The penultimate entry in the seemingly never ending countdown to the finest piece of music officially released onto this here planet in the year of 2014 is here. Wake up at the back.
If you’re a got a spare month to time travel you could browse the previous years (2005, 06, 07, 08, 09, 10, 11, 12, 13)

There are various flavours of playlist below, Whyd has the most tracks, whereas Spotify is missing almost a quarter of the selection. / Youtube / Spotify (Web / Player) / Soundcloud

26. Akira The Don – Don’t Feed The Trolls

“So I solemnly swear to not self #fail, I will not read the Daily Mail”

Internet trolls, the Daily Mail and “penises” in general are on the end of the kind of quotable attack lines that made Akira The Don an ever present on this blog since day one.
Back in 2006, “Thanks For All The AIDS” was criminally rated as only the 35th best song of the year when in truth it may just be the 35th best of all time! Undeterred he teamed up with Chilly Gonzales and scored the best track the very next year.
And so it continued for a decade, he even hosted this bloggers solitary venture into gig promotion, assembling the largest number of rappers ever to perform next to a microwave oven in Walthamstow. He rocked E17 so hard they closed down the venue within a month (although raffle irregularities may also have been to blame).

And then last year he announced Akira The Don was dead and that the artist formally known as such was applying for US citizenship and taking his wife and young son to Los Angeles. Thankfully there is a rebirth of sorts as one half of the Midnitemen (free download) remixing everything from Oasis to Taylor Swift. Although as I rate him with Mozza & Paul Heaton as the finest lyricist to come from these shores in my lifetime I’d personally be sad if that meant less words, no matter how banging the music may be.

27. Jean Grae – ACME (Take It To The Wall) / Were You Raised In A Barn, Or Raised By Wolves?

Jean Grae – or What? What? as she was once known is another who has been delighting these lug holes for many a year – rapping on a Herbaliser track way back in 1997. Since then she’s been many things, a screenwriter, author and of late a food blogger for Jezebel but this year she’s been a music making machine.
This entry is actually for three tracks from three separate releases. Last summer she brought out a comic instructional album for adults or as she put it an album about NOT BEING FUCKING STUPID. Educational ditties included Don’t Be a Dick To The Waitstaff and a sermon to wearing headphones on public transport but the standout was the Prince-esque “Were You Raised In A Barn, Or Raised By Wolves?” (it’s not streamable but buy it and listen to the rest of the LP here).
ACME (Take it to the wall)” comes from January’s 6 song “Jeanie” EP which revealed a softer more personal mix of r’n’b, jazz and funk. Then in November along came the #5 EP with Grae still pausing her MCing duties and sweetly singing songs of Disney style saccharine love mixed with choruses imploring “Do Me Do Me” (on standout “Joker“)

28. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Hot Water

29. Blueprint – Perspective

“Thirty afghans killed at a family wedding
Sixty Iraqi killed trying to vote
A woman gets gang-raped down in India
Five kids’ lifes get ended by a drone
I don’t care if you living in a high-rise
You’re no different from a man in a hut”

Blueprint has one of those deep baritone hip hop voices like Rakim that imparts his words with added gravitas, not that his words need extra weight, dealing as they often do with the bleaker end of life. Perspective takes the relatively simple message that there’s always someone worse off than you so have a little perspective god damn it.

30. Diagonal – Club Music [Ancient Methods ‘Körpersäure91’ Remix]

31. Makthaverskan – No Mercy

“Fuck you for fucking me when I was Seventeen”

Never has such a blunt chorus been so sweetly sung, Maja Milner – front woman of Swedish garage rock band Makthaverskan – follows up with the threat “Your time will come, my friend”. Their sound unashamedly jangles back to the 80’s, it could be Peter Hook playing that bass and a Go-Go’s era Belinda Carlisle on vocals.

32. Leon Vynehall – Butterflies

33. Benjamin Clementine – Edmonton

“And Boris promised a sweet plan so
we gave him a second chance”

34. Natalie Prass – Why Don’t You Believe In Me

Nashville meets Stax soul. ‘Why Don’t You Believe in Me’ harks back to those gorgeous 70’s soul albums where they’d actually have full strings and horns, rather than a computer approximation. In this case Trey Pollard’s gorgeous, technicolor strings and Spacebomb Records supremo Matthew E. White’s muscular R&B horns.

“Why Don’t You Believe In Me” is from the self-titled album on Spacebomb Records – she’s performing at the Lexington in Shoreditch on Tuesday the 27th of January.

35. Benin City – Bus / Hugh – One of these days

“Big smile on my face like an idiot
Lost my faith in London town…the world at our feet
but we turned it down”

This blogs love for Benin City goes back to the Naughties and “Bus” from their new “Midnight Malarky” EP certainly won’t break the spell that saw them topping this annual list-athon in 2012 (with the glorious “Baby”).
New vocalist Shanaz Dorsett brings a slightly popper sound than their all conquering Fires In The Park LP but having a singalong chorus about the N38 night bus that has taken me back home to Walthamstow on many an occasion is certainly no bad thing.
Having caught Benin City live during their three week residency at The Social, everything that makes the group stand out from the melee of competing sounds is still present. Upfront Josh made light of a hobbled voice that restricted him to a mute hug when I bumped into him pre-gig and his peculiarly English (Malarky, n38 buses etc) gift for words remains. Alongside him Tom Leaper’s Sax is an equal partner and a core of the entire genre hopping Benin City sound. The band are starting work on LP number 2 very soon with Shanaz set to feature.

Not content with one group, Benin City main man Josh is also one third of Hugh (formally known as Maze Hill) along with producer Andy Highmore and vocalist Holly Bestic.

36. Sharon Van Etten – Your Love Is Killing Me

37. Body Count – Talk Shit, Get Shot

“Talk shit, GET SHOT!
Act hard motherfucker, GET SHOT!”

It’s all a bit daft but if you will talk badly of Ice T you will get shot. End of.

38. Blind Arcade Meets Super Weird Substance – Damn! It’s Good To Be Alive

The musical dream team of former Ruthless Rap Assassin & Black Grape’er Kermit along with dance music legend Greg Wilson only reached my ears thanks to a fortuitous wander around Walthamstow’s annual E17 Art Trail. Crammed as the Stow is with remarkable talent we visited illustrator Dominic Mandrell’s musical Aladdin’s cave of a home to find a who’s who of musical legends. Work for The Stone Roses, Rodigan and a variety of projects with Greg Wilson of which Blind Arcade was one. Thanks go to Dominic for introducing me to this incredible work!
Here’s Greg talking about the mixtape which is available on his Soundcloud page as a free download:
It’s nothing less than remarkable that, given the depths he’d plunged to as a heroin addict, so nearly losing his life in the process, Kermit has not only made an inspired return, but managed to summon such a positive statement from his once troubled soul, spreading the love and sharing the vibes in a way that is so relevant to now – it feels like the stars are aligned and we’re dropping this mixtape at exactly the right moment“.
Download the mixtape for free here.

Its also worth heading to Wilson’s blog to read an introduction to his new label Super Weird Substance that reads more like a musical history of the last 25 years. He seems to be mining a particularly rich musical seem right now with a Dee-Lite-esque track with Merseyside singers Katherine & Carmel Reynolds also out on his Schooled in Classics imprint.

Also on Super Weird Substance Howard marks read Kermit’s poem “Lies and other fools” and of course check out number thirty eight in this list, the life affirming “Damn it feels good to be alive” below.

39. Kelis – Bless The Telephone’ (Trinidad-Senolia Deep Remix)

This ones smoother than the Cadburys Caramel bunny, giving a sort of Theo Parrish rewash to Kelis’s Labi Siffri cover.
Kelis duets with Sal Masekela on what was originally a simple guitar ballad becomes a gloriously summery jazz house delight in this Trinidad-Senolia Deep mix.

40. Open Mike Eagle – Very Much Money (Ice King Dream)

“My friends are superheroes, None of us have very much money though
They can fly, run fast, read Portuguese… None of us have very much money though”

Buckle up for repetitive mention injury, this blog has been banging on about Open Mike Eagle for years now and with tunes like “Very Much Money” we’ll be happy to do so for the foreseeable future.
Taken from the “Dark Comedy” album, Very Much Money is produced by Londoner Ultra Combo who provides lush ambient backing to Mike’s half sung wonderfully intricate lyrics.

41. Strawberry Jam – Lot More Livin

What piece of music do you wake up to? Something energetic to get the blood pumping for the day ahead? Personally I’m caressed from my slumber by The Clubcasa Chamber Orchestra’s cover of Kendrick Lamar’s “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe”, the gorgeousness of which doesn’t so much wake me as carry me down the hallway on a bed of pillows and place me gently in a bath it’s run just for me. Actually their Drake cover would probably work to – Drake always needed extra Sax, Flute, Clarinet, and Flugelhorn.

Anyway back to Strawberry Jam. The identity of the duo isn’t officially known but the fact the tune popped up on Saxophonist and Club Casa producer Sly 5thAve’s Soundcloud page was enough to get me listening. It’s also said to feature someone from Prince’s band – which would make sense given Sly5thAve’s place in that group. Other clues online point to Denita from Brooklyn R&B duo Denita and Sene (check out their lovely “Divided”)

Whoever’s behind it, “Lot More Livin” is sublime with a sprinkling of Prince like production coupled to the ghost of Timmy Thomas’s tick tocking “Why Can’t We Live Together”. Denita’s vocals are a delight, recalling Jill Scott and then there’s those swelling brass sounds from 5thAve. Have I sold it yet? It’s free download to so what have you got to lose.

42. TRIM___ – #KanyeWest

Trim from Limehouse in East London was originally championed a fellow E3’er, the Grime luminary Wiley but deliberately eschewed Grimes brief flirtation with the pop charts to plough an independent furrow. #KanyeWest finds Trim in lyrically dextrous form, rhyming at length over a brooding stripped back beat about how damn fine he is and the frustrations of lesser talents getting more attention. He out braggadocios Kanye himself but remains likeable all the same.

43. Röyksopp and Robyn – Monument

Röyksopp and Robyn are two of the only acts that featured in my very first top tracks of the year rundown (2005) who appear again this year. At some point in the intervening years Robyn dethroned Madonna as the undisputed queen of intelligent pop.

44. Alvvays – One Who Love You

2014 has been a big year for Toronto based Alvvays (pronounced Always) and Rolling Stone magazine has their album in the Top 50 of the year.

Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard performs a beautiful cover of Alvvays other contender for track of the year, “Archie, Marry me”.

45. Busdriver – Ego Death feat. Aesop Rock and Danny Brown

46. Damon Albarn – Everyday Robots

47. Awon & Dephlow – Lights Off

Taken from Awon and Dephlow’s pay what you like Deprecation project “Lights Off” is a tale of the struggle of life balancing being an MC and not being able to afford to take “Nights off”. There’s an absolutely killer “ooo woo” female vocal sample here..anyone know where its from?

48. Katy Perry – Birthday (Holy Ghost! Remix)

Despite a few pop corkers (Fireworks, Roar, Teenage Dream etc) Katy Perry hasn’t featured on this blog often enough. Unfortunately Katy doesn’t feature much on this disco stormer of a remix by DFA’s Holy Ghost. Glorious fist pumping pogo jumping 80’s disco pop that demands a rewind even though it clocks in at almost eight minutes.

49. Big Narstie – Don’t Sit Down

“Liam Gallagher, reincarnated as a black man!”

Sandwiched between Katy Perry and “Girls” is Brixton’s own Big Narstie with a track that on the face of it consists of him shouting over the top of the Arctic Monkeys “Don’t Sit Down because I moved your chair”. Inexplicably its one of the most infectious songs of the year with the guitar line looped up, boosted with a crafty beat and Narstie growling with a unique blend of totally endearing loutishness.

50. Beatrice Eli – Girls

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