Thursday, December 4, 2014

My 10 Fave Albums of 2014

Hey guys, it's December! You know what that means. Yes, candy canes and glitter and eggnog and bad Christmas sweaters and traffic and angry mall shoppers and babies in terrible fake beards. But also (drum roll), end of the year lists! I LIVE for these lists. Give me a free two hours and I'll sit at my computer and read every single 'Best of 2014' list that exists. Nothing is too banal. Best Chairs of 2014? Oh yeah. Best Oatmeal of 2014? Bring it. But my favorite are the music lists. Because I have an insane appetite for this stuff. Tell me about a new band I end up vibing with and I'll love you forever and ever and maybe even like 20 years down the road have an inappropriate sex dream about you just because you introduced me to Modest Mouse back in the day. Hey, it happens. My brain is a weird weird place and music and love are all twisted up in there.

This year was a strange one for me musically. I never ran out of cool shit to listen to but I only got obsessed with a handful of albums. (To see a normal year in my mania, check out last year's best album post. Boyeeee, those were the days, dood.) This year I liked a lot and loved a little. But the ones I loved, I loved hard. I also became completely obsessed with a few songs but then didn't fall head over for the albums they came from. Like, I could listen to "Little Fang" on the Avey Tare Slasher Flicks album for the rest of my life on repeat but the rest was pretty whatever for me. And, while I love love loved "Lariat" by Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, I couldn't get into the rest of it. Sue me, man. So, making a Top 10 list was way easier than it's been in years past but the Runners-Up part was way harder because I kinda sorta liked everything. Know what I'm saying? No? OK, let's just do this. My 10 Fave Albums of 2014 Maybe Possibly In Some Sort Of Order I Dunno:

1) Jenny Lewis - The Voyager

I'd been waiting patiently for this album and then BAM, it was released during a shitty part of my year, when I needed it most. I got it digitally and on vinyl. I got the t-shirt. I couldn't help it. I love Jenny Lewis. I feel like Jenny Lewis is the closest thing my generation has to an icon. She's cool, her lyrics are crazy dead on and holy shit, that hair. When I made my initial list of like 38 albums in my little notebook, there were seven hearts next to this one. SEVEN HEARTS. Look, every song on this album is amazing and crankable but my favorites are "Head Underwater" and "Slippery Slopes." Real talk, I had to put the video for "Just One Of The Guys" up there because CUUUUTE.

2) Ryan Adams - Ryan Adams

 If you're wondering, no, I didn't put Ryan Adams right after Jenny Lewis because he produced most of her album, I put him there because these are my two favorite albums of the year (but I had to put Jenny first obviously). I've always loved him but this album just perfectly matches my soul. I should accessorize with it. I'm gonna wear it around like a scarf. "Gimme Something Good" (above) is perfect in every way and "Trouble" is everything you want from a Ryan Adams song.  Sidenote: Funny that he named this album "Ryan Adams." Isn't is weird to self-title like a zillion albums into your career? A lot of artists did that this year (Hello, St. Vincent) but at least with him, it's so good, it would be the right one to buy if you were just gonna get one of his albums, in my humble not popular opinion.

3) Spoon - They Want My Soul

This album starts off like whoa with "Rent I Pay" and "Inside Out"(above) and continues to rock the rest of the way. I love them because they're from Austin and because I just love them, OK?? I've never heard a Spoon song I didn't immediately dig and this album is no exception. I feel like anyone would jam the fuck out to this. Maybe get it for your Nana for Christmas.

4) Beck - Morning Phase

This album sounds just like Beck in that it doesn't sound anything like Beck, which is sorta par for the Beck course. But, honestly, that's why I like it. There are no turntables and well, maybe a microphone but it's kind-of like Beck is high and unplugged and playing music in your bathroom while you take a bubble bath in a bourbon haze. A perfect album for a road trip or for walking around on a rainy day. My favorite song is "Country Down" (above) but this is one of those albums you can throw on and leave on, which is nice.

5) Phantogram - Voices

I've got nothing but love for Phantogram. I still listen to their 2009 album, Eyelid Movies pretty regularly. I think this new one is even better. "Black Out Days" (above) is a moody sexy jam but I don't even know if it's my favorite track, I'm also obsessed with "Nothing But Trouble" and "Howling at the Moon." PLUS, there's a song called "Bill Murray," which I'm pretty sure has nothing to do with Bill Murray. Awesome!

6) Phox 

This band is extremely young, extremely talented and possibly too adorable for their own good. I saw them live earlier in the year and it was sort of like watching your little sister and her friends play a local party. They were giddy and apologetic to be on stage. Their moms stood behind me. It was as if they weren't taking themselves seriously yet but they totally should get on that real quick-like because this album is really solid and the songs are great. I love the lead singer's voice. Try "Slow Motion" (above) or "Evil."

7) The Black Keys - Turn Blue

Granted, The Black Keys could've put out an album of traffic noises and I'd probably like it but this one really is great. I could listen to this band all the time. I feel like you can really hear the Danger Mouse element in songs like "Turn Blue," which isn't at all a bad thing. I mean, hell, I like most bands he works with so yeah. Groovy, man. The best songs on this album in my opinion are "Gotta Get Away" (above) and "Fever." Yay!

8) Old 97s - Most Messed Up

I wasn't expecting to be blown away by this album or anything but I've always had a place in my heart for Rhett and the boys so I dutifully bought it the day it came out. And I dig it! It's self-aware ("Longer Than You've Been Alive" will make you laugh and cringe) and it's funny. When he sings "I am the most messed up motherfucker in this town," in "Most Messed Up," it makes me giggle. Also, "Let's Get Drunk & Get It On" sounds like an old school Old 97s jam which is, let's face it, all we homesick ex-Texans really want in our new school Old 97s.

9) Interpol - El Pintor

Interpol is an extremely distinctive band; most people either love or hate it. I for sure fall into the 'love it' category. They have a heavy, dark sound that reminds me of the bands I loved as a kid. I remember hearing "Slow Hands" back in the early 2000s and saying "Yes" out loud in my car. Anyway, this album is great and you should get it. "All the Rage Back Home" makes my heart hurt in a good way (above) and "Everything is Wrong" is oh so right. Yeah, I just typed that.  Also check out "My Desire."

10) TV on the Radio - Seeds

 I'm new to this band and they make me excited, I tell you! I've listened to "Happy Idiot" (above) at least 8,209 times over the last few months so I finally broke down and bought the whole album and it's wonderful.  I'm  starting to get to where I need to put it on once a day. "Careful You" is also a super good fun time jam, y'all.

OK, that's my list. If you know me or if you're a long time reader, you're probably wondering why I didn't include the new album by my favorite band (Pixies - Indie Cindy) so I should tell you that yes, I own it and yes, I like it but I don't love it. I want Kim Deal back, dammit. Maybe I'm being petty, I dunno. Also, just bought that FKA Twigs album so it's too soon to say one way or the other but I'm pretty sure I'm gonna love it.

Here are the albums that didn't quite make the list but that I've had in heavy rotation this year.

Runners Up:
Foxygen - ...and Star Power (Shout out to my Twitter pal, @thedayofthedot.)
St. Vincent - St. Vincent
Sylvan Esso ~ Sylvan Esso
Real Estate - Atlas
Alvvays - Alvvays
Black Lips - Underneath the Rainbow
The Orwells - Disgraceland

I hope that was as fun for you as it was for me. (Picture me in a party hat with streamers everywhere and, like, chihuahuas in tutus walking all over my desk.) I hope you either a) found something you want to check out or b) rolled your eyes at my obvious lack of perfect musical taste or c) agreed with everything I wrote because you're amazing and awesome and clearly a genius. Happy December and Happy Listening!

*photo by me of Phox at El Rey.