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Thursday, January 1, 2015

Off Topic: My Favorite Music of 2014

My Favorite Albums of 2014

1. Sturgill Simpson - Metamodern Sounds in Country Music
My favorite country album of the last 10 years! Full of heartfelt songs that deal with depression, and addiction; a voice that sounds like Merle Haggard; and even some touches of psychedelic rock.

2. D'Angelo and the Vanguard - Black Messiah
First album in 14 years, and well worth the wait. This is a classic soul album that gets better with each listen. Brings to mind Parliament and Funkadelic's 70's stuff, but still has a sound all its own. I read that D'Angelo wasn't planning to release the album until later next year, but following the recent events in Ferguson; him and his team worked all nighters to finish it. Groundbreaking Stuff!

3. St. Vincent - St. Vincent
I started to fall in love with St Vincent for the first time this year, after seeing her performance on Saturday Night Live. Really interesting, arty rock that runs the gamut from noise rock freak-outs to ethereal pop songs to dance rock. 

4. Ryan Adams - Ryan Adams
I know a lot of fans were hoping for something more twangy, but I love the new direction on this album! Great production, killer guitar tones, and the songwriting seems more immediate, leaner, and trimmed of any fat. A couple songs like "My Wrecking Ball" and "Let it Go" didn't really hit me right away but have become new favorites. This is probably my favorite album of his since Cold Roses.

5. Protomartyr - Under Color of Official Right
I stumbled across these guys at a Pitchfork Media Music Showcase at SXSW this year. Had never heard of them before, but they were just what I wanted to hear. Great loud late 70's inspired post-punk (sort of like Wire), with a singer that reminded me a lot of Mark E Smith of The Fall. Both of their albums are excellent.

6. Parquet Courts - Sunbathing Animal
Parquet Courts have become one of my favorite bands of the last couple years. They've released three albums and an EP in about 2 years time plus singles and side projects! Another post-punky band with hints of Pavement, occasional Michael Jackson bassline rip-offs, and beat-poetry inspired lyrics. 

7. Dean Wareham - Dean Wareham
I can't believe I haven't seen this any of the best of 2014 lists yet. Dean was a founding member of the band Galaxie 500 (the fore-fathers of dream pop), and went on to play in another fine group called Luna. I read his auto-biography this year which might be part of the reason I'm so high on this guy. A great sleepy, dreamy, Sunday morning kind of record (oh yeah and Jim James helped produce it).

8. Ariel Pink - Pom Pom
I believe Ariel Pink is the Velvet Underground of our time - not musically, but just that he does't get nearly enough attention now. In 20-30 years, everyone will be talking about him. The guy's an eccentric genius who fits more musical ideas in a song than most artists do a whole album, and he's obviously from another planet. Pom Pom was recorded pretty lo-fi, and has a pretty off the wall humor like Frank Zappa that I'm not always in the mood for; but when I am, it's sooo good.

9. Various - Master Mix: Red Hot and Arthur Russell
This is a tribute album to an artist I've just started to delve into, but is a great starting point. Arthur Russell was a composer/singer/cellist who made a lot of recordings in the 70's and 80's in all different genres but notably folk, experimental and disco music. This tribute is perfect because I can play it any time no matter what mood I'm in. Features appearances from Glen Hansard, Robyn, Jose Gonzalez, Hot Chip, Sufjan Stevens, and Phosphorescent.

10. Jack White - Lazaretto
you've probably heard it already.

11. Todd Terje - It's About Time
A great driving album full of long drawn out instrumental electronic tunes, but with more of Kraftwerk/70's Disco/Giorgio Moroder feel. Also features one tune sung by Bryan Ferry of Roxy Music.

12. The War on Drugs - Lost in a Dream
Hypnotic and dreamy roots rock, another good driving record, and full of songs that get stuck in your head.

13. Beck - Morning Phase
I was expecting this to be one of my top 3 of the year when I first heard it, but now I just want to listen to Sea Change instead (very similar album he released in 2002). Still this is really good though.

14. Damien Rice - My Favourite Faded Fantasy
A surprising release and welcome return. Still manages to give me goosebumps everytime.

15. Sharon Van Etten - Are We There
One of my indie rock crushes. That voice just kills me everytime.

16. Spoon - They Want My Soul
It doesn't feel right to put this so low on the list, but still my favorite of theirs since Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga.

My Favorite EPs of 2014
Ryan Adams - 1984
Avi Jacob - So Hard to Reach You

My Favorite Reissue/Archival Releases of 2014
Oasis - Definitely Maybe
Wilco - Alpha Mike Foxtrot: Rare Tracks 1994-2014
Bob Dylan and the Band - The Complete Basement Tapes
The Velvet Underground -The Velvet Underground Box Set

My Favorite Concerts of 2014

1. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds @ ACL Moody Theater, Austin, TX - 7/19
2. Tweedy/The Handsome Family @ Texas Union Ballroom, Austin, TX - 6/21
3. Pearl Jam @ ACL Fest, Austin, TX - 10/5
4. The National @ ACL Moody Theater, Austin, TX - 4/22
5. Parquet Courts @ Red 7, Austin, TX - 5/29
6. The Hold Steady @ Palm Park, Austin, TX - 3/12
7. Ryan Adams and the Shining @ ACL Moody Theater, Austin, TX 10/23
8. Bob Mould/Otis the Destroyer @ Mohawk, Austin, TX - 9/20
9. Arcade Fire @ Austin 360 Amphitheater, Austin, TX - 4/10
10. Protomartyr @ French Legation Museum, Austin, TX - 3/12
11. Coachwhips @ Hotel Vegas, Austin, TX - 3/11
12. Ryan Adams and the Shining @ Bayou Music Center, Houston, TX - 12/3
13. The Replacements @ ACL Fest, Austin, TX - 10/5
14. Bobby Bare Jr. @ House Party, Austin, TX 12/20
15. Hooray for the Riff Raff @ Jazzfest, New Orleans, LA 5/2

My Favorite New Musical Discoveries in 2014 (albums released before 2014)
Kendrick Lamar - good kid, M.A.A.D. city (2012)
The Handsome Family - In the Air (2000)
Bill Withers: Live at Carnegie Hall (1973)
Ian Hunter - You're Never Alone with a Schizophrenic (1979)
Teenage Fanclub - Grand Prix (1995)
Dean Wareham - Emancipated Hearts (2013)
The Handsome Family - Through the Trees (1998)
The Wipers - Box Set (1980-83)
Queens of the Stone Age - Like Clockwork (2013)
The Patti Smith Group- Live at CBGB's, New York 10/15/06 (Bootleg)
Various - Factory Dance 02: 12" Mixes and Rarities 1980-1987 (2012)
Dave Rawlings Machine - Friend of a Friend (2009)
The Fall - Live at the Witch Trials (1979)
Robyn Hitchcock - Perspex Island (1991)
Husker Du - Flip Your Wig (1985)
Geto Boys - Grip It on That Other Level (1989)
The Fall - Grotesque (After the Gramme) (1980)
Protomartryr - No Passion, All Technique (2012)
Death Grips - The Money Store (2012)
Rockpile - Seconds of Pleasure (1980)
The Raspberries - Greatest

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