brad meester

EOTY WRAP UP: Top 20 Songs of 2014
Bradley Norman, Avid Sound Staff Writer

2014 flew by in my eyes and a lot has happened personally, but we here at Avid Sound have a lot planned for 2015. Musically, this year was regarded as a dud by many - albums struggled for certifications, people griped relentlessly about the quality of charting singles and many artists delayed or canceled releases entirely.

That being said, whether you agree with the statement above or not, the tracks below are silver linings and true standouts of this past year in music, starting with 20.

20. “The Life (feat. Penguin Prison)” by Viceroy

Had this track had any sort of major label backing, it probably would have been a massive hit and a major contender for Song of the Summer. However, push (or lack thereof) aside, Viceroy’s breezy California anthem that would have fit perfectly into an episode of The Hills, “The Life,” elevates the self-proclaimed Sultan of Summer to more than a neat-o SoundCloud DJ.

19. “Reflections” by MisterWives

MisterWives’ debut single, “Reflections,” is a mouthful of promise. The title track from the relatively green band’s debut EP of the same name, the wordy, in-your-face nature masks the musings of a coming-of-age millennial with an energetic arrangement and upbeat composition.

18. “Go (feat. Blood Diamonds)” by Grimes

Insert obligatory praise for the musical genius that is Claire Boucher, the modern-day Mozart.

17. “#SELFIE” by The Chainsmokers

2014 became the year that artists began profiting off of meme culture. The Chainsmokers’ “#SELFIE” was initially probably a joke, but something about the snarky, crude, spoken-word syntax that reads like an ironic slam poetry piece of social commentary on the degradation of the millennial generation makes it nastily enjoyable – maybe I’m overthinking it a bit?

16. “Please Just Stay Dead” by Nicole Dollanganger

I have a soft spot for Bandcamp’s very own Nicole Dollanganger’s candy-coated cynicism and her raunchy, defiant lyrics hidden under the guise of an innocent adolescent’s chiming. “Please Just Stay Dead” is a romanticized, chill-inducing lo-fi acoustic shove.

15. “Jungle (feat. X Ambassadors)” by Jamie N Commons

X Ambassadors barreled through 2014 with a power-packed single with Jamie N Commons. The song’s got soul, it’s got punk, and it got itself a lot of endorsements.

14. “Grip” by KLOË

Opening to what sounds like the sweet, pleasant tune of an idyllic teen, KLOË’s “Grip” quickly transitions into a dark musing, a moody ode to the battered heart.

13. “I Will Never Let You Down” by Rita Ora

The backstory of this song and the irony aside, Rita Ora’s “I Will Never Let You Down” offers up great promise for what’s to come from the singer. The track’s upbeat sex appeal echoes Ora’s personality to the tune of a catchy electronic beat, courtesy of hit-maker Calvin Harris.

12. “Careless” by Alex Winston

A personalized anthem and yet a pretty-in-pink pop song, “Careless” by Alex Winston, featuring angelic cooing and chanting, somehow manages to appeal both to the masses and to the self.

11. “Blame” by Tropics

A slow-burning, emotional vocal buried deep inside the fortress walls beneath clattering R&B-inspired percussion, fluctuating rhythms and abrupt stops, Tropics’ newest release, off of his upcoming album, Rapture, takes you out of your body and into the mind of the singer-songwriter behind the dissonance.

10. “Heartstrings” by Leighton Meester

Sweet and supple, Leighton Meester’s first single “Heartstrings,” from her debut album of the same name, is a far cry from her 2009 feature on Cobra Starships’ singular hit “Good Girls Go Bad,” and that’s probably for the best. Meester embraces the romance and subtle twang of her voice and channels it into an impressive debut (we’re just going to pretend the other stuff featuring Robin Thicke never happened) that will leave you shell-shocked.

9. “Better At Making Time” by De Lux

Still reveling in the death of disco, L.A.-based De Lux makes pop music with an electronic punk edge. “Better At Making Time,” the long-winded 7-minute opening track to the duo’s debut album, Voyage, is a testament to their dedication to be original.

8. “Cathedral” by Kitten

A wailing, breathy paradise, I find a comforting home in Kitten-frontwoman Chloe Chaidez’s voice, even when it appears she’s singing about people swelling insider of her … cathedral.

7. “Vultures” by VAULTS

Shrouded in mystery, VAULTS has eluded any semblance of openness as to keep attention on their music since the release of their first single over a year ago, “Cry No More,” which seemingly came out of nowhere. “Vultures,” the title track off their upcoming EP, is an auditory experience and a drastic, haunting, apocalyptic tune.

6. “Dead Air” by CHVRCHES

CHVRCHES’ The Bones of What You Believe was my top album of 2013, no competition, so to see the Scottish trio elaborate even further on their sound is intimidating to me as a fan, to think it could get better… “Dead Air,” a powerful standout on the Lorde-curated soundtrack for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt. 1, rings true to CHVRCHES signature synth-heavy sound, but also somehow seamlessly ties into the film’s soundtrack and, some may argue, the story itself.

5. “On The Regular” by Shamir

Shamir Bailey’s “On The Regular” is the type of track every artist hopes to one day create – a song that seemingly encapsulates every aspect of their personality while subsequently displaying their many talents. “On The Regular” boasts Bailey’s mouthy, snarky flow, his new-age creative nature and his undeniable vocal ability (as if his Northtown EP didn’t), all cycling over complimentary throbbing, looping synths (and a cowbell beat!).

4. “Chandelier” by Sia

Honestly, do I even need to defend/explain this decision?

3. “Beg For It (feat. MØ)” by Iggy Azalea

Iggy Azalea’s breakout single “Fancy,” featuring co-writer Charli XCX, may have been 2014’s Song of the Summer, but her latest single, “Beg For It”, featuring Danish songbird and Avid Sound favorite, MØ, really is her best release of the year. The song may not have achieved as much as its predecessors, but Iggy’s smooth, improved flow and demanding demeanor complimented by MØ’s cooing of a Charli XCX-penned hook puts it a step above the rest.

2. “Rather Be (feat. Jess Glynne)” by Clean Bandit

Clean Bandit’s breakout single featuring everyone’s 2015 artist to watch Jess Glynne was one of the most defining songs of the year and set Clean Bandit on everyone’s radar. The song’s upbeat chorus mixed with the synth-ified classical chiming of Clean Bandit’s orchestral influence set it apart from any other song released this year.

1. “Prime” by Allie X

Twentysomething Allie Hughes, better known as Allie X, epitomizes what it means to be original. The destined-to-be-big singer/songwriter garnered a lot of media attention in 2014 with her debut single “Catch,” but the track that followed spoke volumes for X’s talent. A trendy, synth-heavy electro-pop masterpiece, “Prime” will leave your head spinning.

Do you feel like I’m missing something? Tweet me at @avdsnd and let us know what you thought about our end of the year lists - more to come!

JAGUARS C BRAD MEESTER HANGING UP CLEATS AT SEASONS END - Veteran Jacksonville Jaguars center Brad Meester, a blue-collar lineman who spent his entire career trying to avoid the spotlight, announced his retirement in fitting fashion Wednesday. Meester stood by his locker following a morning walkthrough and called it quits after 14 seasons.

“It’s something I seriously thought about for a long time,” Meester said. “It’s been a tough decision for me because this is something that I love doing. … But the more and more I thought about it, the more I know that it’s time and I’m looking forward to that next chapter in my life and being able to spend some time with my family.”

Meester’s home finale will come Sunday against Tennessee. His final game will be Dec. 29 at Indianapolis, about 360 miles from his home outside Iowa City, Iowa.

A second-round draft pick from Northern Iowa in 2000, the 36-year-old Meester played his entire career in Jacksonville. He is the only person to play for every coach in franchise history: Tom Coughlin (2000-02), Jack Del Rio (2003-11), Mike Mularkey (2012) and Gus Bradley (2013).

He is one of only five active players who have spent at least 14 seasons with the same team, joining New England quarterback Tom Brady, former Cleveland and current San Francisco place-kicker Phil Dawson, Oakland kicker Sebastian Janikowski and Chicago long-snapper Patrick Mannelly.

Meester has started 207 career games, including the last 88.

He considered retirement last year, but Bradley and general manager Dave Caldwell talked him into sticking around another season. He seriously thought about playing again in 2014, especially with Caldwell and Bradley in his ear, but decided against it after Sunday’s loss to Buffalo.

The Jaguars plan to recognize Meester during the home finale. Of course, Meester doesn’t want too much attention — much like the last 14 years. (Photo: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)