Another year has gone past and yet again it has produced many fantastic albums, of which we have only listened to minority of what was released in 2014, but here’s our favourites that we kept coming back to time and time again. Happy New Year!
10. First Aid Kit – Stay Gold
First Aid Kit’s debut albums The Lion’s Roar picked up top honours in 2012. Stay Gold continues where the Swedish sisters left off with a set of delightfully easy to listen to pop/folk tunes. Favourite tracks are opener My Silver Lining (Live on Letterman), title track Stay Gold and the Summery Waitress Song (Live). Recommended, but if First Aid Kit are new to you, I suggest you also pick up The Lion’s Roar.
9. Steve Gunn – Way Out Weather
Title track off Steve Gunn’s Way Out Weather would be a contender for song of the year for me, I absolutely love everything about it, and as the YouTube comments say it is an absolute crime that this has only had 30K views, come on people!! Do yourself a favour and click the link above now, everything in the world will seem right for a few minutes. The rest of the album doesn’t disappoint with stand-out tracks like Milly’s Garden and Drifter upping the tempo a bit, and the laid back Atmosphere all rewarding the listener with sonic goodness.
8. The Black Keys – Turn Blue
It took me a while to listen to Turn Blue because I really couldn’t get into the single Fever which was being thrashed on Hauraki. Once I did pick up the album and give it some time I was loving the fact the rest of the album is quite different from Fever… Stand-out tracks for me are title track Turn Blue (Live at BBC), Waiting on Words and In Our Prime. The Black Keys prove yet again they are one of THE bands of this decade and keep delivering solid albums by making our Top 10 lists in 2009 with Keep it Hid (Dan Auebach’s solo release), 2010 with Brothers and in 2012 with El Camino. Had I started this blog in 2008 Attack & Release probably would have made my Top album list for that year too!
7. Damien Jurado – Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son
A friend of mine posted the track Silver Timothy on Facebook and from that I check out the rest of the album which was my first experience of Damien Jurado. What an album! Some of the songs take a few listens to grow on you, and others hit you right away. Stand-out tracks for me are Metallic Cloud (Live acoustic on Jools Holland), Silver Malcolm and Silver Joy. Yes lots of the song titles start with Silver! Go get this, it will become one of your favourite albums that you’ll listen to for years to come.
6. Conor Oberst – Upside Down Mountain
Conor Oberst is best known for his work with Bright Eyes, and also features on First Aid Kit’s King of the World. Oberst is a fantastic songwriter and Upside Down Mountain has many great poetic examples, such as:
I want to walk in that howling wind ’til it scatters all my thoughts, Sit alone on that riverbank ’til I Forget that I can talk, Just listen.
Stand-out tracks for me are Time Forgot, Zigzagging Toward the Light, Enola Gay and Double Life. You can listen to the whole album here, enjoy.
5. Angus and Julia Stone (Self Titled)
I’m a huge fan of Angus and Julia Stone, the Aussie brother and sister duo have served up a great range of tunes over the years and in 2014 they teamed up with Rick Rubin to create their 3rd full length studio album together. Angus’ solo album made my 2009 top album list and Julia’s solo album made my 2012 list. Stand-out tracks for me aside from single Heart Beats Slow which you’ve probably heard on the radio are: Little Whiskey, Please You and Get Home. And as always with these two, a fantastic recording too.
4. Ryan Adams (Self Titled)
Ryan Adams is likely the most played artist in my home, both my wife and I really enjoy his work and many of his songs have been the soundtrack to special times in our lives. This album kicks off with Tom Petty style guitar riffs with Gimme Something Good (Check out this Letterman performance) and ends in true Adams style with a quieter yet stunning number Let Go. Everything in between is great too, this is a solid album from beginning to end, with Kim (Live on Jimmy Fallon, spot the drummer missing his first note) and Tired of Giving Up being other stand-outs.
3. Beck – Morning Phase
Beck’s Sea Change (2002) is somewhat of an audiophile darling when it comes to recordings, I think Morning Phase can be best described as side two of Sea Change. Both in terms of outstanding recording quality and overall tone, sentiment and beautiful song writing. There’s never a dull moment on here, but if you want to show off your system try Morning, Unforgiven, and Don’t Let it Go. Oldschool Beck fans might complain that its all too grown up and beg for another Mellow Gold/Odelay/Midnight Vultures-esque record, but I don’t mind at all if Beck keeps going on this path.
2. Elbow – The Take Off and Landing of Everything
Elbow’s sixth studio album really hit a cord with me from the first listen. Their 2011 album Build a Rocket Boys! made 3rd place on my Top 10 list and I’ve enjoyed this record even more so it deserves to jump a position and make it to #2. Hearing Elbow live for a second time this year was a concert highlight for me, especially when they played Scattered Black and Whites which they hadn’t played live for years. Stand-out tracks are plentiful but Charge, Fly Boy Blue/Lunette (it’s so good when Lunette kicks in at 3:11) and Colour Fields would be my picks if I had to pick. Check this record out, and if you haven’t heard much of Elbow go back through the catalogue and you won’t disappointed. This is seriously good music that gets missed in a world of mass produced forgettable pop.
1. The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream
#1 on many top album of 2014 lists, and for good reason. The War on Drugs have produced an album that appeals to so many, and in doing to have firmly put themselves on the musical map. With an 80’s rock flavour, this collection of ambient yet melodic rock songs is one that you never tire of, it can be played over and over, and at the end of each time, you’re glad its starting again. The opening 3 tracks are killer, but my favourites also include Eyes to the Wind (Live) and In Reverse (Live Acoustic), but the second track Red Eyes (Live on Letterman) would get my vote for song of the year. I can’t say it better than Pitchfork, so here’s what they wrote:
The album is loaded with songs whose greatness is revealed slowly, where the simplest, most understated chord change can blow a track wide open and elevate it from simply pretty to absolutely devastating.
You can listen to the full album here, I recommend you do so right now.
Bring on 2015, we can’t wait to see what new music comes out, especially when a new Radiohead album is being worked on…