Top 20 Songs of May 2014

May was absolutely absurd. The top 8 (!) songs listed were all worthy of being number 1. The rest of the top 15 could easily be top 3 songs in another month. In short, I heard and loved a bunch of stunning songs in May, and it might go down as the best music month of the year.

20. Bear Hands – Giants

Sweet chilli heat, the groove, the beat.


19. John Legend – All Of Me (De Hofnar Bootleg)/All Of Me (Tiesto Remix)

I’m not sure which remix I prefer more. I think it’s the De Hofnar one, but I can’t be sure. Tiesto came to play here.

De Hofnar Bootleg:

Tiesto Remix:


18. Eagulls – Possessed

Static electricity caught by a lint-remover.


17. The Subs f. Colonel Adams – Trapped

A bone-rattling house bang-show.


16. Lykke Li – No Rest For The Wicked/No Rest For The Wicked (Klangkarussel Remix)

The more I hear from Lykke, the more I listen. She’s got it.


15. X Priest X – Enemy Mind

I adore the bass-y house undertones in this pop marvel. Keep your friends close, keep Enemy Mind closer.


14. Manic Street Preachers – Walk Me To The Bridge

A forceful re-emergence for possibly the most underrated band around.


13. La Roux – Let Me Down Gently

I had fears La Roux missed the boat. This teaser release assuaged those fears at once. Don’t call it a comeback, even if it’s been five years.


12. Bear’s Den – Sahara Pt. 2

In a bear’s den,

you must watch your yen.

For if not, you will lose,

Something hairier than your shoes.


11. Manchester Orchestra – The Mansion/Cope

If this is Manchester Orchestra’s mansion, it’s replete with standards of fear and bushels of beards.

If this is how Manchester Orchestra cope, they’ve steel reinforced what it is to hope.

This is rock music.

This is bloody fantastic music.


10. Ask Embla – Legion

I asked Embla, and she said she must pop. (And lock in hits, like this song.)


9. Naughty Boy f. Sam Smith – La La La

Heard it. Then was Ricked it. Then listened some more. Then got on page with all else who’ve heard. This track is absurd.


8. Betty Who – Lovin’ Start

I had a lovin’ start with this Betty Who track, which then progressed into a lovin’ middle. The end is out of sight, but I’m positive it’s lovin’ too.


7. Robyn & Royksopp – Every Little Thing

“Every Little Thing” is, for my money, the best song on the EP from Robyn & Royksopp. There’s groove, there’s pulse, there’s a move, a protruding pulse. The singles from the EP, “Do It Again” and “Sayit”, don’t hit nearly as hard as this track. This song is blood and beats and mud from cleats.


6. Paloma Faith – Only Love Can Hurt Like This

Only a piece of pop dynamite as explosive as this could place this high in a month so strong. The music is irresistible and Paloma Faith lays down a mammoth vocal.


5. Beth Jeans Houghton & Samuel T. Herring – Pelican Canyon

This? From a random road trip?! I’d hate to see what these two could come up if they had endless time together. (Huge lie. I’d love to see, hear, and feel more from them.) Beth Jeans Houghton lulls like a luscious lullaby, while Sam T. Herring is the base to which the melody abides. I believe this is what the best kind of collaboration looks/sounds/feels like.


4. Marc Anthony – Vivir Mi Vida/Khaled – C’est La Vie

Is this Marc Anthony’s best ever song? It’s a legit question, and I think it might be. I really dug “You Sang To Me”, but the passion in “Vivir” exudes a freedom that I haven’t heard in any of his previous tracks. The song’s sun is so strong it leaves a full-body tan even if fully clothed, which this song makes sound completely ludicrous. This is the type of heat that never brings sorrow, only the excitement of tomorrow.

As good as Marc Anthony’s version of the melody/song/idea is, (Cheb) Khaled’s is equal to the task. This is exactly what euphoria sounds like. It’s what frolicking looks like. It’s what the the World Cup feels like. Is it too late to change this year’s official song?


3. Allie X – Bitch

“Prime” and “Catch” were the first two releases from this new artist, but I think “Bitch” is the best of the bunch. The distorted chorus is just tremendous.

“Bitch” is neither male nor female. “Bitch” is no dog. “Bitch” is of a moment, a moment where pop is transfused by electronics, enthused by histrionics.


2. La Roux – Uptight Downtown

I’d thought for quite some time that La Roux really dropped the ball by waiting so long to release a follow-up album, after all, 2009 (when they debuted) was eons ago. The duo built up so much momentum, with majestic stompers “Bulletproof”, “In For The Kill”, “Quicksand” (a.k.a. the hits) combining with “As If By Magic”, “I’m Not Your Toy”, “Cover My Eyes” (and more) to form what I felt like (and still feel now) was one of the best pop records of the decade. I thought it was a huge mistake to let that buzz dissipate — music fans can be fickle, and five years between albums is an eternity in this day and age.

Oh ye of little faith.

La Roux (now apparently just singer Elly Jackson) rendered all of that concern a waste. I can’t prove that La Roux travelled via wormhole, but it can’t be dismissed. When your comeback single is as sensational as “Uptight Downtown”, a song so current, yet so of another time, it’s hard to think about why it took so long between efforts.

“Uptight Downtown” sounds like a wave, and the wave is warm and unrelenting. Some may find this track repetitive. Some might not see its utter, complete, eargasmic dominance. Some may be in tune. Some may be before the zoom. Some might be after it. Whatever to some, here’s the sum: this track is one that sounds like it’ll battle the test of time with conviction.

La Roux knows the streets are lined with people, people who want to move, move, move.

The people always want to dance, even if they’ve changed their shoes, shoes, shoes.


1. Manchester Orchestra – Trees

Rock. Song. Of. The. Year.

That riff. That fucking wall and plaster and stone and foundation shattering riff. That attention to melody and rock out to the point of felony. Those insurmountable mountains of hooks. Those shadow stealing nooks.

This is why I love music.

My Top 20 Songs of May 2013

10 songs? No chance. 15? Way too tough on my psyche. I recently broke up with my lightning insurance provider (he wanted to be more — including coverage for thunder, limb loss from trampolining, and rashes stemming from excessive koala cuddling —  I thought we were good as is), so my mental stability is currently a tad tenuous. Any other traumas and I’d be off a bridge. To make sure that doesn’t go down, I had to expand this list to 20 songs. Really, I’d no choice. May left me no options. May right be done by this list. May was the best month of music I’d experienced in as long as I can remember. Maybe, definitely.


So much awesome tuneage. So little 31 days. Here’s what I listened to/loved the most…

20. Phosphorescent – Song For Zula/Muchacho’s Tune

“Song For Zula” is still in my brain. I can’t shake it. I have a feeling I won’t be able to for quite some time. “Muchacho’s Tune” is similarly beautiful. Phosphorescent are legit.

19. The Belle Game – River/Wait Up For You

A pair of pretty, catchy tracks from two Chicago siblings.

18. Isle of Rhodes – Shoulders/So In Love

Brooklyn never sleeps.

17. Churchill – Change

The chorus is a beast of a sing-a-long.

16. Rilo Kiley – Runnin’ Around

I can always count on Jenny Lewis and company.

15. Daft Punk – Giorgio by Moroder

Bad. Ass. Everything about it.


14. London Grammar – Wasting My Young Years

My god this song is exquisite.


13. Lilly Wood and The Prick – Where I Want To Be (California)

Ever wonder what Lady Gaga would sound like if she sung Indie/Alternative/Pop? Play the track.


12. Charli XCX – You (Ha Ha Ha)

Really good use of fantastic source material, even if the sentiment has been bastardized.


11. Vampire Weekend – Diane Young

Love the lyrical double entendre. Love the track. Vampire Weekend are as big as they should be.


10. Valleys – Hounds/See The Moon

Montreal, raise your head up out of the (electro, pulsating, ominous) shadows. Valleys, you’ve crafted a marvellous debut. These two songs are exhibits A and B. Impressive stuff.


9. Slowriter – Silver Spaceships/April 8

Weird. Wacky. Wonderful. I hope Bryan Taylor and this band get the recognition they deserve for Trailblazer.


8. Frank Turner – Recovery

A little Noel Gallagher. A little Streets. A little Ed Sheeran. A lot of fantastic. This is a hit.


7. Paramore – Hate To See Your Heart Break/Last Hope

Frankly, I didn’t know they were capable of songs like these. “Misery Business” and “That’s What You Get” were and remain sensational emo/pop/alt songs. But I can’t suggest for a second that I thought they had something like “Hate To See Your Heart Break” in them. It’s pretty, demure, vulnerable, honest. Emotionally bare. It could be the best song they’ve ever done. “Last Hope” is also a beast of a song. Hayley Williams and Paramore have jumped up about 63 levels with their latest, eponymous album. I’m taken aback. Wow.


6. Mariah Carey f. Miguel – #Beautiful

Too bad the video sucks, because this is the best song Mariah’s done since “We Belong Together”. And what can be said of Miguel? His vocal is outstanding. He never drops the ball. He kicks ass. I’ll stick my neck out and hope not to get hurt by the assertions.


5. Cold War Kids – Bitter Poem/Bottled Affection

Simply put, “Bitter Poem” gives me chills. It did after the first listen. It did after 5. After 10. It still does. I think it might always. I’d be okay with that. “Bottled Affection” tells my ears that Cold War Kids can mold song form into whatever they want. Dear Miss Lonelyhearts is the most consistent — and best, front to back — album CWK’s have ever done.


4. Ambassadors – Unconsolable

Don’t recall how I found this track. Boy I’m glad I did. It’s frickin’ awesome. If you like AWOLNATION, this track is for you.


3. Biffy Clyro – Folding Stars

“Folding Stars” is from 2007, but I’ve only recently discovered it. I think I spent a solid 88 hours in May (shy guesstimate) singing “Eleanorrrrrrrr, Eleanorrr” at all levels of inappropriateness. 360p for life.


2. Best Coast – Fear Of My Identity

Can. Not. Stop. Singing/Humming/Blasting/Tapping Feet To/Robbing Banks To. This.


1. Haerts – Wings

Hailing from Germany, England, and the U.S., Haerts bring together all manner of influences/eras on this absolutely soaring track. It sounds like 1983. The video looks like it was shot then too (I’ve linked the original video they released several months ago. They’ve a newer one, in 1080p, on Vevo, but there’s something about the former that’s more charming). But Hearts are tricksters. That melody — my god, that melody — is timeless. Nini Fabi’s vocals (with a seasoning of Susanna Hoffs peppered in here and there) are beyond ethereal, majestic — they’re abracadabra magic.

I don’t exactly know why I think of Chvrches when I hear Haerts, but I do. They don’t really sound like each other, and it’s clear their influences lie in different areas. It’s just that Chvrches have released about 4 perfect (I really mean perfect) pop songs this year, the kind that a band is lucky to have one of in their careers, and I thought they’d remain peerless in that regard for ages. I didn’t think anything or anyone could touch them. I was wrong. They have a friend now to play with high atop Mt. Poplympus. The St. Lucia (of course, it all makes sense) produced “Wings” is nostalgia, recollection, fondness, anchored in its multiple pounding, blood-driving, healthy, huge haerts.