I get sad when people tell me that music today is bad. There are hundreds of albums released every year. There is something for everybody, with albums in any existing genre plus constantly evolving sounds that defy categorization. 2014 was another great year in music.
I understand it is hard to filter all the new albums, because I spend a significant amount of my free time doing exactly that. So once again, to spread the love of music, I’m sharing a list of my favorite albums from last year.
Check out some new tunes. Get funky. Let me know what you think.
Note: Band name links to a youtube video; album name links to Spotify.
Also, after writing this I realize that the rankings are largely meaningless. Take it all with a grain of salt.
Tony’s 2014 Top 40
1. TV on the Radio – Seeds – The latest release from eclectic TV on the Radio is almost smoother and more rock and roll than their past albums but retains their unique sound and exceptional musicianship. It almost feels like a weirder, more electronic version of the National: brooding and beautiful.
2. Spanish Gold – South of Nowhere – One of the best straight rock and roll albums I’ve heard in years. Spanish Gold is a new project consisting of Patrick Hallahan (My Morning Jacket’s drummer), guitarist Adrian Quesada (formerly of Grupo Fantasma) and guitarist and lead vocalist Dante Schwebel (City and Colour, formerly of Hacienda).This is 70’s inspired, funky, solid, straight rock and roll.
4. Madlib & Freddie Gibbs – Piñata – Madlib always drops the freshest (and weirdest) beats, and Freddie Gibbs joins him on this adventure to create one of my favorite hip hop albums in recent years. Creative and fun lyrics and beats.
5. The New Basement Tapes – Lost on the River – T. Bone Burnett put together this project, which took lyrics written by Bob Dylan during his Basement Tapes sessions with the Band in 1967 and had a supergroup consisting of Jim James, Elvis Costello, Marcus Mumford, Taylor Goldsmith, and Rhiannon Giddons write music for the songs and record them. Like any supergroup; it’s not perfect. I don’t like every song on this album, but the ones I love are unsurprisingly by Jim James. But I love the original Basement Tapes and most of the new material is fantastic. Listen to “Nothing to It.”
6. Future Islands – Singles – Frontman Samuel T. Herring may be a weird guy with an interesting stage presence, but Future Islands is much more than that (and dude definitely likes to dance). Emotional and original indie rock.
10. Sylvan Esso – Sylvan Esso – Another one of those modern groups that defies definition, Sylvan Esso brings together a folk artist (Amelia Meath) and an electronic producer (Nick Sanborn) from North Carolina to make some funky, fresh, and unique tunes. Some tracks make you wanna dance; they all make you wanna listen.
14. Breton – War Room Stories – A fun album from these youthful, British, indie-art-pop rockers. Each song is unique, and they mix it up a fair amount. Listen to “Brothers” the whole way through; the best part is after the bridge.
15. Real Estate – Atlas – Dreamy indie rock that makes me want to sit in a house on the beach on a rainy day. These guys have progressed as musicians, and this album is their most well-crafted with more defined song structure than the past two releases.
22. Beck – Morning Phase – Beck’s latest album harkens back to Sea Change (my favorite of his albums) with a relaxed country feel but lacks the consistency and emotional depth. It’s still Beck and still great.
24. Sun Kil Moon – Benji – The latest release from the original washed-out, brooding rocker, Mark Kozelek, originally of the Red House Painters and then Sun Kil Moon. This album is sad, beautiful, and fantastic.
25. Broken Bells – After the Disco – James Mercer (The Shins) and Brian Burton (Dangermouse) teamed up again in Dangermouse’s house to record their second album as Broken Bells. Although not as fresh as the original, the new album has the same feel and production and includes a bunch of catchy, funky indie rock tunes.
There were definitely other good albums this year, but I’m tired of making lists.