Top 50 Tracks of 2014 (30-21)

#30 Future Islands “Back in the Tall Grass”
Witnessing Future Islands live is nothing short of transcendent. Partially due to Samuel T. Herring’s upstanding dance moves, but also because they rock really hard. A deep guitar riff followed by airy synth, Herring’s deep vocals take this track overboard to an irresistibly dancey, and dramatic place. “One step takes me home/ Two steps back on my own..” Not only is Herring leading us in a dance lesson, but also giving us soundtrack to go along. – Jana Capozzoli

#29 Foster the People “Coming of Age”
I am now 25 years old and according to this actuarial chart in my hand, that’s a significant portion of my life. Thus I have fully realized the special form of angst that arises from the post-collegiate transition into adulthood. And nowhere is that ennui captured in song better than Foster the People’s “Coming of Age.” Swept up in the splashing of the percussion and the buzzing of the bass are some spot-on sentiments. I mean, “even when I’m wrong I tend to think I’m right,” might as well be written on a post-it note and stapled to my forehead. – Grady O’Brien

#28 Shakira ft. Rihanna “Can’t Remember to Forget You”
Shakira released “Can’t Remember to Forget You” in both Spanish and English, but the English version featured vocals by Rihanna. The new wave meets reggae rock track invokes memories of The Police with its bass riff. The focus is on the vocals here, and coupling Colombia’s greatest musical export with the bad girl darling of Barbados is one of the gifts 2014 gave us that we should have more of. Crooning about a lover that’s bad for you has never been so enjoyable without being depressing. – Adam Grabowski

#27 Braque “Weapon (Bastille vs Angel Haze vs F*U*G*Z vs Braque)”
November saw Braque start to release tracks from his VS. (Other People’s Heartache, Vol. III). All the songs were mixes of Bastille tracks, and for Weapon the producer mixed the Londoners with vocals from Angel Haze and F*U*G*Z. The track begins with some light violins before a chorus of vocal chants lead into that heavy bass and Angel Haze’s barrage of lyrics. Dan Smith jumps in for the chorus, and the fact that he’s one of the best male vocalists around gives a lift to the song as he sings “Your voice is a weapon, and we’ll do with it what we can”. The man’s voice could be a weapon, or at least enchanting. As he sings on the chorus, you can hear Angel Haze join in which creates an interesting duet where Smith’s voice seems filled with hope while Haze’s more angry. The song closes off with F*U*G*Z crooning that “Your voice is a weapon, do with it what you can”. It’s not often we get to hear Bastille over darker hip hop production, and the change is welcome as “Weapon” proves. – Adam Grabowski

#26 Angel Olsen “Stars”
“I think you like to see me lose my mind” Olsen belts-her voice, enraptured and burning with fury. “Stars” is an emotional folk-psych crooning track, but way louder and less tamed. Accompanied by pounding drums and distorted guitar, “Stars” is a howling, raw sentiment of emotion and a testament to wishing “she had the voice of everything” seem a little less crazy. – Jana Capozzoli

#25 Panda Bear “Mr. Noah”
It sort of feels like Panda Bear extended a challenge to himself with this incredible single. How can I overload this track with as much bells and whistles and muck and fuzz and howling and ‒ somehow ‒ come out the other side with something sleek and beautiful? Maybe Panda knows how. All I know is that he succeeded, producing a track that leaves me excited for his Tomboy followup slated for 2015. – Mark Steinbach

#24 Alt-J “Hunger of the Pine”
If you didn’t think that Alt-J was weird before, they made sure you felt that way with the lead single from their sophomore album, “Hunger of the Pine.” Any expectations of the album were smashed by the guitar-less, Miley Cyrus-sampling synth pop track. With “I’m a female rebel” looping in the background, synths are piled up synths creating a beautiful yet sexy soundscape more expected from artists like Caribou. – Adam Morgan

#23 Taylor Swift “Shake It Off”
If this song had been released earlier in the year, I believe we may have had a true song of summer for 2014. After a long, gradual shift, we were warned that Swift was officially switching to the pop side and that she did. She has delivered a catchy track that use punchy horns and pretty standard Swift lyrics about not listening to haters. It’s nothing musically groundbreaking, but is it ever catchy. – Colleen Walsh-Jervis

#22 Cloud Nothings “I’m Not Part of Me”
After a breakup, what do you do on the first day you wake up alone? When the person you’ve become a part of, that is integral to your understanding of yourself, is gone? You have to reclaim your self, though you will still carry them with you. Feel the power of keeping the ball in your court and of taking care of the three feet around you, to start. You have to practice presence rather than escapism; it’s the only way to walk out stronger. If you’ve just lost someone, this song is for you. When you lose someone, this song will be waiting. It will remind you that you are your own person and you belong to somebody, even when there’s nobody around. – Dan Derks

#21 SomeKindaWonderful “Reverse”
This dramatic track packs big, emotional vocals over booming percussion and minimal guitar to deliver the most powerful blow. There’s a retro feel that brings you back to ‘60s pop with the tambourine and big drums while staying modern and indie. Jordy Towers’ powerful vocals almost make you feel bad for the guy, even though he’s telling the story of how he cheated with a leggy lady with no remorse. If it can make you feel for a cheating dirtbag, you know it’s a good song. – Colleen Walsh-Jervis

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