40. Interpol – All The Rage Back Home
I heavily anticipate and hype many reunions, but Interpol’s reintroduction to music couldn’t have started better than “All The Rage Back Home”. The 50 second introduction by Paul Banks symbolized the patience fans had in waiting four years before launching into trademark circuitous guitar riffs and percussion.
39. Sam Smith – Stay With Me
As far as I’m concerned, Sam Smith didn’t need to prove himself on “Stay With Me”. His 2013 work with Disclosure, Naughty Boy and his own EP, Nirvana, were clearly signs of an artist to be reckoned with. Instead, “Stay With Me” proved a global takeover was on his agenda one of the biggest songs of 2014.
38. Hozier – Jackie & Wilson
“Take Me To Church” will probably be Hozier’s biggest hit, but no one could question the enjoyment factor of “Jackie & Wilson”. The old school R&B and blues influences excelled with Hozier’s passionate vocals, energetic guitar and name-check. Besides, I’d much rather see future parents name their kids “Jackie” and “Wilson” than the likes of Daenerys, Bran or Cersei. No matter how much I like Game of Thrones.
37. Wye Oak – Glory
Baltimore duo Wye Oak made waves on their new album Shriek for abandoning the guitar, but their storytelling still sounded great with the band’s new sound. “Glory” thrives on layered electronic effects and percussion that rises and falls in conjunction with singer Jenn Wasner’s intense, obsession tale.
36. Jack Garratt-Worry
Lying awake for any reason no matter how mundane can be painful, but the kind of heartbreak Jack Garratt goes through over missed love opportunities was particularly gut-wrenching. The way Garratt was able to precisely match those feelings with bursts of horn, synth and his own vocal instrument was masterful.
35. Alt J – Hunger of the Pine
Alt J’s sophomore album, This Is All Yours, was a departure from the melodic excellence of their debut, but had moments that still wowed previous fans. If you didn’t immediately dismiss the oddball Miley Cyrus sample, “Hunger Of The Pine” was an auditory treat with a cacophony of sounds that echoed the narrator’s pain and suffering.
34. Sinkane-How We Be
Let’s take a break from 3 straight tracks about heartbreak, shall we? Instead of love, talented Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist Sinkane detailed the enlightenment in realized change on “How We Be”. The fused backdrop of funky rhythms, retro synth, woodwinds and looped handclaps give a world-music feel to a topic that is universally relevant.
33. Lana Del Rey – West Coast
The hazy surf rock soundtrack to “West Coast” is appropriate for Lana’s other geographical referenced track from Ultraviolence. Much like the mentioned “golden gods and Rock n Roll groupies” of Hollywood, Lana and Dan Auerbach did an excellent job of emitting the feeling of losing control through distorted guitar riffs and vocal melange.
32. Lykke Li – Gunshot
“Gunshot” continued Lykke Li’s power trip from her last album, Wounded Rhymes, and showed her self awareness in trouble relationships. The bursts of melody with keys, guitar and Li’s own unique vocals sounded almost celebratory when she realized she was so toxic to her former lover.
31. St. Vincent – Prince Johnny
Annie Clark has many voices through which she tells messages on her self-titled fourth album, but her psychiatrist-like role on “Prince Johnny” was one of my favorites. The layered narrative starts as observatory concern for a lost friend, but ends up as a reflective criticism of herself. The soundscape mostly hums with ominous tones, sparse drum machine and Clark’s hovering vocals, but the guitar feels like an analogy for the self destruction of her own psyche.