussy – Interference Fits – Say Yes To Love
- Frankie Cosmos – Sad 2 – Zentropy
- Sylvan Esso – Wolf – Sylvan Esso
- St. Vincent – Digital Witness – St. Vincent
- Kishi Bashi – Hahaha Pt. 2 – Lighght
- Lake Street Dive – You Go Down Smooth – Bad Self Portraits
- Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – Stranger To My Happiness – Give The People What They Want
- Movement – Control You – Movement EP
- Trust – Are We Arc? – Joyland
- Holly Herndon – Chorus – Chorus EP
- Sophie – Hard – Lemonade / Hard single
- Sharon Van Etten – Your Love Is Killing Me – Are We There
- The Jezabels – No Country – The Brink
- Real Estate – Past Lives – Atlas
- Cloud Nothings – Psychic Trauma – Here And Nowhere Else
- A Sunny Day In Glasgow – Golden Waves – Sea When Absent
- Your Friend – Tame One – Jekyll/Hyde
- Todd Terje – Delorean Dynamite – It’s Album Time
- Ricky Eat Acid – In My Dreams We’re Almost Touching – Three Love Songs
- FKA Twigs – Pendulum – LP1
- Sylvan Esso – Dress – Sylvan Esso
- Radiator Hospital – Blue Gown – Torch Song
- Future Islands – Seasons (Waiting On You) – Singles
- Hundred Waters – Murmurs – The Moon Rang Like A Bell