SPECIAL: What I Missed in 2014

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Yes… I know how late I am with these. More on that in the main post.

Before we get into the proper lists, it is important for me to look back and recognize the great releases of 2014 that I didn’t get a chance to fall in love with until 2015. Here are those great things:

1. 813, Wave Racer, and Trippy Turtle

In 2015, I finally learned the name of the genre of electronic music I was becoming obsessed with – future bass – and quickly discovered what everybody had been doing for the past couple years. The artists I couldn’t stop listening to were these three, along with ABSRDST, who I was a bit better on top of last year. 813’s XOXO EP and some singles and remixes from all three artists would likely have made 2014’s lists if I had heard them sooner.

813:


Wave Racer:


Trippy Turtle:

2. Rich Gang – Rich Gang: Tha Tour Vol. 2

I kind of disregarded this when I became aware it was a thing – I’m not ever sure how official this “official mixtape” is, but in the beginning of 2015 when I was anxiously awaiting Barter 6 I absorbed all the Young Thug / Rich Homie I could get my hands on, and discovered this record is full of hits. “Ain’t Trippin'” in particular was one of my most-played songs of the year.


3. Carpainter – “Saltflake Snow”

This song was my jam in 2015. Sort of an outlier – I haven’t loved too much of Carpainter’s other music, but this track gives me a lot of hope for the future. His track with Maxo, “Amazing!!!” is somewhere towards the bottom of my top songs for 2015.

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SPECIAL: Feed The Dog’s Top Albums of 2014

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YES ARIANA AGAIN GET OVER IT

Wrapping up these top lists, here are the Spotify playlists again:

Top Albums
Top Songs
Top Ariana Grande Songs
What I Missed in 2013

& some final musings on 2014:

– I am so glad that twenty years post-O.D.B., the weirdos have finally taken over hip hop. Young Thug and Rae Sremmurd topped the hip hop charts. A$AP Ferg popped up on tracks from Ariana Grande and HAIM, then dropped a mixtape. I Love Makonnen became an overnight sensation, I’m hoping Rome Fortune is next. We even got some promising Lil Wayne verses. I expect this trend to continue and could not be more excited about it.

Anyone remember that summer Jay-Z and Beyonce showed up at a Grizzly Bear concert, and it was a really big deal? Then that was made an even bigger deal when they asked Jay-Z about it, and he basically said (and I’m paraphrasing), “We need indie rock to start inspiring hip hop artists to make better music.” For whatever reason, I thought that was a pretty big deal when Jay-Z said that, and it really spoke volumes of the quality of indie rock (amazing) and hip hop (terrible) that was coming out at the time. And I think it’s finally happened. Mainstream hip hop was terrible enough for a long time that it had to be saved by the innovators — and suddenly it feels like we’re in a new Golden Age of hip hop.

And beyond all the weirdos, we have DJ Mustard. I don’t think anyone has had the year DJ Mustard had in the history of time. On top of putting out his own impressive album, he produced YG’s and a good amount of Ty Dolla Sign’s and Kid Ink’s and had a track on just about every major release of the year. Most importantly, along with YG, he brought G-Funk back. I’m not even waiting for the third Dr. Dre album to drop anymore, I really don’t care, because there’s no way its going to be better than My Krazy Life, an album that completely satisfies my decade-long craving for new G-Funk that had nearly gone dormant.

– In regards to the sentiment that 2014 was a lousy year for music, I will admit that the indie rock crop wasn’t that strong. There were definitely fewer truly great rock records this year than there have been the last couple years. But that said, there were a bunch of pretty good rock records. So Cow, Late Bloomer, Gold-Bears, and Cymbals Eat Guitars are some that come to mind.

But, hey! Music critics! That doesn’t mean we just give the trophy to the best contender in the shittiest category! The War On Drugs and St Vincent records were so boring! I will go on record as saying that Sun Kil Moon is total garbage, and that douchebag behind it basically ruined my summer by dominating the indie news cycle with his incessant “beefing”. I hope he eats some bad sushi and dies.

I know why all the critics’ top lists were so terrible, as well — fear. It’s obvious. The War On Drugs is the most beautifully understandable and placeable album of the year, for sure. It’s influences are referenced SO TASTEFULLY. The whole thing is SO GODDAMN EARNEST. And apparently every music magazine exclusively hires the type of grizzled, aged white boy hipster whose idea of musical perfection is Tom Petty and the Heartbreaker’s Damn The Torpedoes.

The War On Drugs is safe. No one listens to that record and gets pissed off, like what the fuck is this!? St. Vincent, FKA Twigs, and Run the Jewels are also safe. St. Vincent is safe because she has reached Beygency levels of unquestioning admiration, FKA Twigs is safe because if you don’t like it you just think you don’t “get” it, and even Run The Jewels are safe because they’re associated with a political movement and harrowing events in our society that make us feel all the feels. No one has the fucking balls to come out here and say that The War On Drugs are fucking boring, and Ariana Grande, the Nickelodeon starlet, the girl who looks way too young to be showing me all that leg, put out the best record of the year and one of the best pop records in a decade. Luckily, I don’t really do this professionally and have a readership smaller than a public school English class, so I’m happy to be the brave one.

If there’s anything this whole exercise has taught me, and continues to teach me every year, it’s this – you gotta get creative in the ways you seek out music. You can’t just follow the critics, follow the headlines, follow the charts (though at this point, the charts might be doing a better job than the critics). If you do that, you will never give the teeny bopper pop stars a chance. You will never discover a magical, moving record of vulnerable indie rock from a band out of Kansas City with fewer than 2,000 Facebook likes, who also happened to put out the 4th best album of the year. You will just read through what everybody else thinks instead, and come away thinking, Man, 2014 just wasn’t that good of a year for music. I think I like that FKA Twigs album, I dunno. I guess I’ll just start making another high school nostalgia playlist.

1. Ariana Grande – My Everything

 

2. Hospitality – Trouble

 

3. Isaiah Rashad – Cilvia Demo

 

4. Shy Boys – Shy Boys

 

5. YG – My Krazy Life (Deluxe Version)

 

6. Charli XCX – SUCKER

 

7. White Lung – Deep Fantasy

 

8. Alvvays – Alvvays

 

9. Tinashe – Aquarius

 

10. Skrillex – Recess

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SPECIAL: Feed The Dog’s Top 10 Ariana Grande Songs of 2014

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photo cred Austin Hargrave, Billboard magazine

Bonus list!

I cannot stress just how much Ariana Grande killed it this year. I don’t understand why almost every critic is ignoring this. Ala DJ Mustard, she was everywhere, too, popping up on a new hit every month. To recognize these brilliant accomplishments, and to have an excuse to share that incredible image above, and to help me cope with having to choose only one song from My Everything to include in my Top Songs, I present to you the Top 10 Ariana Grande Songs of 2014.

Spotify playlist here.

1. Ariana Grande – Problem (feat. Iggy Azalea)

 

2. Ariana Grande – Break Free (feat. Zedd)

(editor’s note: HOLY SHIT HOW AM I JUST SEEING THIS VIDEO FOR THE FIRST TIME. MODERN DAY OOPS I DID IT AGAIN.)

 

3. Ariana Grande – Break Your Heart Right Back (feat. Childish Gambino)

 

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SPECIAL: Feed The Dog’s Top Songs of 2014

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I’ll give a little spiel on my thoughts on this past year in music in my albums intro, but I just want to say there were so many goddamn hits in 2014. I don’t know if it’s actually that there were more hits than the typical year, or if I just listened to more music, but I can’t remember ever having as strong of a top 50 as I’ve compiled this year. Actually, in lieu of the abundance of great music this year, I’ll be doing a Top 150 Songs and Top 100 Albums instead of the typical 100 and 50.

There were two changes I made in my listening habits that may have contributed to the difference. First, on a short-sighted whim, I decided to start a playlist called “songoftheweek” where I would just throw whatever song I was most obsessed with once a week into a playlist. A few weeks later, this became “2songaweek” because one was just too difficult. A year later, I have a pretty fucking killer playlist, I have to admit – all hits, no shits. I set the bar pretty high for quality with my first few songs, and as a result, on a weekly basis I was pretty serious about identifying new music to freak out about. The second change, partially in response to the first, was listening to basically every single new album posted to Spotify each week — at least every album on the most thorough playlists/methods I’ve come across to identify the weekly new additions to the Spotify library. Not that I didn’t keep up with music elsewhere, but I ended up discovering a ton of albums I never would’ve found otherwise.

Besides my own bullshit, the real reason for all the hits is probably how much pop, EDM and hip-hop have gotten there shit together in 2014 – all genres that thrive on hooks and pump out singles. Indie R&B and trap music have fully infiltrated the pop sound to effective results, the two hottest DJs in the game right now formed a goddamn duo, DJ Mustard is on the motherfucking beat, hoe. I can’t believe it how much music killed it in 2014. I can’t believe how many of you are complaining. Don’t let the old white men who take rock criticism seriously convince you that the best 2014 had to offer was some Tom Petty Bruce Springsteen dicksucking extravaganza (which might sound exciting but is actually horribly dull). If I wasn’t the only idiot with the cajones to admit that some tiny alien baby from Nickelodeon is actually the next pop messiah and the queen of 2014, the world wouldn’t be so lukewarm about the year. But I digress.

Onto the songs! For whatever it’s worth, I stuck with one song per release (but not per artist). This is why Young Thug gets three tracks in the Top 20 but Ariana Grande doesn’t. Top 25 streaming below, full Spotify playlist here.

 

1. Ariana Grande – Problem (feat. Iggy Azalea)

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iS1g8G_njx8]

 

2. Todd Terje – Svensk Sås

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7xi_AS6FaE]

 

3. Isaiah Rashad – Brad Jordan (feat. Michael Da Vinci)

 

4. Jack Ü – Take Ü There (feat. Kiesza)

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9slkeFXogU]

 

5. Ryn Weaver – OctaHate (prod. Cashmere Cat)

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68wuJ2ACi5s]

 

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SPECIAL: What I Missed in 2013

Photo credit: Leslie Kirchhoff

Photo credit: Leslie Kirchhoff

Back at it, mang. Feed The Dog in the place to be, returning from the dead, bringing that good good on what really went down in 2014. Like we always do at this time. That time being mid-January, a good month after most music publications have wrapped up their seven-part best-of series spanning the year’s buzziest and blandest albums, songs, videos, covers, and of course, “beefs”. But Feed The Dog ain’t no music publication, damnit! Feed The Dog is a person masquerading as a blogger masquerading as a music publication. Feed The Dog is a pretend media magazine preserving my yearly musical opinions to prevent them from fading into forgotten obscurity in the foggy marsh I call my pot-addled mind. Feed The Dog is a perpetually unfulfilled New Years’ resolution. It is, at its core, an experiment in meaningless and essential waste of time.

But despite what have every appearance of a half-assed, poorly-thrown-together afterthought, these lists represent a great deal of time and energy on my part. Every year, I start trying to narrow down these lists a month earlier (this year, it was October), knowing full well the preposterous scope of my annual undertaking. And sometime in December, when I start panicking and realize there won’t be enough time to finish before the end of the year, I start getting questions from the friends I’m blowing off in order to sit in front of my computer for hours and listen to every song on every album that I might possibly have enjoyed. They will ask, What the fuck are you doing? And usually, What’s taking so long?

And typically, I don’t really respond, because there isn’t a great answer. The truth is that my own personal version of OCD is some kind of obsession with completeness. I get bothered when a plate of food is left unfinished. I can’t order dinner unless I’ve read every single line of the menu and have complete confidence I’ve identified the perfect choice. I can’t buy something unless I’ve checked prices on every single website. Similarly, I cannot tell anyone, not even myself, what my favorite albums of the year were until I have a reasonable level of confidence that I have listened to and considered every possible contender.

Part of why I get so obsessive about this aspect of the list-making is that every year, no matter how hard I try, I miss stuff. Even a borderline psychopathic audiophile like myself can’t possibly listen to and absorb every song and album that is released in a year. So this time, in addition to announcing my favorite songs and albums of the year, I’m including this special feature on my biggest misses of 2013. The records and songs listed below represent every 2013 release I listened to this year and thought, this is DEFINITELY going on my best of 2014 li– oh wait… goddamnit. A Spotify playlist can be found here.

Thanks for reading! My Best of 2014 lists will be posted early next week.

 

ALBUMS

Courtney Barnett – The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas

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What it is: Incredible debut from an Australian singer-songwriter with a penchant for the mundane and a charming wit and stage presence that typically leads to my best friend and girlfriend arguing over who gets to marry her when the show is over.

My excuse for missing it: This was released in October of 2013 and it didn’t cross my radar until December, when I was already in full panic mode over my year-end lists. I don’t think I even gave it a cursory listen then. I might have even thrown it directly into my 2014 playlist for when the year-end lists were all done and moved on. Of course as soon as I started listening to that playlist when my lists were done, I fell in love with this album.

Highlights: History Eraser, Avent Gardener, Lance Jr.

Where it probably would have been ranked: #15-#25

 

The Underachievers: Indigoism

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What it is: Debut mixtape from Brooklyn psychedelic hip hop duo who spit like maniacs about getting lit and “third eye shit”.

My excuse for missing it: One of the last steps of my OCD completist strategy for these year-end lists is to go through a bunch of critic lists to check for releases I’m missing because I haven’t even heard of them. Someone (maybe Stereogum?) put Indigoism in a Best Mixtapes of The Year feature, and a Flatbush Zombies comparison was enough for me to check them out. Unfortunately, at this stage of my process, I was so ready to be finished with my list that a 17-track tape of dense rap over similar (albeit awesome) beats, all songs I had never heard, just didn’t really hit me the first time through.

Highlights: Play Your Part, Gold Soul Theory, T.A.D.E.D., Herb Shuttles

Where it probably would have been ranked: #15-#25

 

Lindsay Lowend – Wind Fish EP

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What it is: Some kind of frenetic hipster trap music unlike anything you’ve ever heard, unless you’ve ever heard a Nintendo 64 have sex with a drum machine.

My excuse for missing it: Dude is just pretty indie. His ridiculous, ruthless banger “GT40” was included on the terrific All Trap Music Vol 2, released at the end of 2013, and I didn’t end up hearing it until 2014. As soon as I heard the first time, my jaw hit the floor.

Highlights: GT40, Wind Fish

Where it probably would have been ranked: #20-#30, but “GT40” would have been in the Top 10 for Songs.

 

Jessy Lanza – Pull My Hair Back

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What it is: Trappy, minimalist R&B record from one of Hyperdub’s only pop artists.

My excuse for missing it: This was another one I discovered off of someone else’s year-end list. I’m pretty sure I saw it on a Buzzfeed article called something like, “Here Are All The Reasons R&B Artists Won 2013”. The album has a really low-key, spaced-out vibe to it, and just took a while to grow on me. First listen didn’t convince me enough to include it on the list. Then sometime in February of 2014, I started listening to third track “Kathy Lee” on repeat for about five months straight. One day, I will write a movie where the protagonist’s dream girl is some quirky indie hottie named Kathy Lee, and this song will play over a montage of her whipping her hair around, dancing, and doing bad ass shit around the city.

Highlights: Kathy Lee, Pull My Hair Back, 5785021

Where it probably would have been ranked: #20-#30, but “Kathy Lee” would have been in the Top 20 for Songs

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RIP DJ Rashad

DJ Rashad

DJ Rashad

DJ Rashad was one of those rare artists who earned labels like “pioneer”, “revolutionary”, “master”, and “legend” before his death. As a 34 year old DJ in the prime of his career, he had already earned these titles. Rashad did not invent the Chicago footwork sound, just as Daft Punk did not invent the French house sound. Like Daft Punk, Rashad earned his legendary status by redefining his local tradition of dance music entirely, by breaking every rule, by developing emotional tension and resonance that elevated his music beyond bootyshaking, and by simply doing it better than anyone else ever had.

On his last full length album, 2013’s Double Cup (a title which will now always remind us of what killed him), DJ Rashad earned critical praise for once again raising the bar. Through connections he had made on international tours, Rashad wove elements of genres like jungle, acid house (originally a Chicago invention that has since been embraced in the UK), and drum n bass into his own Chicago framework of footwork, juke, and ghetto house, exposing his audience to new dimensions of dance music. In the process, he continued to develop a sound that was more accessible, introducing thousands of new fans to footwork, while somehow doing nothing to dilute the rich, decade-old tradition.

This is what DJ Rashad was still building at the time of his death. His death is tragic because he was young, yes, and because he was the greatest, sure. But it is even more tragic because Rashad was only getting started.

I had the opportunity to see Rashad perform live at Pitchfork Fest last summer, and it was one of the most euphoric, transcendent live music experiences I’ve ever been a part of. Rashad fundamentally changed me as a listener. He is principally responsible for a personal evolution in how I connect with music. I am struggling with his loss, and my heart goes out to all those close to him. RIP Rashad.

[youtube http://youtu.be/5wwQc2pFass]

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SPECIAL: Feed The Dog’s Top Albums of 2013

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Second verse, same as the first…

Yes, this is very late. Yes, I do this every year. Yes, I am much too lazy to piece together some poorly-written blurbs on why the following albums were the best albums of 2013.

General thoughts on this year in music….

– Amazing year for hip hop. Best album yet from Kanye. Exciting debuts from Chance the Rapper, Earl Sweatshirt, and two A$AP Mobsters. Childish Gambino and Mac Miller followed up unfortunate debuts with impressive sophomore efforts. Mainstream talents like French Montana, Gucci Mane, Pusha T, Ace Hood, and Tyga had some hits. Blue Chips 2. Some rich homie named Quan. Versace, versace, versace.

– P.S. on that – some great rap mixtapes that DIDN’T make my list included releases from The Underachievers, Kevin Gates, Le1f, Denzel Curry, King Louie, and Rich Homie Quan.

– Women continue to dominate in indie music. HAIM blew my socks off. Savages punched me in the dick. British dames/dame-led bands Charli XCX, AlunaGeorge, CHVRCHES, and Jessie Ware made some nice records. Braids and Tennis returned from 2011. Sky Ferreira released a killer album and was a role model to young drug abusers everywhere. Not to mention M.I.A., Blue Hawaii, Sally Shapiro, Dungeonesse, Sleigh Bells… women killed the game in 2013.

– Maybe I don’t get My Bloody Valentine. Maybe I don’t get The Knife. I definitely don’t get Oneohtrix Point Never. Does that make me a bad person?

– The Queens of the Stone Age, Daft Punk, and Vampire Weekend albums were beautifully produced, but not nearly worthy of the hype. Perfect examples of music you’re “supposed to like”. Nevermind the songs aren’t there. “Get Lucky” was annoying. Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires of the City was actually solid, but about 30 spots shy of my top 10. Album of the year my ass.

– I don’t think any album was as overlooked as The Strokes’s Comedown Machine. Every song on that record is a hit. I don’t understand.

I guess that’s all I have to say for 2013. Remember, you can listen to my whole list on Spotify. There are a couple notable albums that you can’t find on Spotify but CAN download for free (legally) on DatPiff.com – Chance The Rapper’s Acid Rap and Action Bronson & Party Supplies’ Blue Chips 2.

1. Kanye West – Yeezus

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2. Toro Y Moi – Anything In Return

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3. HAIM – Days Are Gone

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4. FIDLAR – FIDLAR

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5. Candy Claws – Ceres & Calypso in the Deep Time

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6. Disclosure – Settle

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7. Chance the Rapper – Acid Rap

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8. The Strokes – Comedown Machine

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9. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – II

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10. Still Corners – Strange Pleasures

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