Sunday, December 7, 2014

100 Songs for 2014


(1) Beach Slang – “Filthy Luck”

Filthy Luck is just a perfect, airtight piece of songwriting. It’s two-and-a-half minutes of Replacements-y guitar squeal that somehow accomplishes the miraculous feat of getting the cool kids to admit they maybe kinda liked the Goo Goo Dolls all along. It plays on all the good nostalgia, high school weekends, nights spent in basements, where music was essential to developing a rudimentary sense of self, where every feeling was monumentally important and nothing could be too introspective or overwrought:

I’m a slave to always fucking up
It’s not okay, but maybe it’s enough
Kids like us are weird, and more, we’re brave
We tie our tongues and turn them into rage
And the night’s still young
And we’re dumb enough to fall

I had a vision of Beach Slang. I saw three or four precocious punk kids, too skinny, aggressively terrible haircuts, fighting through present-day emotions that I personally haven’t felt in years. I loved them. I saw the flash of genius that became the Who Would Ever Want Anything So Broken? EP. I felt their excitement, when they uploaded it to Bandcamp, barely willing to consider the possibility that anyone would ever listen. It’s a vision of innocence and optimism and youth and it made me feel great to be alive. 

None of it is true, though.

It turns out that the creative genius behind Beach Slang is several years years older than I am, a veteran of East Coast cult heroes Weston, who rose to regional prominence almost twenty years ago. His name is James Snyder, and he currently works as a graphic designer.

This version of Beach Slang, the real one, isn’t as viscerally thrilling as my invented punk wunderkinds, but it’s probably more interesting. Because why is James Snyder doing this? I'm so glad he is, but ... why?

Weston broke up in 2001. I don't know what Snyder has been up to since then. There was a reunion. There were other bands. And now he's back with Beach Slang. I doubt there's much money in it. I doubt he has dreams of the spoils of celebrity - the drugs and groupies and Rolling Stone covers that are often portrayed as the incentive structure for popular music. He will probably not, as the insult goes, 
quit his day job. He writes songs because he writes songs. He plays shows because he plays shows. I don't know James Snyder, but I would bet anything that if you asked him Why are you still doing this? his first reaction would be confusion. What do you mean? Why wouldn't I?


I have “Filthy Luck” because a graphic designer in Philadelphia wasn't ready to give up on music, even though I'm sure a lot of people assumed he would “grow up” and “get serious” now that he had a “real job.” It's an unlikely back-story for my favorite song of the year, but they're all unlikely back-stories.

There are 100 songs on this list, and each one, to some degree, is a needle in a haystack, one of 20,000 new songs added to Spotify every day. I'm not patting myself on the back for miraculously discovering Lorde or Bruno Mars or whatever, but there is so much noise out there, a constant rush of content screaming for attention, that I think it's more important than ever to stop and give thanks for the bits that slip through, the one-in-a-million songs that hit home. Instead of taking for granted that new songs exist, and will always exist, I want to reflect on the fact that each of these songs was so unlikely to get made, and then so unlikely to be heard by anyone, and then so unlikely to be heard by me, and yet here we are.

I have “Filthy Luck” and 99 others, and they’re all variations on the same theme, minor miracles in their very existence, messages in bottles hoping for some improbable connection, a testament to maxing out credit cards and sleeping on couches instead of going back to college like your parents keep suggesting. More or less. I’m not calling Taylor Swift a martyr to the cause of garage band kids sleeping in vans on shoestring tours, but I’m sure even she had years of people telling her that she’d never make it, that country music was a cut-throat game for suckers and sellouts, that she should get serious and think about her future.

No one on this list got serious or thought about their future, and we’re all so much better for it. I hope they never do. 

So ... I guess what I'm saying is that I think we should start a band. All of us. It seems like the least we could do.

(2) Allison Crutchfield – “You”

The best thing about music in 2014 is the way Allison Crutchfield says “you.” Also, this is a retroactive apology for Swearin’s “Kenosha” not being a top five entry in 100 Songs for 2012. Everything a Crutchfield sister touches turns to gold, and has since they were children. We are 2/100 of the way to 100 Songs for 2014 being composed entirely of Philadelphia-based artists.

(3) Restorations – “Separate Songs”

IMAGINE THAT FOCUS IN REAL LIFE / IMAGINE GOING OUTSIDE.” If any of you are thinking of quitting your job, I suggest you submit the lyrics to this song as your two weeks’ notice.  We are now 3/100 of the way to 100 Songs for 2014 being composed entirely of Philadelphia-based artists.

(4) Andrew Jackson Jihad – “Children of God”

The easy line here is “In a year when John Darnielle was busy writing and promoting a shockingly-good debut novel, someone else had to take over writing Mountain Goats songs,” but that sells AJJ short. Christmas Island is low-fi folk-punk of a genre all its own, and I’m not sure even Darnielle could have written a couplet like “Thunderdome, broken home, everybody dies alone / I wanna give a shout-out to the innocent bystanding.”

(5) The Rural Alberta Advantage – “Runners in the Night”

Like so many great Canadian bands, RAA feature male and female co-lead singers, which is something that absolutely needs to catch on in America. I would like Beach Slang 100% more if one of the Crutchfield sisters was in the band.

(6) Cloud Nothings – “I’m Not Part of Me”

I’ve yet to get fully sucked in by a Cloud Nothings album, but they sure do manage to kick out one undeniable lead-single jam every time. “I’m Not Part of Me” manages to top even 2012’s near-perfect “Stay Useless.”

(7) The Rentals – “Thought of Sound”

If you had to guess what member of the classic Weezer lineup would be making fresh, interesting music in 2014, you would have said, “Well, not Rivers, definitely not, too obvious, maybe the dude who made ‘Friends of P.’ in 1995 and quit the band to move to Leiper's Fork, Tennessee, and cut all ties with the music industry?” And you’d be right.

(8) Ought – “Today More Than Any Other Day”

If you’re like me, you need a slow-building, Pixies-ish motivational jam about finally having the self-confidence to go grocery shopping. And now you have it.

(9) The New Pornographers – “War on the East Coast”

I probably take the effortless greatness of Carl Newman and Co. for granted. If this song was the first single from some previously-unknown band, it would be a revelation, and a definite Song of the Year candidate.  As is, is it one of the ten best New Pornos songs? Probably not. That’s tough to live up to.

(10) Ingrid Michaelson – “Girls Chase Boys”

When I come to power, there will be a Nobel-esque yearly award for the song that best reprises the spirit of Sara Bareilles’ “King of Anything.” It will be named in honor of this song.

(11) Slow Club – “Tears of Joy”

Slow Club, man. I don’t know how they do it. This song starts out so minimal and breezy, and you’re thinking it has a nice, throwback feel to it, maybe a little bit forgettable, but then somehow it’s been slowly building the whole time, so when they hit the “And now there’s nothing left for us to do / Except for you to be good to me and me to be good to you” climax, you realize they’re basically spell-casting wizards.

(12) Tkay Maidza – “U-Huh”

I know our country’s Female Australian Rapper Quota is one, and I know Iggy Azalea probably isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, but I’d ask you all to make room in your hearts for Tkay, too. This song is three and a half minutes of joy.

(13) Tune-Yards – “Water Fountain”

A playground jump-rope chant of a song that changes directions more times than you’d think possible, ultimately confusing but somehow never disjointed. “A two-pound chicken tastes better with friends.

(14) Taylor Swift – “Out of the Woods”

Best Taylor Swift song of the year. Best Chvrches song of the year. Best Bleachers song of the year. Best Eve 6 song of the year. Best Savage Garden song of the year.

(15) Panama Wedding – “Uma”

The perfect midpoint between Tanlines and Vampire Weekend, direct from the part of Manhattan that is apparently tropical.

(16) Bleachers – “I Wanna Get Better”

When I first heard this, I definitely wasn’t thinking, “I wonder what this would sound like as a Taylor Swift song,” but now it's all I can think about. 2014 seems like it’s been a really long year.

(17) QT – “Hey QT”

Future-pop at its finest. Pitchfork described this song as “squishy, hot-pink synth and a hiccupping beat rolled in powdered sugar.” The devil’s advocate view on this song is that it’s basically a K-Pop “Barbie Girl,” but I’m going to ask you to ignore that.

(18) La Roux – “Sexotheque”

It’s been six years since “Bulletproof,” and in the interim La Roux came up with something that I guess you could call “calypso Scissor Sisters.” Time well spent.

(19) The Hold Steady – “The Ambassador”

The centerpiece of Teeth Dreams, it’s a quintessential Hold Steady story of very real hard times and a largely-symbolic redemption. I was very close to writing an essay-length piece about the lines “When you came back to us, in South Minneapolis / You said revenge exists outside of space and time” based on largely-forgotten texts I read while minoring in philosophy more than a decade ago. We’re all pretty excited I didn’t actually do this.

(20) The War on Drugs – “In Reverse”

Last song on the essentially flawless Lost in the Dream, “In Reverse” is nearly eight minutes well spent for even the most ADD-addled mind. “You’ve been out in the street / Talkin’ ‘bout the war with me” is the best opening couplet of 2014. Another Philadelphia band, because it had been awhile.

(21) American Hi-Fi – “Portland”

F. Scott Fitzgerald said there are no second acts in American lives, but these guys wrote “Flavor of the Weak” THIRTEEN YEARS AGO. Also, everyone misunderstands The Great Gatsby.

(22) Allo Darlin’ – “Bright Eyes”

Like a less jaded Los Campesinos!, the call-and-response lyrics give way to perfectly fuzzed-out guitars. “When I’m with you I leave the dark behind.

(23) The #1s – “Sharon Shouldn’t”

Punk-rock guitars and surf-rock harmonies are the peanut butter and chocolate of the music world. Like a lost Exploding Hearts b-side, which is one of the highest compliments I can give.

(24) A-Trak – “Push” (f/ Andrew Wyatt)

Kanye West’s personal DJ teams up with the guy from Miike Snow on a song more like classic Miike Snow than anything on Miike Snow’s last album. Kind of a confusing arrangement, but you can’t argue with results.

(25) EMA – “So Blonde”

Fluxblog called this song “Courtney Love fan-fiction,” which is exactly right but doesn’t really help explain why I like it so much.

(26) Sylvan Esso – “Play It Right”

Re-working of a 2011 a capella tune by folk purists Mountain Man, which is a surprising fact I learned just now and actually makes me like it more.

(27) Against Me! – “Transgender Dysphoria Blues”

Transgender Dysphoria Blues is an unquestionably important album for a number of reasons, and will probably be one of the signature records of 2014 that will be remembered for decades to come. Today, however, it also has the great honor of being the only non-hip hop song on the “Songs That It Is Exceeding Embarrassing (and Potentially a Hate Crime) for Aaron to Absent-Mindedly Mumble-Sing in a Public Place” list.

(28) Damon Albarn – “Heavy Seas of Love”

While Damon Albarn has done a lot of interesting stuff, from his solo work to Gorillaz to Mali Music, I can’t hear any of it because I’m too busy screaming, “JUST GET BLUR BACK TOGETHER ALREADY, DAMON!”

(29) SBTRKT – “New Dorp. New York” (f/ Ezra Koenig)

If your biggest complaint about Vampire Weekend was that their lyrics make too much sense, now there’s this. “Tip of the empire, top of the rock.”

(30) DJ Snake – “Turn Down for What” (f/ Lil Jon)

Now that “Turn Down for What” has become a ubiquitous cultural phenomenon, I think it’s important to stop and ask “How in the world does this even exist?”  How did a French DJ and the “OKAAAAAAY!” guy ever get together in the first place? Part of me wants to know, and part of me doesn’t want to ruin the magic.

(31) Cam’ron – “Humphrey”

Produced by A-Trak, the same guy who helmed the Miike Snow-alike song a few spots up on this list. That is some range right there. Also, you can start a never-ending argument by calling something “The Most Cam’ron Thing Ever,” but I submit that opening a song by threatening to fight Bernard Hopkins, only after you get out of detox, is the most Cam’ron thing ever.

(32) Saint Pepsi – “Fiona Coyne”

Four years too late, the perfect chillwave song.

(33) The New Pornographers – “Champions of Red Wine”

The New Pornographers are the only band that give me that day-after-Christmas feeling when you hear the new album for the first time and think, “We will never be further away from a new New Pornographers album than we are right now.”

(34) Hurry – “Oh Whitney”

As long as there’s one band out there trying to write shoegaze Teenage Fanclub songs, everything is okay. Bonus points for the record-breaking music video. Another Philadelphia band, because of course.

(35) Cher Lloyd – “M.F.P.O.T.Y.”

This isn’t coy flirting, or playing hard to get. Cher Lloyd legitimately wants you to leave her alone, like immediately. And that’s why this song works. Song of the Summer for 2014 in any just universe, but sadly not ours.

(36) Run the Jewels – “Close Your Eyes (And Count to F***)” (f/ Zack de la Rocha)

Really hope Elliot finds an edited version of this album he can play around his kids, because it's about time they learn about the prison-industrial complex.

(37) Taylor Swift – “How You Get the Girl”

The only song on 1989 with even a hint of a country pedigree, which really makes it stand out. The only song on 1989 where you can’t argue about whether Rihanna/Miley/etc. would have done a better version.

(38)  Purity Ring - Push Pull

Ranked here as a reference to the thirty-eight times I've listened to this song today. So hard to rank the late additions to the list because, right now, this is my favorite song.

(39) The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – “Simple and Sure”

Frontman Kip Berman replaced nearly the entire band between albums, and the result sounds … pretty much exactly like the last album. Which is not a complaint, just weird that he had to fire people over it.

(40) Candy Hearts – “I Miss You”

Ilana is so mad these guys aren't Canadian.

(41) Beach Slang – “Kids”

"Kids" gets the nod by a nose over EVERY OTHER BEACH SLANG SONG, BECAUSE THEY ARE ALL GREAT. (I mean, there are only eight of them. You should go listen to all of them.)

(42) The Preatures – “Somebody’s Talking”

The Australian Haim! A lot of Australia on this year’s list – Preatures, Tkay, Iggy, Betty Who, AiH, all that time I spent trying to come up with a rationale for including all the Courtney Barnett songs I didn’t hear until this year ...

(43) Hello Saferide – “I Was Jesus”

Kind of a down year for Swedish pop weirdness, but Annika Norlin does an admirable job of filling in the gaps.

(44) Andrew Jackson Jihad – “Kokopelli Face Tattoo”

Google Image Searching the phrase “Kokopelli Face Tattoo” is … enlightening, let’s say.

(45) Restorations – “Tiny Prayers”

From the band's Vice interview: "If drinking beers in a South Philly dog park on a Tuesday evening with Restorations singer/guitarist Jon Loudon and guitarist/keyboardist Ben Pierce feels like a very Philadelphia thing to be doing at this moment in time, that’s probably because it is. Pierce lives around the corner and brings his dog Charlie to the park a lot, but right now, a great Basset Hound named Broccoli has leapt onto our picnic table and, through a cloud of dirt he kicked up, knocked my beer over with a forceful tail wag. Broccoli is from South Philly and has no regard for the three of us." If Broccoli's owner puts out an album next year, I am guaranteeing him a spot on 100 Songs for 2015 (offer also valid if Broccoli himself puts out an album).

(46) MisterWives  “Reflections”

This is brilliant. I did not realize you could just drop Cheryl Lynn's "Got to Be Real right in the middle of your kinda-dreamy indie song. What other disco elements are we not using properly?

(47) Architecture in Helsinki – “I Might Survive”

Gene said this was his theme song for living in Nigeria for two years, so I'm probably not going to come up with a better line than that.

(48) Iggy Azalea – “Fancy” (f/ Charli XCX)

Song of the Summer despite the fact that Iggy Azalea is objectively terrible at everything. It’s like Charli XCX is cranking out hits with one hand tied behind her back, just to increase the degree of difficulty.

(49) Jungle – “Busy Earnin’”

Big year for British r&b/soul outfits I know literally nothing about.

(50) Labrinth – “Let It Be”

Again, big year for British r&b/soul outfits I know literally nothing about.

(51) Future – “Move That Dope”

Someone described this beat as the sound of a spaceship melting down, and that is 100% perfect. If there were even one second of this song that didn’t require a “Parental Advisory” sticker, this would be a great choice for someone’s at-bat walk-up music.

(52) CHVRCHES – “Dead Air”

Some blog is going to claim that the Mockingjay: Part One soundtrack is the Album of the Year, and they're not entirely wrong.

(53) Against Me! – “Black Me Out”

I read so much about this album before it came out, how it was edgy and angry and important, but people seemed to gloss over how catchy it is. That’s an accomplishment, too, especially when paired with the depth of its subject matter.

(54) Carl Barat and the Jackals – “Glory Days”

Ignoring all rumors of a new Libertines album because it’s never going to happen but if this is the closest we get, I guess that’s okay. Also, I think Carl Barat should have to defeat Bruce Springsteen in hand to hand combat before he can use this song title. I said that because I’m pretty sure Carl would win.

(55) Mark Ronson  Uptown Funk (f/ Bruno Mars)

If you're going to fashion a career out of being willfully derivative, you have to have impeccable taste, and luckily Mark Ronson does.

(56) Generationals  “Black Lemon

On the one hand, this is some of the lightest, summeriest music around. On the other hand, the band had this to say about the recording process: Did he force us—physically at times—to look inside ourselves and face the dark emptiness in our own hearts? Yes, he did that.” Alix is the happy-saddest album of 2014.

(57) Charli XCX  “Boom Clap”

Like so many up and coming performers before her, following the tried and true career path of (a) write song for previously-obscure Swedish pop duo; (b) write song for previously-kind-of-a-joke Australian rapper; (c) write song for movie about kids with cancer. I hope Sucker takes over the world in 2015.

(58) Cardiknox  “Wasted Youth”

Last song added to 100 Songs for 2014, which means in six months I'll have either forgotten it completely or I'll be telling you it should have been Top Ten.

(59) Clap Your Hands Say Yeah  “Coming Down”

Not content to leave 2005 in the past, CYHSY enlist the lead singer of The National for a song that sounds nothing like either CYHSY or The National. Which, in 2014, is a good thing.

(60) Johnny Marr  “Dynamo”

The first Johnny Marr song that doesn’t immediately make me think of either Morrissey or Modest Mouse, although I’ve kinda ruined that by mentioning both of them here.

(61) The Hold Steady  “I Hope This Whole Thing Didn’t Frighten You”

Without question the greatest song ever to name-check St. Cloud, Minnesota.

(62) The Decemberists  “Make You Better”

Is it really a Decemberists song if the most anachronistic lyric involves someone writing letters? Shouldn’t there be a shipwreck or a mine disaster or something in here? Probably saving that for What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World, due out in January.

(63) The Rural Alberta Advantage  “On the Rocks”

RAA's drummer is an intellectual property attorney (seriously). Listen to this again and see if you can hear that in his technique.

(64) Belle & Sebastian  “The Party Line”

This is 75% of B&S’ masterpiece “Your Cover’s Blown,” and it would be higher on this list if the 25% they left out wasn’t the chorus. Still on the edge of my seat for Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance, due out in January.

(65) Betty Who  “Heartbreak Dream”

The most impressive thing about this song is that (as far as I can tell) it doesn't have some big name super-producer attached to it. It's just a classically-trained cello player named Jessica and some guy she met at Berklee College who doesn't even have his own Wikipedia page. And yet it sounds like thirty-five middle-aged Swedish dudes were involved.

(66) Bishop Allen – “Start Again”

One of the guys in Bishop Allen founded OKCupid. I don't know why this changes my opinion of the band, or how, but it does.

(67) Bombay Bicycle Club  “Home By Now”

Every time I’m listening to Spotify Browse, or a Pandora station, or something quasi-curated, and a song makes me stop and take notice, it’s always Bombay Bicycle Club. Every time.

(68) Clean Bandit  “Rather Be”

As mentioned earlier, big year for British r&b/soul outfits I know literally nothing about.

(69) The 1975  “Medicine”

Having done all the rest of the drugs, The 1975 move on to the downers. Song of the year for wistfully staring off into space.

(70) Cory Branan  “The No-Hit Wonder”

The dude knows his subject matter. I first heard “Miss Ferguson” on a mixtape back in 2002, and now here’s Branan, twelve years and no hits later, with a Craig Finn guest vocal and another great alt-country tune.

(71) Conor Oberst  “Kick”

Best song about a member of the Kennedy family since, I don’t know, “Sympathy for the Devil”? That song from Inside Llewyn Davis?

(72) Kacey Musgraves  “The Trailer Song”

Highlight of Outside Lands 2014, I like Kacey Musgraves enough that I often think, “I wonder if there are other country artists that sound like this,” but I don’t like her enough to actually expend any effort seeking out those artists.

(73) The War on Drugs  “Eyes to the Wind”

Placeholder for the entire Lost in the Dream album.

(74) Tove Lo  “Not On Drugs”

Bold move to follow Habits (Stay High) with Not On Drugs. Which is it, Tove? Which is it?

(75) Lorde  “Yellow Flicker Beat”

No matter what anyone tells me to the contrary, I will continue to believe that Lorde and Taylor Swift are best friends and that there's nothing calculated or fabricated about it.

(76) Kishi Bashi  “Philosophize In It! Chemicalize With It!”

Absolutely as weird as you’d expect, coming from of Montreal’s violin player. Probably the only artist who gets consistent coverage on Gizmodo.

(77) Tokyo Police Club  “Hot Tonight”

Tokyo Police Club, from Canada, who I often confuse with Bombay Bicycle Club, from London. But it's all so straightforward when you spell it out like that.

(78) The Colourist  “Put the Fire Out”

The brilliant singles are ineligible, having made last year's list, but there's still a lot to like from The Colourist's debut album.

(79) Jamie T  “Zombie”

Have to include at least one artist who has received a breathless NME review despite no one from America ever having heard of him. I know everyone in the UK hates their overheated music press, but it's so much fun when you can just check in every now and then.

(80) Sleater-Kinney  “Bury Our Friends”

Was going to add a snide comment about how most people now know her as Carrie from Portlandia, but then I realized this is the only Sleater-Kinney song I actually know the words to, so I guess I am those people.

(81) Caribou  “Can’t Do Without You”

Despite never having done any rave-related drugs, I am 100% confident that this song would be so much better with a bunch of rave-related drugs.

(82) Kitten  “Sensible”

Gracefully sliding in to fill that Crystal Castles vacancy.

(83) King Tuff  “Headbanger”

Best song about falling in love with someone’s record collection since that girl told Rivers Cuomo she’d never heard of Green Day.

(84) CHVRCHES  “Get Away”

I'm excited for a new CHVRCHES album at some point in the future, but I also like the years where they just release two singles, because it makes it much easier to work within my own self-imposed Two Songs Per Artist rule.

(85) Charli XCX  “Gold Coins”

Did not think we would have this many Weezer references in these blurbs, but this sounds like Beverly Hills if Beverly Hills was in any way good.

(86) Have Mercy  “Spacecrafts”

For whatever reason, I spent my high school years listening to classic rock and jam bands, which might have been for the best, because I think teenage me would have been really susceptible to falling into a pretty deep emo hole, as evidenced by my love of songs like this one.

(87) Clean Bandit  “Real Love”

I think I might actually like this one more than “Rather Be,” but, to make sure I’m comparing them on equal footing, I’m going to need to hear this one on the radio about 600,000 more times.

(88) Woods  “Leaves Like Glass”

As Sterogum called it, a delicate jangler.

(89) Alvvays  “Archie, Marry Me”

Sixties girl-group nostalgia in its purest form. If The Pipettes ever get back together, this would be the perfect opening act.

(90) Modern Baseball  “Apartment”

One last Philadelphia band. Pitchfork described their sound as code-splitting of the pop-punk double helix and name-checked The Hold Steady, The Mountain Goats, and Los Campesinos! in reviewing You're Gonna Miss It All, so obviously I'm sold.

(91) Banks  “Begging for Thread”

Required by law to refer to this song as “moody” or “brooding.”

(92) The Kooks  “Forgive & Forget”

I think they're doing this on purpose, but at some points in this song the drums are so clattery it makes me double-check to make sure a pop-up ad hasn't started playing in a different browser tab.

(93) Kendrick Lamar  “i”

No idea how it's possible that the SNL version could be so much better than the studio version, but it really, really is.

(94) RAC  “Ello Ello” (f/ Body Language)

American producer works with American band on song whose chorus adopts a stylized British accent and in doing so sounds like an Australian band named after a city in Finland, and also sounds a little bit like the greatest band ever to come out of Denmark. Cutesy indie-pop is the world's music.

(95) Calvin Harris  “Pray to God” (f/ HAIM)

Harris accelerates the HAIM-as-Fleetwood-Mac project by about five years, as we've left Rumours behind for a kind of electro-Edge of Seventeen.

(96) Trampled by Turtles  “Come Back Home”

Duluth! Trampled by Turtles releases albums on the BanjoDad Records label, which means you can't make any jokes about them because they've already made all the jokes.

(97) The Gaslight Anthem  “Rollin’ and Tumblin’”

Okay, this is a safe space. We can all admit that Get Hurt was terrible, right? That’s not just me? I still love the band and everything, but … yeesh.

(98) NONONO  “Hungry Eyes”

Maybe not as car-commercial-ready as lead single Pumpin' Blood, but thankfully devoid of whistling.

(99)  RAC  “Hard to Hold” (f/Tegan and Sara)

By an eyelash over Tegan and Sara's other random guest appearance of 2014, on Night Terrors of 1927's “When You Were Mine.”

(100)  Milky Chance  Flashed Junk Mind

Is “German folk/rock duo with reggae and electronic music influences” the least appealing description of a band you can imagine? I don't know why this works, but it does.


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  3. As always, this list is fun, intelligent and informative. I love the mix of pop stuff and the more obscure. Every list for this year should have "Girls Chase Boys" on it, as that is a nearly-perfect song. "The Ambassador" is the ballad of the year and, in addition to being by your beloved THS, is rightly on this list. I learned a lot from this list, as I do every year. Thanks for being a dependable acolyte for great music!