Best, Worst and Everything Else of 2014


2014 was surely a year. I heard a lot of great albums, I missed a lot more. Really, I missed a ton of albums this year, guys, really didn’t do my one job right. Over on the Filtered Lens I compiled two “official” reviewer’s Top 10 Songs and Albums lists, but here I’m going stretch out, take off my tie and be totally personal. Here’s the crap I liked:

Top 10 Favorite Albums of the Year:

10. Andrew Jackson Jihad – “Christmas Island” (Review)
9. Tinashe – “Aquarius” (Review)
8. Future – “Honest” (Review)
7. Run the Jewels – “Run the Jewels 2”
6. Pharmakon – “Bestial Burden” (Review)
5. Modern Baseball – “You’re Gonna Miss It All” (Review)
4. Interpol – “El Pintor” (Review)
3. the Menzingers – “Rented World” (Review)
2. White Lung – “Deep Fantasy” (Review)
1. St. Vincent – “St. Vincent” (Review)

(Honorable mentions: Lana Del Ray’s “Ultraviolence,” Parquet Courts’ “Sunbathing Animal,” Perfect Pussy’s “Say Yes to Love,” Lakutis’ “Three Seashells” and The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die’s “Broken Bodies,” which originally sat at #7 until I decided an EP in a list of LP’s didn’t fit)

And now for tonight’s main event, my totally subjective, completely personal 30 Best Songs of the Year, regardless if they were singles or not:

30. FKA twigs – “Video Girl”
29. Andrew Jackson Jihad – “Temple Grandin”
28. Run the Jewels – “Close Your Eyes (and Count to Fuck) [feat. Zack de la Rocha]”
27. Parquet Courts – “Sunbathing Animal” (Album Review)
26. Prince – “FUNKNROLL” (Album Review)
25. Foxygen – “How Can You Really” (Album Review)
24. Courtney Barnett – “Avant Gardener”
23. Andrew Jackson Jihad – “Children of God”
22. Lakutis – “Too Ill For the Law” (Album Review)
21. Jeremih, YG – “Don’t Tell ‘Em”
20. The Creeping Ivies – “The Creeps” (Album Review)
19. White Lung – “I Believe You”
18. MisterWives – “Reflections” (EP Review)
17. Jessie J/Ariana Grande/Nicki Minaj – “Bang Bang”
16. Pharmakon – “Bestial Burden”
15. Beck – “Wave” (Album Review)
14. the Menzingers – “In Remission”
13. Phantogram – “Fall in Love”
12. Tinashe – “2 On (feat. ScHoolboy Q)”
11. Nicki Minaj – “Anaconda”
10. Sia – “Chandelier”
9. the Menzingers – “Rodent”
8. Interpol – “All the Rage Back Home”
7. St. Vincent – “Rattlesnake”
6. Bruce Springsteen – “The Ghost of Tom Joad”
5. White Lung – “Drown With the Monster”
4. Phantogram – “Black Out Days”
3. Grimes – “Go (feat. Blood Diamonds)”
2. Future – “Move That Dope (feat. Pusha T, Pharrell, Casino)”
1. St. Vincent – “Birth in Reverse”

Here’s a link to a Spotify playlist of 29 of these songs (the Lakutis album “Three Seashells,” which has song #22, is not on Spotify)

And here’s thirty more songs I loved (but not enough to rank), in alphabetical order, by artist:

Aphex Twin – “180db_[130]”
Iggy Azalea – “Black Widow” (god, I’m sorry)
Beyonce/Jay-Z – “Drunk in Love”
Big Data – “Dangerous”
Bleachers – “I Wanna Get Better”
Cardinal Cardinal – “When I’m Not Alone”
Clean Bandit/Jess Glynne – “Rather Be”
DJ Snake/Lil’ Jon – “Turn Down For What”
Drake – “0 to 100/The Catch Up”
Foxygen – “Can’t Contextualize My Mind”
Ariana Grande/Iggy Azalea – “Problem”
Maroon 5 – “Maps”
the Menzingers – “I Don’t Wanna Be an Asshole Anymore”
Milky Chance – “Stolen Dance”
Modern Baseball – “Fine, Great”
Bob Mould – “I Don’t Know You Anymore”
the Orwells – “Who Needs You”
Parquet Courts – “Ducking & Dodging”
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – “American Dream Plan B”
Shakira/Rihanna – “Can’t Remember to Forget You”
Sleeper Agent – “Waves”
St. Vincent – “Bring Me Your Loves”
Taylor Swift – “Shake It Off”
Tove Lo – “Habits (Stay High)”
the World is a Beautiful Place and so on and so on – “If and When I Die”
You Blew It! – “Surf Wax America” (Weezer cover)


Best guest spot: 1) YG on Jeremih’s “Don’t Tell ‘Em”
2) ScHoolboy Q on Tinashe’s “2 On”
3) Pusha T, Pharrell and Casino on Future’s “Move That Dope”

Worst guest spot: Eat the cake, anime

Best cover song: “Surf Wax America” – You Blew It!

Best two bands that are great but I still have a little trouble telling apart – You Blew It! and Modern Baseball

Most Irritating Song of the Year: 1) “Lazaretto” – Jack White
2) “Rude” – Magic! (sorry, I know that’s a big blow to the Canadian reggae scene)
3) “Animals” – Maroon 5

Best Person to Wish He Were Born in a Different Generation and For Us to All Agree: Jack White!

Best Jack White Album: The Black Keys – Turn Blue! Fight me.

Best Free U2 album: an illegally downloaded copy of “The Joshua Tree”

Best Classic Rock Album Overshadowed by U2: Tom Petty & the Heatbreaker’s “Hypnotic Eye.” Sorry, AC/DC, Pink Floyd and Bruce.

Best Prince: “Art Official Age”

Worst Prince: “Plectrumelectrum”

Best Death Grips Album: “Run the Jewels 2”

Worst Death Grips Album: “N****s on the Moon”

Best Unplugged Performance: Red Hot Chili Peppers at the Super Bowl

Worst Unplugged Performance: Probably any other Red Hot Chili Peppers performance

Best “Chinese Democracy”: Pink Floyd’s “The Endless River”

Best Adjective Mike: Killer Mike

Worst Adjective Mike: Fat Mike

Best Album That Made Most Reviewer’s Top 10 Lists That I Didn’t Listen to Because Ariel Pink is a Shithead: “pom pom” – Ariel Pink

Most Intentionally Terrifying Song: “Bestial Burden” – Pharmakon

Most Unintenionally Terrifying Song: “Lock the Door” – Robin Thicke

Best/Worst Song Titles: Aphex Twin

Best Band Name: The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die

Worst Band Name: The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die

A song that I would like to let you know exists: “Got Me Runnin’ Round,” a collaboration between Nickelback and Flo Rida. Seriously.

Potential albums to look forward to in 2015: Sleater-Kinney – “No Cities to Love” (1/20)
Two Gallants – “We Are Undone” (2/3)
Father John Misty – “I Love You, Honeybear” (2/10)
Hot Sugar – “God’s Hand” (2/24)
Heems – “Eat Pray Thug” (3/3) (solo debut from the Das Racist frontman – keep an eye out for this one)
Modest Mouse – “Strangers to Ourselves” (3/3)
Madonna – “Rebel Heart” (3/10)
Wale – “The Album About Nothing” (3/31) (Yes, the collaborative album with Jerry Seinfeld)
Chance the Rapper – “Surf”
Death Grips – “the powers that b”
Run the Jewels – “Run the Jewels 3” and “Meow the Jewels,” the cat version of “Run the Jewels 2”
2015 also might hold new albums from Kendrick Lamar, Sky Ferreira, Beyonce, Adele, Drake, Metz, Radiohead, Rihanna, Kanye, Deafheaven, Frank Ocean, Waxahatchee, and Giorgio Moroder’s first album since 1992, if we’re lucky.

See you with even more cynicisms next year!

-Andrew McNally

(PS – this is, by sheer coincidence, this blog’s 200th post!)

Interpol – “El Pintor”

Grade: B+

Key Tracks: “All the Rage Back Home” “Everything is Wrong”

This album is refreshing, in the sense that waking up to find a glass of tepid tap water on your nightstand at noon on a Sunday is ‘refreshing.’ Old Interpol isn’t back – even literally, as Carlos D’s departure has left the band a trio – but this album is the closest they’ve come to vintage Interpol in a decade.

“El Pintor” is both an anagram for “Interpol” and Spanish for “the painter.” Both titles fit – this is an album worthy of being self-titled, if they hadn’t already done that on their murky 2010 album. And painting – making something from nothing. The band has basically re-kickstarted themselves; Paul Banks absorbed the bass parts, and they’ve returned to a tighter and denser sound. They’ve made the best out of what was becoming a bad situation – a legacy of people saying “Well, their first two albums were great…” The trio sounds like they’ve shelved some ideas and put “Our Love to Desire” and “Interpol” behind them. To put it more simply, Interpol has not, as you would exactly expect, been affected by critics at all.

Interpol isn’t doing any flexing here. There’s nothing extravagant – no time for that. “El Pintor” is just 40 minutes long. They trimmed everything they could, leaving just the tight, existential journey that was their first two albums. “El Pintor” is structured phenomenally well, with blast after blast. “Interpol” ended on two huge duds, but there’s none of that on “El Pintor.” All ten songs are in the same vein, guitar-heavy proto-post-punk that’s fueled equally by small garages and big cities. Interpol’s tightness in their writing and production has been one of their strongest points in the past, and it is again here.

The album’s best quality may also be it’s most immediate fault. Where “Our Love to Admire” and “Interpol” were insufficient Interpol albums, they did provide some highly listenable songs – “No I in Threesome,” “The Heinrich Maneuver” and “the Lighthouse” from the former, “Barricade” and “Lights” from the latter. There aren’t any songs that demand immediate re-listens on “El Pintor.” It’s an interesting imbalance, that exists within Interpol, where their better albums work well as a whole and and don’t have more standout songs. “El Pintor” works as a whole, and it’s a little tough to just causally listen to any track. But at the same time, it makes it such a stronger album. I listen to “Barricade” all the time, but I’ll gladly say “El Pintor” is a better album. This imbalance exists on their still classic first two albums, “Turn On the Bright Lights” and “Antics.” The better an Interpol album is, the tougher it is to digest.

But, look, so much of reviewing any type of media is comparing it to something done before. And that’s usually not fair to the thing being reviewed. So let’s talk about what makes “El Pintor” subtly, but radically different from any other Interpol album – optimism. It isn’t outward, but it is noticeable. The band is still singing gloom and doom, but it’s a new light – gloom and doom has an end. Even the excellently-titled “Everything is Wrong” has an optimistic streak. It doesn’t overwhelm the album; don’t think the band is suddenly sunshine and fresh fruit, “El Pintor” is still dark and complex. But there’s a slight optimistic streak that’s never existed in the band before.

“El Pintor” might not quite live up to it’s early predecessors, but it’s a great album in its own right. It’s never more evident than in the opening track, “All the Rage Back Home,” which starts with a typical Interpol-ly broody intro before kicking into a pseudo-club beat. It’s unexpected – way unexpected – but it all works. And as much as I, personally, have enjoyed every Interpol album almost equally, it’s refreshing to say that it’s working. Interpol have adjusted to new circumstances remarkably well. They seem to be doing well. They seem happy, or, at least, content.

If you like this, try: the Strokes kinda-comeback album, “Comedown Machine.” “Angles” was garbage so that’s their true comeback.

-By Andrew McNally