Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014 Favorites

# 1 St Vincent

St Vincent

It should not have taken St. Vincent’s electrifying performance at Pitchfork to make me take a closer listen to this album, but it did. At Pitchfork, she subverted and parodied rock star poses and then shredded and rocked as hard as any one of those stars. This album takes all the strengths in evidence in St Vincent’s earlier albums--lyrical wit, innovative guitar sounds and gorgeous vocals--and balances them perfectly.

# 2 Lydia Loveless

Somewhere Else

The madness of love (like the trope of love as an addiction) is a cliche.  But when someone takes that cliche, grabs it by the throat and sings and plays it the hell out of it, well, suddenly it seems like a revelation. Somewhere Else is a revelation--a shot of bourbon in a world of rosemary-infused fizzy cocktails.

# 3 Sharon Van Etten

Are We There

Her best yet--the same thing I’ve said about her last two albums. Although Van Etten hasn’t broadened the breadth of her subject matter, her songs continue to grow in nuance and power.

# 4 Protomartyr

Under the Color of Official Right

Angular, caustic, and droll postpunk from the Motor City that would make Iggy proud.  

# 5 Spoon

They Want My Soul

#6 Jenny Lewis

The Voyager

The 70s LA rock production throws you at first. But it’s just sugar-coating lyrics sharp and cutting as glass shards.  

#7 Ex Hex


Mary Timony (Helium, Wild Flag) brings back the 3-minute rock song--actually gives us a dozen terrific ones.

# 8 The New Pornographers

Brill Bruisers

A. C. Newman is happy; songs are happy; New Pornographers fans are happy.

#9 War on Drugs

Lost in the Dream

Secretly Canadian

I’ve always been a sucker for Dylanesque vocals and when you add stellar guitar atmospherics and solid songcraft to the mix, the results are transfixing.

# 10 The Men

Tomorrow’s Hits

Sacred Bones

Shambolic rockers reminiscent of the Replacements or pub rockers Brinsley Schwarz.

Many happy listens


Morning Phase

Beck revisits the sound of 2002’s
Sea Change, working with many of the same musicians and delivering many of same sonic delights.