(NOTE: If you missed it, you may also look at a list of what I feel are the Best Music Videos Of 2014.)
After a year of incredibly solid music, we are now at the point where I’m able to list what I feel are the Best Albums Of 2014. After I compile a list at the end of year, I wonder if the following year can get better. That’s my way of hoping there will be better but do I want an actual “better”? No, I simply hope that the music of the future will be as solid, powerful, and moving as it was that I listened to. There are countless articles about the demise of the music industry, how modern pop music is killing the true spirit of great music but while what passes as American pop may be a bit iffy to my ears, have you heard what is coming from England or Australia as of late? Much of the music released there may not get as much attention or publicity as One Direction but they are not in shortage of the goods.
Hip-hop is in a decline? Again? The media has been saying that for over 25 years, as if Run-DMC was the beginning and end of what makes the music so good. If Run-DMC weren’t on the cover of Rolling Stone, it’s not worth your time, remember those days? Maybe major labels are, in the words of Frank Zappa, only in it for the money but when has that been any different? Regardless of the budget, good music is still being made. We are all on the internet (unless someone printed this article at Kinko’s and you’re reading it at a dorm and if so, thank you), you’ve come to my website and decided to read this article. You made a decision to do so, which means you’re also able to find something to like. The choices are overwhelming but you can listen, pick and choose. The internet is the greatest “listening booth” in the world, there is absolutely no reason for you to not find something.
There’s not enough of certain genres on my list, including country. Yes, there was a time when I didn’t like country but in time I had a change of heart, listened to it with an open mind and ears and I now salute the temple of Buck Owens. I enjoy hearing people like Jennifer Nettles or Little Big Town but it’s not something I actively listen to, so perhaps I need to in the new year. There could be some country-tinged songs within this list but for the most part, no country albums found within, apologies.
As much as I do love music, I don’t want people to think that I am making an attempt to fit in anything and everything. As I have said for years, diversity is the key and that’s part of my norm, I don’t know any other day. If I want to listen to some disgusting death metal and bow down to Lord Satana at the end, I will. If I find something with some rich gospel, I’m here. Do I want to hear some punk or hardcore that will make me wear weird T-shirts and slam into a pit at Wal-Mart? Sure, why not. My point is, there’s enough music available and these are albums that I enjoyed a lot. Please keep in mind that I’m sure I may have missed a few albums along the way. I did not and can’t listen to every album released in 2014, no one has the time. The list is very much a representation of my likes and interests. You are able to click on the title to get to my review for each one posted throughout the year. Something makes you curious? Click a link and find out more.
Now let’s get to the list.
Analog – “Arrow Of God”
As We Draw – “Mirages”
Brownstudy – “Life Well Lived”
Casual Strangers – s/t
Clipping. – “CLPPNG”
Colleens – “Wild Dreams”
Constant Lovers – “Experience Feelings”
Deadkill – “No, Never!”
Diamond District – “March On Washington”
Direct Effect – “Sunburn”
DJ Q-Bert – “GalaXXXian”
Eyehategod – s/t
Jessie Frye – “Obsidian”
The Ghost Wolves – “Man, Woman, Beast”
Goatwhore – “Constricting Rage Of The Merciless”
Golden Donna – “II”
Hoax Hunters – “Comfort & Safety”
Hot Victory – s/t
Ibrahim Electric – “Rumors From Outer Space”
Andrew Judah – “Monster”
Jeff & Susanne Kelly – “By Reckless Moonlight”
King Buzzo – “This Machine Kills Artists”
Low Leaf – “AKASHAALAY”
Mårble – “Two Women & Tiger”
Gigi Masin – “Talk To The Sea”
Megafauna – “Maximalist”
Melvins – “Hold It In”
Mimicking Birds – “Eons”
Hedvig Mollestad Trio – “Enfant Terrible”
OOIOO – “Gamel”
Oscillator Bug – “Bursts Of The Million”
The Roots – “…and then you shoot your cousin”
Sizzla – “Radical”
Sleepmakeswaves – “Love Of Cartography”
Two Knights – “Shut Up”
Jess Williamson – “Native State”
By the 4th quarter of the year (October/November/December), I had a sense of what albums would be at the top of the list. After years of putting together “Best Of” wrap-ups, I realized that there shouldn’t be an absolute top pick. Then as I’m doing the write-up, I think “eh, this will be my absolute favorite.” This year was a rough one because the Top 3 I had was going with me to the finish line. It then lead to an absolute Top 2, and those top 2 choices were hard to decide on.
Then D’Angelo surprised everyone by releasing his long awaited third album. This was the week Nicki Minaj is supposed to release something new, this was her time in the spotlight but Michael Archer stole the shine without even trying. Then again, it had taken 15 years of trying, struggling, writing, recording, and approving an album many fans have been waiting for. I’m someone who likes to do these “Best Of” lists in the second half of December so in case someone throws out a surprise, I would be ready. Fortunately, I was ready. A look at my absolute Top 4 albums of 2014.
If I had to pick an absolute Top 3, it would be between Low Leaf, The Roots, and clipping. If I had to go down to an absolute Top 2, then it’s between D’Angelo and clipping. Even as I write this, it is a struggle to pick my absolute Best Album Of 2014 because why should I settle with just one? Why not the two, three, or four? Hell, if I were to make a Top 5, then I would have to include Enfant Terrible by the Hedvig Mollestad Trio. I could spend a paragraph or two debating other albums I would’ve placed here. Rather than pick an absolute top, let me tell you what I had intended in making my choice as the Best Album of 2014.
I love it when hip-hop is direct, I still love when hip-hop conveys a message, I don’t want to listen to something that is a waste of my time and energy. I also love it when someone “ruins” the concept of what hip-hop is supposed to be and with their love of adding in noise, experimental textures, and chaos in their music, I love clipping. because what they’re doing is not what is today’s hip-hop standard. What I hear is what the Jungle Brothers did in 1993, what Divine Styler did in 1992, and maybe what Hawd Gankstuh Rappuhs Emsees Wid Ghatz did in 2001. Hip-hop is meant to be a direct message and what clipping. did is take a few pages, burn it, and throw the ashes into your eyes. It’s the same hip-hop but done in a slightly different outfit. That is why I loved the album, and that is why I had made it my favorite of the year.
However, four albums are high on the list, I may turn around tomorrow and say “do you know what I now feel about Low Leaf?” I will leave it at that. All of the albums released this year were incredible and I am certain this will continue in the new year that will be 2015. Show support by buying their albums, going to their shows, or signing up to their mailing lists, Facebook pages or follow them on Twitter.