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Staff Picks: The Best Of 2014

Rolling Stone Australia staff compile their own personal music, movie and television highlights from the year.

Rolling Stone Australia staff compile their own personal music, movie and television highlights from the year.

James Jennings, Contributor

Top 10 Music Related Moments Of 2014

1. Run The Jewels
Not content to just make the best rap album of the year, El-P and Killer Mike will now remix said album with nothing but cat noises (Meow The Jewels) after what began as a stoned joke got funded by Kickstarter. That’s word to pimp.

2. Kanye raps his new album to Seth Rogen in the back of a limo

3. Ariel Pink Trolls The World
L.A.’s seedy pop weirdo pretty much infuriates the Internets with every new interview like some kind of trolling wizard. Oh, and drops the best album of his career.

4. Solange Goes H.A.M. on Jay Z In A Lift
Never piss off a Knowles.

5. The New Pornographers Remind Everyone They Don’t Suck
After a couple of low-key records, the New Pornos come out swinging with the greatest power pop LP of the year, Brill Bruisers.

6. “Shake It Off”
Taylor Swift detonates the best pop song of the year all up in your earholes.

7. Alvvays – “Archie, Marry Me”
Canadian band release a song that goes straight to the ‘songs of romantic yearning that get played at an imaginary 1980s prom where you hook up with the girl of your dreams and dance in slow motion’ playlist.

8. Sun Kil Moon Vs. The War On Drugs
The dumbest beef of the year on the heels of two of the best albums of the year.

9. Parquet Courts – Sunbathing Animal
Until Meow The Jewels arrives, consider this the best cat-related music ever.

10. Chris Pratt Uses a Space Gecko As A Mic
Once Guardians of the Galaxy kicked off with Redbone’s ‘Come And Ge Your Love’, you knew it was gonna be massive.

Mathew Coyte, Editor-In-Chief/Publisher

Albums Of The Year

Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence
By all the unwritten rules of pop music, Lana Del Rey should have been a one hit wonder. Against all odds, Ultraviolence not only avoided being a disappointment, it is a masterpiece.

The War On Drugs – Lost In The Dream
It’s mostly one song repeated, but what a song! “Red Eyes” is the gateway drug but the epic “Under The Pressure” and the heartbreaking “Suffering” are what’s going to kick off the addiction.

Singles Of The Year

Warpaint – “Love Is To Die”
Sexy as hell, “Love Is To Die” is adult pop done in a way that we haven’t seen since Portishead’s Dummy. Don’t ask me what the rest of the album’s like, I’ve never got past this track. Play, repeat, repeat, repeat.

Vic Mensa – “Wimme Nah”
There’s nothing like a nonsensical call-to-action to bring out the dormant hip-hop fan in me. I haven’t had this much fun since DMX’s “Party Up”.

Guilty Pleasure

Sky Ferreira – Night Time, My Time
Sure this is bratty pop made by an ex-model, and she sounds like early Madonna without the hooks, but there’s just something so likeable about Ferreira’s whole train-wreck-in-the-making.

Comeback Of The Year

Bryan Ferry – Avonmore
Unlike many of his contemporaries, Bryan Ferry is perfectly aware of what made him good in the first place, and so as we saw on 2012’s Olympia and on his latest, Avanmore, he’s able to pull the same rabbit out of his hat over and over. Just listen to Nile Roger’s guitar funk noodling on lead single “Loop De Li” and tell me that progression is a good thing.

Didn’t Get It

U2’s – Songs Of Innocence
Sure it was better than their last few records, but five stars? I’ve listened to it over ten times now and I still can’t hear it.

Guardians Of The Galaxy
Was 2014 such a shitty year for movies that we got our nickers in a knot over this goofy pile of Disney humour and sci-fi mumblecore? Power orbs? Green ladies? The only truly great bit is where Chris Pratt mimes singing into a rat.


Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes
Whether or not you thought the human characters were one-dimensional (I thought they were pretty good) the apes in this apocalyptic origin story were nothing short of stunning, Andy Serkis is a genius, and his “performance” as Caesar is a career highlight.

Utterly Disappointed

Taylor Swift – “Shake It Off”
Taylor Swift’s Red was an awesome indie-pop record. The sort of pop record a middle aged man could feel pretty comfortable to admitting to liking. “Shake It Off” is pure bubble-gum pop – boring, predictable and devoid of attitude. There’s no reason for anybody over the age of 14 to be listening to it. Boo Taylor, boo.

Stereosonic’s Bro-Down
We’ve all seen the video footage by now, a bunch of ‘roid-loving thugs bashing each other senseless at a dance music festival. That’s not the disappointing thing. That’s just arseholes being arseholes. The biggest disappointment is that a lot of people watched the video and decided that it was OK to sprout racist rubbish from the anonymity of their laptops. Have a look at the comments if you need a definition for “casual racism”.

Rod Yates, Editor

Top 10 Albums

10. Weezer – Everything Will Be Alright In The End
9. Mastodon – Once More Round The Sun
8. Alcest – Shelter
7. Killer Be Killed – Killer Be Killed
6. Bob Mould – Beauty & Ruin
5. TTT (Crosses) – TTT
4. Foo Fighters – Sonic Highways
3. Bombay Bicycle Club – So Long, See You Tomorrow
2. U2 – Songs of Innocence
1. Augustines – Augustines

Honorable Mentions
Shihad – FVEY
James Vincent McMorrow – Post Tropical
Jenny Lewis – The Voyager
Ryan Adams – Ryan Adams
John Mellencamp – Plain Spoken
Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues

Top Five TV Shows

5. The Walking Dead (Season 4)
4. Sonic Highways
3. Veep (Season 3)
2. House Of Cards (Season 2)
1. True Detective (Season 1)

Top Five Movies

5. Whiplash
4. 12 Years A Slave
3. Boyhood
2. Gone Girl
1. The Wolf Of Wall Street

Top 10 Singles

10. The Delta Riggs – “The Record’s Flawed”
9. Taylor Swift – “Blank Space”
8. Meg Mac – “Roll Up Your Sleeves”
7. Sia – “Chandelier”
6. Ryan Adams – “Gimme Something Good”
5. Augustines – “Cruel City”
4. Ecca Vandal – “White Flag”
3. Foo Fighters – “Something From Nothing”
2. U2 – “Every Breaking Wave”
1. Gang of Youths – “Poison Drum”

Jonny Nail, Online Editor

Top 12 Things From 2014

1. Cayetana – Nervous Like Me
Initially emerging from the continually fruitful Philadelphia music scene in 2012 with a 3-track demo, the proceeding two-year wait for their debut full length, Nervous Like Me, proved to be well worth it. A faultless run of effortless, hook-focused, heart-on-the-sleeve indie pop, perfectly understated and void of all sense of overtly ambitious aspirations. The top eleven songs of the year.

2. Sleaford Mods
A fresh rejuvenation of punk attitude from an unlikely source — two middle-aged lads from Nottingham, England. Equally split between British class system protests and day-in-the-life snapshots, their breakthrough LP Divide and Exit featured frontman Jason Williamson unloading his vulgar spoken-word opinions and observations over beats that rarely elevated past a basic loop — a perfectly raw complimentary surface for the stream of consciousness rants. Touring relentlessly since the album’s release at the start of the year, the duo followed it up with two equally impressed side-acts — the Tiswas EP and a deluxe re-issue of their Chubbed Up compilation via Mike Patton’s Ipecac imprint.

3. Serial Podcast
The Friday morning walk to work couldn’t come quick enough. Amazingly produced,  enthralling and completely deserved of all the hype.

4. The “why don’t you… fuck off” bit on The Smith Street Band’s “Surrey Dive”
Sure, it’s bordering on offensive to reduce a band to a single lyric, as well as being fairly immature to find such joy in the unrestrained exhalation of profanity when you’re over the age of 13, but this jubilant thrust of emotion from Smith Street Band frontman Wil Wagner, a cry that drags the song from it’s mid-point breakdown into it’s celebratory climax, was not only one of the standout moments of their 2014 album, Throw Me In The River, but also the year itself.

5. Dean Blunt – Black Metal
As a member of enigmatic, avante-garde, art-rock duo Hype Williams, Blunt seemed solely obsessed with upholding the group’s mystique and pushing the boundaries of what was deemed tolerable. But there was always a glimmer of pop clarity buried underneath. Black Metal is the soulful, patient exposure of that previously avoided side, delivered with an unfiltered sense of solitary and rarely straying from the dark, soulful edge, yet still remaining effortlessly catchy throughout. An unlikely source of what I found to be the most engaging and hauntingly beautiful pop record of the year.

6. The Skeleton Twins
The true essence of a well-executed dark comedy, with every hilarious scene counter-weighted by a heart-crushingly sad moment. Not sure if it was my favourite film of the year, but definitely the one that left the most lasting impact.

7. Rich Gang w/ Young Thug, Rich Homie Quan – “Freestyle” + “Lifestyle”
The Rich Gang ‘Tour’ mixtape was one of my favourite hip-hop releases of 2014 and Freestyle was one of the (many) clear standouts.

Lifestyle is the first preview from their forthcoming Rich Gang 2 LP and was left off the tape. More than anything else it showcases two of the most exciting up-and-comers in full unrestrained flight.

The widespread success of Lifestyle also cemented Young Thug as the ideal Lil Wayne predecessor in the off-centre pop-rap cosmos. His aptly titled Tha Carter VI, the proceeding sequel to Wayne’s own unreleased “retirement album” Tha Carter V, is destined to not only serve as the ideal guard-change, but also one of the biggest rap albums of 2015.

8. The Final Scene of House Of Cards Season 2

9. Future Islands at The Northern Hotel, Byron Bay
Opening for Interpol on the night before Splendour In The Grass, in addition to the rare treat of seeing such established acts in such an intimate venue, this show occurred right at the point where my lust for Future Islands was starting to tire, having arrived at the point of overplaying their latest album Singles. With a live presence that’s something like a passionate version of Henry Rollins at his deranged march-around-the-stage best, frontman Samuel T. Herring worked relentlessly at maintaining the show’s energetic levels. Here was his band presented as exactly what they are — a hard-working group now getting their deserved attention, so much more than the temporary viral measure of a quirky television performance.

10. That Feel at the Petersham Bowling Club
With one half of the duo relocating to Samoa early next year, exciting new Sydney group That Feel unfortunately played their final show (for a while at least) earlier this month. Forming earlier this year as a re-invented version of iconic Sydney band Ghoul, they group take a unique approach to minimal electronica, leaving frontman Ivan Vizintin’s amazing vocal range as the dominate lead. While most captivating when presented in their understated live format, hopefully some of their initial demos are released in some form in 2015.

11. Broad City ‘Eight Fucking Thousand Dollars’

12. D’Angelo – Black Messiah
Remove the 14-year wait, the album’s unexpected sudden arrival and the subsequent middle-finger salute to the gun-jumpers who’d already compiled their best-of lists and we’re still left with an absolute masterpiece of timeless rhythm-and-blues.