I used to have a crush on Avril Lavigne.
So punk, I thought. She has the just rebellious attitude we need from teen pop stars, I presumed. Ten years later:
Hopefully, that video hasn’t been taken down, too. I now have six cavities and a shattered soul from watching that.
Neon Trees – Pop Psychology
Rating: Fun-sized fun.
This album had a lot to do with frontman Tyler Glenn’s therapy sessions of self identification. It sounds somewhat tragic, but that’s how some of the best music comes about.
Neon Trees made a bad first impression on me when they first hit it big (Glenn’s ridiculous hair was to blame), but I have since come around to their free, wholesome fun. Pop Psychology is Neon Trees’ third album and covers all the bases of ailing youths: love, sex and coming of age.
I like the term “neon” to describe this band, and it holds true in this album with vibrant pop beats and blinding hooks. “Unavoidable” and “First Things First” are heartfelt standouts in a relatively short listen. The album is less than 40 minutes, so it’s not a significant investment.
Iggy Azalea – The New Classic
Rating: The hype is a lie.
Music bloggers are often accused of keeping a thesaurus on hand to make the most indecipherable sentences while making themselves sound more intelligent than they really are. As astute as that may be, I will keep this as short as possible:
Army of the Pharaohs – In Death Reborn
Rating: Amalgam of rappers, abundance of realism.
I’ve had enough of artsy hip-hop driveling about bling or club life. So when you hear something that sounds as visceral and cleverly laced as this, it’s like drinking from a spring of flowing Fiji water. Ahh.
If you aren’t familiar with this endless lineup, Army of the Pharaohs features perhaps two dozen rappers and there’s a lot to take in (14 tracks over an hour, but with a lot of words). It’s dark, raw and real, the way rap was intended.
Best yet, I didn’t hear a verse from Kanye or Drake, meaning it survives on its own merit. Keep your Iggys and your Futures to yourself.
Updated Best of 2014 playlist:
I used to be hesitant putting five-plus minute songs on this list, but I think we’re all patient enough to sit through seven minute epics. Good music is good music.