UTG’s Favorite Singles Of Summer 2014


The summer may have been a bummer for hollywood execs and people hoping to see Outkast perform anywhere other than an overcrowded festival, but those who love discovering new music have had plenty to celebrate. Whether you like pop, rock, folk, country, EDM, or any combination of the five there were a slew of new names vying for attention in recent months. Some got the attention they deserved, but most did not. That is as much our fault in some cases as it is far larger publications, but today we are going to right those wrongs by giving them another chance to shine here on UTG.

Over the weekend, each UTG contributor was asked to select their favorite summer singles that they felt may have been overlooked or under appreciated. Those picks were placed into this post along with a few thoughts from each writer, and together they create a diverse selection of talent that should help make the coming fall and winter months far more interesting. Some artists you may know, or even love, but I can guarantee you will find one or more you never knew before today. If you know of anyone we missed, comment below and share their music!

PVRIS – “St. Patrick”

One of the most charismatic songs and music videos of the summer, “St. Patrick” is a career-turning and overall brillant single from new Rise Records signees, PVRIS. The Massachusetts-based trio have devised a dance-rock creation sexier than modern day Paramore and catchier than anything on today’s Top 40 rotation. “St. Patrick” mixes raw ingenuity and subtle sass with a unique artistic vision to make it the undoubtedly catchiest song of the summer. — Matthew Leimkuehler, Music Editor / Feature Writer

Shakey Graves – “Dearly Departed”

I wish I could remember where I was the first time I heard “Dearly Departed,” but I know for certain I have played it pretty much everywhere I have roamed since that day. Promoting a sound rooted in classic country and folk songs, the latest from Shakey Graves strikes a chord with your storytelling soul from the opening verse and never let’s up. By the time the bridge moves into the final refrain it will take everything in your soul to resist jumping out of your chair, singing along, and dancing a little dance to yourself wherever you may be. This is the only song to be released to the public off Shakey Graves’ new album (due out on October 7), but having heard the record in full I can tell you that there are more tracks like it that will surface in the coming weeks and months. Take this opportunity and hop on the SG bandwagon before it’s too late! — James Shotwell, Founder / Co-Owner / Editor

Well Kept Things – “Great White North”

Upstate New York has given the world a number of great bands in recent years, and the latest export that everyone needs to know is none other than Buffalo indie rock outfit Well Kept Things. We were the first site to feature the band’s music, and in the months ahead we will be assisting the group in sharing their first EP with the world. For now, you can stream their only available song below and tell your friends to do the same. Their music is fine for days spent alone, but it’s even better when enjoyed with a group of like-minded people who love to sing and scream along with their favorite songs. — James Shotwell, Founder / Co-Owner / Editor

The Secret Sisters – “Rattle My Bones”

The first time I saw O Brother, Where Art Thou? I was left with a strong desire to find more great music rooted in American songwriting traditions. A handful of numbers have fit that bill in the decade-plus since the film’s release, but in 2014 the only album to strike me square in the feels with that type of sound is The Secret SistersPut Your Needle Down. “Rattle My Bones” is not the strongest track off that release, but it’s certainly amongst the catchiest. Give this song a chance to knock you off your feet. If it works, to any degree, seek out the rest of the record on Spotify, Rdio, iTunes, or GooglePlay. — James Shotwell, Founder / Co-Owner / Editor

The Rural Alberta Advantage – “Terrified”

The Rural Alberta Advantage are criminally underrated, plain and simple. I can understand Nils Edenloff’s vocals being less than easily accessible but the overall package this band delivers is irrefutably impressive. “Terrified,” as the first taste of their new LP since 2011’s Departing, is breathtaking. A juggernaut of a galloping folk-rock jam, “Terrified” is a single that SHOULD, by all accounts, launch this Toronto-based outfit into the upper echelon of indie rock. The raw power, the vocal melodies, the songwriting—it all makes for one of the best singles of the year. — Brian Lion, Co-Owner / Editor

Run The Jewels – “Blockbuster Night Part 1”

Just a year after releasing my favorite rap album of 2013, Killer Mike and El-P are already back in the spotlight with new material as Run The Jewels. Featuring El-P’s kingly production and a faultless tandem flow from the two emcees, “Blockbuster Night Part 1” has raised the bar for hip-hop in 2014. It’s aggressive, exuberant, nostalgically referential lyrically, and it raises the anticipation for ‘RTJ2’ to an unprecedented high – at least for me. — Brian Lion, Co-Owner / Editor

Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness – “Cecilia and the Satellite”

Fans of Jack’s Mannequin and Something Corporate have long been aware of Andrew McMahon’s knack for writing catchy choruses, but the 32-year-old singer-songwriter has taken this uncanny ability to new heights with the release of “Cecilia and the Satellite.” The first single off the former frontman’s self-titled solo debut, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, this infectious track bounds forward with the same confidence as the brightest summer day, and seems made for long stretches of open road. Built upon a driving bass line, and sprinkled with McMahon’s trademark story telling, this is one tune that will inevitably be stuck in your head long after the leaves begin to fall. — Kyle Florence, News & Review Writer

The Gaslight Anthem – “Rollin’ And Tumblin'”

“Rollin’ And Tumblin’,” the first track released from the self-claimed “weird” album from The Gaslight Anthem isn’t actually that weird, but more a refreshing take on a formula used well in the past, coated with a sense of unsympathetic exploration, creating a sense of merrymaking drowned in darker lyrics. Internal battles aside, “Rollin’ And Tumblin’” is an exciting ride that can easily define any summer when it is played as a soundtrack. — Drew Caruso, News & Review Writer

Antarctigo Vespucci – “I’m Giving Up On U2”

Dynamic duo, Chris Farren (Fake Problems) and Jeff Rosenstock (Bomb The Music Industry!), teamed up and brought us Antarctigo Vespucci, an incredibly solid power-pop side project that came about in early April. They released a 7-track EP entitled Soulmate Stuff on vinyl in early June, which they accurately described to be “a handful of noisy rambunctious pop tunes” written in a small Brooklyn apartment. My personal favorite track, “I’m Giving Up On U2,” brings an older and more aggressive version of both The Moffatts and Weezer to mind. Toying around with a lot of fuzz and a lot of angst, this song might have conquered my ‘Top 25 Most Played’ this summer. If you haven’t heard it yet, I highly suggest you do. — Dana Reandelar, News & Review Writer

Black Tongue – “Falsifier”

Neither my speakers nor my ears were prepared for Black Tongue‘s “Falsifier” upon first clicking play last month. I’m pretty sure it’s the heaviest song I’ve heard this year and it starts out immediately as such. It’s like getting jumped in a dark alley by massive, powerful assailants. The deep chugging guitars knock the wind out of you as the crushing drums pummel your body to a pulp, all while being screamed at in a deafening roar as spit and blood mist across your battered face. I mean all of this in the best way possible of course. — Brian Lion, Co-Owner / Editor

Finch – “Two Guns To The Temple”

After nine years, Finch will be releasing a new record titled Back To Oblivion. This is the follow-up to the experimental Say Hello To Sunshine after the genre-defining What It Is To Burn, which catapulted the band into post-hardcore stardom. Personally, I’ve learned to love Say Hello To Sunshine throughout the years and after the release of their 2008 self-titled EP, I was itching for more of this sound coming from the band. Upon the release of the first track off the new album, “Two Guns To The Temple,” you can tell that the band has picked up right where they left off. With Nate Barcalow’s diverse vocal range and signature screech and experimental guitar riffs in the verses with exploding octaves and chords showcased in the chorus, it shows that Finch are moving along quite fine as they come back to full life. I can only imagine what the rest of the record will sound like but I do know that it will be played quite loudly wherever I am. — Ryan Kappy, News & Review Writer

The American Scene – “Royal Blue”

The American Scene find themselves currently underrated in the scene, though hopefully Haze can change that. When “Royal Blue,” the first single from Haze dropped, there was an immediate sense of revitalized familiarity within the beginning of the track, highlighting the heavily Pedro The Lion inspired vibes and vocals expressed on Safe For Now, all paired with Sam Pura’s full production. This strikingly changes when the chorus first reveals itself, as we find the band locking into a groove not experienced before, showcasing hectic but eclectic guitars, a tight rhythm section, and feelings not that unlike The 1975. Pairing this track with all the rewards of summer illuminate its sonic value, for on “Royal Blue” The American Scene create an atmosphere that is both familiar, and exciting, all while invigorating a sense of new exploration sonically and personally. — Drew Caruso, News & Review Writer

New Found Glory – “Selfless”

The crunchy opening riff of “Selfless” quickly answered any questions regarding how New Found Glory might sound following the departure of founding guitarist Steve Klein. The Catalyst-leaning track is yet another instantly classic pop-punk anthem, perfect for turning the volume up, rolling the windows down and singing along at the top of your lungs. — Kevin Blumeyer, News & Review Writer

Jon Bellion – “Simple And Sweet”

Jon Bellion has been writing music since he was 14 years old. He has worked on songs for artists like Eminem, Jason Derulo and more. Even after experiencing a fair amount of success at his young age he tries to stay humble and has worked hard at writing some seriously catchy tunes. “Simple And Sweet” is a recent and excellent example of his writing skills. It’s not your typical high-energy summer jam, but it’s great to listen to while relaxing by the pool. — Kriston McConnell, News & Review Writer

Spoon – “Do You”

If you’re able to turn on Sirius radio without hearing Spoon‘s “Do You,” congratulations; you’ve done it. The iconic indie rock band threw out their lax contemplative song with the intent of it being a summer hit (A popsicle does sound great right now, Britt). Much like the rest of They Want My Soul, “Do You” shows the band’s masterful reign as five guys who know how to make a song so mindblowingly simple that it’s worthy of a hundred plays, at least. If you know the secret to avoiding “Do You” on the radio, please don’t share it. Every spin that hits my ears is a reminder that music is still chugging on in the right direction. — Nina Corcoran, News & Review Writer

Jamie xx – “All Under One Roof Raving”

On first listen, Jamie xx’s “All Under One Roof Raving” seems like a mindless excuse to dance at a friend’s house party, but further listens show just how much the song cuts into — and how much the London artist knows about the UK’s scene. Snippets of British 1999 film Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore are sliced and scattered into his six-minute track, stopping every dozen seconds or so to loop in other rave scene nods. As he doesn’t fail to remind us, the brilliant steel drums and thick garage beats are all his own, making Jamie xx’s hit a thicker soup than the first gulp leads you to believe. That’s what makes it so easy to come back to over and over again, far past the point of just summer and into the rest of what 2014 has left. — Nina Corcoran, News & Review Writer

Tiny Moving Parts – “Always Focused”

Tiny Moving Parts have relied on fast-paced heavy guitars for a great part of their career, but things sure did change when they entered the studio with J. Robbins. “Always Focused” was the first glimpse we had at this new era of TMP, and it delivers. Some fresh elements such as a soft yet still punchy tone, crescendos, and a sing-along bridge layer on some much-needed texture, thus giving a longer feeling to this short track. “Always Focused” is the kind of song that would make you want to lay on a rooftop to gaze into the clouds with your friends, which to me, is a perfect summertime activity. — Adrian Garza, News & Review Writer

I The Mighty – “Love Your Sin”

With faint rumbles of a new I The Mighty album on the horizon, there’s a lot of reasons to love this sing-along single that picks up right where the band’s debut album, Satori, left off. This band has grown a lot lately, and their catalogue is full of so many hits, it’s impossible not to expect big things from I The Mighty in the future. — Scott Murray, News & Review Writer

Stolas – “Solunar”

The original flagship for Will Swan’s Blue Swan Records, Stolas have returned with a taste of their follow-up record, Allomaternal. The guys appear to be channeling some exciting new sounds with their second concept album, including a breakdown influenced by The Mars Volta. Most notably, “Solunar” displays new depth from vocalists Jason Weiche and Carlo Marquez which are sure to grab the attention of fans old and new. — Scott Murray, News & Review Writer

Zella Day – “Compass”

I could sing Zella Day‘s praises endlessly. If only I had the stunningly powerful vocal prowess that her tiny frame supports to do so.

Following a few massive singles, Day is set to release her debut, self-titled EP in just a couple weeks and “Compass” serves as yet another gorgeous promotional push to ensure that it’ll be worth the wait. Hands down one of the most beautiful tracks I’ve heard this year, “Compass” floors me each and every time I listen to it. I picture beach scenes and hand-holding in some kind of award-winning indie film about love while listening to it. Sit back and soak it in. — Brian Lion, Co-Owner / Editor

Pianos Become The Teeth – “Repine”

Pianos Become The Teeth‘s “I’ll Get By” is one of my favorite songs, period. It’s also one of the most powerful tracks I’ve heard in some time; it simply crushes with emotional weight. However, the band began to prove with songs like “Hiding” that they could pack one helluva punch with less screaming/more singing as well.

I’ve referenced those two songs because they serve as perfect timeline and progression points that lead us to the band’s somewhat unexpected new single, “Repine.” I’ve seen countless complaints about the change in direction and lack of screaming since its release, but I for one don’t think I could love this song any more. PBTT have shown a true leap in maturity with “Repine,” and even as we’re yet to find out how much of this sound will feature on their forthcoming album, I fully support this departure and transformation for the recent Epitaph signess. — Brian Lion, Co-Owner / Editor

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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