Best Tracks from 3rd Quarter 2014

Spoon at the Egyptian Room

How time flies. It’s crazy. July through September contains so much variety. It’s finally full-summer, but also the beginning of Autumn with football, layers and these colder nights. Musically, there was just a ton of wonderful dance and power pop to enjoy. Almost all of these tracks are up-tempo cuts suitable for driving windows down. Make sure you do that once more this week, pop the sunroof if you can.

The List

St. Lucia, “The Night Comes Again” – It’s ok, there’s just over a minute of wind-up before the song starts. This might be imitation Toto, but it got me through a week-long sinus infection. Infectious (hey!), jammy, spot-on 80s sound. A great mood booster.

Porter Robinson, “Flicker” – I guess this guy’s been coming up through the EDM world and he’s done a messy, complicated concept album. Brave stuff to get emotional and weird when you could be partying. This track just jumps out, with a clear Jackson 5 reference, unintelligible voices, fuzzy drops and a fun sound, even if I suspect the subject’s darker.

The Family Crest, “The Water’s Fine” – Like LP, I heard this group first on “All Songs Considered” on a fantastic episode you can listen to here. I just enjoy artists getting together, unafraid to make something big. Listen for the eclectic instrumentation, operatic vocals and odd nautical themes.

Spoon, “New York Kiss” – First of all, the Spoon record is killer. This is the final track and it’s an excellent cross of Spoon’s straight-ahead (but arty!) rock ‘n roll with LCD Soundsystem’s laser-focused dancefloor jams. Everything is awesome here.

LP, “Levitator” – Prepare your eardrums. LP has a crazy voice, pop producers and sharp songwriting. I don’t know if she’s played stadiums yet, but this song is written to smash them.

OneRepublic, “Something I Need” – Saw these guys at Klipsch this summer and had a great time. They said this was written as a “last call” song, something they’d been wanting to write but never could. It definitely gets that feel and it was a major feel-good moment in the live show.

Parquet Courts, “Dear Ramona” – This is just neat. I’ve got a soft-spot for disheveled vocals I guess. Check out their new record “Sunbathing Animals” for a mixed bag of punk, power pop and indie stuff.

Self, “Runaway” – Can fun. do a cover of this? Reminds of the same stuff Jack Antonoff’s made as Steel Train a few years ago and now Bleachers. Ridiculous electronic noodling and fun sugar-spun singing.

Bishop Allen, “Start Again” – You might remember this group from a stunt they debuted with, releasing an EP every month for a year. I just love this one for the way it serves up buzzing synths, double tracked vocals, alternately minimal and feverish guitar strumming. Good vibes.

Lecrae, “Wish” – Lecrae’s hit or miss for me. Mostly because he does so much so well, I’m just not into all of it. But this one. I think this is the heart of his new album. It’s got everything. Beats, rhymes and life.

Bobby Womack, “All Along The Watchtower” – Picked up a copy of his album “Facts of Life” at Half Price Books. Had an eye out for months, so I was really pleased to find it in good condition. Great all around, with some of my favorite tracks, including this one. Womack’s an accomplished guitarist, one of Hendrix’s influences, so it’s interesting to listen to this funky 1973 track against Jimi’s wild ’68 version. The Hendrix cover also features Dave Mason on 12 string, whose 1974 recording is the first version I heard. Written of course, by Bob Dylan.

Kelis, “Forever Be” – Don’t talk about milkshakes. Or do. Kelis made a whole album called “Food” this year and it’s ok. But I really enjoyed this barn burner.

Jay Park, “Joah” – Thanks to Angela for sending me this fun track. Rips from the neo-soul comeback, throws down catchy Korean verses, a bigger beat and all that Jay Park charisma.

Asgeir, “In Harmony” – So good. So Icelandic.

The Juan Maclean, “A Place Called Space” – What if an electro group made a prog rock record? I’m not talking about Justice (that’s a fun record too). But a track that neatly crosses LCD Soundsystem with Pink Floyd, maybe Michael Jackson, and maybe a thousand things I can’t hear. Really good time.

What did you like in July, August and September? Anything stand out? Share in the comments and Twitter.

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