Best of 2014… Top 10 Albums and Songs

by deej on December 30, 2014

We had our year-end meeting this past weekend to discuss our favourite songs and albums of 2014. It was a grand chat: plenty of diversity and no overwhelming consensus favourites from everyone. (I’ve spent most of this week listening or re-listening to albums that I had missed or passed over.)

I’ll post the others’ favourites once I get them, but in the meantime, here’s my list of the best that 2014 had to offer.

Albums:

10. Feel Not Bad – SW/MM/NG
9. Augustines – Augustines
8. Mended With Gold – The Rural Alberta Advantage
7. Kerowax – The Jack Kerowax
6. Benjamin Booker – Benjamin Booker
5. Alvvays – Alvvays
4. HEAL – Strand of Oaks
3. El Prado – Black English (formerly NO)
2. Water Liars – Water Liars
1. Somewhere Else – Lydia Loveless

Honourable mentions:
Metamodern Sounds in Country Music – Sturgill Simpson
Good Luck Charm – The Mastersons
Small Town Heroes – Hurray for the Riff Raff
The Endless River – Pink Floyd

Songs*:

10. Falling Off – Unicycle Loves You
9. These American Hearts – Bryan Elijah Smith
8. Stuck In The South – Adia Victoria
7. Blood Bath – Saintseneca
6. Keep On Shining – Curtis Harding
5. Stand Up – A.J. Ellis
4. Divisionary (Do The Right Thing) – Ages And Ages
3. Moving Target – Fire Mountain
2. Ex’s And Oh’s – Elle King
1. Funeral Beds – The Districts

Honourable mentions:
Empty Promises – The Wild Family
Radio On – Ex Hex
Transgender Dysphoria Blues – Against Me!
Canyon – The Dead Ships

*Based on tracks that weren’t included in the albums above.

Happy new year everyone!
~ nutsandgum

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It’s a couple of weeks overdue, but with familial obligations since late June, I’ve finally found the time to put together my second post of the year. Better late than never, right?

Since my last post in March, the mercury has been rising steadily with new music releases in 2014. There’s still plenty of country, a little bit of soul, and finally some good rock n’ roll, so hopefully you’ll find a song or two you’ll enjoy as much as I have:

Abelene – Anna Lynch
A slow, sad country ballad about spousal alcoholism. Right in my wheelhouse for those lazy hazy afternoons.

Adult Diversion – Alvvays
The Toronto quintet, led by Molly Rankin (yes, those Rankins), hail from Toronto, but have a sound made for California. The perfect surf-rock tune for a sunny summer day.
Listen to the full album streaming on NPR this week.

Blood Bath – Saintseneca
A lovely folk rock tune from this act out of Ohio.

Cope – Manchester Orchestra
Glad to see the Sabbath-inspired guitar work is still there on the latest album.

Demon Stuck In Your Eye – Le Butcherettes
Mexican garage punk at its best. (Honestly, they’re the only Mexican garage punk band I know.)

Divisionary (Do The Right Thing) – Ages And Ages
An upbeat pop anthem with a fantastic singalong chorus. Just so damn catchy.
Also check out: Light Goes Out from their Tiny Desk Concert on NPR.

Don’t Say A Word – Major and The Monbacks
A bunch of white dudes singing retro soul in 2014? No, it’s not St. Paul & the Broken Bones, but these guys are helping with latest southern soul revival.

Falling Off – Unicycle Loves You
From the fourth release of this Brooklyn noise-pop trio.

Forever Is Just A Day – Hurray For The Riff Raff
Apologies for making you work to hear this track… you have to click the link, and then scroll to the bottom of the page. It’s definitely worth it to hear this standout on a solid album of tunes.

Funeral Beds – The Districts
In the running for my favourite song of the year. These teenagers from Pennsylvania are deserving of the praise they’re getting on the festival circuit this summer.

Good Luck Charm – The Mastersons
More country goodness from this married duo who’ve been a part of Steve Earle’s Dukes for a few years now. Their second release shows they’re capable of making a name of their own these days.
Also check out: Cautionary Tale.

Goshen ’97 – Strand of Oaks
A driving roots-rock number to lead off Tim Showalter’s incredible new LP. This is the album I had really hoped The War on Drugs was going to release this year.

Henry Lee – After Jack
A trio of beauties blending bluegrass, folk and gospel melodies. Did I mention the banjo?

If I Told You Who It Was – Johnny Cash
New music from the Man in Black. ‘Nuff said.

Kathleen – Catfish And The Bottlemen
The lead single from the Brit band’s upcoming debut is very promising.

Love You Like A Man – Chris Smither
The latest from the American blues singer. After 40 years of recording, he’s showing no signs of slowing down.

Magnolia – Lee Fields
The latest from the American soul singer. After 40 years of recording, he’s showing no signs of slowing down. Also can’t wait to see him at Interstellar Rodeo this summer.

Masten Lake Lagoon – The Pharmacy
The first track off the new album from this Seattle garage/psych rock outfit.

Monday – NO
More National than The National. These guys blew me away when they opened for – and upstaged – Reuben and the Dark earlier this year. The entire album is just fantastic.
Listen to the full album here.

Moving Target – Fire Mountain
Their bio describes them as “effortlessly alternating between Southern slow-burners and folk-rock jams”, and that sums them up nicely.

Natural - Preston Lovinggood
This song is too damn good for him to still be serving coffee at Starbucks.

Red Lights – Molly & the Zombies
The new Gaslight Anthem album is being released later this year, but while I wait, I’ve been caught up in Brian Fallon’s side project.

Rollin’ Round This Town – Dirk Powell
He’s recorded with Jack White and Levon Helm. Steve Earle calls him “the greatest old-time banjo player alive”. This bluesy-rock track is a little outside his traditional Appalachian sound, but will have you foot stomping in no time.

Stand Up – A.J. Ellis
The former Five O’Clock Heroes frontman released his solo debut this year. “Everyone betrayed everyone over everything. Women, alcohol, drugs and money. ‘Stand Up’ was homage to that.”

Stinky Song – Yankee Dixie
Lead singer Tara Mills warbles over the stand-up bass and banjo here on this soulful, folky bluegrass tune, and I’m at a loss to find the stink in this song.

Turtles All The Way Down – Sturgill Simpson
An outstanding follow-up to his High Top Mountain debut, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music is worthy of every accolade it’s received this year. I have to think Waylon himself would be proud.

Violent Shiver – Benjamin Booker
Described as “a well-mixed musical cocktail of punk, folk, and New Orleans blues”, this may be my most anticipated album of the summer.

Willy Loman – EdTang & the Chops
Back with a solid new EP to follow up one of my favourite albums of 2013, EdTang has rounded out his gritty acoustic folk songs with the rockier chops of a full band backing him.

Late to the party…
I somehow missed these tunes last year, but have been making up for it lately:

Mystery Man – The Strypes
Stellar tunes from this gritty, garage rock four-piece from Ireland. A splendid mix of rhythm and blues reminiscent of The Yardbirds and the Stones. Did I mention they’re only teenagers?
Also check out: She’s So Fine and What A Shame.

Record Time – Quiet Life
Atmospheric folk rock from this band of Portland brothers.

I hope there’s a new discovery or two in there that you enjoy, and feel free to leave a comment or tweet at me to let me know what I’ve been missing.

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Favourite Songs of 2014… Getting Started.

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Best of 2013… Songs.

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