Wednesday, December 3, 2014

2014 Reader Faves: Pt. 1

Jeff Matthews:

I usually wait for everybody else's Top Ten to catch up on what I missed because my ability to sample and savor just isn't what it used to be. I started to look at Rolling Stones list but was flummoxed by their listing U2 as #1 (admittedly, it was pretty good but best of the year?) and Springsteen's throwaway High Hopes as #2. I stopped there.

Based on my own listening, here are my ten faves, in no particular order (I look forward to both validation and derision):

Chuck Prophet - Night Surfer
Spoon - They Want My Soul
Beck - Morning Phase
New Pornographers - Brill Bruisers
St Vincent - St Vincent
Future Islands - Singles
Gaslight Anthem - Get Hurt
Benjamin Booker - Benjamin Booker
Bart Davenport - Physical World
Reigning Sound - Shattered

(Ed. note- The Benjamin Booker is on deck.  I won't say which...just yet...but there two records on this list that did nothing for me and I've read nothing but good things about both.)


So, a couple of things (actually released in 2014 that wasn't a reissue) that I liked a lot (but maybe not "the best") and have gone back to multiple times

New Pornographers: Brill Bruisers
Sloan: Commonwealth
Weird Al: Mandatory Fun (what can I say -- I loved it)
Lorde: Pure Heroine (is this a 2014 release? it's in my iTunes that way...)

(Ed. note- Sloan is one of those bands, like Teenage Fanclub, that I've tried relentlessly to appreciate. I get the mission statement of both, but every record I listen to leaves me wanting so much more. Do I dare go in again with "Commonwealth?")

Reissues (or old stuff): There was a lot that was pretty good, but I really liked the CSNY 1974 set.

There was a lot of OK stuff that was enjoyable, but not "great" (Chrissie Hynde's "Stockholm", The Legal Matters s/t,, Phonograph Volume 1, Autumn Defense "Fifth" )

And -- like Sal -- I heard lot of great stuff that I discovered this year that came out before 2014...

What I really didn't like: Sheezus by Lily Allen. As much as I liked her first album, its been diminishing returns ever since. And "The Art of McCartney" was a big disappointment.

(Ed. Note- I didn't talk about "The Art Of McCartney" since our pal Steve Simels had already said what I wanted to say over at his place. But man alive, there is a lot of nothing on there. My biggest issue with the collection is the very thing I was originally happy about, the fact that Macca's band is the house band. I thought these seasoned vets would have the wherewithal to create something other than safe backing tracks for the vocalists. But it's even less than safe backing tracks. There is zero bite. Just bland karaoke. There are a few winners, especially Jeff Lynne's brilliant take on "Junk." I also liked Dr. John's turn on "Let 'Em In" and like Simels, found Dylan's "Things We Said Today" to be "weirdly compelling." Only two songs, both on the bonus disc, really hit me as terrible and I think it's because I wanted both to be great. Ronnie Spector's "P.S. I Love You" and Darlene Love's "All My Loving" are embarrassingly bad. Otherwise, here is the "missed opportunity of 2014." And now, back to Shriner.)

Stuff I've forgotten about already that I had been looking forward to: The new U2, "M B V", "The Both"
And I'm way behind on some 2014 releases that I still haven't heard yet that I still have hopes for (Dylan Basement Tapes set, new "Linus of Hollywood", new Rumer, new "Well Wishers" etc...) so there may be some stuff I'm missing.


buzzbabyjesus said...

I can hardly remember what I listened to this year let alone organize into a top ten list.



The "conceit" of the Sloan record is that on vinyl it would be double record and each of the four boys take artistic lead in each side.

Jay Ferguson drives side one / disk one and it is the most "Sloanlike" with all those pop influences you read about. If you don't like the first half dozen ...

I think "You've Got A Lot On Your Mind" and "Cleopatra" are really good pop songs.

The record could have been a mess; me, I think it sounds good altogether.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see so much love for the New Pornographers album and Spoon.

I also liked Ty Segall's Manipulator a ton.

I loved Beck's record when it came out but lost the thread with it. Should pick it up again.

A couple 2013 albums that didn't really catch my ear til this year, but now on repeat play: Laura Marling's and Vampire Weekend's.

Haven't heard Ariel Pink's new album yet, but high hopes. TV on the Radio's record sounded terrific on first listen, but need more time with it.

Complete Basement Tapes and CSNY 1974 essential adds to the canon.

One discovery for me this year was Art Garfunkel's Break Away, which I bought a vinyl copy on the street for $1 and turned out to have some terrific pop on it. Would have made me vomit back in the day, but now that I'm old I can appreciate the craft. (One benefit of aging is that my taste has become much more Catholic.)

Bruce H.

Ken D said...

Agree with Shriner re Lily Allen. Loved her first album and thought she had great crossover appeal and a big bright future. Since then, bupkis...