Wednesday, December 31, 2014
20 Favorite Albums of 2014
19) Jon Pardi - Write You A Song - The best mainstream country album released in 2014 is light on "bro" and heavy on simple, good songs. Some folks will probably call his voice an "acquired taste," whatever that means, especially if what they're used to is the stuff you're likely to hear churned out by mainstream radio. But that's just something they're not used to hearing on country radio: Soul.
Trisha is a fantastic songwriter and an equally if not more brilliant singer. At seven songs, the album is short and sweet, wearing influences from Memphis soul to Texas country. Can't wait for more.
14) Joan Shelley - Electric Ursa - I'm not sure a more perfect record for a lazy Sunday afternoon was released in 2014. There is a lightness to the production that makes all the songs here feel like old friends. Shelley's lyrics are worked over and thoughtful, poetic and contemplative, and at eight tracks and 32 and a half minutes, she stays just long enough to make you wish she'd stay longer.
Other albums I enjoyed a whole lot but didn't really get around to listening to as much as I would've liked:
In the Valley Below - The Belt - Punsters perfect pop.
Lykke Li - I Never Learn - Passionate heartbreak.
HT Heartache - Sundowner - Music for in between the suns.
Jason Eady - Daylight & Dark - Modern-traditional country music for in between the suns.
Red June - Ancient Dreams - Good folks. Mountains. Happiness.
Phantogram - Voices - Schizophrenic pop shenanigans.
Stoney Larue - Aviator - Straight kickass country, not "Kiss my country ass" poser-country.
Coldplay - Ghost Stories - Branching out. Consciously uncoupled, unnecessarily hated.
Nickel Creek - A Dotted Line - The fire never died.
Luluc - Passerby - Hushed. That voice. Those melodies.
Chatham County Line - Tightrope - Experimental bluegrass. So, not bluegrass.
Kenneth O'Meara - God of Wind - Hardscrabble stories. Wrestling with God.
Lee Ann Womack - The Way I'm Livin' - Queen of country is a Chris Knight fan.
Wye Oak - Shriek - Should be in my top albums. Forgot. Sorry.
Favorite non-2014 discovery: Helen Stellar - I first heard a song by these guys called "Flutterby" on an episode of the television show Friday Night Lights. One Shazam later, I was hooked. This is indie-rock that can truly rock when it wants to but is also dynamic and intriguing and a little experimental. It's epic and beautiful and has just enough of a touch of the 80s. Plus, their full-length album has one of the greatest titles of all time: If the Stars Could Speak They Would Have Your Voice... You should check them out.
I usually get a bit link-crazy with these things, but this year I decided to act like Google exists. If you come across something that sounds like you might dig it, opposite-of-Bing that sucker.