I always look forward to annual “best of” music list that begin popping up every year when the cold weather arrives. It is fascinating who thinks what is the hottest fucking music out there each year. Two thousand fourteen is no different.
And since I am kneeling in the musical confessional booth, I must fess up I am constantly stuck somewhere between 1982-1999 when it comes to my musical listening, but somehow, in some miraculous way I do manage to stumble across “new bands” worth listening to, though few and far between.
Some 2014 results make sense (the new Hold Steady and Tom Petty) while others don’t (am I the only one who doesn’t understand the big deal behind The War Against Drugs or Sun Kil Moon?). And some are just plain fucking bullshit (the new U2 #1 Rolling Stone? How much is the band paying you to make such a claim??). And don’t even get me started on the Foo Fighter’s, Sonic Highways…except that is basically a bunch of medicore, over-produced shit….see what you made me did now??
Anyways, fuck it…here it goes…my best of 2014 (in no particular order)….ta da!!
1. The Temples – Sun Structures : some of the best psych-pop out of the UK in years per Johnny Marr, Noel Gallagher and now me. If the opening tracks “Shelter Song” or “Sun Structures” doesn’t make your booty move then you are just lame. They are also, importantly, one of the coolest look bands on the planet.
2. Interpol – El Pintor: after 2010’s disastrously forgettable self-titled album, the NYC post-punk darlings are back in full form. While Kessler’s guitar playing gets a little tedious at times, El Pintor is still a great bunch of tunes that blend in well with earlier material. They too are one of the coolest looking (and best dressed bands) on the planet. Yes, I like cool looking bands.
3. Overlake - Sighs: said it all right here months back. Still in super heavy rotation in my life. The track “Our Sky” is one of the best songs ever written with a breakdown bridge starting at the 2:05 mark that will knock you on your ass.
4. The Gaslight Anthem – Get Hurt: Read this. Probably their weakest album, but that is what is what makes it so endearingly intriguing. The song “Dark Places” shatters my heart every time, especially after a couple of glasses of wine.
5. Life Eaters – Self Titled : Confession? I only heard this debut record from this Jersey City group for the first time mere days ago, but it has been kicking me in the nuts ever since. An extremely strong effort from start to finish. The track “Man Pain”, is just absolutely killer. If you don’t like it then guess what…yup, you lame.
6. The Hold Steady – Dream Teeth: A “typical” and “safe” Hold Steady album, but if you dip beneath the surface you will find a solid effort with all the stories, drugs, hardcore matinees and Jesus Christ references still intact. At first listen, I was disappointed but the tracks grew on me tremendously to the point of becoming one of the year’s best. I must admit I find the overall recording very weak (lacking ball crushing “umph” of 2008’s Stay Positive…so much guitar punch)but just listen beyond that….songs “Spinners” and “Big Cig” are two of many standout tracks.
I always enjoyed this short trailer for Dream Teeth , it captures the full essence of the album….
7. Miss Ohio – Whippoorwill Road:“delivering a perfect blend of power pop melody and guitar rock grit, with 5 songs that will no doubt make my personal best of 2014 release list” as I previously stated here and here and here! and guess what, it did! Besides they re-recorded my favorite song from them (“KGB”) so that is all that fucking matters…well unless they re-record “Picture Show…” (hint hint)….here is a funny video for another great gem off the record, “Bobby Fischer…”
8. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Hypnotic Eye: Tom and his heartbreaking team started a bar brawl, kicking everyone’s ass with this garage punk instant classic.
9. Big Ups – Eighteen Hours of Static: This Brooklyn-based band plays punk/noise rock that torpedoes Fucked Up right out of the tub. I hear me some Fugazi…Descendants? Maybe even some Slint….may I dare mention later Black Flag or even Flipper? Their sounds is something so familiar that I still can’t define it and that is why they fucking rock and can’t stop listening to this album. If you don’t like the 2 opening tracks (“Body Parts” and “Goes Black”) then you are….guess?
10. Johnny Marr – Playland : Because it’s Johnny FUCKING Marr, yo……duh.
11. Real Estate – Atlas: A hearty blend of hypnotic, mellow, reverby poppy rock from Brooklyn, Atlas picks up where 2011’s Days paused. A perfect background soundtrack for those long drives, house cleanings or annual best of writings.
12. Thurston Moore – The Best Day: Back to his true form from 2013’s quasi-metal project, Chelsea Light Moving, The Best Day is his 4th solo effort and 1st since his highly visible divorce from Kim Gordon. This album is very East Village, very “safe” (read: Sonic Youth) and very wonderful. Moore continues to rock out in his own alternately tuned, droning , cool cat, hipster, subdued Neil Young kind of way. “Forevermore” and album title track are just 2 of many treats found here. Besides, its Thurston fucking Moore…duh.
13. We Were Promised Jetpacks- Unravelling : These Scots quickly remind us why 2009’s These Four Walls and 2011’s In The Pit of the Stomach are constantly listened to over and over as they continue to carry the post punk meets indie pop torch with this latest release. Saw these cats live at NYC’s Webster Hall a few weeks back and they blew everyone away. Tracks “Safety in Numbers” and “Peaks and Troughs” are just two of many great songs.
14. Eastern Anchors-Dragging Your Axe Behind: I know I said a random list, but I also did save the best news for last. Set to be released later this month, if 2012’s Drunken Arts And Pure Science have you begging for more and if you thought the first single “Above Your Station” off their latest EP kicked ass, wait until you hear the other 6 songs. Oh boy……strap on in and wear a cup kiddies….