2014 is a little strange for me musically. I didn’t find a particular artist to fall in love with. That said, I did enjoy a couple of albums that were released this year, and here are my picks!
Ed Sheeran – X
I lapped this one up like a parched donkey in a desert. Most artists experience what they call a sophomore slump, but with X, Ed Sheeran comes back even stronger. Still sticking with his signature singer-songwriter love ballads with heartfelt lyrics that could get one tongue-tied (excuse me, he’s not a rapper, just a singer with the flow lol), X starts off with the over emotional “One” – my first favorite from the record – a strong yet tender opening that ushers you in to a livelier set of tracks. The passion and the emotion builds and builds, until it settles you back in, all tucked up under the sheets by the end.
Great record, a definite improvement from his debut +, and not even the peak of what I think Ed Sheeran is made of. I think he still has a couple more tricks up on his sleeve to surprise us in the future.
Nominees: Damien Rice – My Favorite Faded Fantasy, Alt-J – This Is All Yours, Beck – Morning Phase, James Vincent McMorrow – Post Tropical, Drowners – Drowners
Fave Solo Artist (Male)
Not gonna lie, part of what earned him this spot is his beautiful gross face. BUT I MEAN LOOK AT THAT FACE. That voice and that face. ASDFGHJKLKAJHSGAHJDKLKJFNO he is perf. And his songs. They’re not even the stupid shallow kind. They’re real, warm, folk tunes and *fans self*. Such a man. Also every time I listen to “Little Giant” (EP version), I still grow extra ovaries. And also I think he’s better on live performances (that were recorded haha), than his studio versions. Which is a good thing. Here is proof:
Nominees: Nick Mulvey, Nick Drake (but he belongs to another category below but this year has been about him mostly), Novo Amor, Vance Joy, Olafur Arnalds (he is my bedtime companion)
Fave Solo Artist (Female)
This year’s fave female act a.k.a. Girl Crush of the Year is Jhene Aiko. Damn woman! I first saw perform with Drake on Saturday Night Live for their song “From Time” and they were so frakking adorable (with Drake flirt adlibing and Jhene was just smiling at him AHIHI) and I pretty much listened to her from then on. Her voice is super cool and silky, and she has that Ashanti-feel, and she’s basically queen of my heart. Lol.Nominees: BANKS (also extreme girl crush)
Fave Group Act
The foursome from New York fronted by (the gorgeous) Matt Hitt has that cool indie rock vibe. Their debut album is composed of short yet enjoyable tracks. Definitely my favorite band for this year – nothing too special or ‘new’ about them really, but they pretty much fit the mold of your standard rock band.
I have a feeling this guy is going to be bigger than he is now soon enough. He just needs a better break or a hit (I’m guesing he’ll reach a more mainstream audience). But come on, he is already so great! “Bloodsport” is already a good indicator of what he’s made of.
Nominees: Wet (I think their name’s the culprit for not being on the top spot haha), Bleachers, Rhye, Novo Amor, Vancouver Sleep Clinic, MOTHXR
Angus and Julia Stone
Our favorite duo responsible for “Big Jet Plane” is back together! While I loved their projects separately (Angus’ ‘Wooden Chair‘ is still a fave and Julia’s ‘By the Horns’ is so heart wrenching), their collaborative work produced great tracks this year including ‘A Heartbreak’ and ‘Grizzly Bear.’
Nominees: Hudson Taylor (I should have categorized this as Fave Siblings)
Damien fakkin Rice*
Eight-year hiatus, baby! And the wait was all worth it (that doesn’t mean I would prefer him to keep doing that). Damien is melancholy magic and I love him.
Nominees: Angus and Julia Stone (album is good!), Jamie T (‘Carry On the Grudge’ wooo!)
* fakkin not included
Fave Pop Act
Sam Smith’s rise to fame was pretty quick, I’d say. After falling in love with him earlier this year for his track ‘Nirvana‘, Sam released one hit single after the other, then his debut album, and had everyone falling in love with him with his ballad “Stay with Me” and the acoustic version of “Latch.” I don’t blame any of you. Boy can saaaang!
If I didn’t type in Drake’s name on Deezer’s search bar and just lazily clicked play on the search results instead of clicking on the artist himself, then I wouldn’t hear “One of These Things First” and I wouldn’t be able to obsessively stalk a dead genius. There’s not much about him out there, not even a footage of him performing live (I heard he dreads performing in public as he’s a very shy boy) but he has albums. I’ll take it. I’ll take anything that’s left of Nick Drake. He is everything to me this year.
Nominees: Chet Baker, The Stone Roses
Fave Foreign Act
It’s a tough task to choose between this French girl and Peter Peter and his track “Carrousel” but Joyce has that sweet pop sound that crosses over quite well, even if all of her songs are in French. And if you’re wondering how I got to listening to French music, it’s really my late night sleeping habits’ fault. I tend to pay attention to lyrics at some point, making it hard for me to focus on the act of sleeping itself, but I also find it hard to sleep without music, so I just tried to listen to songs I can’t even sing along to. It worked. And also I get to learn some French words. Tu tournes dans ma tête comme un carrousel!
Nominees: Peter Peter, Margaux Avril
Fave Local Act
I should have seen these guys live, but I didn’t because darn you typhoon! But ok, next year, I’ll drop by on one of their gigs, for sure. That said, Ransom Collective is a young Filipino band that caught that folk-hipster (complete with multi-instruments and harmonizing which makes them pretty much a shoo-in for me) bug. Full of potential. So much fun. Here is the recorded version for a better listening experience.
Nominees: June Marieezy (she could do better live but I love her songs!)
Begin Again OST
I would ignore some of Adam Levine’s songs in here as I’m leaning towards Keira’s songs more. Such a beautiful movie with beautiful songs.Nominees: If I Stay OST (if there was a Willamette Stone album tho…), The Fault in Our Stars, What If (or really just Patrick Watson’s songs haha), Endless Love (I mean that The Bird and the Bee and Matt Berninger song!)
Guilty Pleasure of the Year
Taylor Swift – 1989
I resisted at first, but I got sucked in. I got sucked in pretty bad. Also “Style” is my jam.
Nominees: Ariana Grande (because she’s everywhere), The 1975 (Yes the kind of love I feel for The 1975 is still the kind that makes me hate myself too haha but they are more of a pleasure than a guilty pleasure)
Better Late than Never Fave!
Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
So last year, I didn’t pay much attention to Vampire Weekend – although ‘Hannah Hunt’ easily became my favorite on first listen but oh my god, Modern Vampires of the City is such a beautiful thing. It’s just one of those things that has to grow on you. Not being biased at all, despite the fact that I started reading Ezra Koenig’s tweets and decided upon reading this one that he is the living dream and I am hugely attracted to his tweets (or his mind? his humor? haha) and I want him to multiply so I can have one of him for my own. I can’t have him-him, I took a Fuck-Marry-Kill test on Buzzfeed the other day, and of course I chose to marry Ez, but 45% of takers had the same intention so…I’m going to lose that battle (plus maybe I don’t wanna marry him? I just want to stare from afar or sit across him or maybe touch his hair while he’s sleeping and ok let’s stop because that’s creepy.) But yes, back to the point, Modern Vampires of the City, GOODGOODGREAT.
Nominees: Aussie band Snakadaktal who already broke up before I found out about them huhuhahu, the band Dutch Uncles cause they are AMAZING
To see the rest of the tracks/artists that caught my ear (eye? lol) this year (beginning the end of the 2nd quarter though as I moved from Deezer to Spotify), you can listen to this playlist:
Image courtesy of creaturecomfortsblog.com.