Thursday Ten: Ten Times We Forgot It Was 2014

By | December 18, 2014 at 4:00 PM

2014 was a wonderful year for music, but it was also a wonderful year for forgetting it was 2014. With so many of this year’s releases wearing their nostalgia on their sleeves, it seemed easier than ever to pick up a record that immediately whisked you back to the decade of your choosing despite being less than twelve months old. And to celebrate all that nostalgia, our writers picked out some of their favorite songs and albums that gave them that throwback feeling this year for this week’s Tuesday Ten.

Bleachers – Wake Me

Jack Antonoff is silently having one of the most successful musical years of anyone. To diehard fans he’s known as the lead singer behind such musical projects as Steel Train and Bleachers, but most of you will bop your head to his songs without even knowing who he is; Antonoff is also the lead guitarist of fun. and played a songwriting part on the new Taylor Swift record, including co-writing the smash “Out Of The Woods”. “Wake Me” is the fifth track from Bleachers’ debut album Strange Desire and sounds like it was ripped out of a coming of age teen romance movie in the 80s. Mellowed out guitar tones with long delays is just the precursor needed to accent Jack’s velvet voice professing his love to a lady. Much unlike Bleachers hit single “I Wanna Get Better”, you won’t find little nuances in the verses but instead a much more in your face style of phrasing with blunt lines like “I can’t believe I captured your heart” or “If you’re lonely, wake me”. It’s almost a shame that this couldn’t be released a couple decades earlier because it was destined to be in a movie like Dirty Dancing or Sixteen Candles—but better late than never. (Joseph Britton)

Chvrches – Dead Air

Big hair. Big phones. Bigger tunes. The 80s were a gloriously flamboyant time filled with neon spandex clothes, brat pack movies, and most importantly, dance music. One of the most influential subgenres of dance was synthpop, something you can still hear today. With the arrival of the likes of Depeche Mode and Kraftwerk bringing a moodier element to the usually happy-go-lucky pop world, there was a place for music fans who wanted something a little darker, but still loved to bust a move on the dance floor. Ever wished you could go back in time and be one of the cool kids? Now you can with Chvrches’ “Dead Air”. Openly citing Depeche Mode and Cocteau Twins as influences, the track revives all the echoing beats of a true synthpop classic, and singer Lauren Mayberry has vocals so floaty and delicate she could be an emo Cyndi Lauper. There are enough gloomy synths to rival Soft Cell, with an almost robotic drumbeat and a punky drive making you feel like history is repeating itself. The chorus tops it all off, with repetitive charm that will hypnotize you more than the glitter of a disco ball. So grab that boombox, fire up the Delorean, and blast out this new “oldie”. (Alex Bear)

Fall Out Boy – American Beauty/American Pyscho

Fall Out Boy have had plenty of surprises up their sleeve since their comeback from a three-year hiatus just last year. Though we were hopeful about the band’s return, it took the world by surprise when they returned with a new album, single, and tour. Long gone were the rough nuances of pop punk—Fall Out Boy took on a whole new approach to their comeback album Save Rock And Roll, tossing essences of hip hop, pop, even dubstep into the mix. After all that, you might think that the band surely couldn’t have any more surprises in store…but think again. Fall Out Boy recently announced their sixth studio album American Beauty/American Psycho and released the record’s title track. It’s as if the band travelled back in time to the West Coast just to bottle the frothy waves and infuse them right into the song, along with the lighthearted vibes of the golden 60s. The guitar work seems to mimic the rhythm of crashing waves; turn up the volume and you’ll see yourself lounging on a sun-kissed California beach, near your deuce coupe that The Beach Boys sang so loving about. You’ll see the trademark striped shirts and people running into the surf, bright boards tucked under their arms. When you need a break from the frigid winter season, turn to Fall Out Boy’s latest single; you won’t just feel warmer, but you’ll also be transported to the sunny, laidback aesthetic of the American 60s. (Emily Yee)

The Hotelier – Home, Like Noplace Is There

2013 may have been the year of the quote unquote “emo revival”, but once the hype died down and the dust of a thousand hastily-researched thinkpieces settled, all that was left was the music—and no music will instantly transport you to the sweaty Midwestern basements of 90s emo more than The Hotelier. The band’s 2014 record Home, Like Noplace Is There is a flawless balance of tension and beauty, bursting at the seams with both and perfecting the blend of the two that every band of that era seemed to be aiming for. Calling the album an emotional rollercoaster might be tempting, but that wouldn’t be entirely accurate—it’s more like riding a slightly run-down carousel as the quieter, prettier parts lull you into a false sense of security, but then suddenly realizing the carousel is actually a drop tower and hurdling hundreds of feet into the unknown below as your stomach lurches and all musical hell breaks loose. It’s the same jolting, raw intensity that built the cult following of 90s emo, capturing the full spectrum of human emotion and all the messiness that comes along with it. In fact, The Hotelier have mastered this dichotomy so well that if any 90s emo bands had been able to hear these songs, they probably would’ve just given up altogether and thrown in the towel after releasing two records…no, wait, that actually is what happened to every 90s emo band. Well, at least we have The Hotelier to carry on their legacy. (Eleanor Grace)

The Madden Brothers – We Are Done

Most of us know Joel and Benji from their time in the very pop punk Good Charlotte, so it was a bit of surprise when the brothers dropped the “punk” and added “retro” to their sound this year. From the whistling intro that sounds straight out of an Old Navy commercial to the infectious chorus (though if you sing it too many times, the word “done” loses all meaning), lead single “We Are Done” from their album Greetings from California oozes sunshine. They somehow manage to not only transport you to California – even if you’ve never actually been there—but they also time travel with you back to the 60s, bringing with them some good old-fashioned rock and roll. It conjures images of vintage cars and The Beach Boys wearing Hawaiian print shirts and knee-length shorts, jamming on a sandy beach. At first listen, it’s hard to believe these are the same guys that brought you “Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous”; it’s the type of song you can play for your less-than-impressed-with-pop-punk parents and have them head-bopping in no time. (Sam Devotta)

Magic Man – Before The Waves

Magic Man completely stole my heart when I heard them for the first time on tour with Smallpools this fall. Their addictive brand of synthpop echoes the style of the late 80s made popular especially through artists like Erasure and Pet Shop Boys. Though this band isn’t the first—and they probably aren’t the last—to revitalize the electronic pop music of that era, they are putting out some of the best quality pop music of 2014 regardless. It’s music that makes you want to dance! What’s especially great about Magic Man’s recent album Before The Waves is that, while it does encompass the electronic pop birthed in the 80s, the music is still applicable to this decade. Despite having fervent synth backed melodies with uncanny time travel capabilities, the music has a fresh, modern feel to it. Perhaps it’s a combination of being relevant to both eras, but Before The Waves is an album as easily accessible as it is captivating. (Hannah Pierangelo)

Nick Santino – It Is What It Is

Pack your saddlebag and head back to the wild west with Nick Santino. The newly solo artist found his way back to the days of saloons, boxcars, and lawless towns with his track “It Is What It Is”. The sound of the late 1800s came to Santino at 2AM one morning, and the result is one of his most unique songs of all time. Lyrically, the track is about following the journey of life and being satisfied knowing the path is going to take you wherever you need to go. Sonically, the only acceptable path you could follow would be train tracks or a horse’s foot trails. For a few minutes, the song allows you to completely disconnect from the 21st century, and imagine a world where Santino would find himself playing the folk-filled tune on a barstool for pennies. (Emillie Marvel)

Real Estate – Atlas

Music is a powerful thing. It’s funny how just one listen to one album can send your mind reeling, oftentimes to another world or even another lifetime. After only a few seconds into Real Estate’s 2014 release Atlas, I feel myself being transported back in time—specifically to a time when people held California on the highest pedestal, when Abercrombie and Hollister were your go-to shops, when you couldn’t decide whether you liked Kristin or LC more, and when everyone wanted to be Marissa Cooper. For me, the early to mid 2000s were a heyday of a decade, and Atlas has the surf music power to drop you right back into the middle of that particular time period. With captivating melodies and a hint of the throwback Beatles-esque, beachy vibe found in many other early 2000s bands like The Thrills, Real Estate could have also probably landed a slot on at least one of the popular soundtracks from The O.C., which were well-known for featuring the trendiest up-and-coming indie bands of the time. The album is romantic, nostalgic, and effortlessly beautiful. It’s sure to have you California dreaming for the past and for future decades to come. (Alyson Stokes)

Tempt – Under My Skin

New York City rock band Tempt will take you back to the 80s with a melodic hard rock ‘n roll style that is seldom found in mainstream rock today. The band released their debut single “Under My Skin” in the spring of this past year, and it’s been called the most authentic-sounding 80s track since the 80s. The band’s style, as heard on the single, is influenced by icons like Def Leppard, White Lion, Ratt, and Twisted Sister—which can only be expected after the band members admitted they got their start in music while their parents were part of up-and-coming 80s rock bands. Tempt are making their old-school rock ‘n’ roll sound work with a sound that’s as big as their hair and as bold as their patterned pants. (Tori Bilcik)

X Ambassadors feat. Jamie N Commons – Jungle

With a tough drum backbeat and steely guitar sounds, X Ambassadors really capture that original rough rock feel in “Jungle”. It is a song that, as popular as it is today, could have been on the radio with the likes of Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, The Who, and more. Sam Harris’ and Jamie N Commons’ vocals alone could be a time machine into 1977 radio. Lyrically, it is very representative of late 70s rock, with a simple message and some serious chanting vocals of “Oh, Lord” to match the beat. Hard rock lost its way after the late 70s, with a few big comebacks in the 80s, but it has been a long time since a band was really able to capture that rough, addictive sound. X Ambassadors have grasped this sound and run with it. The second “Jungle” plays, it forces the feel of being at an early Guns’N’Roses show, leather pants and all. Throughout the entirety of the song, the influences are clear, and the hard rock genre that created a massive culture of different music feels relevant again. (Shelby Chargin)

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