SLIS’s 30 Best Rock Songs of 2014: the best rock, alternative and metal tunes of the year.
Last week I revealed my list of best 2014 albums. But it’s only fair to do a list of best songs too. There were great singles released this year, and given not all albums are created equal, I’ve included both awesome tracks from uneven/so-so albums along with excellent ones from more cohesive works.
So enjoy the 30 selections below. If you want to add any to your collection, I’ve included Amazon links for each, as well as an an iTunes playlist at the conclusion of the list.
Without further ado:
30. James-Moving On
[amazon_image id=”B00LT09JH0″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Moving On[/amazon_image]
Man, I was pretty let down by James latest album La Petite Mort. I’d say next to U2’s Song of Innocence, it ranks as the blandest album of the year (I didn’t even bother reviewing it if that tells you anything) That being said, Moving On strikes all the right notes that James fans expect in anthemic uplift. But hopefully next album will be better, otherwise I’ll be moving on for good.
29. Mastodon-Chimes at Midnight
Most critics praised Mastodon’s latest release, but I can’t find many fans to vouch for it, including myself. Chimes at Midnight is the exception though, and its lurching power reminds us that they used to be a metal band.
28. Temples-The Golden Throne
Millennial Brits travel back to the 60’s in this groovy retro throwback.
27. Billy Idol-Save Me Now
Billy Idol returned this year with his Dancing With Myself autobiography, and a new album. And while the book is a fun read, the album feels a bit too slick and misses the raunchy kick that served his best tracks. But the anthemic Save Me Now actually benefits from Trevor Horn’s shiny production, and feels akin to Don’t You Forget About Me, a single Idol is still kicking himself for passing on to Simple Minds, which gave them their biggest hit.
[amazon_image id=”B00MRR70B6″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Ótta[/amazon_image]
Have you ever wondered what would happen if Sigur Ros turned into a metal band? Probably not, but Sólstafir would be your answer, and it’s a very good thing indeed.
25. Monster Magnet-Milking The Stars
The title track is one of the few originals from Monster Magnet’s recent album featuring remixes off 2013’s Last Patrol, and it’s an epic cosmic psychedelic ballad that only Dave Wyndorf could pull off.
24. Scott Walker & Sunn O)))-Lullaby
[amazon_image id=”B00MV9BVB0″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Lullaby[/amazon_image]
However strange you would think a collaboration between art-metal droners Sunn O))) and avant-garde vocalist Scott Walker might sound like, the result is even stranger. An acquired taste for sure, but a memorable one at that.
23. Peter Murphy-Hang Up
Murphy’s most aggressive vocal performance to date. Click here for my full Lion album review.
[amazon_image id=”B00IUNEV2M” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Fuckers/Dream Baby Dream [Explicit][/amazon_image]
This sexy and sinister track from the Neo-Post-punk group’s live EP is wonderfully (and appropriately) savage in nature, sounding like the love-child of Siouxsie Sioux and Nick Cave.
21. Godflesh-Shut Me Down
Nothing can stop this industrial battering ram from getting stuck in your banging head.
20. Kyng-The Ode
[amazon_image id=”B00JJILY2M” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Ode[/amazon_image]
Whenever a new metal band has melodic vocals I get excited. And when they rock with a righteous stoner groove, I get elated. The whole album rocks, but this track is a particular standout.
19. Gonga-Black Sabbeth
What happens when Brit metallers Gonga get Portishead’s Beth Gibbons to cover Black Sabbath? Exactly and wonderfully what you’d expect.
Order the track from Bandcamp below:
18. Failure-Come Crashing
The underrated space rockers are reunited and have a new album due next year. If it all sounds as good as this début track, expect greatness.
Click here for my interview with Failure frontman Ken Andrews, and click the link below to preview/purchase Come Crashing from Bandcamp.
17. Aphex Twin-PAPAT4  [pineal mix]
Let’s party like it’s 1996 with this awesome track from Richard D. James comeback album Syro.
16. The Horrors-Change Your Mind
This band gets more subdued on each release, but when it sounds this good, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Melodic, sinister, hypnotic and cinematic, this Mogwai track off 2014 album Rave Tapes checks off all the proper tick boxes that hallmark their best work.
14. Prong-Absence of Light
13. Melvins-Brass Cupcake
When the Melvins and the Butthole Surfers get together…it turns out surprisingly accessible and melodic. More please!
12. Echo & The Bunnymen-Lovers On The Run
Cinematic and romantic: The Bunnymen at their finest off recent album Meteorites.
11. Smashing Pumpkins-One and All
This righteously 90’s-esque track is one piece of a very catchy and sprightly album. Seriously. It’s good.
10. -Sonny Vincent & Spite: Dog on The Subway
Punk rock is still very much alive in this howling track from the Testors/Sex Pistols/Stooges/Damned supergroup.
9. Swans-She Loves Us
Hypnotic and terrifying. Swans continue to throw down the gauntlet to other aging rockers resting on their laurels, as showcased on this track from their intimidating album To Be Kind.
8. Crosses-Bitches Brew
Chino Moreno’s latest side-project reshapes and plays with his favorite 80’s musical influences, and this track is a love letter to new wave and goth.
7. Faith No More-Mother****er
It’s weird, totally not what you expect for a single to sound like, and takes a while to sink in. That makes it quintessentially Faith No More. I CANNOT wait to hear the new full length in 2015.
6. Fka Twigs-2 Weeks
Silky smooth, yet rough around the edges. Trip-hop soul for the 21st century.
5. Marilyn Manson-Third Day of A Seven Day Binge
[amazon_image id=”B00P290HTI” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Third Day Of A Seven Day Binge[/amazon_image]
If you’d told me a few months ago I’d be excited about anything new by Marilyn Manson, my eyes would have rolled so far into my head that they’d pop out the back of my skull. But by damn, this is his best material since Mechanical Animals, and given the strength of Killing Strangers, his new track off the John Wick Soundtrack, and this latest release, I feel we have a musical comeback on our hands.
4. John Carpenter-Vortex
[amazon_image id=”B00PDSBHBK” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Vortex[/amazon_image]
The iconic filmmaker/composer has his first non-score related album Lost Themes, slated for release next year, and this first single is fantastic, conjuring images of gliding steadicam shots and Kurt Russell looking perturbed.
3. The Church-Miami
New guitarist Ian Haug’s first work with Aussie rockers The Church on their new album Further/Deeper, culminated in this stream-of-consciousness charmer, which hearkens back to classic albums like Starfish and Priest=Aura
2. Afghan Whigs-The Lottery
Echo-laden guitars buttress Greg Dulli’s smokey croon on this track from their stellar comeback disc Do To The Beast.
1. Bryan Ferry and Todd Terje-Johnny and Mary
[amazon_image id=”B00IT5E0J0″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Johnny And Mary (feat. Bryan Ferry)[/amazon_image]
The Norwegian DJ’s team-up with Roxy Music frontman Bryan Ferry is a work of beauty, with a transcendent, cinematic cover of the Robert Palmer track which appears on both of their recent albums.
So that wraps up my list of the 30 best rock songs of 2014! Which ones made your list this year? Tell me in the comments. Click here for my list of the 14 best albums of the year, and stay tuned later in this week, when I’ll be looking back at the best of the year in cinema and television.