This list has it all: indie rock, blues, country, folk, pop, reggae, jazz and everything in between. It's the kind of year-end roundup KDHX loves to make, because it illustrates the passion and curiosity of our DJs -- and of you, our loyal listeners.
A great song always makes a connection -- with your heart, your body, your head, sometimes with your voice, when you can't stop singing or humming along. The DJs of KDHX know that feeling, and they love sharing it with the world. These are the songs that truly connected with them -- and we hope with you -- in 2014.
"The Cross We Bear," by the North Country, pushes and pulls against the private and the public, the clear-eyed and the chaotic, as a good, mult-layered, folk-rock tune should.
The music of Canadian-American songwriter Neil Holyoak has traces of Americana chamber folk, but those traces wouldn't mean much without his wide-open, impassioned voice and his dreamlike way with a lyric -- skills that shine on the new track "Sidereal Sunrise."
True hip-hop bands are rare birds today, as the genre continues to be dominated by solo artists, DJs, producers and remixers. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, but it's always good to get new, hard-hitting and exciting hip-hop from a big band like Sidewalk Chalk. On "Grocery List," a celebratory track from the album "Leaves," the Chicago collective raises a toast to the joyous sound of live, funky, urban music.
Brooklyn, New York singer and songwriter Adam Levine, leader of Mappa Mundi, has no fear of sentiment. He knows that feelings need not be filtered through irony, even in the context of indie rock. On the lushly-arranged and folksy "So Obscure," he lays his heart on the line between bathos and beauty.
Chicago band of brothers (as in literally three brothers) the Safes channel all their love for classic Brit-Invasion rock like the Kinks and the just as classic American garage rock of the Sonics into their slightly poppy, always tautly-written songs. "Hopes Up, Guard Down" is a rock 'n' roll anthem for these guardedly hopeful days.
In the hard-charging, strummy, slightly skewed music of Chicago band the Handcuffs you'll hear echoes of the Killers and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. But in the new track "Baby I Love You" you'll also hear glam-punk shot through with made-for-radio hooks.
Building from a whisper to a roar and then unbuilding back again, "Hush" by HAWK challenges everything you think you knew about the classic '90s shoegaze sound.
Veteran alternative-rock band the Verve Pipe returned this year with its first studio album in over a decade and a revived feel for songwriting by founder Brian Vander Ark. Case in point, the catchy single "Crash Landing."