2014 was a good year for music — you just had to lose yourself in something unsafe. – Staff Writer Jonathan Pirro.
A lot of people seemed mighty nonplussed by 2014’s recorded music output. Sure, there was a lot of somewhat generic, unimpressive stuff. However, if you did some real hunting, you’ll find that there was some incredibly impressive stuff out there. Here are Spinning Platter’s Staff’s individual lists of favorite records of 2014, starting with my own list:
1.) A Dotted Line / Nickel Creek
Most “comeback” records tend to be pretty forgettable. Nickel Creek broke that policy with ferocity. A record full of energy, musicianship, and something that has been sorely lacking on prior records: a sense of humor. Forget everything you know about nu-grass or neo-folk or whatever the latest name of this genre is. This one is simply a stunner.
2.) Say Yes To Love / Perfect Pussy
In less than the length of your average sitcom, Perfect Pussy have made the boldest statement in wax this year. Their debut album- 9 songs of glorious ferocity mixed with the most emotionally naked lyric writing you’ll find anywhere- is pure punk perfection.
3.) Live From Chicago / Hannibal Buress
Not often does a comedy record make the kind of bold statement that Hannibal Buress’ Live From Chicago. He’s one of the smartest comedians out there. His perspective on the world is very broad and open minded. On the first listen, you are laughing out loud. On subsequent listens, you’ll find yourself contemplating the heart of what he’s saying, and you might actually come out a better person.
4.) The Voyager / Jenny Lewis
It took seven long years for Ms Lewis to finish this record. Sure, it’s not Dr Dre or Tool, but the perfectionism comes through. These songs are some of the best songs of Lewis’ already impressive career. The lyrical themes on this record are some of the most personal and darkest pieces of writing I’ve heard in years.
5.) PHOX / PHOX
PHOX have released one of the most mature and fully realized debut records in the history of the medium. Bringing together elements of soul, jazz, folk and country into a delicious stew of beautiful music. This is a timeless record. Something that you can play for your grandparents and your kids.
6.) St Vincent / St Vincent
Annie Clark is always pushing boundaries. With each record, she manages to not only do something that she’s never done before, but pushes to art form of recorded media to a new, sometimes uncomfortable, place.
7.) Somewhere Else / Lydia Loveless
Lydia Loveless is a country singer. She comes from the gritty, outlaw country world- singing about drinking, causing trouble, and heartache. She adds just a wonderful hint of punk rock rage to her honky tonk roots on this record, making it one of the most “in your face” country albums of all time.
8.) Seeds / TV On The Radio
Historically, TV On The Radio have been trying to expond their horizons with each subsequent record. This time, they’ve brought a new challenge- a perfect pop record.
9.) Everyday Robots / Damon Albarn
Damon Albarn’s solo debut is an incredibly delicate piece of work. It has the whimsy of Gorillaz combined with the wit of Blur and a world music flavor that is nearly entirely new, save Albarn’s Mali Music record.
10.) Transgender Dysphoria Blues / Against Me!
Against Me! spent years as “just another Warped Tour band.” Then, seemingly out of nowhere, lead singer Thomas Gabel came out as a transgender, and began living as Laura Jane Grace. Letting this secret out of the bag allowed Grace to open up in more than one area. It seems that she was holding back as a songwriter, too. Leading us to the most passionate rock record of the year.
11.) Lazaretto / Jack White
One side of the record plays from the inside out? The other side has two different intros for the first song, depending on where you put the needle? Secret 45 and 78 rpm tracks hidden under the label? Also a laser etched angel? Amazing. Also, the songs are really bloody good.
12.) Holly / Nick Waterhouse
The perfect blend of classic soul and garage. Waterhouse has made an impressive statement of garage rock swagger and soul sophistication.
13.) Deep Fantasy / White Lung
White Lung aren’t reinventing the wheel here. They don’t need to. Simply put, they’ve released a record that is pure adrenalin from beginning to end. Anytime you need to get your heart rate up for whatever reason, this is the album to go to.
14.) We Are Miracles / Sarah Silverman
Sarah Silverman is maturing. I know that’s bad news for a comedian, but it works for her. Her wit keeps getting sharper, but she’s genuinely challenging herself her. This is a comedy record for the ages.
15.) Drop / Thee Oh Sees
For Thee Oh Sees “farewell” record, John Dwyer & Co decided to go psych. This isn’t another aggressive garage punk album. This is Thee Oh Sees’ version of Rubber Soul- a beautiful head trip of an album with great vocals, catchy hooks, and layers upon layers of sounds. A winning way to say goodbye to the classic line up of these Bay Area legends.