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Sunday, December 28, 2014

My Favorite Albums of 2014

Well we have reached the end of another year. So that means it is time for me to write about the 10 albums that best represent for me the year 2014. 2014 was a pretty fantastic year for music. I will always remember it as the year I discovered what is now one of my favorite artists of all time. So let's jump right into the list.

1. St. Vincent: St. Vincent
I will always remember 2014 as the year I discovered St. Vincent. Her self-titled 4th album is without a doubt one of the best front to back albums I have ever heard. The musicianship on the album captures your ears and does not let go, but its her lyrics that are the most interesting. On this album Annie Clark (St. Vincent) discusses life in the digital age, and how it can affect one's life. It's pretty standard now to say that technology is good for us, but Clark is brave enough to ask is it really? Seeing her live during the first part of December has cemented her standing with me as the David Bowie of this generation. If you are to buy any album of 2014, buy this one. You will not be disappointed.

2. The New Basement Tapes: Lost on the River
In 1967 after his motorcycle accident, Bob Dylan wrote and recorded a group of songs that has now been dubbed "The Basement Tapes".  Not all of the songs written were recorded. Until now. Earlier in 2014 T Tony Burnett got an all-star group of musicians together to record a group of songs that Dylan didn't record. The result is "The New Basement Tapes: Lost on the River. Let me tell you, this album is beyond amazing. The group of Elvis Costello, Marcus Mumford, Jim James, Taylor Goldsmith, and Rhiannon Giddens put forth a collection of songs that will stand the test of time. Each song is unique, and gives the Dylan novice (which I am) a brand new appreciation towards the genius that is Bob Dylan.

3. Beck Morning Phase
It had been six long years since Beck had released his last album Modern Guilt.  But it was worth the wait. Beck crafted an album that is like a sequel to his outstanding album from 2002  Sea Change. Now more mature, Beck is looking back and almost answers the questions he asked on Sea Change. Yet Beck continues to be Beck and he still finds a way to reinvent himself on this album. It is true that it is a "slower" album. But I find that sometimes in life it is a good thing to slow things down, and this album is an example that slow/quieter music can still be the most impactful. One of my new year's resolutions for 2015 is to listen to Sea Change and Morning Phase back to back.

4. Manchester Orchestra: Cope/Hope
Manchester Orchestra did something very interesting this past year. They released Cope in April 2014 and then released Hope in September 2014. Cope and Hope both contain the same songs, only on Hope the songs are performed acoustically. So it's like a double album, but not a double album. In fact the band is calling Hope the "companion piece" to Cope. All I know is that both albums are absolutely fantastic with a great selection of songs. I must admit that I do like Hope more than Cope. These songs are HAUNTING when performed acoustically. It's always great to see a great band do something different.

5. Coldplay: Ghost Stories
This is a sad album. Period. End of story. Chris Martin's marriage dissolved, and this is the quote on quote "break up"album. However Coldplay does something that I feel very few bands are able to do well. You feel every emotion, every heartbreak that Martin is feeling. Yet the album ends on an upbeat note with A Sky Full of Stars, and you feel the upbeat note as well. Listening to this album reminded me of Coldplay's debut album from 2000 Parachutes. Rumor has it that Coldplay is currently recording their final album. If this is true, it will be a great companion piece to Ghost Stories.


6. Minus the Bear: Lost Loves
Minus the Bear continues to amaze me. They've been around for well over 15 YEARS!!! I feel like they should be way bigger than they are, and their latest album Lost Loves proves that. This album is indie rock at its finest, yet it still maintains that "Minus the Bear" sound. The quick changing beats. The sound of the guitars. Everything is so Minus the Bear, and that is what make this record so wonderful. If you are looking to get into Minus the Bear, this is a great beginners album.


7. The Belle Brigade: Just Because
If you are looking for great California pop music, look no further than the Belle Brigade. The brother sister duo of Ethan and Barbara nail that Beach Boy sound and fuse it with indie rock to create this perfect pop sound. You cannot listen to this band, and not smile the whole time. I dare you...try it.  


8. Karen O: Crush Songs
This is a very interesting album. Pretty much every song on this album is 2 minutes or less. The longest song is about 4 minutes long. Yet Karen O packs in more emotion and energy in these tracks than most other artists. I had to listen to this album a few times, but once it clicks it clicks. In fact this album very much reminds me of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs debut album.

9. TV on the Radio: Seeds
I am the first to admit it. I'm not the biggest TV on the Radio fan. Don't get me wrong, I understand why people love them. They just never grabbed me. Until this album. Seeds is the first album without bassist Gerard Smith, and it is a touching tribute to him. This album honors the musical legacy of Smith. But there is a beautiful touch of humanity as the band not only celebrates Smith's musical legacy, but also his friendship.

10. Primus: Primus and the Chocolate Factory with the Fugi Ensemble
This is a weird album. Even by Primus' standards. A Willa Wonka tribute album. But that's what makes it so great. Only Primus could pay tribute to some of the most fantastical children's movies of all time. I love this album for the shear fact that it exists. So great and so out there!!!


Matt Maldre said...

Great list, Peter! You inspired me to write up my top 10 discovered albums of 2014:

Chi-Town Kid 83 said...

I love your list. You are completely right with the Muppets explanation.