ARBITER OF 2014 // 0 – 100

Arbiter of 0 - 100

A well-worn path of criticism in the twenty-first century has been to decry popular culture as a – at best lazy, at worse non-existent – reflector of the politics of modern life: let’s take economic, race, gender and privacy as a broad four examples. In turn, this is seen to be the symptomatic just deserts of a generation that values displays of conspicuous consumption in the ever-aspirational “club” to pounding pavements.

Of course, if you’re trekking through the Official Chart Company’s day-glo jungle – the floor of which is littered with Beats headphones and strange-deformed fauna which survive off the dregs of jägerbombs and Sam Smith’s tears (the nutrients for the constant collaborations and features with one another in one industry-wide circle-jerk culminating in fucking Bandaid fucking 30) – you’re largely not going to find anything to change your mind.

As always though, it’s in largely uncharted waters that it feels as though tides have turned in 2014. In a year simmering with righteous anger from Syrian refugee camps and Ukranian crop-fields to Ferguson sidewalks and UK foodbanks, the notes being struck by artists in the last 12 months have finally felt, at least to me, to recognise a modicum of that present trauma and capture some sense of the necessary urgency needed as a response within popular culture.

This trend is epitomised by the rush-release after 14 years of D’Angelo’s Black Messiah, but you can register it in music ranging as drastically in sound and tone as Perfect Pussy, Young Fathers, Father John Misty and Wild Beasts. When balanced out with the rest you’ll encounter in this list that champions a message of hope and mobility via self-respect, action and awareness, it can’t help but stitch into a tapestry of a promise that – against cynical expectations – problems are being recognised and people are being mobilised.

So whether your bag is mournful post-internet isolation or a riotous, tension-release of rage or somewhere in between there’ll undoubtedly be something for you in this list. Open your minds. Open your doors. See you in 2015.


100 - 91

100 Mo Kolours // Mike Black

99 Perc // Galloper

98 Big K.R.I.T. // Mt. Olympus

97 Seinabo Sey // Younger

96 Vince Staples // Blue Suede

95 Sylvan Esso // Coffee

94 Neneh Cherry // Naked

93 Hamilton Leithauser // Alexandra

92 Dean Blunt // PUNK

91 Phoria // Emanate

90 - 81

90 Ibeyi // Oya

89 Death From Above 1979 // Trainwreck 1979

88 Isaiah Rashad // R.I.P. Kevin Miller

87 Bombay Bicycle Club // Luna

86 Ben Frost // Venter

85 iceage // The Lord’s Favorite

84 Real Estate – Talking Backwards

83 Action Bronson – Easy Rider

82 Tinashe – 2 On

81 Girl Talk, Freeway, Waka Flocka Flame – Tolerated

80 - 71

80 Container // Complex

79 Interpol // All the Rage Back Home

78 Banks // Goddess

77 Grumbling Fur // All the Rays

76 Years & Years // Real (LeMarquis Remix)

75 Eno Hyde // Daddy’s Car

74 Fear of Men // Alta/Waterfall

73 Ariana Grande, Iggy Azalea // Problem

72 alt-J // Hunger of the Pine

71 Rustie // Raptor

70 - 61

70 Gidge // I Fell In Love

69 Ages and Ages // Divisionary (Do The Right Thing)

68 Wye Oak // Glory

67 Alvvays // Archie, Marry Me

66 Damon Albarn // Heavy Seas of Love

65 Schoolboy Q // Collard Greens

64 Objekt // Ganzfeld

63 Jungle // Son of a Gun

62 Jenny Hval/Susanna // I Have Walked This Body

61 SBTRKT/Raury // Higher

60 - 51

60 Baths // Ocean Death

59 Nothing // Dig

58 Jacques Greene // No Excuse

57 Father John Misty // Bored in the USA

56 Röyksopp & Robyn // Monument

55 Freddie Gibbs & Madlib // Deeper

54 Parquet Courts // Sunbathing Animal

53 Pusha T // Lunch Money

52 Ásgeir // King and Cross

51 Liars // Mess on a Mission


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