Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Best Albums of 2014

Brief thoughts on the year in a medium of entertainment I don't devote nearly enough time to.

Best of 2014

7. ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead - IX

I don't love this band the way I used to, but they still can create a big rock song better than most that I've heard. They at least exceeded my expectations after I mostly enjoyed but got a little bored with their last couple albums. I can't think of a track on IX that I don't like.

6. The Antlers - Familiars

The Antlers seem to reinvent themselves with every album. That's definitely the case here, as they take on a less pop-focused, more kind of jammy or jazzy sound. It sounds like they're playing in a laid back bar with not a lot of people in it. A lot of the songs sound very similar, but if you can get into it it's a very pleasant and rewarding experience.

5. TV on the Radio - Seeds

The band comes back together after the unfortunate loss of their bassist to cancer, and prove they still know their way around their instruments. I've come to terms with the fact that they're not going to be the best band of all time, and that they're still pretty good anyway. I could have done with a bit more Kyp Malone singing, but it's overall a nicely balanced and enjoyable rock album.

4. St. Vincent

St. Vincent's fourth album sounds a lot like her third. Not like, the songs sound the same, because most of her songs don't really sound alike. But she's still doing the same thing, creating original noise/art/indie/pop/rock that's always unique and always interesting. It's always fun to hear a new song by her.

3. Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels 2

I could have just quoted some lyrics and let that be it, but it's hard to pick what. There's just so much to choose from, and a lot of what works about it is in Killer Mike's and El-P's delivery. I've enjoyed both of these guys' work before, but I didn't even know they were working together until late last year, when I heard "Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)" and got hooked pretty quickly. The aggressive, clever vocals and El-P's memorable beats work together to create a great pure rap album which doesn't need to screw around with experiments or genres to succeed.

2. Sun Kil Moon - Benji

A lot of this album is one man singing about personal things (mostly death) and playing his guitar, and it's some of the most gripping music I heard all year. There's a real sense of purpose behind it, like it's something that he needed to get out of him and he cared more about being true to the emotions he was conveying than smoothing it over for broader consumption. I won't soon forget it.

1. Spoon - They Want My Soul

A longtime respect for Spoon finally manifested into true love as I listened to They Want My Soul. It's hard to explain why this album in particular worked so well for me. All I can say is that every single song on it fucking kicks ass in a way that most songs you hear just aren't able to kick ass. They all just jump out of the speakers and take over my mind. Maybe everyone has one Spoon album like that, and this one is mine.

Delayed Entry

This is the best album that wasn't released in 2014 but I didn't hear until then.

Wilco - Summerteeth

It took me quite some time to realize that Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is actually a great album and not just a pretty good one, so it was nice to get another album by Wilco and realize that my mind wasn't playing tricks on me. They are a really good band who knows how to craft great songs that grow in your brain and hold up to repeated examinations in ways more basic stuff doesn't. They don't go for pure catchiness, they try to find something deeper and usually do.

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