It’s hard for me to believe I’ve been doing this as long as I have, and yet here we are for the fifth year in a row* with the annual Makeup For The Silence Mixtape.
The 2014 edition of my yearly mixtape feels darker, tetchier and more ruminative than last year’s compilation. Partly that’s deceptive: this year’s picks are angrier in their loudest, brightest moments, and more quiet when soft and sweet. Indeed, 2014 was my most blissful in recent memory, full of both personal joy (getting married) and professional success (my first print features in a decade), But as they say, energy flows where attention goes, and the tracks here that demand the most attention rage loudly enough to nearly eclipse the more subtle sweetness in between.
Only nearly, though. Part of the challenge of making the yearly mixtape is in the curation – there were more than 200 songs that made my running Top Tracks Of 2014 longlist**, and paring them down is some combination of making a CD-length document that actually flows as a well-sequenced album would without excluding anything absolutely essential to the year. I spend far more time than any human should working toward hitting the sweet spot each time out; hopefully, I managed it here.
The “no big radio hits” rule wasn’t really an issue this year (sorry Taylor); while I felt like 2014 was much more of a singles year than an albums year for me personally (more on that soon), it wasn’t because of anything on pop radio, which had a seriously down year compared to 2013. I feel like we’re headed toward an interesting intersection – it’s clear to me that the pop-EDM bubble has burst, and there’s definitely renewed interest in music made with traditional instruments, but nobody seems to quite know what to do with them yet (other than sample saxophones, ubiquitously). In the past that’s led to tremendously interesting and diverse years for pop music (think 90-91), but for some reason this year’s casting-about turned up little in the way of interesting experiments – at least not in the Top 40.
And yet the 23 tracks here barely tap the surface; there was tremendous breadth, if not depth, just below. This year’s mix features a pair of refugees from collapsed bands, each digging out of the rubble and starting anew in their own way; two tracks from the best band in the world you’ve never heard of; four minutes of guts-searing #emorevival; and four more of glorious, gossamer #softshread. It’s all in there, Frankensteined together into one rather dapper monster, if I do say so myself.
Enough talk. Download***, listen, enjoy.
Makeup For The Silence – Best Of 2014
- Free – Brent Walsh
- Royals (Remix) – T-Pain ft. Young Cash
- Tongue Talk – The Holidays
- Canyon Moon – Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness
- Coming Of Age – Foster the People
- Unconditional Love – Against Me!
- Queen of Hearts – Darlia
- Don’t Die in Yr Hometown – Antarctigo Vespucci
- American Beauty / American Psycho – Fall Out Boy
- Exclusive Coupe – MYRONE
- Long Night – Guster
- Nervous Kids – Tigers Jaw
- Brutal Truth – Foxy Shazam
- Your Deep Rest – The Hotelier
- Dear Diary – Darlia
- Giving Up – Allison Weiss
- I Told You So – Dazy (The Girl) ft. Derek Sanders
- Tear The House Up (Edit) – Herve & Zebra Katz
- Digital Witness – St. Vincent
- Eyeshadow – No Devotion
- Erosion – Cymbals
- Come Alive – Rachel Taylor
- XO – Roy English
click image to download
Stay tuned, The yearly Top Ten will begin in just a few days!
*you can always find the complete collection of mixes which have appeared on Makeup For The Silence, as well as all the playlists I’ve contributed to elsewhere, right over here.
**if you’d like to get a headstart on 2015, feel free to follow my running Top Tracks Of 2015 So Far playlist on Spotify. It’s barren right now but that won’t last long.
***just like the past two years, there’s a Spotify version of 2014’s mix available, but also like those years, there are a handful of tracks on the mix which aren’t currently available on the service. I love Spotify’s convenience, but I recommend downloading if you want the real deal – otherwise, you miss out on a few great songs, and also the sequencing. If you’re a Spotify user, it’s easy to import downloaded files into Spotify, I promise.