Most of my favourite songs and albums were by bands that I already knew and liked, and while I'm not surprised that these bands released some awesome shit (that's why I already fucking like them!!), I'm always on the lookout for some new bands to add to these favourites.
Unfortunately there wasn't an awful lot, for whatever reason that may be. Hopefully 2015 will see some great new talent jump out....
Anyway, judgement day is upon us....so read on....
TOP 10 Songs
Hiss Golden Messenger - Saturday's Song
Sloan - Cleopatra
First Aid Kit - Waitress Song
And the winners are.....
Starts acoustically, then like all great anthems bursts to life with electric guitars and some subtle tinkling ivories. Just when your head is nodding and toes are tapping along at a very decent pace, it ramps up again with horns (fuck yeah...awesome horns!!), that take it to a ripping crescendo and conclusion. This would be a great live track!
Dan Bejar brings 'Brill Bruisers' to life on track 4 with this semi electronic sing along number that also starts a little slowly. With some trademark odd lyrics thrown in 'Blondes, brunettes, paper jets..." that lead into another catchy chorus that takes you up the mountain, then down again...and again. Some snazzy harmonica over the final verse works in beautifully and tumbles you home with the style that this band excels at.
The final track of a truly epic album from The Pains that drifts along as the incredibly delicate and teasing horns just wind their way into your mind. Kip Berman's breathless murmurings find an almost perfect vehicle and combination of melody and grandeur that is an irresistible reminder of how much I love a great song. The finale, where the band slowly harmonises, and the horns finally take over, sometimes raise the hairs on the back of my neck. One of the all time great album closers. Hard to listen to only once!
An almost whiny guitar intro counts Stephanie Min's muted vocals into this catchy little shoegaze-y number. As this band is so great at doing, the chorus changes the pace of the song with a loud, yet catchy, refrain that has you singing along with 'Who cares...I don't'. Sweet harmonies and loud rambling guitars are generally not the best of matches, but here they are. This band truly has the gift of the velvet sledgehammer.
Not too many songs start with one of the best hooks you can possibly imagine.....and instantly remind you why they are called hooks! With the trademark smooth vocal polish of Martin Courtney, and the familiar lush and rolling Real Estate sound, this is quite possibly their best song to date. I had this song stuck in my head on repeat for nearly 3 weeks in April...good times!
Speaking of great fucking hooks!! With apologies to Real Estate, Allo Darlin, and The Pains....The Proctors take the title for best hook of 2014 with the absolute cracker that continually punctuates this lovely little number....from start to finish. The Proctors have a bold sounding, yet also gentle, guitar standard that I would consider their trademark. Throw in the lovely voice of Gavin Priest that, while strong, carries a spectrum of emotions remarkably well, and the beautiful harmonies of Margaret Calleja are the sweetest of cherries on top.
Tremendously catchy right from the opening offbeat harmonies, that continue on the offbeat all the way through, this song can't help but grab your attention. As a showcase of The Pains new band line up, this one gives you a little bit of everything they have to offer. Nice guitar, catchy chorus, 2 gorgeous female vocals harmonising...what's not to like? A very bold first single choice from 'Days of Abandon', and in my mind the perfect choice. This is up there with some of the bands classics.
The lovely Söderberg sisters from Sweden start their 3rd album with some wailing pedal steel that somehow creates a blend of folk, country and pop upon which to grace us with their amazing dual harmonies. This track just rolls and flows along with the pedal steel a feature, that perfectly complements not only the strong vocals, but what is just a bloody catchy song....fantastic stuff!
The short priced favourite for the coveted #1 prize all year just didn't quite stay the trip, however in 2014 this is not to be sneezed at. It's quite hard to put this song into words actually, it almost lurks along with an understated power during the verses before absolutely crashing out of the alleyway with the chorus that just washes gloriously over you again and again, with lush waves of sonic goodness. This is a truly awesome journey...I strongly recommend you all jump on board and enjoy the ride!
Well, well....3 top 10 tracks for The Pains in 2014....what an incredible effort this is!! A gentle beginning increases in tempo from the first verse right up to the absolute classical Pains sounding fast and fuzzy guitar-y singalong chorus.....and it gets better with a mid song cacophony of harmonies from Kip and the 2 gals fading in and out over trademark Pains guitar riffs. The track races to the finish with Jen Goma singing an excellent outro that, although minor, adds massively to the enjoyment of the song, and is followed by some really strong synth work that chimes deeply, loudly and ends things on a real high.
TOP 10 ALBUMS
Alvvays – Alvvays
Fanfarlo - Let's Go Extinct
Merchandise - After The End
So, the Upbeat Soundz top albums for 2014 are:
An excellent follow up to 2011's #4 album 'The Double Cross' from one of Canada's favourite power pop bands. Catchy, upbeat, but by no means one dimensional. These guys are just a great band.
You've Got A Lot On Your Mind
Following up my #1 album of 2010 in 'Together', was always going to be an impossible task for The New Pornos. Yep, it's nowhere near as good as that, but the more you listen here, the more gold you find....and a great sense of fun and humour.
War On The East Coast
You Tell Me Where
The follow up to 2012's excellent debut 'Arab Spring', from US indie pop speedsters Literature does not disappoint. While again on the short side in length of songs and the overall album, it's all good. Don't let the lack of 5 star tracks put you off giving it a run.
The Girl, The Gold Watch, And Everything
Tie Dye (Your Life)
This was the toughest album of the year for me to rate, as with an October release, I initially wasn't blown away. This is more like their 1st album, which was a bit of a surprise considering how brilliant 'Europe' was. I think that in another 3-5 months I might regret not putting this one in my top 3, and I'd also expect 2 or 3 of the songs below to earn a couple more stars between now and then. Brilliant guitar work from Paul Rains almost steals Elizabeth Morris's thunder on nearly every track here.....massively impressive work from Paul.
Heartbeat, Angela, Bright Eyes, Half Heart Necklace, Romance And Adventure & Crickets In The Rain
I said this last year about THOAP....this heavier shoegaze style generally isn't my type of music, but these guys are absolutely genius in putting fantastic melodies into every song. They absolutely piss all over those hugely overrated shitbirds My Bloody Valentine as far as this genre goes....how's that for a big call?
Don't You Wanna Be Mine
More of the same from these guys....and what a great thing it is! There are not a lot of bands I've heard that are quite like them, and the album effortlessly flows from start to finish In between, I think they have done some of their very best work to date. An album to get lost in and be happier for it.
Had To Hear
Extremely well made, almost 'note perfect', album full of highlights, and interesting sound and tempo shifts. Adam Granduciel has taken himself to another level here, and it's no surprise at all that it is ranking very highly across the EOY lists on most music sites.
Under The Pressure
An Ocean In Between The Waves
Eyes To The Wind
This album would have absolutely decimated my 2013 top albums and songs lists if I'd heard it back then. Thankfully I got onto it early in 2014 and I've been absolutely smashing it all year...soooo many great tracks. I fucking love this band!!
Trouble With Forever, Into The Sun, Fun Sunday & Ember Days
Perfect World, Yesterday's Boy, Ambulance, Wishing Well & Seasons Change
How far can these 2 lovely ladies go? Absolutely brilliant follow up to 'The Lions Roar', and I was absolutely privileged to see them play one of the top 3 gigs I've ever seen on their 2014 tour. I will review this album properly in early 2015.
My Silver Lining
A Long Time Ago
3 top 10 tracks saw The Pains race away with this years title. I've already said a lot about this....read it here! Standing ovation for Kip Berman!
Simple And Sure
Life After Life
The Asp In My Chest
Until The Sun Explodes
If anyone reads this site apart from my mates...I hope you enjoyed it, and I'll see you in 2015.