35-31

35. Sunbathing Animal – Parquet Courts

This poster has revolved around punk circles for a few decades now and has become (sorry) the poster for a movement that intrinsically rejects formulas (but certainly not posters). In comes Parquet Courts with their own rendition of that poster on the title track to their most recent effort, hammering away at d sharps for an agonizing 32 bars before moving their fingers for six beats before moving their talented little fingers back to the one chord. And we’re not talking about Minor Threat or Circle Jerks or another band that doesn’t know any better: these are Brooklyn royals, the Real Estate of post-punk, a band that did not energy its way onto college radio but rather melodied its way into scenester libraries and Urban Outfitters. And to confuse things even further, muddled-voiced Andrew Savage begins the onslaught with a vague existential crisis: “One creature I return to/one habit I neglect/I cannot slow the pace at which I yearn.” Well, this yearning can’t get much faster, right? Right??

34. 2 On – Tinashe, Schoolboy Q

2014 was a year in which emerging female artists decided to dress up like their predecessors. Charlie XCX became little Gwen Stefani, Ariana Grande continued her Mariah-lite run, Iggy Azalea drank plenty of Diet Left-Eye, and most prominent was Tinashe doing her best Beyoncé impression (with a name that sounds like it came from a Beyonce name generator). Mind you, “2 On” isn’t Beyonce now, but Beyonce circa Destiny’s Child, when being just dirty enough to warrant radio play could turn any Mouseketeer into America’s naughty secret. But that kind of stuff just doesn’t happen anymore with the femmes on the radio, so thank goodness Tinashe arrived to fill that void with bucket hat model Schoolboy Q once again here to tell us where and when he just had sex. Empowering? Probably not, but Tinashe doesn’t seem like a girl who cares about hegemony, what with all the haters she has to shoo away and the millions to count from all the top-40 hits she’s going to have in the next few years.

33. Owen – Frankie Cosmos

Being an adult isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. The blessing of ignorance is that every new sensation is a moment of pure wonder, and kids get to experience that on the fly every single day. It’s the moment of discovery instead of the discovery itself that fills us with fascination. That’s why artists like M83 and Dan Deacon and Passion Pit and Moldy Peaches can deliver transcendent moments from childlike sounds. That’s why a youngster like Frankie Cosmos can tug at our heartstrings with little more than an electric guitar and basic recording software. “Owen” is about discovery, and discovering it only compounds the joy.

32. Mr. Noah – Panda Bear

Noah Lennox, a.k.a. Panda Bear, a.k.a one-third and sometimes one-fourth of Animal Collective, sounds like Brian Wilson when he sings. That’s a really good thing, and because he’s a deft artist, he uses this uncanny resemblance to his advantage on “Mr. Noah,” reverberating his voice as pleasantly as the Beach Boys would have done had they been born forty years later. It also helps that Lennox has one of the greatest ears for electronic music ever, using computers and arpeggiators and thingamabobbers to put his sounds in space, or in the ground, or whichever place he deems necessary for setting the correct mood. This time, he’s kinda all over the place, hesitantly dropping off his voice for that killer “HEY HEy Hey hey” hook that makes ears clamor for more. It’s been seven years since he took over the indie music world, but Mr. Lennox still has plenty of electricity running through his system.

31. Warm on a Cold Night – Honne

My home state experienced its driest year since the ninth century, but I swear it rained this one time in November. And with rain during a drought comes the flood of status updates declaring “OMG PRECIPITATION,” but there was this one stellar chick that instead linked British crooner Honne’s debut single with a sly comment and a smiley face. “Sounds like James Blake,” I commented, basking in Honne’s sultry shyness as the rain pitter-pattered on my apartment window. “Yeah, he does,” she responded, mostly because everyone thinks he sounds like James Blake, and in a year without any new James Blake to keep me warm during those two minutes when it rained over here, Honne certainly filled in nicely.

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