This list exists to share what I believe are great tunes. In my youth I would groan when bands I loved got radio play – but now I would not begrudge any of them their success. It would make me smile. While you can see every track I liked in 2014 on this Spotify Playlist, here are my favorite albums from this past year:
This album was released in Australia at the end of 2013. I was bummed that I found it after putting out my 2013 list, but even more bummed when the album disappeared from Spotify in the summer. The reason? They were slated for a US release in September. I can listen to this album all the way through – I can listen to the tracks on shuffle. Completely solid. Thus my number one pick for favorite album of 2014.
Favorite Track: Lowbrow
Got sent the single “Class Historian” by my friend Bruce, and liked it enough to check the album out. Thank you, Bruce! I was going to share the track “Kurt” with my co-worker, Kurt, but realized too late that the chorus is, “I want to put it where Kurt put it.” …whoops.
Favorite Track: Kurt
I’ve been a fan since her 2009 album, Actor. But her last album, 2012’s collaboration with David Byrne, Love This Giant, was significantly less than the parts of its whole. And 2011’s Strange Mercy wasn’t much better. However, this album is filled with the kind of nonsense poetry that I love from St. Vincent. “Fake knife, real ketchup,” indeed.
Favorite Track: Digital Witness
I think this is good driving music. My wife can’t stand any sort of screaming in her music, so I equate this album with solitude – I find myself listening to it when I’m alone.
Favorite Track: Psychic Trauma
Spotify has a live feed of what your friends are listening to and that’s how I found out about Metronomy. One of my friends, Ross, was listening to this album. His tastes are… all over the place. I had no clue what to expect, and to be honest, I wasn’t hip to it at first listen, but there were some interesting hooks that warranted a second listen… and multiple listens after that.
Favorite Track: Reservoir
This is probably the most approachable album on this list. I sent this album to my mother for Christmas knowing that even though we don’t have the same taste in music, that at least she likes Natalie Imbruglia and Paula Cole. (Van Etten’s closer to Tracy Bonham or Carole King, however)
Favorite Track: Taking Chances
Until this year, I had never heard anything by the Afghan Whigs. If I can put this album down, I’ll have to check out their previous work stretching back to 1990.
Favorite Track: Matamoros
Maybe you’re familiar with The Orwells since Apple used “Who Needs You” in a recent ad campaign. I’m glad they’re getting some radio play, however, the version of “Blood Bubbles” on this album is inferior to the version released on the Other Voices EP – and, oh my God, have you seen the music video for it?
Favorite Track: The Righteous One
Amazon’s music blog posted a list in June or July of the “best albums of the year so-far” that had a great blurb about this album. I’m just going to quote it:
Remember when pop stars—Huey Lewis, Phil Collins, Christopher Cross—looked like your friend’s dad? Future Islands’ Samuel T. Herring has a similar vibe to him. He’s a little square, but the voice that comes from within is pure magic.
Favorite Track: Doves
ALBUMS I COULDN’T QUANTIFY:
It may be a cop-out not to assign them an order, but here’s my #10-20 ordered by percentage of great tracks to total tracks:
- Pixies – Indie Cindy
- Blood Red Shoes – Blood Red Shoes
- The Twilight Sad – Nobody Wants To Be Here And Nobody Wants To Leave
- Incan Abraham – Tolerance
- Hospitality – Trouble
- Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Only Run
- TV On The Radio – Seeds
- Real Estate – Atlas
- Spoon – They Want My Soul
- Beck – Morning Phase
- Little Dragon – Nabuma Rubberband