Here’s my list of the songs I played and enjoyed most in March. It was a sensational month for new music.
20. Trust – Capitol
19. Babymetal – Gimme Chocolate
Thanks for the heads up on this one Marc. It was only a matter of time until someone culled together (K)-Pop and Metal.
18. Isle of Rhodes – Oceans
17. Lily Allen – Air Balloon
Immeasurably better than “Sheezus”.
16. Lykke Li – Love Me Like I’m Not Made of Stone
I love this tune, her voice, that she may be the Swedish Lady Gaga, or actually Lady Gaga (google it; the resemblance is uncanny).
15. Foals – Providence
Yes, “Providence” has been out for quite some time, and yes, it wasn’t an early favourite — nothing grabbed me quite like “My Number” and “Inhaler” did at first. But the more I listened to this tune, the more I loved it. There’s a chance it’s the best song from their Holy Fire album. The build-up is absolutely stunning.
14. Beyonce – XO
Another tune that’s been out for a little while. I listened to “XO” quite a bit in March, and it never got old. On the short list of best songs B has ever done.
13. Chvrches – Do I Wanna Know?
This is a thrilling cover. It’s wildly different that Arctic Monkeys’ original, which puts it in a different class from most covers that play things safe. It’s the best of the plethora of covers Chvrches have released in the past year or so, and I think it’ll go down as one of my favourite covers of 2014. Chvrches show no signs of letting their dominant pop grip go.
12. Maximo Park – Brain Cells
I gave several other songs on Maximo Park’s latest album more time than “Brain Cells”. It was a mistake to overlook it. It’s so, so slick, and I really dig it.
11. Allie X – Prime
Pop music in the mainstream is hit or miss these days, as you’re just as likely to find a banger as you are a boring, rote tune. Residing on the periphery of the mainstream, though, are a bunch of exciting artists and songs that are yearning to break through and collect more ears. “Prime” is one such tune.
10. For BDK – What I Must Find
“What I Must Find” is another such tune. Dark, thoughtful pop done extremely well.
9. Hedley – Crazy For You
Simply, I think this is the best song Hedley have ever done. It’s super slick and eminently catchy. It’s Hedley gone Chromeo, and the vibe works wonders for the band.
8. Lorde – Team
“Team” beat me down with repeated listens. I thought “400 Lux” should’ve been Lorde’s follow-up single to her massive “Royals”, but after being bludgeoned over the head with “Team”, I can see why it was chosen as a single. It’s a bit more radio friendly, sunnier, safer than the darker “400 Lux”. ‘Tis a business after all.
7. Rudimental f. Emeli Sande – Free
Emeli Sande carries this slow-burning, electro-pop-soul song to the heavens. It gets better and better and better with each listen.
6. Jon Hopkins – We Disappear
This song is several months old, and one that I enjoyed last year. Only recently, however, have I truly experienced the depth, beauty, and soul-rattling feeling of “We Disappear”. It’s a rare occurrence for electronic music, especially a song with no vocals, to be doused with such emotion, colour, and humanity. That “We Disappear” so starkly accomplishes these things is testament to its wonder, to Jon Hopkins’ skill.
5. Coldplay – Magic
“Magic” is my favourite Coldplay song in many moons. Frankly, I didn’t think they had this type of tune in them. I’m wondering if this sets up a new era for the band; “Magic” has left me very intrigued with how their forthcoming album will sound. I love absolutely everything about “Magic”. The minimalist production (for the first three quarters of the song), the subtle aural tricks , and most of all, Chris Martin’s vocal — his best effort in eons — are all fabulous. Everything is so compelling here, I don’t even care how or why they chose this trick. Seeing is believing, but sometimes, listening makes sight a moot point.
4. Future Islands – Fall From Grace/A Dream of You And Me
I could write a kajillion words on how much I love Future Islands, how I think their new album, Singles, is absolutely brilliant, about what they make me think and feel, about Sam T. Herring, about how they’ve ensnared a whole legion of new fans, but for now, I offer, simply, the music…
Fall From Grace:
I dare you to not be mesmerized by this performance. Friendly advice: stick around after “Fall From Grace” to hear one of the best songs they’ve ever released, “Inch Of Dust” (another live powerhouse).
A Dream Of You And Me:
3. Tove Lo – Habits
“Habits” was number 20 song in my Top Songs of January list. I’ve played it ad nauseam since then, and I’m completely and utterly smitten. “Habits” is a massive, gargantuan hit. It’ll go down as one of the best (pop) songs of 2014. Sweden strikes, yet again.
2. Sam Smith – Nirvana
“Nirvana” is a song from the latter half of 2013 that I found a couple months ago and threw in a playlist, not remotely knowing what I hand in my hands, what the song had in store for me. I think “Nirvana” is just perfect. The melody, musically and vocally, is beyond top-flight. The lyrics are simple and extremely powerful. And then there’s the real bread winner, Sam Smith’s haunting, immense, voice. It took a few listens, but once I’d really, actually, listened to “Nirvana”, I knew that the world had been gifted its next superstar singer. I’m not sure I’ll ever love another Sam Smith song like I love this one, but the wonderful thing is, I’m not pulling anything off the table with this guy. He has the talent to concoct an album-of-the-decade type of release. My interest has been piqued by the voice of this freak.
1. Future Islands – A Song For Our Grandfathers/Sun In The Morning/Back In The Tall Grass
A Song For Our Grandfathers:
What can I say? How about this… Amidst the stunning, jaw-dropping, bunch of tunes Future Islands have released over their four albums, “A Song For Our Grandfathers” could be their most important. It’s a slow-jam rife with emotion, an ode to family, to the yin yang of reflection and action. The ideas within are always and fundamental, of and for life. This is a pantheon track, not just for Future Islands, but for 21st Century music. This is not post-wave, dad-rock, synth-pop, or Indie. This is art. The best of it.
Sun In The Morning:
This tune is absolutely gorgeous. I don’t want to be reductive about it, but it’s great enough to be a wedding song. I think it may be bigger than that. It’s about love. It’s elemental.
Back In The Tall Grass:
I think “Back In The Tall Grass” is the most immediate, singlely (new word alert) song on album that’s called, and filled with, Singles. I heard it live a few months back for the first time, and it had me weak-kneed from the jump. There is no type of sound or style that Future Islands can’t do, no type of banger they can’t create with aplomb or a plum. Seriously, at this point, I’m not sure how they do it. But then again, when you’re the best band in the world, you should retain some sense of mystery about how you conjure your spells. It’s not my job to question, it’s my job to get down and dance.