Firstly, yes, I know there’s 27. It’s ok. Everything will be fine.

For me, 2014 was more a “song” year than an “album” year. I found myself more drawn towards individual songs than whole albums, which made an interesting change for this year’s listening. Perhaps it’s a symptom of music overload, or the influence of digital and the long-tail.

Hit play and I’ll give you a rundown of each song below. The order is important for the playlist, but is not a ranking.

  • Coming Down (Feat. Matt Berninger) – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!
    • The hard-hitting high-paced guitar riff with a cameo by Matt from The National. This is one song that could be trusted to fire me up this year.
  • Loco Ono – Bassnectar
    • Not in my usual genre choices, Bassnectar gives an awesome punch in the face with their hard hits and drops. Yes, let the music take control. Dance like a madman possessed. Good dubstep.
  • Are You Satisfied – Reignwolf
    • Who said rock was dead? Allow the defense to present exhibit A. Superb rock-n-roll discovery of the year.
  • Beaten By The Gun – Taxi Violence
    • I’ve always rated Taxi Violence. This is just another in their long string of great hits. South Africa’s finest, in my opinion.
  • High Ball Stepper – Jack White
    • While very cool, the crazy promotional vinyl released for this album, full of reverse-play and holographic tricks was compeletely unnecessary. The tricks are in the tunes. First solo Jack White I really like.
  • Hayloft – Nickel Creek
    • It’s the first time I’ve included “Progressive Bluegrass” in any list, perhaps the first time I’ve typed those words alongside each other, but if it sticks with this catchy pop-country feel, I’ll be typing those words again and again.
  • American Dream Plan B – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
    • A legend returns, continuing a legacy of good solid rock music. Unexpectedly, the whole album actually rocks too.
  • Ferus Gallery – Allah-Las
    • Chilled instrumental psychedelic comfort. Could listen to this for hours and hours.
  • Ace of Cups – Orenda Fink
    • Another soothing synth-based track. Quiet and unassuming, and marvelous.
  • The Voyager – Jenny Lewis
    • I love Jenny Lewis. This track launches with the strings pulling at emotions in a way Jenny knows best. Honest and raw storytelling.
  • Montreal Rock Band Somewhere – Happyness
    • So incredibly soothing. The first time I heard this I was driving down the twisty, windy, peaceful and beautiful R539 alongside the Krokodilrivier towards Nelspruit. The 28th time I listened to it I was driving van Reenen’s pass on my way to the Drakensberg. Perfect bliss.
  • Give Us A Kiss (20 000 Days Cut) – Nick Cave
    • This single was released on an EP for the 20 000 Days on Earth movie. This version, played solo by Nick in the movie, is sublime. I stared with rapt attention when this happened on screen, not wanting it to stop. I have to see Nick Cave perform as soon as possible.
  • Song For Our Grandfathers – Future Islands
    • Good strong “dad-rock”, Future Islands busted out a surprising one here. This synth-downtempo track is perfect.
  • Broken Bones & Pocket Change – St. Paul and The Broken Bones
    • Just listen. I’m glad he’s not a banker anymore.
  • How Can You Really – Foxygen
    • Surprisingly, Foxygen, who I have earmarked for incredible future greatness if they can hold themselves together long enough, only just managed to make this list with this track off a very haphazard almost-live album. But they’re stretching and exploring, so that’s fine.
  • Chippewa – Benjamin Booker
    • Remember that “Rock-n-roll is dead” thing? Well here’s Exhibit B. I kept getting confused between Benjamin Booker and Reignwolf. I think that’s ok.
  • Control – Broken Bells
    • Long live the Broken Bells. Mercer and Burton on top form.
  • Don’t Wait – Mapei
    • Another pop/hip-hop song that slipped in. A bit of a guilty pleasure I suppose. Strong beats, great vocals, clever production.
  • Shine My Diamond Ring – Sean Rowe
    • A voice, a piano, a bluesy guitar. Play on!
  • Rattlesnake – St. Vincent
    • Probably the best album of the year. (NPR listeners gave it more than double the vote of the second placed album). I think Rattlesnake is better than “Birth in Reverse”. Oh, and Annie, you’re now on the Bucket List.
  • How Many Times – Wolfmother
    • Well I saw them live at Oppikoppi, so there was a lot of Wolfmother listening, and they are face-meltingly awesome.
  • Red Eyes – The War On Drugs
    • A very Shins-y track. Which is probably why I like it.
  • This City – The Rural Alberta Advantage
    • This guy has a distinct voice, similar in the high-notes to the lead singer of The Fray, yet I don’t really like The Fray anymore. I think the music carries the voice into a more honest/earnest-sounding space. If there was a ranking, this would be about 25.
  • Arrival In Nara – Alt-J
    • Oh. Wow.
  • It Ain’t All Flowers – Sturgill Simpson
    • Picked this song up very late in compiling this list, switching out “Turtles All The Way Down” for it. It starts at country and flies all over the place, and is really very good.
  • You’re Not Free – Frazey Ford
    • Frazey Ford’s vocals bring a warmth to my chest, and a calmness to my head like no other artist can.
  • Weight Of Love – The Black Keys
    • If the Black Keys release an album, it’s always gonna make the list. For me, Weight Of Love is the track that does it.