Best Albums of 2014: 19-10
AS 2014 draws to a close, it’s time to look back on the last 12 months in music and as tradition goes, this involves the unveiling of our 35 Best Albums Of The Year – as always, it has been a struggle, we have fought and bled and finally agreed on the 35 best records of 2014. There will be three posts, the excitement will be unbearable and the top 10 will be revealed in a few of days..
What did we get wrong? What did we miss? Well, nothing of course, this is THE list. No, just kidding, this is our view of the year in music, and as we have said many times before, we only write about the stuff we like and we can not reach everything.
Enjoy! …and use the comments to voice your opinions!
19. Torgeir Waldemar – Torgeir Waldemar
Two years after his EP, Take me home, Waldemar released his eponymous debut and it fulfills the sky-high hopes we’ve had for this album. Intense and bitter-sweet stories with good melodies. These are songs of longing and pain conveyed like only the best singer-songwriters. It may be sad but it is also warm.
Selected songs: Flowers (feat. Ida Jenshus), Streets, Across the river
Torgeir Waldemar (support Wovenhand) – Flowers (live Ampere Munich 2014-09-14):
18. Dolly Parton – Blue Smoke
Blue Smoke is the 42nd studio album by Dolly Parton and she manages to make it sound fresh still! Parton sings as good as I’ve ever heard her, and the songwriting is top-notch as expected. It’s a versatile album, bluegrass, folk, country, cross-over pop and done better than most. She’s also included a very fresh-sounding version of Dylan’s Don’t think twice.
Selected songs: Blue Smoke, Banks of Ohio, Unlikely Angel
Dolly Parton – Blue Smoke (Glastonbury festival, 2014):
17. Angaleena presley – American Middle Class
dry county blues, not a beer joint in sight
half the county’s laid off, laid up or gettin’ high
there’s good Christian women locking their front doors
praying their daughters don’t turn into meth whores
while their sons are out drinkin’ and drivin’ and trying to get laid
This piece from “Dry County Blues” exemplifies a strong collection of stark, harsh, wise & witty lyrics mostly about a fading American middle class. Strong production, an expressive vocal, good songs & great lyrics.
Selected songs: Dry County Blues, American Middle Class, Ain’t No Man
Ain’t No Man:
16. Noah Gundersen – Ledges
This Album is Noah Gundersen’s first full-length release following a trio of EPs, and it’s a quiet, mostly ballad and seemingly sad songs or at least songs about people in some kind of suffering, on me it has had a deep emotional impact. Gundersen comes from a deeply religious family and his songs are very hymn-like, sung with respect and direct intent. Very, very good first album.
Selected songs: Poor Man’s Son, Boathouse, Cigarettes and Dying Now
Noah Gundersen Live on KEXP including all our selected songs:
15. Justin Townes Earle – Single Mothers
This is an intimate album, not an easy album. The songwriting is very personal and more stripped down than his last two albums. The musicianship on Single Mothers is impressive and it never feels empty or sparse. Earle fights his demons on record, family, father, girlfriends and addictions. It is sometimes painful but it results in good songs. Very good songs.
Selected songs: Burning Pictures, White Gardenias, Single Mothers
Justin Townes Earle: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert
Set List: Burning Pictures, When The One You Love Loses Faith In You, White Gardenias:
14. The Delines – Colfax
Great soul-country from experienced players. It sounds so effortless, even easy but don’t be fooled, this kind of music is hard to do right. The Delines does it right all the way. They display both a deep vulnerability and a great confidence at the same time.
I knew the first time I heard it that it had to be on our year-end list.
Selected song: Colfax Avenue, The Oil Rigs at Night, I Won’t Slip Up
The Delines – Full Performance (Live on KEXP)
Songs: Colfax Avenue, The Oil Rigs At Night, I Won’t Slip Up ,He Told Her The City Was Killing Him:
13. Bruce Springsteen – High Hopes
Something else from Bruce this time; covers, outtakes, new & remade songs. The two remakes (American Skin (41 Shots) & The Ghost of Tom Joad) are both thrilling & the three cover versions are solid with Suicide’s “Dream Baby Dream” as the standout. Seven uneven “new” songs, but a few great ones.
Selected song: Down in the Hole, Heavens Wall & The Wall
12. Jack White – Lazaretto
Jack White tries to finally get rid of the minimalism that was always present in his music, here he goes all in! The album goes in many directions but it is exciting and full of texture, there’s always a little detail waiting to be discovered. He is playful and inventive and I can’t wait to see what he will do next.
As always White is an incredibly skilled musician, a virtuoso. He is not reinventing himself this time, but he has a good time and it is infectious.
Selected song: Lazaretto, Would you fight for my love, Three Women
Jack White – Lazaretto (official video):
11. The War on Drugs – Lost in the dream
We’ve liked The War On Drugs for some time now, but it is fair to say that they’ve taken a huge leap with this album. It’s a”driving album”. Wide in scope and easy to sing along to. This is leaning much more to classic rock than indie musings, and the inspiration is recognisable from different sections of American popular music. Some west-coast rock, a bit of Springsteen, Cars, Fleetwood Mac and 80s pop, this is an exciting stew. Looking forward to see them live again summer 2015.
Selected song: Red Eyes, Suffering, In Reverse
The War on Drugs – Full Performance (Live on KEXP):
- An Ocean In Between The Waves
- Eyes to the Wind
- Red Eyes
10. Otis Gibbs – Souvenirs of a Misspent Youth
Moving, dark & tough stories from Gibbs. But there is also a empathetic & kind hearted touch to many of the songs. I love the sound of these songs & the fiddle in particular.
Selected song: It Was A Train, Ghosts Of Our Fathers, Cozmina
“It Was A Train” Live at KDHX 8/20/14:
– Hallgeir & Egil