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As 2014 comes to a close, our blog contributors have been reminiscing about all the amazing music released this year. So before the ball drops, we're going to wrap up 2014 with a few lists of our favorite albums, tracks, and artists. After careful consideration, here are Mai's top 5 favorites of the year:


5. Warpaint - Warpaint (Rough Trade)

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Badass musicians doing it their way is my cup of tea. Especially if they’re ladies playing songs with clean indie hooks laid over swirling shoe gazer-esque guitars. Warpaint is an album I keep returning to, if just to hear the music dynamically shift to keep me on my toes.


4. KiasmosKiasmos (Erased Tapes)

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This is the first year I’ve fully embraced lyric-less electronic music. So, it's fitting that Kiasmos pairs neoclassical composer Olafur Arnalds and Janus Rasmussen of Bloodgroup to create an album aligned with my shifting tastes. This album is exactly the right amount of orchestrated electronic music with beats that get the body moving without suffering for lack of vocals. Just straight up gorgeous music.


3. The Juan Maclean - In A Dream (DFA Records)

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John Maclean and vocalist Nancy Whang put out (yet) another beautiful album with insistent lyrics sung to a danceable beat that nods to influences including New Order, 70s funk, and 90s house. Time and again this album hits the perfect bpm to psyche oneself up. Whether you're cleaning the house or getting ready for a night out on the town, In A Dream is perfect.


2. Shit RobotWe Got A Love (DFA Records)

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With We Got A Love, Shit Robot crafts dance music that recalls a bygone-era of house music you should sing-a-long to. Standouts include songs that feature Reggie Watts (“We Got A Love” and “Secret") and Nancy Whang (“Do That Dance"). When friends come over and ask what I’m listening to, I put this album on.


1. CaribouOur Love (Merge Records)

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This album rocks my world. Something about the repetitive lyrics and musical orchestration employing pauses and staccato beats to delicious hypnotic effect. My love for the album boils down to this: Dan Snaith is a drummer that writes music with a drummer’s ear and, holy shit, I can’t stop humming. Can’t stop listening.


About the author: Based in SF, Mai deeply obsesses about music, fashion, art and social justice. Chances are high she's photographed someone you know for her seven year old street style site, fashioni.st. More info than necessary can be found about her, here: about.me/mai

Music from this week that channels your feelings and speakers from 0-100 like the famous words from your boy, Drake.


“Only” ft. Drake, Lil Wayne, Chris Brown - Nicki Minaj 

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Between Drake and Lil Wayne, none of them has slept with Nicki Minaj and both of them confess their feelings for her in the third single off her album, “Only”. The steamy beat taunts back and forth while Drake declares his reservations for Nicki ending with “if you ever try to fuck, just give me the heads up so I can plan for it.” The Pinkprint is available on iTunes now.


“Vernáculo” ft. Maluca - Future Brown

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Warp’s supergroup consisting of J-Cush, Fatima Al Qadiri, and Nguzunguzu teamed up with Maluca for “Vernáculo” and the music video is streaming over at Miami’s Perez Art Museum’s website. As advertised through the visuals, the latin rhythms musically and production wise are “beyond smooth” and “illuminate.” Head over to PAMM to watch the official video.


“worn” (Prod. by the stand4rd & wedidit) - corbin

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St. Paul’s young sad boy Spooky Black is now releasing music under his real name, Corbin. Swaying from his usual sedated R&B lullabies and croons, Corbin’s expresses growing pains and heartbreak in agonizing screams as the production is paired with Shlohmo, D33J, Bobby Raps, and Psymun. 


“Favorite” ft. Jeremih - Nicki Minaj

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Ending this week’s roundup with another track off The Pinkprink only feels appropriate because it’s easily one of the best hip hop records of the year. The Nicki Minaj and Jeremih combo is already a very desirable collab and in “Favorite,” both of them sing about being desired and being someone’s main bae.


About the author: Briana Cheng has a lot of feelings that she sometimes writes about but mostly she takes twitter screenshots of online dating apps, follow her @banacrisp.

In 2014 alone, we witnessed the rise of many new artists in the blogosphere, all trying to set themselves apart from the masses in an increasingly crowded scene. Among all the noise, our friend Jin has managed to pick out the newbies on the block who are truly standing out from the crowd. Check out the debut albums of the year that have caught her eye:


Weeknight - Post Everything (March 2014 - Artificial)

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Dark and mysterious in a compelling way, Weeknight have drawn me into their gothic world of fuzzy simultaneous male/female vocals and resonant synth beats. At its height, the music leaves me soaring and pounds at my heart. At other moments, I am left gazing and dreaming. It’s so cozy to get lost in the soundscape they have so carefully crafted. I love putting the song “Honey” on repeat and singing along: “My heart still knows which way to go.” 

 


Tweens - Tweens (April 2014 - French Kiss)

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Tweens speak to my inner punk rock teenage girl, and make me wish I had spent my entire adolescence breaking bottles and hearts. There is such a rebellious, free spirited feeling throughout the entire album that is incredibly infectious. My favorite track is “Be Mean” as it speaks to girls who love bad boys. We’ve all been there at one point, I’m sure. It’s easy to shout out, “I wish I was in your arms but being bad ain’t one of your charms, I wish I liked nice, nice boys…I want you to be mean to me…your sweetness is killing me!”



About the author: Jin Moon has been affectionately writing about music and the arts since 2002 on her blog, Jinners.com. She also currently runs her own agency, On the Moon Arts. Tweet salutations to @jinners

To really put our littlest wireless speaker to the test, we hooked up a few of our blog contributors with PUNK and asked them to take it with them as their soundtrack for a day. Check out all the places that Mike took his PUNK for a spin, complete with the perfect soundtrack: 


Kitchen

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Start sound tracking your day early, no headphones needed. This was a room I learned early on to keep my phone far away from which meant the only music available was the sound of bacon cooking. The PUNK was much easier to throw around during constant food spills and significantly less traumatic to clean off.

Recommended Track: "You and I Are The Same" - How To Dress Well


Bike

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No matter how quiet my headphones are while biking about I was always fairly certain someone was sneaking up on me. Problem solved. Plus, this instantly led to the immediate formation of a bike gang and a coinciding playlist. Fact: dancing while cycling is a learned skill.


Recommended Track
: "Octahate" (Cashmere Cat Remix) - Ryn Weaver


Lunch Break

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Congratulations on working or looking like you are working for long enough to make it to your lunch break. If the sun still exists, go outside. The PUNK's temperature remained the same even while sitting in direct sunlight. 


Recommended Track
: "Archie, Marry Me" - Alvvays


Office/Pool Table

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As long as you aren't confined to tiny cubicles, or even if you are, you can find a spot for this music maker. Works great for entertaining or angering your nearest coworker. The reason there is a pool table pictured is that if the internet goes down at your internet based business you'll need something to keep you busy.


Recommended Track: "Can't Sleep" (Vanic Remix) - K.Flay


Store

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Hunt and gather in style. I wasn't sure how this would go down as three of us marched in blasting this, forcefully grabbing things off the shelves but I believe everyone involved won. We felt like vikings, some employees had a laugh, and we may have startled a small child.


Recommended Track:
"Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck)" - Run The Jewels (ft. Zack De La Rocha)


Beach

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We wandered about with our spoils until we ran out of land and ended up here. Yet again, this was a spot that was always a ticking time bomb for a ruined phone. But PUNK is small enough to scoop up in your palm but big enough not to lose sight of it.


Recommended Track
: "Oceans" (Twice As Nice Remix) - Coasts


Office #2

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Like all independent radio stations, they are buried deep underground with a library you will likely become lost in. Prepping for shows became easier using the PUNK to quickly preview vinyl using [Popular Music App] and listen to the live DJ as I traversed the labyrinth.


Recommended Track
: "For Us" - ODESZA


Check out all the other places you can take PUNK and get yours now on the SOL REPUBLIC web store


About Mike: Habitual Bay Area show-hopper and new music junkie. Currently Artist Relations at DeliRadio and occasional DJ at KALX. Follow the music based ramblings on Twitter.

As 2014 comes to a close, our blog contributors have been reminiscing about all the amazing music released this year. So before the ball drops, we're going to wrap up 2014 with a few lists of our favorite albums, tracks, and artists. Check out this first installment of The Best Albums of 2014, curated by our friend Jin Moon:



Liars - Mess (March 2014 - Mute)

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I’ve been following Liars ever since they released They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top in 2001, and the art punk group never disappoints. They manage to keep it edgy and experimental on every release, and this year’s Mess on Mute Records is no exception. Plus, I can’t get the song “Mess On A Mission” out of my head. I just want to put it on blast and dance around maniacally screaming, “Facts are fact and fiction’s fiction, a mess on a mission!”


Big Freedia - Just Be Free (June 2014 - Queen Diva)

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Pop culture has been all about the twerk, and that’s partly thanks to the bombastic force that is the queen diva Big Freedia and his bounce music revolution. Also having watched his reality TV show on Fuse - Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce, I got a really good sense of the work ethic, creativity and passion that he puts into his music from the ground up -- all of which really exudes from the in-your-face tracks.  “Explode” was a great mantra for 2014 -- “I’ve been working all day, I’ve been working all night, now play that beat, I’mma be alright… release your wiggle!” Yes, just be free, y’all.

 

Shabazz Palaces - Lese Majesty (July 2014 - Sub Pop) 

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Hazily blending psychedelic experimental beats with stream of consciousness rapping, Shabazz Palaces transcends and transports me to the chillest, coolest universe that I never want to leave. And though sometimes the surface vibe is nonchalant, the lyrics are full of social commentary that sneak up on you. On their song, “Motion Sickness,” Ishmael Butler raps, “Crime related, activated, trap located, strap to spray it, if you face the case, you faded, player you’d have never made it.”


Karen O - Crush Songs (September 2014 - Cult)

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There’s really nothing I don’t like about Karen O’s voice. And while I love her wild, spastic self on Yeah Yeah Yeahs records, I also continue to fall in love with her softer side. On her solo album, Crush Songs, there’s a vulnerability that is simply mesmerizing, and she delivers it in such a hauntingly romantic way like a Wong Kar-Wai film. In the song, “Rapt,” she sings, “Off went the switch, love is soft, love’s a fucking bitch, do I really need another habit like you.”


Adore Delano - Till Death Do Us Party (June 2014 - Sidecar/Producer Entertainment Group)

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As a huge RuPaul’s Drag Race fan (full disclosure: I book the RPDR Battle of the Seasons tours so I’m a little biased), I can’t help but take a little guilty pop pleasure in some of the show’s campy drag queen songs. But Season 6’s Adore Delano (real name Danny Noriega; also an American Idol semi-finalist) has broken into the mainstream with the album Till Death Do Us Party. Full of catchy gems, it’s the best selling Drag Race alumni album to date!


About the author: Jin Moon has been affectionately writing about music and the arts since 2002 on her blog, Jinners.com. She also currently runs her own agency, On the Moon Arts. Tweet salutations to @jinners

Music from this week that channels your feelings and speakers from 0-100 like the famous words from your boy, Drake.


“Boomerang” (Prod. by 16YROLD x TRIAD$) - Flash Giodani 

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Flash Giodani is a rapper and singer from Baltimore. His Facebook page is currently unavailable but according to his SoundCloud, he’s in a few music projects and Pigeons once described him as “Bone Thugs N Harmony, Yung Lean and an anime fanatic walk into a bar.” This new lovesick track produced by net boys 16YROLD and TRIAD$ is a trap anthem with Giodani’s reminiscent wails like a sensitive Outkast song.


“Who Do You Love” ft. Robyn (Jam City Remix) - Kindness

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On January 8th, Mom and Pop/Female Energy will put out an EP that includes this digital Jam City remix of Kindness’ “Who Do You Love.” Giving the pop track industrial textures, the British producer’s signature washes place listeners into an emergency room as echoes of Robyn’s voice is bringing life back from the underground.


“Feeling Myself” ft. Beyonce - Nicki Minaj

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If you haven’t already started the countdown for The Pinkprint, there are less than five days left. As the newest single titled “Feeling Myself” off Nicki Minaj’s full length debut of the year, she pairs with Beyonce seducing you with self pride and Meek Mill’s luring production that brings complete pleasure to this collab and further anticipation to the album.


“Touchin, Lovin” - 90’s Nick

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Brooklyn by way of Chicago transplant 90’s Nick returns to Soundcloud with a new dance edit to a R&B song from Nicki Minaj and Trey Songz. Supplementing the track with artificial bleeps and bloops while giving Nicki Minaj a qt chipmunk pitch, Nick’s “UHHHHH OH *Trina Voice* edit” proves you can still turn up in a parka below freezing weather.


About the author: Briana Cheng has a lot of feelings that she sometimes writes about but mostly she takes twitter screenshots of online dating apps, follow her @banacrisp.