BEST OF 2014: Best Tracks from NYC Bands

There were a lot of great songs released in 2014, and many came from bands who are from New York City (or, like many of us here, just currently call it home). Here are some of the year’s best tracks from the city that never sleeps.
Ava Luna: “Plain Speech” from Electric Balloon (Western Vinyl, March) 
Ava Luna is an eclectic quintet based in Brooklyn. Practically three tracks in one, this hipster love song involving fixies is an example of how the band can switch seamlessly from funky, offbeat rhythms to heartfelt, soulful anthems. Expect a new album from them soon.

Celestial Shore: “Gloria” from Enter Ghost (Hometapes, November)
This Brooklyn-based band released their second, more polished album in November. On Enter Ghost’s second track, they transition easily from complicated drum beats and snarling guitars to soft melodies. “Gloria” builds up and pulls back constantly, never quite resting on any one type of sound.

Hospitality: “I Miss Your Bones” from Trouble (Merge Records, January) 
The trio’s second album toes the lines of psychedelic/garage rock and guitar pop with songs about the subtleties of relationships and everyday insecurities. “I Miss Your Bones” is one of the album’s most energetic tracks, with shifting rhythms, perfectly synced guitars, and spot-on lyrics sung with Amber Papini’s charismatic lilt.

LVL UP: “DBTS” from Hoodwink’d (Double Double Whammy/Exploding in Sound, September) 
LVL UP’s hometown is Purchase in Upstate New York, but they’ve recently joined the roster of emerging Brooklyn bands. They’re masters at crafting quick songs, sung with a tired drawl and lively metaphors reminiscent of David Berman. Hoodwink’d is a short, bittersweet showcase of mid-twenties angst.

Mitski: “Townie” from Bury Me At Makeout Creek (Double Double Whammy, November) 
How do you describe Mitski? You could say she’s like Brooklyn’s edgier version of Angel Olsen, with more grit and fuzzier guitars. That’s not all, though. With lyrics like “I want a love that falls as fast as a body from the balcony” and “I’m holding my breath like a baseball bat,” you can’t help wanting to know exactly what’s going on in her head.
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Parquet Courts: “Ducking and Dodging” from Sunbathing Animal  (What’s Your Rupture?/Mom & Pop, June)
These punks originally from Texas play an intense form of something falling between blues, punk and rock. They recently turned Webster Hall into a mess of mosh pits and attempted stage-diving, which reached its best point (or worst, if you were the incredibly unamused bouncer) with “Ducking and Dodging.” The lyrics are more spit than sung, punctuated by sharp guitar chords and a constant, pounding bass.

Parkay Quarts: “Pretty Machines” from Content Nausea (November 2014, What’s Your Rupture?)
Andrew Savage and Austin Brown made this list twice, with another recently released album under a slightly different name. “Pretty Machines” has a catchy, bright guitar hook, Savage’s deadpan vocals, and a surprisingly uplifting horn section. Every verse in the song is a quotable gem, with lyrics such as “ Whiskey sips upon me as my secrets escaped/ In the skyline of hell there are no fire escapes.”
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Sharon Van Etten: “Taking Chances” from Are We There (May, Jagjaguwar) 
Known for being kind of a downer, Are We There is probably not an album you want to listen to when you’re in a good mood. “Taking Chances” was the album’s first single and one of its best tracks. Van Etten’s sleepy voice, gloomy guitar and electric piano make this a good song for days when you’re not quite ready to force a smile.

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