A three-parter list here. The first is comprised of six albums that have spent enough time with me to deserve my articulated thoughts. The second is a list of albums that I really enjoyed this year that I feel require no explanation. The third is a list of albums that I plan to listen to well into 2015. Slow down 2014, I can’t keep up!
Best Albums of 2014:
Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness
Angel Olsen won my heart this year. I hopped on this album real fast, beating the Pitchfork buzz and formulating my opinion on my very own. Olsen is a Mid-Western gal with heavy country influences and has an astonishing resume at only twenty-seven years of age touring as a backing singer for Bonnie “Prince” Billy and the Cairo Gang. This album is full of sorrow and pity, but finds humour and greatness in crappy things. Listen to “Hi-Five” if you’re feeling in the dumps, but just want to shrug it off (“Are you lonely too? Hi-five, so am I”). Or beat the winter blues with the lovely album closer “Windows” and it’s bizarre video that I don’t think I’ll ever get.
Andrew Bird – Things Are Pretty Great Here, Sort Of…
2014 is the year I fell in love with Andrew Bird. Bird’s music has always been in my life, but the song “Three White Horses” (a 2012 release) pulled me in with full force. Things Are Pretty Great Here, Sort Of… is a collection of covers from The Handsome Family, a band Bird has both covered and toured with in the past. This album is ode to Bird’s country tendencies and even calls in Hands of Glory bandmate and solo artist Tift Merritt for an extra layer of vocals on most tracks.
Caribou – Our Love
I have to get real here, I haven’t really listened to anything Dan Snaith since 2007’s Andorra. In the Spring, I got my ears on the album’s opening tune “I Can’t Do Without You,” a simple tune with an eloquent build up and subsequent swell, a very Caribou-esq framework. A friend linked me with a leak of the album and I found myself listening to the album’s opening track on repeat, which led to a full listen of the entire album. It’s not really a sound I find myself in love with, but it’s a great listen from start to finish. Welcome back, Snaith!
Tennis – Ritual in Repeat
I bought this CD full price in anticipation for a new album-heavy Toronto set at the Mod Club. My assumptions were correct, nearly the entire October set was comprised of Ritual in Repeat tunes. It seems that with Ritual in Repeat the band has tried to stretch away from the comforts of surf rock. The album pulls its listeners in with hooks from past songs, see: “Needle and a Knife” and its uncanny resemblance to Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain.” One thing I’ll give to the husband-wife effort is their ability to make fun pop music, see “Night Vision” and “Bad Girls,” two tunes that have made my list of favourite songs of 2014.
Sharon Van Etten – Are We There
Are We There is a simple album with predictable song structures, melodies and lyrics. If it were put out by anyone other than Sharon Van Etten, I probably wouldn’t think twice. However Van Etten brings life to even the most dull tunes. Van Etten seems mousey and shy at first glance and sometimes even listen, but live both she and her tunes light up. This album is not her best, but tunes “Your Love is Killing Me” and “Break Me” are winners.
Shopkeeper – Terror Blessed
I tend to like my food local, but my music exported. I’ve subscribed to this mentality as a result of overexposure to bad local music. Shopkeeper is a three-piece where the girls out number the guys, which perhaps allows the album to be playful and lighthearted.
Cursive – The Ugly Organ (Re-issue)
Re-issues are golden because they give the opportunity to praise an album that perhaps got big long after its release, or just deserves a second applause. Eleven years after its release the album, the album’s release includes a second disc with eight bonus tracks. I was surprised to find that The Ugly Organ the band’s frontman, Tim Kasher, is the “most alienating” in describing how the album made him feel about himself. For its intensity and scrappy sound, The Ugly Organ album may not be the most accessible listen for most, but for flawless lyrics and Greta Cohen’s awesome cello, you better get your paws on this one (again).
Beck Morning Phase
Sondre Lerche – Please
Jenny Lewis – Voyageur
Real Estate – Atlas
Bry Webb – Free Will
The New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers
Doug Paisley – Strong Feelings
Damien Rice – My Favourite Twisted Fantasy
The Antlers – Familiars
Albums that need my attention:
S. Carey – Range of Light
Hundred Waters – The Moon Rang Like a Bell
Tweedy – Sukierae
Perfume Genius – Too Bright
Sylvan Esso – Sylvan Esso
FKA twigs – LP1
The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream
Hamilton Leithauser – Black Hours
First Aid Kit – Stay Gold
Sia – 1000 Forms of Fear
Tycho – Awake
Alvvays – Alvvays
Spoon – They Want My Soul
Ty Segall – Manipulator
Karen O – Crush Songs
Death From Above 1979 – The Physical World
My Brightest Diamond – This Is My Hand
Alt-J This Is All Yours
Foxygen …And Star Power
Foo Fighters Sonic Highways
TV on the Radio Seeds
D’Angelo and the Vanguard Black Messiah
Mogwai Rave Tapes
Temples Sun Structures
St Vincent St Vincent
Elbow The Take Off and Landing of Everything
Future Islands Singles
Timber Timbre Hot Dreams
Whitehorse Éphémère sans repère
Bahamas Bahamas Is Afie
Jennifer Castle Pink City
Tony Dekker Sings 10 Years of Zunior
Jenn Grant Compostela
Zeus Classic Zeus