Favorite Songs of 2014

In early July, we compiled a list of our favorite songs of the year, so far. Doing that seemed fun at the time, lists always are to us, it's one of the reasons why we're here. Now, at the tail end of the year, we're faced with making a list of our favorite songs of the year, and we really don't know what to do with those songs from then. We still love them, listen to them quite often in fact, but we feel like we should exclude them from our end of the year list. Next year, we won't go to the trouble of composing any silly mid-year lists. Before we start rolling out our 30 favorite songs early next week, we'd like to revisit our mid-year favorites, 20 in all. Stream them all below in one handy playlist created just for you.

Since BIRD's 'Sea of Trees' wasn't on Soundcloud or Bandcamp, this YouTube video of a performance of the song will have to suffice. 

Favorite Albums of 2014 (1-5)

Today is the 4th and final entry in the Aimless Skylarking Favorite Albums of 2014. Our top 5 albums are listed below. Once we get caught up, we have an interview to prep and a favorite songs list to finalize, we hope to speak about some of the albums we excluded from the list of 20. Many are fantastic and deserve mentioning here. If you missed out on selections 6-20, follow the links listed below.

Favorite Albums of 2014 (6-10)

Favorite Albums of 2014 (11-15)

Favorite Albums of 2014 (16-20)

1. Angel Olsen Burn Your Fire For No Witness - I enjoyed Angel's folky debut 'Halfway Home', her stunning sirenlike vocals, and lyrics from a poet's pen impressed me. But I never imagined she had this in her repetoire. She gathered a full band, plugged in, and her angelic voice lit up, hypnotizing with each track. I saw her in Birmingham at the Bottletree Cafe with 150 others and spent the entire set disinterested in my surroundings, mesmerized as she commanded the room with her thousand yard stare and haunting stories.  

Essential tracks:

'Forgiven/Forgotten', 'Hi-Five', 'Lights Out', 'Stars', 'Windows'

2. PINS Girls Like Us - 2014 US release, and the album I listened to the most this year. Debut efforts aren't supposed to be this good, this full of cool, confident swagger. Guitar albums ooze those things, and this is a guitar album, but Girls Like Us isn't just guitars turned up to 11, the bass lines jump, and the drum kit screams for mercy. However, the band's greatest attribute is they know their way around catchy vocal harmonies. Then there's the infectious yelps. To say their 2nd LP is highly anticipated would be an understatement. 

Essential tracks:

'Girls Like Us", 'Waiting for the End', 'Get With Me', 'Lost Lost Lost'

3. BIRD My Fear and Me - My Fear and Me feels greater than the medium upon which it is presented, resonating with many forms of art -- poetry, film, photography, and other forms of visual art drift in and out of the work. It feels as if it could be the soundtrack to an era defining epic fantasy film, or part of a long forgotten poetry journal tucked away in a dusty old trunk in the attic of a Victorian home.

Thinking of My Fear and Me as just a musical experience is foolish, fine art doesn't often come in the form of a debut LP, but the band managed to pull off the feat. Sadly, BIRD is no longer. The band will no longer perform under the name, but hasn't yet spoke of their future, but one can hope an announcement will come soon. As I said in an earlier piece about the band, their voices can't remain silent for long.  

Essential tracks:

'Rain Song', 'Bullet', 'Blue', 'Dorothea', 'Sea of Trees'

4. Sturgill Simpson Metamodern Sounds in Country Music - Never in a million years did I think I'd ever consider a country album for this list, yet here is Sturgill Simpsons' brilliant 2nd album smirking at me. Part Merle Haggard, part Waylon Jennings, part spaced out hippie weaving tales of God, aliens, hallucinogens, and fairy tales of blood and wine. Toss is a kicked back take on When in Rome's 'The Promise' for a knockout blow. 

Essential tracks:

'Turtles All the Way Down', 'Life of Sin', 'The Promise', 'Pan Bowl'

5. Amanda X Amnesia - The Philadelphia pop punk trio's catchy debut LP overflowed with songs of heartbreak and moving on. There's plenty of despair here, but also conflicted feelings, and that's what makes the album all the more special. It's real, and earnest, there are no clean breaks when it falls apart. As I listened to the album for the first time, the opening line to 'Parsnip' stood out ("I want to wear my heart like an amulet, hanging to every word you say"), and I knew then Amnesia was going to be one of my favorite albums of the year. Plus, their Twitter feed remains one of the most entertaining out there.  

Essential tracks:

'Guatemala', 'Parsnip', 'Paranoia', 'Friendly Tones'

Top Prospect #7 - BIRD

The 7th entry in our Top Prospects for 2015 might come as a surprise to some because the band is no more. Initially, the band wasn't on our list because we thought they had a really nice year and were trending upward. But now that they've decided to call it quits, we are curiously excited about the future of the members of the band. When we first heard the unexpected news, we were dismayed, and sad, hoping for some news about why they were disbanding. Everyone always wants to know why, but, honestly, it's not important, it's over and there's not much we can do about it.

The Liverpudlian 4-piece art rock band amazed us with their expertly crafted debut album, My Fear and Me. Frontwoman Adele Emma's gorgeous vocals and sense of cinematic grandeur bewitched upon first listen, growing with repeated visits. Guitarist Sian's understated guitar work filled the vast corners of the work, Lex's tribal beats built the foundation, while Christian's haunting synths set the tone. The album feels greater than the medium upon which it is presented, resonating with many forms of art -- poetry, film, photography, and other forms of visual art drift in and out of the work. It feels as if it could be the soundtrack to an era defining epic fantasy film, or part of a long forgotten poetry journal tucked away in a dusty old trunk in the attic of a Victorian home. Thinking of My Fear and Me as just a musical experience is foolish, fine art doesn't often come in the form of a debut LP, but the band managed to pull off the feat. And now, it's over.

We know that talented artists aren't silent for long, the font of inspiration is hardly ever dry, and we feel that whatever rises from the ashes of BIRD will be incredible. While we are sad for the end of this chapter, we are excited to see what 2015 holds for the former members of the band, and hope they keep sharing their art with us.