Favorite Records of 2014

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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.

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Withered Hand – Horseshoe b/w Not Another Sunny Day

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Dan Wilson – aka Withered Hand – made a splash in 2009 / 2010 with his debut album, Good News. The songs set a standard for what was being called either (depending on what you were reading) anti-folk or UK-based DIY (do it yourself). I suppose either genre description could apply, but it almost does a disservice to the brilliance that is Withered Hand. Anthem like sing-a-long songs, some of the lyrics dealt with Wilson’s upbringing in a fundamentalist religion with a wit that never felt negative. Questioning yet full of beauty, these were the songs that I most connected with. Now it is a few years later and Withered Hand returns with music produced by Tony Doogan (Belle and Sebastian) and help from a ton of friends including Pam Berry (Black Tambourine, Glo-Worm, The Pines, The Shapiros) and Eugene Kelly (The Vaselines). Leaving the past behind? Not exactly, the new music looks to the future whilst retaining everything that made us fall in love with Withering Hand in the 1st place.

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