Listen to Austin 360 Radio

Deborah Sengupta Stith’s top national releases of 2014

Staff Writer
Austin 360

As we get ready to wrap 2014, a year marked with ups, downs and political turmoil aplenty, I’ve been revisiting my favorite tunes. Our local faves are listed over here, but I’ve also been combing through the national music separately.

Here’s my top ten list (in no particular order) that ran in print.

Azealia Banks “Broke with Expensive Taste”

Fka Twigs “LP1”

Flying Lotus “You’re Dead”

Run the Jewels “Run the Jewels 2”

D’Angelo “Black Messiah”

Future Islands “Singles”

Quantic “Magnetica”

Sylvan Esso “Sylvan Esso”

Caribou “Our Love”

Kelis “Food”

LISTEN TO DEBORAH SENGUPTA STITH’S FAVORITE SONGS OF 2014

For my top releases playlist I was happy to mix in songs that didn’t quite make the top ten. 2014 was a great year for avant garde R&B. FKA Twigs led the pack with her mind-bending “LP1″, but Jhene Aiko’s “Souled Out” offered a lovely portrait of watercolor soul. Aiko’s song “W.A.Y.S.” which finds her working through the tragic death of her brother Miyagi who died of cancer in 2012 at age 26 is heartwrenching and beautiful. It was also a good year for adventurous electropop with folks like Sylvan Esso, Future Islands and Caribou pushing the genre in new directions.

It was a middling year for hip-hop (side-eye to Iggy Azalea) although there were some great releases. The other Azealia (Banks) dropped a stellar debut, although the release has been overshadowed by her bitter feud with Azalea number one. Run the Jewels won the Internet and the hearts of critics across the country with “Run the Jewels 2.” Freddie Gibbs rode Mad Lib’s beats with streetwise hustler rhymes on “Pinata” and Isaiah Rashad proved a solid addition to the Top Dog Entertainment team.

As far as soul goes, obviously D’Angelo led the pack with the early Christmas gift “Black Messiah,” but Kelis’ “Food” was a lush and richly textured release I enjoyed all year long. I really enjoyed Childish Gambino’s Jackson-esque inspired turn on “Sober” and I enjoyed Chet Faker’s “Built on Glass” way more than Sam Smith’s “In the Lonely Hour.” Finally, while “Happy” was on radio repeat all year long, the upbeat ditty “Lost Queen” was the song that always made me smile on Pharrell’s “G.I.R.L.”