I have a hard time doing top 10s and top 20s. I usually just like to drop a bunch of shit that blew my mind for the year. But this time, I did manage to sum up my absolute favorites of 2014 in the order of how much I enjoyed them. I’ll also be dropping nods to reissues, eps, and runner-up albums. This will also reveal how major the midlife crisis I’m going through is. Also, there’s sadly no hip-hop on this list. I’m way fucking behind, and kind of a 90s to 2005 guy when it comes to hip hop. That being said, I did enjoy the new Souls Of Mischief. So, now that that’s out of the way…on with it!
15. The Hotelier – Home, Like Noplace Is There (Tiny Engines)
Don’t really have a whole lot to say about this, other than it kinda blew me away right into the first minute of the beginning track, “An Introduction To The Album”. It’s fucking beautiful, and it honestly doesn’t even prepare you for how amazing the rest of this release is. It’s just great.
14. Dikembe – Mediumship (Tiny Engines)
How badass is that album cover? It pretty much sums up how badass the album is. I found it to be a bit different from previous Dikembe material, but I always respect when a band can change things up and not suck. And that’s how I feel about Mediumship.
13. Bob Mould – Beauty and Ruin (Merge Records)
Hüsker Dü and Sugar’s Bob Mould is still rocking the hell out. Pretty much anytime this man puts out a new release, you can guarantee it to be gold. Well, maybe you cant, but I can. Mould never really got the credit he deserved, in my opinion. It’s a shame. Sugar was a huge influence on me inhigh school, and Mould’s guitar work was an inspiration. I hope kids today feel the same way about his solo work.
12. Haley Bonar – Last War (Graveface Records & Curiosities)
I love a beautiful, haunting female voice, and that’s exactly how I feel about Haley Bonar. When I first heard the title track, “Last War”, on Youtube, I must have listened to it five times in a row. The rest of the album has just as much impact. Good grief.
11. Modern Baseball – You’re Gonna Miss It All (Run For Cover Records)
Geek Indie, I guess? Whatever, it’s awesome. Lyrics are about things that make me question if I am too old to listen, but I don’t give a fuck. It takes me back to being a youngster, even though when I was a teenager, Instagram did not exist…and if someone from the future told me that it would one day, I’d have called bullshit.
10. Seahaven – Reverie Lagoon: Music For Escapism Only (Run For Cover Records)
An indie band using a guitar melody slightly reminiscent of “Don’t Fear The Reaper” is cool as shit in my book, by default, pretty much. I really dig the vocals. It’s refreshing to hear someone and not really be able to compare them to another singer. Damn good album.
09. Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1 Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Hollywood/Marvel Music)
Yep, one of my favorite movies of the year has a soundtrack that’s one of my favorite albums of the year. Probably the best one I’ve heard since the soundtrack for Drive.
08. Antemasque – Self Titled (Nadie)
Honestly, it took me maybe four listens to get into this. At the Drive-In is one of my all time favorite bands. I listened to In/Casino/Out religiously. The Mars Volta I enjoyed at first, but they kinda lost me after Frances the Mute. Some material following that album I got down with, but for the most part, I couldn’t help but think of them as one of those bands being overly experimental purely for the sake of being overly experimental. Now enter Antemasque. Like I said it took a few listens, but then it kind of came to me that it’s basically a perfect balance in between ATDI and The Mars Volta. Not quite as spastic as the former, yet, not as pretentious as the latter. That’s a compliment. I love it.
07. The Jazz June – After the Earthquake (Topshelf Records)
First full length since 2002’s Better Off Without Air, and dammit, it’s awesome. Probably the best since The Medicine, which is goddamn amazing. The Jazz June have always excelled at diversity. To me, not one album sounds quite the same, and that’s a task. I’m glad the boys are back.
06. Prawn – Kingfisher (Topshelf Records)
I guess this one was kind of a big surprise for me. I liked previous Prawn material, but wasn’t completely bananas about it. I expected the same about Kingfisher, but ended up being blown away. Even if the album only contained song 3, “Prolonged Enposure”, I still would have been blown away. So good.
05. Floor – Oblation (Season Of Mist)
First full length since 2004, and holy shit, it kills. This is by far the heaviest album on my list. Crazy low-tuned guitar work that borders crushing and gorgeous…it’s just awesome. The vocals have a Ozzy era Sabbath/Page Hamilton from Helmet vibe, and you can’t really ask for better than that. Steve Brooks is also in Torche, and if you like them, you’ll likely love this. It’s a bit more raw. Stoner sludge doom pop…whatever the hell you wanna call it…it just rules.
04. Monument – Bros Canoeing (Self-released)
I caught on to this band this year, with this album, and it just so happens they’d already called it quits. That sucks, but it happens a lot in this scene. They left us this, and some previous back material, which also kicks ass. It reminds me of 30 Degrees Everywhere/Nothing Feels Good era The Promise Ring. Maybe not so much musically, but definitely on the vocal side. And it just so happens that The Promise Ring is one of my favorite bands, so I was sold immediately. If that sounds like your thing, check it out. It takes me back to days of seeing bands like Mineral, Braid, and The Promise ring in houses and coffee shops.
03. Braid – No Coast (Topshelf Records)
Braid was a seriously huge influence on me in the mid to late 90s. At the time, I wasn’t listening to a whole hell of a lot outside of Fat Wreck Chords and Dr. Strange Records bands. I walked into a record store one day on a whim and bought Frankie Welfare Boy Age Five and it just completely floored me. It was so refreshing and different. So, when they decided to call it quits in 99, it just felt too soon, because they seemed like a band destined for so much more. They did a quick tour reunion in 2004, and then disbanded again. Then, in 2011, news broke that they were reuniting once again, but this time it was permanent. I about crapped myself. That news ultimately followed with a new ep and then two years later, a split with Balance and Composure, and the material was freaking great. Now this year, No Coast drops. Their first full length since 1998’s Completely awesome Frame And Canvas. This new album is the shit. It’s a little more controlled, but the crazy stops are still there, and the interesting changes. It’s still Braid. It’s also awesome to hear so much Chris Broach vocals. The mix of his and Bob Nanna’s vocals kick my ass. This is one fantastic album. Can’t wait to see what they do next.
02. Mogwai – Rave Tapes (Rock Action/Sub Pop)
This plays like a soundtrack to an 80s Sci-Fi movie. It’s like a ‘what if John Carpenter and Brad Fiedel collaborated on the soundtrack for The Terminator. How awesome does that sound? That’s the best way I can put it. Way different from what this band was years ago, for sure, or even what they were the album before this. It’s fucking awesome. I’ve listened to Remurdered more times than I can count. The whole album is fantastic, but that song owned me. And the lady and I got to see them live. It was a spectacle of amazing light work, and one of the loudest damn shows I’ve ever been to. My ears were ringing days later. Fantastic.
01. The Afghan Whigs – Do To The Beast (Sub Pop)
My favorite album from The Afghan Whigs used to be Gentlemen (which got a reissue this past November. Gentlemen At 21). Then this shit came out. I never expected to hear anything new from this band. And I wasn’t even prepared for how damn good it is. Catchy as hell (like the bad ass riff in Matamoros), dark and cold. I love it. Greg Dulli is a seriously awesome lyricist, and his voice runs right through me and I swoon my balls off. Every time he says “baby”, you better bet your ass I pretend he’s talking to me. I would be his baby. He could have me. Okay, that’s enough. No other album hit me like Do To The Beast. It’s just phenomenal.
Other great albums from 2014
This about sums it up. Not much on the horror front, hahah.
I hope 2015 blows me away like 2014 did.