Top 50 Tracks of 2014 (40-31)

#40 Royal Blood “Figure It Out”
From their debut single, you would never guess that Royal Blood is merely a duo. “Figure It Out” delivers crunchy guitars, arena-size hooks and a blazing guitar solo. Its no wonder the band has already received praise from veterans like Jimmy Page and Foo Fighters. – Adam Morgan

#39 Cymbals Eat Guitars “Chambers”
When thinking about Staten Island, a few things come to mind: the ferry, Wu-Tang Clan, Rep. Michael Grimm. But from those touch points, none of them really prepare you for the side of Staten Island that Cymbals Eat Guitars showcase in “Chambers.” There is despair and loneliness in the lyrics: remembrances of a lost pet, bouts with insomnia, tobacco addiction. It is a portrait painted perfectly over the post-punk instrumental. – Adam Morgan

#38 Beyonce “XO”
So sampling the space shuttle Challenger disaster didn’t go over well with everyone, but Beyonce‘s sweet love song delivers a message about appreciating the time you have with your loved ones. The jittery keyboards and synth give the song a computerized feel while the call-and-response vocals bring it back to organic, mirroring the effort to stay connected to others in this cold, technological world. There’s a Caribbean sound and a couple of hooks that make this song so catchy that you can’t resist it. – Colleen Walsh-Jervis

#37 Snoozer “Le Repos”
I could not get Snoozer‘s “Le Repos” out of my head for a solid three months. The track is the clearest heir apparent to The Wrens’ “This Boy is Exhausted”, toeing the line between throwing in the towel and mustering whatever’s left to push ahead. As soon as Mike considers giving in (“come on boy, le repos / cancel all your shows”), the band hits harder in retaliation against the idea, arguing that it’s better to dump the dead weight that keeps us sluggish than to stay sleeping. In a culture where we often take the path of least resistance, “Le Repos” is a fight song for the weary. – Dan Derks

#36 Twin Peaks “Making Breakfast”
“Making Breakfast” is an ephemeral, guitar heavy track from Chicago rockers Twin Peaks about love and well, making breakfast. With a music video where guitarist, Clay Frankel spends most of the time with a cracked egg on his head, “Making Breakfast” is an amusing anthem to the slouchy twenty-somethings partying and having a good time. It also displays a bewildered side of love and relationships. With vocals reminiscent of Lou Reed and 60s inspired guitar riffs, “Making Breakfast” is evidence to the young, relatable vibe Twin Peaks are admired for. – Jana Capozzoli

#35 St. Vincent “Severed Crossed Fingers”
The scene is a bar at closing time. The cast is the down-on-their-luck stragglers being shooed away. The soundtrack is the uplifting, buzzy wash of sound provided by “Severed Crossed Fingers,” the final track from St. Vincent’s excellent self-titled album. Capturing despair and desperation with lines like “seeing double beats not seeing one of you,” Annie Clark finds a way to make being a barstool hero a communal experience with this shout-along chorus. So next time you’re near rock bottom know that Clark will be, “side state mouthing lines for you,” perfectly treading that fine line between sympathy and empathy. – Grady O’Brien

#34 The New Pornographers “Fantasy Fools”
The phrase “pop perfection” tends to get thrown around a lot when people talk about The New Pornographers. “Fantasy Fools” reminds us why. Like almost all of the songs off Brill Bruisers, “Fantasy Fools” has energy built into its melodies. It’s the rare song that not only works as a fun, casual soundtrack to your day, but also a mini-symphony that rewards close, careful listening. Never change, New Pornographers. – Mark Steinbach

#33 Bo Jankans ft. Lyriciss “1 More Shot”
From the best drum intro of the year to the speaker banging bass, “1 More Shot” by Bo Jankans grabs your attention. The rapper then makes his way rapping in what sounds like it could be a parting shot to the business, but is more about celebrating the fans, his influences, and getting a respite from all the hard work he’s been putting in. A guest spot by Lyriciss helps make this more than just Bo bragging about himself. After all, it’s the time of year for wishes and thanks, and Jankans is thankful for all everyone done to make him a success.

#32 Wye Oak “Glory”
When Wye Oak‘s Jenn Wasner decided to put down her guitar and replace it with a synthesizer for the band’s fourth album, Shriek, it was a risk. While the risk did not pay off for the album as whole, it did produce “Glory,” a funky mixture of shoegaze, synth pop, and dance that played its way into my heart throughout the year. While the track did not get a sniff at song of the summer for many, you can bet many of my car rides were soundtracked with Wasner’s atmospheric vocals and wall-of-synth sound. – Adam Morgan

#31 Kendrick Lamar “i”
Kendrick Lamar is feeling himself. And I’m not just speaking on his behalf. “I love myself,” is the mantra on his fall single “i.” I’d love myself too if I were one of the most talented MCs in the game today. Yes, he was snubbed at the Grammys for Macklemore. And yes, tracks like “Fancy” may have outperformed him on the charts. Sure, “Hot Boy” had a better dance. (I also don’t have time for this, but whatever). The bottom line is, with his inimitable flow over a classic Isley Brothers sample, King Kendrick proves he’s just that: the King.

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