Best of 2014: Top 5 Singles

Part way through the year, I was beginning to despair at the poor standard of single choices from my favourite acts. It was all a bit “median”. In Maths terms, you find the median by ordering a set of numbers and choosing the one in the middle. It’s an average. And there’s been an element of ordinariness about a lot of single choices – appeasing the musical middle ground. It pains me when the epic or unusual tracks are left languishing on albums because they are the ones that tell you the most about the artist. It shapes a wishy washy radio landscape. So cross was I at one point, I was going to chuck a tanty and not do a top 5 singles blog, but hey, I got a grip and came round from it. When big guns like U2 and Noel Gallagher came out with strong singles at the latter end of the year, my faith was restored a tad. You see, I want every bit of the album, single and video process to be valued, respected and played down the line.

1) Paolo Nutini – Iron Sky.

 

Thank heavens, this was eventually released as the third single from Caustic Love. What a massive track it is, rousing and passionate as Paolo rails against the politicians who control people’s lives, sampling Charlie Chaplin’s speech from The Great Dictator. This is a proper gravel growling big boy.

2) Elbow – Charge

 

Another late choice from an album, I’m cheating here slightly because this isn’t the single version of the song, but I simply can’t miss out the string section of this track. I found Take Off a bit disappointing as an overall album, but have listened to this track virtually every day since the album’s release in February. The chak chak guitar and twin keyboard lines – one slightly dirgy, the other mirroring the vocal melody, and those fabulous strings *sigh*. At 4:20, Guy Garvey has the exact same bliss-face that I have at that part of the song.

3) Ben Howard – The End Of The Affair

 

It’s very brave indeed to release a track over seven minutes long first up off an album, with no video as such to promote it. A desperately sad song, it starts with Ben’s mumbled vocal over acoustic guitar, as he contemplates the broken relationship with mutual friends. Then just when you think it’s fading away, it explodes with a tangle of rhythms and a howling despair of frustrated utterances. You really get the sense of him laying his soul bare with this song. It’s a gob smacker.

4) Attaque – Change Your Mind

 

As a huge Cocteau Twins fan, I’m no stranger to a bit of ethereal synth. This is a gorgeous track to close your eyes and clear your mind to. Mr Attaque, aka producer Dominic Gentry, hails from Colchester. I don’t know much else, except that I find his music rather entrancing.

5) Antix – Breathless

 

Hip hop isn’t my bag, but when you find a song that breaks through your natural boundaries, somehow it’s even more satisfying. Antix, aka Alex Nimier, wrote this song about the suffocation of the song writing process. There’s a great mix of a female vocal in with the rapping and some classy strings, especially that long sliding note. Oh, and I like your jumper Mr Antix.

In one playlist:

 

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