So here we are. With the curtain now well and truly down on 2014, it’s time to reflect on the year that was. A customary part of this process is the fairly arbitrary ranking of the year’s music into some form of list. After the usual rancorous debate, we have settled on our top 10 tracks – all of which can be found in our mouth-watering Best of 2014 playlist. As always, please share your thoughts on both via the usual channels – and here’s to an even better 2015.
1. Caribou – ‘Can’t Do Without You’ (Tale Of Us & Mano Le Tough Remix): 2014 proved to be an annus mirabilis for Caribou, with the release of widely-heralded new album ‘Our Love’. Its first single was given the dancefloor treatment by Italian duo Tale Of Us and their Life and Death counterpart, Mano Le Tough. The result was a mind-blowing techno trip that, like all good remixes, picked up the qualities of the original and gave them a lift in all the right places. Epic stuff.
2. Ten Walls – ‘Walking With Elephants’: We first heard ‘Walking With Elephants’ right at the start of the year and we were blown away. At the time, many a commentator was proclaiming it the track of 2014, even at that early stage. And here it is, missing out by a fraction on the Human Drizzle top spot. There is a beautiful sadness to Ten Walls’s work that is present here, floating behind the space-horn and crashing bass that has become his calling card. Ultimately, ‘Walking With Elephants’ just never gets boring, no matter how many times you hear it.
3. Mount Liberation Unlimited – ‘Clinton Space Funk’: Confession time. We failed to pick up on the brilliance of ‘Clinton Space Funk’ when it first appeared earlier in the year. Part of being an adult, though, is accepting when you’re wrong. We now know this track is a beauty and it deservedly sits in our top three. Championed by everyone who came across it, ‘Clinton Space Funk’ provided one of the many highlights of xxxy’s Human Drizzle Presents set at Plan B in December.
4. Jamie xx – ‘All Under One Roof Raving’: When VICE wrote their Guide to London in June, they eschewed the customary playlist of local artists in favour of simply posting Jamie xx’s Boiler Room set from that month, on the basis that it “pretty much sums London up right now.” This track closes that set and, whether or not the track was intended as ‘a Scottish Referendum anthem‘, it is a stunningly affecting homage to UK music from a man making some of the best of it in 2014.
5. Jon Hopkins – ‘Abandon Window’ (Moderat Remix): Jon Hopkins had it right: “I honestly think this is one of the best remixes I’ve ever heard. Play it loud.” Built around a drop that never comes (and yet you don’t miss it), this is a piece of theatrical electronica for the ages. Given the year Jon Hopkins has had (his Essential Mix was a belter), it was tough only putting a remix in here but give this a listen and we dare you to tell us we’re wrong to include it.
6. Real Lies – ‘North Circular’: If you’ve been near a radio this year you’ve probably heard these lads’ breakout single, ‘North Circular’. With its lyrical treatment of London gyratory life and atmospheric backdrop, it’s been perfect listening for autumn/winter – and appeals to fans of guitars and electronica alike.
7. Flight Facilities – ‘Two Bodies’: Flight Facilities’ debut album was four years in the making and since day one they’ve been garnering fans for their versatile, fun-filled, bouncy pop tunes. They’ve added real gravitas to their work here with the soothing, catchy and downright emo ‘Two Bodies’. The Aussie duo aren’t fooling around, and this one’s been on repeat since its September emergence.
8. Sailor and I – ‘Turn Around’ (Ame Remix): This tune first emerged in January as a rip from Mexico’s BPM Festival, and it took until June for the official version to emerge. It was worth the wait. The arrival of the synths after two minutes of sparse build-up is one of the finest moments of 2014 and the whole track is a wonderfully-measured piece of emotive dance music.
9. Lauer – ‘Stigma’: Lauer returned to Tim Sweeney’s Beats In Space label in September with ‘Stigma’, the B-side to the driving force that is ‘Hands & Feet’. It’s a compelling listen with an underlying 80s feel, so good it was dropped by both Fort Romeau and our very own Hot Karl at Plan B for Human Drizzle Presents. Memorable.
10. Aquilo – ‘You There’: Lakeland duo Aquilo swept us off our feet in 2014. ‘You There’ is a change of pace from much of this list, but it’s a gorgeous record that deserves to be heard. With its gentle piano line and simple lyric, it is testament to the power of good songwriting, without the frills.