Monday, December 15, 2014

Georgy's top 25 of 2014

Every year, I worry (irrationally, I know) that I won't discover any new music that changes me, that makes me sit up and pay attention, that infects my brain (in the best of ways) and refuses to leave. Every year I am wrong, but always in new and delightful ways. As it should be. Without further ado, my brain-infecting, posture-inducing, life-changing top albums and songs of 2014.

Top 25 Albums of 2014 (in ranked order)

  1. Sharon van Etten - Are We There

    There’s a raw energy bound up in the melodic richness of these songs. This album is unstable enough to unnerve you, but seductive enough to soothe you. And that’s the precarious yet precious place it occupies in my heart.

  2. Chromeo - White Women

Sometimes, you just need to groove. Chromeo brings the groove hard and good on this one, toting a confident funkiness buoyed by serious musical chops. On “White Women,” Chromeo evokes the best funk, R&B, and pop vibes laid down by their musical predecessors, lending the album a truly classic vibe.

  1. Ryan Adams - Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams is so good -- so perfectly pissy, poetically wounded, and musically talented -- that there are few ways he could get better. But it turns out that one of those ways is to hire Mike Viola as your producer. That, it turns out, is a really great way to get better.

  1. Quiet Hounds - The Wild Hunt

This may seem like an unassuming indie album at first listen. But there’s a quiet, earnest pleading that commands your attention and concern, and something timeless and true permeating their harmonies. Quiet Hounds purports to create not just songs, but experiences, and the somewhat ethereal quality they hold bears this out.

  1. Bear’s Den - Islands

Believe it or not, this album does not rank highly based on the band’s name alone (though a well-placed bear reference never hurts). You may detect hints of Mumford in this UK band’s earnest folk, but their melodies are more accessible, their themes a bit more nuanced, and they are a less yell-y and more charming.

  1. RAC - Strangers

After a career spent remixing others’ hits (to great effect, I might add), RAC pulls in acts such as Tokyo Police Club and Tegan and Sara to round out their own full-length debut. The result is warm, bubbly, electronic indie rock.

  1. Bleachers - Strange Desire

Sure, “I Wanna Get Better” became a huge hit and maybe you’re sick of it. But don’t let that deter you from listening to this 80s-tastic, at times epic and other times synthy, accomplishment. It features my favorite song of the year (which, incidentally, is not the hit single.)

  1. Mike Doughty - Stellar Motel

It’s pretty hard at this point for Mike Doughty to do wrong. After going cold turkey on hip hop with the solo acoustic “Skittish” post-Soul Coughing, Doughty’s ongoing evolution as a songwriter has led him to this full band effort, successfully infused with hip hop and funk elements and the traditional smart, catchy songcraft we know and love.

  1. Stars - No One is Lost

Every few years, a wonderful phenomenon takes place at the Canadian border. A new Stars album arrives, and a thirst I never knew I had for smart, pop-infused, electrifyingly sexy rock music is at last sated.

  1. Jenny Lewis - The Voyager

I have resigned myself to the fact that Jenny Lewis will never recapture the magic that is “Rabbit Fur Coat.” But that doesn’t mean she can’t churn out a damn fine album, soulful and smart. Glad she’s back in form after a long layoff.

  1. Alt-J - This Is All Yours
  2. The War on Drugs - Lost in the Dream
  4. Bad Suns - Language and Perspective
  5. Wild Cub - Youth
  6. SKATERS - Manhattan
  7. J Mascis - Tied to a Star
  8. New Pornographers - Brill Bruisers
  9. Bob Mould - Beauty and Ruin
  10. Sturgill Simpson - Metamodern Sounds in Country Music
  11. The Both - The Both
  12. Magic Man - Before the Waves
  13. Real Estate - Atlas
  14. Elbow - The Take Off and Landing of Everything
  15. The Wind and the Wave - From the Wreckage

Albums that may have ranked higher if I had discovered them sooner:

Fear of Men - Loom
Rural Alberta Advantage - Mended With Gold

Top 25 songs of 2014 (in ranked order)

  1. It’s a Longer Road to California Than I Thought - The Wind and the Water
  2. Wild Heart - Bleachers
  3. The Promise - Sturgill Simpson
  4. Old 45s - Chromeo
  5. I Love You But I’m Lost - Sharon Van Etten
  6. Gimme Something Good - Ryan Adams
  7. Underwater Listening - Quiet Hounds
  8. Digital Witness - St. Vincent
  9. My Silver Lining - First Aid Kit
  10. Do It Again - Royksopp and Robin
  11. Red Eyes - The War on Drugs
  12. Agape - Bear’s Den
  13. Tourist - RAC / Tokyo Police Club
  14. Trap Door - Stars
  15. Talking Backwards - Real Estate
  16. Always - Panama
  17. Just One of the Guys - Jenny Lewis
  18. SKATERS - Miss Teen Massachusetts
  19. Love Me Like I’m Not Made of Stone - Lykke Li
  20. When the Night is Young - Mike Doughty
  21. New York Morning - Elbow
  22. Word Crimes - Weird Al Yankovic
  23. Los Angeles Be Kind - Owl John
  24. Riptide - Vance Joy
  25. 27 - Passenger

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