Quite a few of my friends have asked me for new music, which is kind of insane, considering this has been an incomprehensibly strong year of music so far. We’ve seen a handful of brilliant LPs and some absolutely breathtaking singles. Here’s a super quick round-up of about 25 absolutely essential songs that came out this year.
How to Dress Well: “Repeat Pleasure” // “Words I Don’t Remember”
Longtime TP-favorite, Tom Krell, continues to make arresting pop(ish) jams that sound like nobodye else. What is This Heart? is undoubtedly my most anticipated LP of the year.
Sean Nicholas Savage: “Heartless”
Ultra-prolific, weirdo crooner crafts a devastating break-up jam with notes of Arthur Russell. Melodrama at its absolute finest.
Young Thug: “Danny Glover”
Probably the song of the year so far, the 21 year-old ATLien is starting to make the establishment really nervous (Jay-Z is shaking in his slippers) with his devastating delivery and ear for progressive arraingments.
Que: “OG Bobby Johnson”
LeBron’s favorite song makes the list thanks to an undeniable, post-Lex Luger beat and the rising Atlanta native’s raspy, intimidating flow.
Small Black x Frankie Rose: “Lines of Latitude”
The shapeshifting Brooklynites dust off their boat shoes and head for warmer climes in this seductive slow-burner.
Future x Ciara: “Anytime”
It’s like “Drunk in Love”… if “Drunk in Love” was sexy.
Ratking x King Krule: “So Sick Stories”
The NYC crew certainly evokes memories of NYC’s golden age of hip-hop, but this brilliant effort reminds me most of Skinnyman’s still seminal, Council Estate of Mind.
Lewis: “I Thought the World of You” (Light in the Attic re-issue)
A heartbreaking whisper from years gone by, the anonymous vocalist’s statement is still profound, nearly 30 years after it was created.
August Alsina: “Kissin on My Tattoos”
The NOLA lothario unleashes the kind of classic-cum-modern slow jam that used to be reserved for his mentor, The-Dream. Impossibly sexy.
Jacques Greene: “No Excuse”
The consistent Canadian delivers again, lacing a vulnerable vocal over a swirling, wonky arraignment. Try not to get lost in it.
SD Laika: “Meshes”
The shadowy Wisconsin native weighs in with one of the most uncompromising, singular statements of the year. As uncompromising a take on dance music as you are ever going to find.
The Brighton duo’s sweltering single sounds like the XX after a couple of Red Bull vodkas. Understated, moody, and seductive, but still looking to have a good time.
The War on Drugs: “Eyes to The Wind”
AM Radio makes its long-awaited comeback! Vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Adam Granduciel summons the wistful spirit of Springsteen to chase the heartache away. The highpoint of one of the albums of the year.
Wild Beasts: “Pregnant Pause”
The sensuous Brits get their “concerned friend” on over a gorgeous, mellifluous piano arraignment. Falsetto enthusiasts rejoice!
Mssingno: “Brandy Flip”
The shadowy Londoner’s Mssingo EP was one of the finest of last year and his wonky, grime-influenced production is second to none, right now. BRB, praying to the Based God for a debut LP.
Motions: “To The Sea”
Nearly eight minutes of house bliss to get lost in, Brendan Neal (ex-Grown Folk) builds an arpeggiated, undulating masterclass that swallows you whole.
YG: “Really Be (Smokin N Drinkin)” (f/ Kendrick Lamar)
The Compton native sets the way-back machine to 1993 on this Doggystyle-channeling cut. YG isn’t known for his lyricism, but even the Dogfather himself would be proud of his storytelling here. That Kendrick kid’s pretty good too.
Kevin Gates x Doe B: “Amnesia”
The murder of 22 year-old, Glenn “Doe B” Thomas, was one of the saddest stories of last year. However, he’s in great voice here, combining with the always, brilliant Baton Rouge Bully to devastating effect. RIP.
I do not love: “I Like you most”
I’m not quite sure how I stumbled on the Massachusetts-native’s gorgeous EP, IDNL., but I’m glad I did. It’s got a little bit of goth, a little bit of pop, and a whole hell of a lot of teen angst.
Lil’ Herb: “On The Corner” (f/ Lil Durk, KD Young Cocky)
The rising Chicago spitta certainly isn’t the first to write about the explosive intersections of American cities, but few are writing about the sobering state of America’s second city with the lyricism and depth of the 17 year-old. This dude will be the next Windy City rapper to blow.
Sun Kil Moon: “Micheline”
Mark Kozelek’s incredible, Benji, remains the high point of 2014, and I could have gone with many of its 11 songs. In the end, I’ll take the beautiful “Micheline,” a powerful example of Kozelek’s unparalleled storytelling and songwriting. Stop trying to fight it.
Yumi Zouma: “It Feels to be Around You” (cover)
I’m with Yumi Zouma; I fucking miss Air France too. The dreamy Aussies’ take on one of the legendary duo’s best songs with real care and craft, and it shows what a huge influence the Swedes continue to have.
Todd Terje x Bryan Ferry: “Johnny and Mary”
The legendary Roxy Music vocalist lends his now-raspy pipes to the Norweigan DJ’s gorgeous Robert Palmer re-do. Terje’s swelling, lush synths provide the perfect foil to Ferry’s breathy, spare vocals, resulting in a song that is difficult to shake off.
Future Islands: “Seasons (Waiting on You)”
If you’ve ever hoped that you could change somebody you loved… If you thought your love, devotion, and forgiveness could make that someone realize what huge fucking mistakes they were making… And if, one day, it dawned on you that you were wasting your fucking time with that person… And if that revelation made your life a thousand percent better, then this is your fucking song. This is my song, too.
Bok Bok feat. Kelela – ‘Melba’s Call’
Kelela is a vocalist who likes a challenge. She could lace her graceful, expressive voice over just about anything, but she’d rather bob and weave over something a little bit more daunting. Something like this herky-jerky arraignment from Night Slugs stalwart, Bok Bok. Too fresh.
100s: “Ten Freaky Hoes”
The Too Short to YG’s Snoop Dogg, the Berkeley MC’s filthy IVRY mixtape channels the Bay Area sound of the mid-90s to absolute perfection. It was about time we had some new Cocktails in the Bay.
Francis Lung: “A Selfish Man”
The ex-members of WU LYF have certainly kept themselves busy since their surprise break-up, and former bassists Tom McClung’s debut single is the best of the lot. With a shuffling beat and puncturing guitars, “A Selfish Man” opens up to a gorgeous rumination on one of humanity’s greatest shortcomings.
ZMoney: “Dope Boy Magic”
The Chicago MC’s monstrous single knocks harder than just about everything. The catch? “Dope Boy Magic” does it almost entirely without percussion, relying on ZMoney’s byoant flow and trunk-rattling sub-bass to make one hell of an impression.
James Blake: “40455”
The South London mastermind brings out some seriously 2010 vibes on the unofficial single, harkening back to his glorious R&S days.
Linda Perhacs: “Prisms of Glass” (f/ Julia Holter)
When you don’t make a record for more than 40 years, I’d imagine you’d have a hell of a lot to say. The reclusive fringe folk singer finally graced us with a follow-up to her magical 1970 debut, Parallelograms, and it was more than worth the wait.
Ricky Eat Acid: “God Puts Us All in the Swimming Pool”
Baltimore-native Sam Ray’s emotionally striking LP seemed to fall out of the sky, which was fitting thanks to its celestial feeling. Though it should be experienced as one full album, this cut shows Ray’s mastery of mood and vocal manipulation.
Yung Lean, “Motorola”
GOLD ON MY WRIST, PHONE IN MY POCKET. GOLD ON MY WRIST, PHONE IN MY POCKET. GOLD ON MY WRIST, PHONE IN MY POCKET. I love it. Sorry.