14 Best Songs of 2014 (So Far)

This post originally appeared over at the Lefty Pop.  Lefty Pop is the pop culture and politics site I contribute to twice weekly.  Go check it out.  Lots of funny, talented writers call it home.

New music, is there anything better?  Okay, perhaps there are a few things that rank higher in life, but not many.  I seldom sit in silence.  My life has a constant (well made) soundtrack provided by my iPod, Spotify, or the humming of whatever ear-worm that has worked its way into my cranium.  We’re over halfway to the finish line of 2014, and so far, this year’s audio offerings have been rather pleasings.  Here are 14 of my favorites in no particular order.

Best Songs of 2014 (14)-  Midge Ure: Are We Connected?

Remember Ultravox?  They were responsible for that melodramatic 80s new wave hit Dancing With Tears in My Eyes.  Midge Ure was the vocalist/guitarist.  Since 1985, he’s been riding solo, but he is still bringing all the new wave exaggerated emotions this girl loves.

Best Songs of 2014 (13)-  Leisure Cruise: Believer

Dave Hodge (of 90s Bran Van 3000 roots) and Leah Siegel (a local NY songstress) formed Leisure Cruise as a soundtrack to their imagined story about final time on earth prior to colonizing a new planet.  It’s been said to, “Imagine the music of a John Hughes film if it had been written by Bowie, remixed by Johnny Jewel, and fronted by a female Prince, and you’ll start to get the idea.”

Best Songs of 2014 (12)-  Speedy Ortiz:  American Horror

Remember how amazing Liz Phair was back in the 90s before she got all poppy and over produced?  Yeah, that’s Speedy Ortiz.  Raw, feedback laden guitar and deadpan, angsty female vocals have earned this band constant rotation in my playlist.

Best Songs of 2014 (11)-  Future Islands:  Seasons (Waiting on You)

Imagine if a guy with spastic moves, death-metalesque vocals (toned down), and vaguely Joaquin Phoenix looks fronted an indie-electropop band.  Future Islands is what you’d get.  They earned a place in indie hearts after their performance on Letterman wowed Dave.  Go check it out and enjoy the Cookie Monster vocals.  I’d rather share the official video which is even more bizarre.  Sympathetic nod to the right?

Best Songs of 2014 (10)-  Phantogram:  The Day You Died

The electronic rock duo eased their way into my faves a few years ago with Don’t Move and When I’m Small.  Their 2014 album followed up with multiple highlights.

Best Songs of 2014 (9)-  Beck: Unforgiven

This may be my favorite Beck.  I listened to his new album Morning Phase in its entirety at least 25 times.  Mellow, dreamy, and beautiful.  If heaven had a soundtrack, this would be a strong contender.

Best Songs of 2014 (8)-  311: First Dimension

You’re really surprised 311 made this list aren’t you?  Like I’m not going to offer up a track from my favorite band.  Check out my review of their latest album, Stereolithic.   My favorite song on the album changes weekly.

Best Songs of 2014 (7)-   Mastodon:  The Motherload

Mastodon’s new album, Once More ‘Round the Sun, was just released.  Fans have eagerly been anticipating it following the much loved 2011 album from the Atlanta rockers, The Hunter.  It was worth the wait.  Solid.  Yes, I have Mastodon on the same playlist as Phantogram.  Variety people, it’s the spice of life.

Best Songs of 2014 (6)-  Jack White:  Would You Fight for My Love?

I’m kind of digging what living in Nashville is doing to Jack White.  His latest offerings chase the ripping guitar with a bit of twang.  The result is rather pleasing.

Best Songs of 2014 (5)-  Kongos:  Come With Me Now

Super catchy.  Who doesn’t love a bearded accordion player?

Best Songs of 2014 (4)-  The Pretty Reckless- House on the Hill

Apparently the lead singer was on Gossip Girl.  Regardless, I love what they’re offering up so far.

Best Songs of 2014 (3)-  Temples:  A Questioned Isn’t Answered

Anywhere a band is creating psychedelic rock that would easily be at home on a commune, I’ll be there to listen with a smile.  Why does this music make me so happy?

Best Songs of 2014 (2)–  Cloud Cult:  Chemicals Collide

Strings may be my ultimate weakness.  Throw a violin or cello into a track and I’m all in.  Besides what part of “experimental, environmentally conscious band formed in the 90s” doesn’t sound like it was made for me?

Best Songs of 2014 (1)- Tokyo Police Club:  Tunnel Vision

A fitting indie rock track to end the list.

 

 

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311 Wows Fans With Stereolithic

I know I’ve been a bit silent for the last week.  I just got back form 311 day in NOLA!  What a blast!  Now I’m back jamming out to Stereolithic while I catch up at work.  Check out my album review that post on Lefty Pop today:

 

http://www.leftypop.com/2014/03/14/311-wows-fans-stereolithic/

 

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Stay positive & love your life!

-Melissa

Five for Friday: 5 Songs for Your Valentine

We’re busy here in Atlanta defrosting and just in time to warm it up for Valentine’s Day!  This week’s Five for Friday post is dedicated to the love song.

Love is funny.  When you find the right person, everything suddenly seems so much rosier.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy on my own, but a great partnership is like happy on roids.  I’ve been lucky enough to find someone who makes each day a bit sunnier and each minute spent together not long enough.  Every love song truly feels like it was written for us and my love for him just continues to grow with each passing day.

 

5:  Chairlift- I Belong in Your Arms

 

4:  Third Eye Blind- I Want You

 

3: Alabama Shakes- Be Mine

 

2:  The Avett Brothers- The Greatest Sum

 

1:  311- My Heart Sings

 

And because it’s so incredibly hard to choose between so many great love songs, I give you a bonus.  Not your typical love song, but it will always mean the world to me:

Incubus- Are You In?

 

What are some of your favorite love songs?

 

Stay positive & love your life!

-Melissa

i-love-music

 

Happy Valentine’s Day Matt!

 

Today:

Listening to: Marble Sounds – COME HERE

Eating:  Left over spaghetti.

Random thought:  Love is scary, because it means giving up control of the most vulnerable part of you and trusting completely in another.

 

 

Twisted Mixtape Tuesday: Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy

Weather got you down?  Cold making you act like a baby?  Yeah, me too.  I prefer blue skies, sunshine, and the smell of fresh-cut grass.  Right now, however, I’m eating lunch in my office located in downtown Atlanta watching the snow fall outside.  From 32 stories up, safe in the confines of my office, it looks beautiful.  But I’m still dreaming of spring and summer.

This week, Jen over at My Skewed View asked for a playlist to cheer up a friend.  Mine seems to have some semi-unintentional weather related theme going on.  It can’t be helped.  Come on sunshine!  Here you are my interweb buddies,  5 songs (and a bonus) guaranteed to cheer you up even in the bitterest of cold!

Day by Day- The Dirty Heads

Love these lyrics:

Bright lights on
Coming off the hinge
Rambling on like a Led Zeppelin
I got my sword and my pen like mad mordagin
Outta the abyss starting to ascend
Top of the class peak of the summit
Throw your worries of a cliff watch them as they plummet

Shine on You- Matisyahu

Love these lyrics:

Oh my soul has been so low
Make them clouds fade to blue
So my love can shine on through
Shine on you

 

Mr. Blue Sky- ELO

Love these lyrics:

Runnin’ down the avenue,(Pant, Pant, Pant)
See how the sun shines brightly
In the city on the streets
Where once was pity,
Mr. Blue Sky is living here today.

 

Drivin’ on 9- The Breeders

This song isn’t really conventionally happy, but it makes me smile!  Maybe it makes me think of long drives with the stereo cranked and the windows down.

Love these lyrics:

Drivin’ on 9
I sure miss you
Pass a motel
Looking at the pines

Sun Hands- Local Natives

 

Love these lyrics:

The most beautiful colors chase the sun
They wrap her trail in a taunting gesture
That seems to sing out loud,
“this is what you’re missing”

 

Bonus:

Outside-311

A nice little, happy b-side-

 

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Four instant happy makers for me:  summertime, best friend, music festival, King of Pops!

 

Stay positive & love your life!

-Melissa

 

Today:

Listening to:  Arctic Monkeys – Pretty Visitors

Eating:  Sesame Ch’kin, bok choy, veggies and rice.

Drinking:  H2O, but a Monster will be had soon.

Random fact:  Skiing is not on my list of “fun” vacation ideas.

 

Twisted Mix Tape Tuesday: Doc Martens, Flannel, and Angst (or me as a teen)

So today Jen Kehl and crew over Twisted Mix Tape Tuesday asked for the 5 songs that made us who we are!  Well folks, I’ve already done this post!  And since I had a work lunch today, that’s very fortunate for me (as I have zero writing time)!  Go check out the Five Albums (with corresponding favorite songs) that defined my teenage years because, let’s face it, our teenage years have a HUGE influence on who we become.

Five for Friday: 5 Albums That Defined My Teenage Years.

 

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Those 5 albums yielded this…..yikes.

 

Stay positive & love your life!

 

-Melissa

 

Today:

Listening to:  Naked Eyes – Always Something There To Remind Me

 

Twisted Mix Tape Tuesday: Slow Jams aka Kill Me Now

Ya know there are just some things in life that I don’t do.  I don’t chew with my mouth open (and if you do this around me, you may be on the receiving end of a slap).  I don’t watch Crossfire.  I don’t do R&B (minus a few very minor exceptions).  Seriously, when I saw that we were doing slow jams this week, I almost puked.  Because in my version of hell R&B would be the soundtrack.

Level 1:  Mary J. Blige sings my life story.

Level 2:  R. Kelly plays an extended version of his entire catalog…..on repeat.

Level 3:  Barry White just moans and breathes and says shit like “oh” in the mic for eternity.

Level 4:  Well, you get the picture…

Seriously, I can’t handle it.  Right up there with R&B is whatever type of music Celine Dion is.  So maybe when I get to hell’s core they will blast a mash-up of My Heart Will Go On and some Michael Bolton song.

Rose didn’t let go, Jack killed himself because he heard that song coming from the boat’s deck.  It was just too much to endure.

Anyway, imagine my relief when I took a closer look at the instructions:

Relaxing slow jams. You wanna chill, you want your friends to chill. Any genre from rock to jazz to hip-hop, but it’s gotta be slow-jams

Ok, I can hop on board with this!  I mean, I’d much prefer to rock out, but at least I don’t have to forfeit this week out of concern for my mental health.

So here are some “slow jams” (ugh, even that phrase makes me shudder….Mufasa, Mufasa, Mufasa), that don’t make me want to kill myself.  In fact, these songs soothe my rock n’ roll brain.

lion-king-quotes-mufasa-say-it-again-668

Ooooohh, say it again!

 

Let’s start with one by my favorite group.  This song was written about a friend who committed suicide.  So it doesn’t have a very uplifting message, but it is a beautiful song nonetheless.

Beyond the Grey Sky-311

 

And because I can’t stop listening to …..Like Clockwork (QOTSA’s new album), I’m including this.  This really is the best album to come out this year!

The Vampyre of Time and Memory-Queens of the Stone Age

 

I found this one through the movie “Rockstar”.  I listened to it over and over again after I got it off the internet without purchasing it….It was a different time people!  I included the movie clip so we can all enjoy Mark Wahlberg.

Colorful- The Verve Pipe

 

Not many bands can get me to chill like this one.

Mykonos-Fleet Foxes

 

An unlikely song for my Smashing Pumpkins favorite, from the soundtrack for “Lost Highway”

Eye-Smashing Pumpkins

 

Gotta feed the hippie soul.  Jen, we need to do a hippie list!  Jam bands, 60s, love, the whole shebang!

A Million Years- Alexander

 

OK, because of the vocals (which by the way are amazing, Andreya Triana is awesome), I guess this is R&Bish.  Bonobo is one of my ultimate chill bands.  Check out their whole Black Sands album for a good introduction.

Eyesdown- Bonobo feat. Andreya Triana

 

I’ll end on a singer who I didn’t think I’d enjoy.  She was over hyped and exploded onto the scene.  I initially dismissed her as another chick jumping on the Adele train, but she’s got chops.  Big time.  This song is brilliant and so is the video.  Well worth the 10 minutes.  Song starts 3:48 if you want to cheat.

Ride-Lana Del Rey

 

Stay positive & love your life!

-Melissa

 

Today:

Listening to:  Queens Of The Stone Age – …Like Clockwork  for the millionth time.

Eating:  Broccoli, gardein “chicken”, quinoa

Drinking:  H2O

Random fact:  I detest palmetto bugs….worse than R&B even.  Growing up in FL, you’d think I’d be use to them.  Yeah, not so much.  I turn into a baby and shriek like I’m being murdered.  So imagine my ultimate horror when one fell out of my towel and onto me getting out of the shower this morning.  No words folks.  I’m happy to be alive.  Now, does anyone want to come remove the 1000 trees from my yard so I can be free of this fear?  The pest guy says “If you have a lot of trees, they’ll get in your house.”  Ugh, unacceptable.

 

 

 

 

 

Twisted Mix Tape Tuesday: It’s Alright to Feel Good (Best of 311)

So glad that Jen gave us an easy assignment for this week’s tape!  Getting caught up on yesterday’s Trifecta Writing Challenge and making sure I busted out my mix tape would have been pretty rough on one lunch break if this thing didn’t write itself!  But making a best of for the band of your choice is a cake walk!

Here’s the fun part! The rules of Twisted MixTape are as such: Try and create a 5 song mix based on this week’s theme. This week our theme is Best of Any Band, make a 5 song playlist of your favorite songs from one band and you’re done! Easy Peasy for our Holiday Weekend!

Take it easy, make it flow, remember in your mind you are creating your mixtape for a friend.

Shocker, I’m picking 311.  So the big challenge here is to keep the list to (around) five.  And the last time I made a best of playlist of 311 songs I ended up with 60 (and that was after struggling to cull some out).  Today’s Best of 311 list will be sticking to a theme within a theme:

It’s Alright to Feel Good

All of these songs lift my spirit and put a smile on my face.  They just make ya feel so good!

Uncalm

Notable lyrics:  “You make me feel uncalm and I think I like it, make me think of a song that I could not write yet.  Melodies create themselves, I’m just a conduit.  You make my heart accelerate and I’m on to it.”

1, 2, 3

Notable lyrics:  “It’s alright to feel good. It’s alright for nothing to be wrong. The deepest dream that we have could be tomorrow’s song.”

Running

I’ve include this before, but it’s my favorite 311 song.  I can’t leave it off the list!

Notable lyrics:  “Oh livin’ is a journey.   Waking, believing, running.”

Stealing Happy Hours

Like “Running”, this song comes from my favorite 311 album, “Transistor”.

Notable lyrics:  “We’re snatching bits of time that no one else can seem to find.”

Do You Right

Notable lyrics:  “Like I said it before, I’ll say it once more, knew you would make me feel so good.  Wanna do you right. Can’t get enough, this is the stuff life’s about and it trips me up.”  and  “Bright mornings, days when I want so much, I want nothing; just this life and no more.”

Bonus:

My Heart Sings

Since this also belongs on a Matt and Melissa Love Anthem playlist,  it obviously makes me immensely happy.  Therefore, it is the perfect song to close out this happy playlist.

Notable lyrics:  “My heart sings when I think of you, that is what you do.   A melody that will settle me, that is just the thought of you.”

Stay positive & love your life! 

-Melissa

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