Sunday, December 28, 2014

My Top Albums of 2014

PCarlson FlushingAve WIlliamsburg 2014

What a year of music! Between some awesome concerts and surprise music releases, 2014 proved to be the year of comeback tours and promising new faces in music. Here are my favorite new albums of 2014.

Robert Plant and the Senstational Spaceshifters - Lullaby ... and the Ceaseless Roar. Plant's tenth, and possibly, best solo album was released on September 8th to wide praise. The album captures his successful journey away from Zeppelin and his embrace of deep American blues. Faves: Rainbow and Poor Howard.

U2 - Songs of Innocence. U2's thirteenth album and surprise release, this one was seemingly either loved or hated. As I listen to it more, it is slowly becoming one of my favorite U2 albums. It's a mixture of those sounds of innocence, the Boy days. But again Bono tackles tough issues such as controversial events in the Troubles, re-wrote song lyrics based on current events, and even addresses himself and where he has gone in life. Faves: Sleep Like a Baby Tonight and The Troubles.

Umphrey's McGee - Similar Skin. The eighth studio album form this Chicago super jam-tronic group is nothing short of the embodiment of jam-tronic music today. The constantly touring band, known for their face melting shows, hit the mark with this album. But do yourselves a favor, go see them live. These songs become an amalgam of old and new Umphrey's with their always welcomed cover built in. Faves: Puppet String, No Diablo, and Bridgeless.

First Aid Kit - Stay Gold. These Swedish folk sisters took the airwaves - and video waves by storm with the release of their hit, Silver Lining, their album (a tribute to Abba) Stay Gold began to climb in popularity. The album is rich with folk sounds and their golden, harmonious voices. Faves: Silver Lining and Stay Gold.

Vance Joy - Dream Your Life Away. The Aussies have again given us some great new talent. His catchy song Riptide, released before his album, helped the momentum of his popularity. The songs are simple and melodic - his videos are unique to say the least. Faves: Riptide and All I Ever Wanted

Hozier - Hozier. You remember when you first heard it. You thought it was Elton John or maybe even someone covering Sir Elton. But no, this uber talented Irish singer gave us one of the best songs of 2014. This was the best review of Hozier's debut that I found: Simon Harper of Clash magazine commented that
His voice, more poitín-sweetened than whiskey-soaked, caresses delicate melodies and rougher rhythms alike with confidence – it lingers compellingly in the creeping blues of 'To Be Alone', whispers prettily in the folky 'Like Real People Do', and preaches fervently in the ragged R&B of 'Jackie And Wilson'.
Faves: Take Me to Church and Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene. His video for Take Me to Church is just as important, openly tackling the issues of homophobia and the importance of love.

Nicole Atkins - Slow Phaser. Nicole created this masterpiece on her own Mercy Me record label - and it packs a large punch of sounds you might not have expected to hear from this Jersey girl.
Slow Phaser is a dark, desert disco rock album made during a year of wandering about in city alleys, broken shores and snowy Viking lands,” said Atkins. “I wanted to turn the lights up just enough to dance through the darkness. It's a welcomed new approach and I welcome more songs about her journeys.
Faves: Girl You Look Amazing and What Do You Know.

George Ezra - Wanted on Voyage. Upon first look, you don't expect to hear Ledbelly or even Johnny Cash come out of this charming British boy's lungs. But behold, George's voice is big and soulful. His freshman album is getting critical acclaim and they are already hungry for his second album. Faves: Budapest and Listen to the Man.

Paolo Nutini - Caustic Love. While Scot Paolo has been around awhile, it is his April release that has people talking. He is now my Scottish Otis Redding.  His third album is jazzy and soulful and flew up the UK and Irish charts. You can find him on constant rotation on XM's Sirius Spectrum. Faves: Let Me Down and One Day.

Ray LaMontagne - Supernova. I have often described Ray's voice as a full body massage for my soul. His fifth album is my favorite. It's a varied sound for this New Hampshire Native. Compare 2004's song Trouble to 2014's Supernova and you can see that he's trying to get out of his musical safe zone and what people expect. Songs like Lavender are brimming with 70's grooves and Airwaves reminds me of a Loggins and Messina B-Side.  Faves: Supernova and Drive in Movies.
Mary J Blige - The London Sessions. Another album leaked online, this reminds everyone of early 2000's Mary, with it's pure R&B grooves. It's simple, truthful, and a welcome back to some pure R&B sounds from Ms. Blige. Faves: Therapy and Nobody But You.

Buffo's Wake - Carniphobia. When they reached out to me and said, hey, can you take a listen to our album? I knew I started this blog for the right reasons. This Brighton Beach UK gypsy punk band is - unique. And I love them. Their debut album, Carniphobia, lives up to all expectation. This is how I described them in the blog: Imagine you are the central character in an Edgar Allan Poe story. Now, add some accordions, a carnival, a Gypsy Punk soundtrack, and have Tim Burton direct it all. Welcome to Buffo's Wake. Faves: Merrick and Sold to the Circus

I hope you've all had a great 2014 - and I cannot thank you all enough for the reads and feedback. Here is to your hopes, dreams, and a musical 2015!!!



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