Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Laura's Top Music of 2014

I know I’m not the first, and nor will I be the last, to say that 2014 gave us a lot of really great music. This is the first time I’ve ever put together a Top Albums list in addition to my Top Songs, and I have to say, I’m surprised by how different the two lists are. There were some great songs that just didn’t have a complimentary album to back them up and some solid albums that flowed together just right without having that stand-out single. But that’s OK. In fact, that’s part of what makes music great.

Without further ado, here are my top albums of 2014, listed in order.

1.) Wild Cub - Youth
I love how much I love Wild Cub’s debut effort. I’ve been listening to this album almost exclusively for the past two months. There’s something about their at-times jaunty score juxtaposed with the more melancholy lyrics that really does it for me.

2.) First Aid Kit - Stay Gold
I’ve always been a fan of indie folk music and these Swedish sisters really do it for me. “Shattered and Hollow” is possibly my favorite song of the year, period, but the album’s entire tone is soothing like a favorite sweater. And best of all, this album led me to explore the duo’s earlier work, which has been fun in and of itself.

3.) Jenny Lewis - The Voyager
I’ve been a fan of Jenny Lewis since her Rilo Kiley days. Then again, I was a moody teenage girl during the early 2000s so that was pretty much a prerequisite. But what I most appreciate about “The Voyager” is that it echos what I loved about “The Ripchord” and “Portions for Foxes” as a teen: it’s relatable. Cliche or not, Lewis writes and sings songs that I and many of my fellow twentysomething, childless women can close our eyes and imagine is about us.

4.) Echo and The Bunnymen - Meteorites
This album just hits that perfect balance of rough-edge vocals and unexpected guitar that I’d actually hoped for from some other albums this year. Those (which shall remain nameless) disappointed but thankfully the Bunneymen filled the void.

5.) Tigers Jaw-Charmer
Another bit of late-90s/early-00s inspired indie emo, this album was nostalgic without being overdone. I’m a sucker for a lead singer with an unusual voice and Ben Walsh certainly fits the bill for me and Brianna Coles’ backup vocals only sweeten the deal.

6.) Tokyo Police Club - Forcefield
I appreciate a good saga and I really appreciate even more when a group goes big or goes home and opens an album with one. “Argentina (Parts I, II, III)” is quite possible the best long-form song I’ve heard since The Decemberists’ “Crane Wife.” This epic alone would be enough to put them on the best of the year list, but complemented by a host of songs unafraid to try something different with each track locks in their place.

7.) Bombay Bicycle Club - So Long, See You Tomorrow
Despite this being Bombay Bicycle Club’s fourth full album, this was my introduction to the band. And I’m so glad it was. Much of my music listening takes place on the daily commute and this album has just the right mix of energizing beats to keep me awake through the slog and mellow enough vocals to keep me from losing my temper when people annoy me.

8.) Alvvays - Alvvays
Another debut album, this one already has me eager to see what the band does next. Molly Rankin’s voice reminds me of CHVRCHES’ Lauren Mayberry in the best possible way.

9.) Quilt - Held in Splendor
This band makes me feel like I’m living inside a Wes Anderson movie every time I listen to them and I love them for it. If David Bowie and the Beatles were to have afternoon tea with Tilda Swinton, I imagine this album would be playing in the background. That’s not much of a description but that’s the best I can do for the awesomeness that is Quilt.

10.) Parquet Courts - Sunbathing Animal
Much like Echo and the Bunnymen above, Parquet Courts filled the post-grunge void in my life that I didn’t expect them to but I’m so glad they did. There’s also something about the languid, almost to the point of drawling vocals, that makes me think of the classic country of the 60s and 70s I grew up listening to with my dad.

And here's what rounds out my Top 20 Albums:
11.) The Colourist - The Colourist
12.) Young Rising Sons - Young Rising Sons
13.) Bleachers - Strange Desire
14.) Interpol - El Pintor
15.) Spoon - They Want My Soul
16.) PHOX - PHOX
17.) Cold War Kids - Hold My Home
18.) Jack White - Lazaretto
19.) alt-J - Hunger Of The Pine
20.) We Are the Willows - Picture (Portrait)

Top songs of 2014

I'm in another music exchange and we have a few different rules than this bunch of renegades, namely that our list of top songs has to fit onto a CD. It makes things a bit more challenging but I like it. And because I'm a nerd, I always put my list in the order I think the songs flow best, not necessarily by favorite. You can also find the list on Spotify.
I Won't Let You Down - OK Go
Eye of the Pearl - Quilt
Dear Ramona - Parquet Courts
Would You Fight For My Love - Jack White
Left Hand Free - alt-J
Head Underwater - Jenny Lewis
Feel the Effect - Tokyo Police Club
Thunder Clatter - Wild Cub
My Desire - Interpol
Holy Moses - Echo and the Bunnymen
Archie, Marry Me - Alvvays
Knock Knock Knock - Spoon
Red & Gold - Young Rising Sons
All This Could Be Yours - Cold War Kids
Gooey - Glass Animals
Shattered & Hollow - First Aid Kit
In Due Time - PHOX
Wild Heart - Bleachers
It's Alright Now - Bombay Bicycle Club
Distress Signal - Tigers Jaw
We Won't Go Home - The Colourist

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