Favorite Records of 2014


Another year gone by, another year in music to review. For me personally, it was a strange year in music. I found myself listening to unsigned / self released artists more often than some of the mainstream artists that I love so much. 2 Neil Young records – the 1st was good, if not great. The 2nd was a little too lush for my tastes. Neither appear on my year-end round-up. I looked forward to the new John Mellencamp (yes, seriously) but I came away only loving about half the record. Bruce Springsteen added Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine to his band and the record he released didn’t disappoint me. I managed to get out to a few shows in 2014 and was blown away by Mudhoney (twice) and First Aid Kit. Speaking of First Aid Kit, their Stay Gold record grew in stature with repeated listens and should help them become a household name. So without further rambling, here are the records that I played the most in 2014. Note: these are listed randomly and I chose to focus on full length releases that were released in 2014.

Records That Deserve a Wider Audience:

  1. Withered Hand / New Gods – Dan Willson and friends follow-up the debut with a record with a slightly sunnier outlook. There wasn’t a song that hit me on the level of “Religious Songs”, but that’s OK – this is a fine, fine record.
  2. Soup / Album – A mix of styles, or should I say…er, soup. Shoegaze sits comfortably with Britpop and Psychedelic Rock. I loved this record.
  3. Black Swan Lane / A Moment of Happiness – Another year, another gem from BSL. A post-punk masterpiece with brooding vocals, melodic guitar licks, and bass lines that are incredible.
  4. The Lost Patrol / Chasing Shadows – If David Lynch needs a band to soundtrack the upcoming season of Twin Peaks, I’d recommend The Lost Patrol. Their strongest album yet.
  5. Dan Florio / Malleability – Another (mostly) acoustic gem from Dan Florio
  6. Sunstack Jones / Roam – no sophomore slump with Sunstack Jones – another record full of strong indie rock tunes
  7. The Shackeltons / Records – after a long hiatus, The Shackeltons returned with a post-punk gem that delivered on the promise of their debut. An energetic masterpiece.
  8. +/- {Plus/Minus} / Jumping The Tracks – perhaps the most beautiful record released in 2014, this one hit hard. Melodic guitar riffs, emotional singing, perfect rhythm – this is indie rock at its finest.

Best Album From Philadelphia, PA

  1. Nothing / Guilty of Everything – a record indebted to the shoegazing scene of the early 90’s with a slightly edgier approach. I had this record on repeat all year.

Best Album From Seattle, WA

  1. Mudhoney / On Top – Remember that time Mudhoney played at the top of the Space Needle in Seattle? The moment was etched into history in July 2013 and was released on this limited edition album in early 2014. You can also find the entire show on YouTube. Not included – a picture of me standing at the bottom of the Space Needle trying to hear something.

Dream of the 90’s

  1. Weezer / Everything Will Be Alright In The End – the strongest Weezer record in over 10 years. I loved every moment.
  2. Live / The Turn – Live returned with a new singer and a return to the harder rocking sound of their mid 90’s output. A solid release that mostly erased memories of latter-day Live (in their original incarnation).

The (Slightly) Mainstream

  1. Bruce Springsteen / High Hopes – Some people called this a bunch of outtakes. I called it an amazing record with some of the edgiest guitar playing to grace a record by The Boss. You can thank that guy from Rage Against the Machine.
  2. Broken Bells / After the Disco – James Mercer and Danger Mouse delivered a 2nd record that somehow managed to improve on their impressive debut. Mr. Mercer might want to give up his day job with The Shins to focus on Broken Bells.
  3. Natalie Merchant / self titled – older, wiser and slightly more morbid – Natalie Merchant returned with her 1st album of original material in quite some time, and I loved every second.
  4. Morrissey / World Peace Is None Of Your Business – Morrissey returned after a few years away with one of his strongest records. It doesn’t sound like anything else he has ever released, leaning heavily on horns and off the cuff lyrics.
  5. The Raveonettes / Pe’ahi – a consolidation of the duo’s strengths, this blended white noise, beats, and melodies galore. It might be my favorite record from them.
  6. First Aid Kit / Stay Gold – The year of First Aid Kit. I played this record nonstop all year and got to see them live in Seattle this past November. I’m looking forward to whatever comes next from Johanna and Klara Söderberg.

Favorite Mark Kozelek release

  1. Sun Kil Moon / Benji – Another year, another Mark Kozelek related release. Benji is a masterpiece demonstrating musical & lyrical complexity on a grand scale. I’d imagine Mr. Kozelek would make fun of me for saying that, but that’s OK. I loved this record.

That should just about wrap it up. I’m sure I forgot a few records or bands, but I’m running low on coffee. I’ll catch up with you in 2015.

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