Top Tracks: Part 4 of 2014’s Best

As 2014 comes to a close the LYFSTYL Music Blog will be counting down our top tracks of the year. Follow along every day as we release ten more of our favourites building towards our top-100. In no particular order, here’s what we at LYFSTYL were listening to this year with numbers 31 – 40.

Cold War Kids – All This Could Be Yours

At the very least the Cold War Kids are consistent. The piano rock quartet returned with new music in 2014, releasing All This Could Be Yours  only a year after the concept album Dear Miss Lonelihearts. Just as they did one year earlier, Cold War Kids open All This Could Be Yours with a steady piano riff that provides the song’s framework. Complemented by crunchy guitars riffs, well-placed drum fills, and the unique vocal stylings of Nathan Willett, ‘All This Could Be Yours’ is a consummate Cold War Kids single. – Written by Kevin Vanstone

Dan Mangan  + Blacksmith – Vessel

Dan Mangan is back, and just as Peter Green once did the, guitar player has allowed his new band to tread on his name. For their debut, at least. The new band, Blacksmith, consists of Mangan and a cast of musicians that together have played a large part of his backing band of recent years. In typical Mangan fashion, ‘Vessel’ and its accompanying music video take aim at the oddities of modernity, skewering colonial ideals through the prism of nature. Regardless of the band name, Blacksmith’s first single makes it clear that the new band will not stray from Dan Mangan’s original sound, but rather enhance it. – Written by Kevin Vanstone

SBTRKT – Higher feat. Raury

While none of the singles on SBTRKT’s sophomore release Wonder Where We Land are going to have the same impact 2011’s ‘Wildfire’ did, there were a number of tracks worth of mention on the London-based producer’s most recent release. While Sampha is featured on a number of tracks, I found ‘Higher’, featuring some slick flow from Raury, to be one of the most rewarding after multiple listens. – Written by Kevin Vanstone

Schoolboy Q – Collard Greens

Schoolboy Q’s Oxymoron is undoubtedly one of top rap albums of 2014, and songs like ‘Collard Greens’ are what gave the album such staying power. Featuring none other than Kendrick Lamar, who released the best rap album of 2013, ‘Collard Greens’ is simply a heavy-hitting banger made by two of hip hop’s biggest players. As much as Macklemore also had a big 2013, there’s good reason he’s dancing in the music video for Schoolboy’s lead single rather than rapping on it. These two are in other league.

Caribou  – Can’t Do Without You

Caribou’s ‘Can’t Do Without You’ is hands-down the catchiest song I heard all year. The Canadian producer has done it again with Our Love, putting together another bundle of soulful, textured, electronic tracks that nicely pick up where 2010’s Swim left off. While the studio version of the song revolves around a repetitive vocal sample of “Can’t do without,” the live version above demonstrates the potential for the song to expand when performed with a full band. Me gusta. – Written by Kevin Vanstone

Jacques Greene – No Excuse (Yung Gud remix)

Sad Boys, aka Yung Lean’s collective, was very active this year, regaling us with post-Lil B world positivity and general nonsensical behavior. Despite Yung Lean’s primary followers, the real force behind the collective is producer Yung Gud who is gradually overshadowing Lean’s appeal. His lush, dark remix of Jacques Greene’s ‘No Excuse’ was one of my favorite remixes of 2014. It’s textural, atmospheric, and made the original song more open and majestic. Look out, Lean, your boy Gud is coming for ya. – Written by Rupa Jogani

Jon Hopkins – Immunity (with King Creosote)

Oh c’mon, you HAD to expect I would throw a Jon Hopkins song in here, right? After a solid year of touring and losing the Mercury Prize (again, *sigh*), Hopkins took a break in Iceland to rework four tracks from Immunity on his 2014 EP aptly titled, Asleep Versions. He meant for the songs to be followed continuously from the end of his Immunity LP as music to reflect on while you sleep. We all know I feel very deeply about Jon Hopkins’ music and his delicate re-take on four of his previously brilliant album continue to uphold my ardent affection… FOR HIS MUSIC, I SWEAR. – Written by Rupa Jogani

Spooky Black – Without You

What should’ve been the biggest joke in 2014 turned out to garner a respectable R&B musician known by his moniker Spooky Black (formerly Lil Spook, now Corbin). After watching his lo-fi, wholly unserious fuckery in the music video for his debut song, ‘Without You,’ we were instead left with huge, sweeping production from his friend Greaf. Taking away the video leaves you with a richly dark and visceral experience, but when you merge the two together, it’s like watching a parody of a Sad Boys song. I mean, he keeps wearing doo-rags, lounging on a cheap couch, and does rap hands in a forest. I say this, but Spooky Black is here to stay – he’s been signed to a label almost right after his mixtape Black Silk went live and he recently worked with D33J, Shlohmo, Bobby Raps, and Psymun on ‘Worn,’ which is anything but a joke. Expect big things from this dude in 2015. – Written by Rupa Jogani

Gold Panda – Clarke’s Dream

It was a quiet year for Gold Panda after releasing his impeccable sophomore LP, Half of Where We Live in 2013. The only curve he threw was his jazzy, funk-riddled track ‘Clarke’s Dream,’ which melds organic drums with sampled electronic patterns within the first 30 seconds. It derives more atmosphere from his Trust EP than his previous record, but it holds true to his gorgeous, minimalist builds and gradual layering for a textural piece. It’s got groove, respect, and serious head nod appeal. – Written by Rupa Jogani

Keaton Henson – Elevator Song (Ulrich Schnauss remix)

The first time I listened to Ulrich Schnauss’ moving remix of Keaton Henson’s ‘Elevator Song,’ it was three AM on a weekday evening, I sat alone in the dark, and felt my heart seize. It’s a rare feat for a track to emotionally grip me within one listen, but the sheer beauty of this remix took me away. Ulrich Schnauss reworks the delicate chords of the cello so intricately that he takes the song in a painfully bittersweet direction. Being classically trained for a decade left its mark on me and this instrumental rework is truly a masterpiece. – Written by Rupa Jogani

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