Best Albums of 2014: 9 – 1
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!
9. Drive-by Truckers – English Oceans
This is a good straight rock album and it is a Cooley album (he has six compositions shaping the tone of the album).Cooley also takes lead vocals on Patterson Hood’s lyrics on Til He’s Dead or Rises, a first for Drive-by Truckers after nearly 20 years of playing. The Truckers sounds pissed-off, it’s a powerful album and immediate album (recorded in 13 days). We can always count on Drive-by Truckers and even if this isn’t their greatest album, it’s damn good and the ninth best album of 2014.
Selected songs: Primer Coat, Grand Canyon, First Air of Autumn
Drive-By Truckers – Full Performance (Live on KEXP),
The Part Of Him
First Air Of Autumn
8. The South – …the further out you get
We’re no longer in the southern parts of the USA (well, not all the time anyway) it sounds like an Alan Parsons produced english band from around 1973. It swirls and changes its course as we listen, and this is something that we will encounter on the following songs as well. It starts off with gentle guitar and vocal, the sound is very delicate. The vocals are repeated and doubled, we get a subtle choir. The mood gets darker, but at about 2:40 into the song the drums and electric guitar lifts us up. The Keyboard echoes the melody. The pedal steel comes in, but it has no country-twang, it is airy and elegant.
The best Norwegian album of 2014.
Selected songs: Desert Sounds, Psb6u-blues, …the further out you get
The South – Psb6u-blues (live, Oslo):
7. Lee Ann Womack – The Way I’m livin’
This is the best album ever released by Lee Ann Womack, it is pure country. It is incredibly well sung and played and the song choices are good all through. Most of the songs are written by people at the fringes of country music and they suit Womack well. Still, it sounds very much like a complete album and not just a collection of songs. One the best country music releases of 2014 and a great come-back album!
Selected songs: The Way I’m Livin’, Out on the weekend, Chances are
Lee Ann Womack – The Way I’m Livin’ (live in studio):
6. Robert Ellis – The Lights from a chemical plant
Stripped down, elegant & honest honky-tonk Americana. Great, smart & interesting lyrics. Funny that the albums three longest songs would end up being my three fav tracks, but those three songs also has the best lyrics in my opinion.
From Houston I’m moving tonight
I’ve got to pick up and wipe the slate clean
Oh, Houston I’m losing the fight
You remind me of too many things
Selected songs: Houston, Tour song & Bottle of Wine
Tour Song (Live in Nashville):
5. Willie Nelson – Band of Brothers
Willie Nelson a very prolific singer and recording artist (and has been so since the 1970s), but he hasn’t released an album of predominantly original material since 1996. Now he has, and Holy Shit it’s sooo good! The songwriting and his singing is first class from beginning to end. This is classic Willie Nelson, and it doesn’t get better than that.
Selected songs: It’s Hard to be an outlaw, Git Go, Band of Brothers
Willie Nelson & Billy Joe Shaver: Hard To Be An Outlaw:
4. Leonard Cohen – Popular Problems
I raved about this album when it was released (check out this: Leonard Cohen: Popular Problems) and it ended up @ number 3 on my personal year-end list. At 80 he delivers his best album since “The Future” (1992). A brilliant collection of new songs, witty lyrics and a forceful vocal.
It’s not because I’m old
It’s not the life I led
I always liked it slow
That’s what my momma said
Selected song: Did I ever Love You, Almost Like The Blues, My Oh My & Slow
3. John Fullbright – Songs
JF about doing his second album compared to doing the first:
It was a little bit easier as I started taking chances in terms of how much I would admit to the world about my true feelings, certain things. The process is a pretty scary thing to do, but you actually gain confidence from it and I’m a more confident writer now than I’ve ever been in my entire life because of taking those risks and it not being thrown back into my face, you know what I mean? People actually seem to connect with it in some way so it was certainly different to making the last album in that respect.
Fullbright’s second studio album is a beauty.
A collection of mostly very good songs & some great ones. Fullbright has an expressive & soulful voice, he’s a good guitarist & keyboard player, but first & foremost he’s a brilliant songwriter & a great performing artist.
But I didn’t know about silence
Until you were gone
The last show’s over, the curtain is drawn
I never saw so many sunsets, I never saw a single dawn
I didn’t know about silence
Until you were gone
Selected song: The One That Lives Too Far, Until You Were Gone, High Road, Write A Song
“High Road” (Live at SXSW 2014):
2. Rosanne Cash – The River and the Thread
Both my parents were Southerners, two of my daughters still live in the South, my sister lives in the South, I’ve been in New York longer than I’ve been in any place. But I’m a Southerner by ancestry and by connection, if not by daily life.
~Rosanne Cash (to The Economist)
So to come back to the South and to see it with open eyes and a full heart, it’s been a powerful experience.
And an album came out of it.
~Rosanne Cash (to Anthony Mason – cbsnews.com)
Rosanne Cash & her husband (living in NYC) took a trip (kind of pilgrimage) back to her roots – Florence, AL, The Mississippi Delta, Arkansas (the sunken lands) & Memphis (where she was born). This Masterpiece (My (Egil) number 1 this year) is soaked in southern rhythms, blues, soulfulness & loads of references to essential places in and around the delta. I’m deeply fascinated by this region, it gave birth to the blues, southern soul & Rock and Roll.
I’m going down to Florence, gonna wear a pretty dress
I’ll sit atop the magic wall with the voices in my head
Then we’ll drive on through to Memphis, past the strongest shoars
Then on to Arkansas just to touch the gumbo soul
A feather’s not a bird
The rain is not the sea
A stone is not a mountain
But a river runs through me
it’s “a mini-travelogue of the South, and of the soul…. that song lays out the landscape of the album. There’s a journey, it’s kind of urgent, these are the places we’re going to be stopping – it sets it all up
~Rosanne Cash (about “A Feather’s Not a Bird”)
There are so many wonderful songs on this album, it’s hard to limit myself to five:
Selected song: World Of Strange Design, The Long Way Home, Modern Blue, A Feather’s Not a Bird, Tell Heaven
A Feather’s Not A Bird – @ David Letterman:
Tell Heaven @ the Library of Congress performing on December 5, 2013:
Note – I will visit Memphis & drive through Florence (visiting “The Natchez trace”, FAME, Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, ++) in a couple of weeks.
1. Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern sound in country music
“Marijuana, LSD, psilocybin, DMT, they all changed the way I see
But love’s the only thing that ever saved my life”
– Sturgill Simpson
“The metamodern idea… I read this guy… I read weird shit. This guy called Seth Abramson was talking about oscillation between naivety and our current culture’s love for nostalgia. It’s exactly what I see happening in Nashville right now.”
– Sturgill Simpson
..it is also a nod to Ray Charles seminal albums Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music part 1 and 2.
Sturgill Simpson (born June 8, 1978) is an American country music singer-songwriter. He has released two albums independently, we love them both.
Metamodern Sounds in Country Music is his second studio album. The album was produced and engineered by Dave Cobb and was released on May 13, 2014. We’ve played it to death, it is by far our most played album of 2014. His voice is smooth, deep and very country . Yes, he do sound like Waylon Jennings from time to time, and he has that Outlaw outlook on life and music. His songwriting is confident and his choice of covers unusual but great. His singing on The Promise is the best I’ve heard in a very long time. This is old school country at its finest, with a modern edge, he definitely has a unique sound.
A worthy winner of our Best albums of 2014 countdown.
Selected songs: The Promise, Turtles all the way down, Just let go and It ain’t all light
Live in the Morgue: Sturgill Simpson – Turtles All the Way Down:
Sturgill Simpson – The Promise (official Video):
– Hallgeir & Egil