Best new alt-tracks of 2014

Photo: RafeB, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Photo: RafeB, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

So we’re a few months into the New Year and new music has been feeling a little scarce. I mean, personally I feel like I’ve had the same songs on repeat for weeks now! I know I’m not super patient, but I can’t sit around, anxiously waiting for the great songs of 2014 to come and sweep me off my feet. So I did a little digging, and came up with these eight new tracks.

Speedy Ortiz- “American Horror”

Speedy Ortiz’s debut album Major Arcana was arguably one of the best albums of 2013. But “American Horror,” one of the songs off Speedy Ortiz’ recently released EP Real Hair, delivers. Singer/guitarist/90’s princess/lioness Sadie Dupuis continues to spew out a mouthful of meticulously crafted lyrics, but the tone of “American Horror” feels a little more uplifting than the tracks on last album. Dupuis continues to spew out a mouthful of meticulously crafted lyrics and Robidoux’s gut-wrenching guitar riffs continue embellish Dupuis’ shrill voice. But the overall tone quality of this single feels a little more uplifting than some of the tracks on Major Arcana.

St. Vincent- “Digital Witness”

A few weeks ago, I was scrolling through NPR Music’s webpage looking for new music, and her new self-titled album was all the hype. Her album  was portrayed as the one of the first and most highly anticipated albums of the year. Her single “Birth in Reverse,” powers ahead on a propulsive beat topped with guitar licks, dense, chunky rhythm parts and crackling synthesizers. But it’s “Digital Witness” that really grabbed me. Maybe it’s the propulsive beats topped with bursts of trumpet bumps. I think the bursts of energy in these songs is what really grabbed me.

Hospitality- “I Miss Your Bones”

If I were a musical talent, I would want my music to encapsulate the sound and the quality of this song. This was the first single released from the whimsical indie-pop band’s new album Trouble. Singer and guitarist Amber Papini lays some quirky but melancholic lyrics over her distorted bubble gum guitar licks. But Papini’s voice is unique. When she repeats “I Miss Your Bones,” she treats it like a conversation with her pillow. But all sweet talk aside, “I Miss Your Bones” is the perfect collocation of fun but kind of gloomy. I’d argue that this song is Hospitality’s crowning achievement.

The Orwells- “Who Needs You”

David Letterman really liked “The Orwells” when they performed on his show. Since then, the members of the Chicago-based a sense of satisfaction has washed over them. the title track off of their new EP “Who Needs You.” The clashing cymbals that count off the song and their rambunctiously raw guitar make their sound youthful and energetic. Meanwhile, Mario Cuomo’s vocals almost echo the likes of Dexter Holland. They’re touring with the “Arctic Monkeys” and sharing producer Jim Abbiss. Enough said.

Cloud Nothings- “I’m Not Part of Me”

“I’m not telling you all I’m going through,” Dylan Baldi sings tantalizingly. In Cloud Nothing’s new single, it feels like Baldi’s challenging us. “I’m Not Part of Me” has the same vivacity as the tracks their 2012 album Attack On Memory.  Their sound is a little brighter, but their lyrics are as distressed as the ivory Chuck Taylor’s I’ve been harboring since freshman year. Surely, we want to understand what Cloud Nothings has been going through. Fortunately, their new album will be Here and Nowhere Else April 1st.

Real Estate- “Crime”

Real Estate released their third full-length album this March, and the album’s lingering ambience differs from their original beach-party vibes. The New Jersey band captures the art of complacency in their new album Atlas. The simplicity and eloquence in the post pool-party indie band’s the key to “Crime”‘s unexpected ache. “Toss and turn all night, don’t know how to make this right/ Crippling anxiety,” Titus Andronicus’ Martin Courtney sings clearly. There’s a lot of meaning tightly wrapped around the song’s perceptive lyrics.

Angel Olsen- “Hi-Five”

In “Hi-Five,” the third track from her new album Burn Your Fire For No Witness, she asks “Are you lonely too?” after which she exclaims “HI-FIVE! SO AM I.” Angel Olsen’s new track makes loneliness feel like a holiday, With a slight twang to her voice, her  sound is a combination of a bubbly Katie Crutchfield and an electrically charged vibration that surges through her work. Since her second album’s drop in February, Olsen’s gained some true recognition: she’s a new artist with an old soul.

Warpaint- “Keep It Healthy”

“Keep It Healthy,” the first full track on Warpaint’s self titled sophomore album is a mystical pipedream. Based in Los Angeles, their much anticipated fresh new album is reminiscent of Radiohead circa late ’90’s, early 2000’s. The all-female quartet’s soothing baseline and melting cymbals passes us some art-rock serenity. But it’s Emily Kokal’s faintly ghostlike melody that glides over Theresa Wayman’s airy guitar licks that really sends “Keep It Healthy” up into the cosmos.

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