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Favorite Records of 2014 (At the Half)


Josh Hurst
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I could spend the rest of this calendar year holed up with old Monk and Mingus records—not listening to a single new release—and still have a tremendous set of records to recommend to you come year-end list season. With half of the year now completed, I can say without hesitation that 2014 has been one of the most significant years for new releases in recent memory, with several stone classics; plenty of others that come damn close.

Everything else I might say about the following list, I suspect, goes without saying: These are ten records I like an awful lot. It’s my halftime list, as it were, and will very likely change between now and December, maybe even between now and next week. That said, the top selection is 100 percent guaranteed to still be my favorite new record come the end of the year—is the heaviest new release in some years now, actually—and the next two albums on the list feel quite close to being mortal locks, as well.

I have found no small level of revelation and realignment in these albums; will keep returning to them for just that reason—and, because they are wildly entertaining, to boot.

1. Joe Henry,  Invisible Hour 
2. Miranda Lambert,  Platinum
3. Jolie Holland,  Wine Dark Sea 
4. Amy LaVere,  Runaway’s Diary 
5. The Roots,  … And Then You Shoot Your Cousin 
6. Wilko Johnson/Roger Daltrey, Going Back Home 
7. Rodney Crowell,  Tarpaper Sky 
8. Royksopp & Robyn, Do It Again
9. Stanton Moore, Conversations
10. Sturgill Simpson, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music

… and can you believe I wasn’t able to find room among those ten for Beck, Morning Phase; Rosanne Cash, The River and the Thread; St. Vincent,  St. Vincent; Luther Dickinson, Rock ‘n’ Roll Blues; Kelis, Food; tUnE-yAr ds, Nikki Nack; Jack White, Lazaretto; Ray LaMontagne, Supernova; The Black Keys, Turn Blue; and Neil Young, A Letter Home?

Edited by Josh Hurst

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I was about to ask, "Where's the jazz?" when I noticed an artist I didn't recognize -- Stanton Moore -- and googled the name. Yup, there's the jazz.

 

Have you written about that album elsewhere, Josh? (I haven't checked A&F; suppose I should, although I don't remember a dedicated thread at the moment.)

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Christian, I wrote this little blurb for Facebook, when the album first came out:

 

 

I love the musical and cultural history of New Orleans, and many of my favorite records engage and celebrate the vibrant lineage of that city—The Bright Mississippi, The River in Reverse, Trombone Shorty’s records, and so on. Conversations, the new record from Galactic drummer Stanton Moore, is something a little different: His first recording as the leader of an acoustic jazz trio, and a rather remarkable conjuring of Mardi Gras music in all its color and kinetic energy. Like Duke Ellington, Moore is masterful at utilizing the full textural palette of his band—whether it’s a 28-piece or just piano, drums, and bass—and this record’s invention is only topped by its righteous sense of swing.

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Not much I'm excited about this year so far. Here are the 2014 releases I enjoy:

Invisible Hour, Joe Henry

The Take Off and Landing of Everything, Elbow

St Vincent, St. Vincent

Warpaint, Warpaint

High Hopes, Bruce Springseen

nikki-nack, Tune-Yards

This is Lone Justice, Lone Justice

Bad Debt, Hiss Golden Messenger

I think Amy Lavere, Sharon Van Etten, and may even Wovenhand belong on this list, but I've only heard their records twice.

 

Favorite releases from last year that I discovered this year: 

Wildewoman, Lucius

Lanterns, Son Lux

Edited by Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Christian, I wrote this little blurb for Facebook, when the album first came out:

 

 

I love the musical and cultural history of New Orleans, and many of my favorite records engage and celebrate the vibrant lineage of that city—The Bright Mississippi, The River in Reverse, Trombone Shorty’s records, and so on. Conversations, the new record from Galactic drummer Stanton Moore, is something a little different: His first recording as the leader of an acoustic jazz trio, and a rather remarkable conjuring of Mardi Gras music in all its color and kinetic energy. Like Duke Ellington, Moore is masterful at utilizing the full textural palette of his band—whether it’s a 28-piece or just piano, drums, and bass—and this record’s invention is only topped by its righteous sense of swing.

 

Ah, OK. I'll try to remember to Spotify that one. I recall you liking the new Brian Blade as well, although maybe not in a "Top 10" kind of way.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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That's probably fair, Christian. I do like the Blade album, and need to spend more time with it. I feel as though, once it has more of a chance to work its charms on me, it will seduce me in a big way. As it stands, I agree with your take: Great record, but not Seasons of Changes great.

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I'm halfway through the Stanton Moore recording. It's wonderful.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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War on Drugs, by a mile my favourite album of the year.

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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I'll have to assume he hasn't heard Joe Henry, Elbow, or Jolie Holland. And the lack of halfway-point mentions of Lone Justice and Hiss Golden Messenger and above all Warpaint really surprises me (especially since Warpaint is a Flood/Godrich production).

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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I'll have to assume he hasn't heard Joe Henry, Elbow, or Jolie Holland. And the lack of halfway-point mentions of Lone Justice and Hiss Golden Messenger and above all Warpaint really surprises me (especially since Warpaint is a Flood/Godrich production).

 

Well, not to speak for Tom, but I suspect he just forgot a few things: He reviewed both the Elbow and Jack White albums favorably, and neither seem to be mentioned on his list.

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Favorites so far, in alphabetical order:

 

Damon Albarn – Everyday Robots

Joe Henry – Invisible Hour

Mastodon – Once More 'Round the Sun

Jessica Lea Mayfield – Make My Head Sing...

Nothing – Guilty of Everything

PUP – PUP

Sun Kil Moon – Benji

The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream

Sharon Van Etten – Are We There

Wussy – Attica!

 

I'm also kind of embarrassed to say that I genuinely enjoy the new Pixies "album;" it doesn't stack up favorably to their older albums, but a few spins of the record made me appreciate the tunes as (mostly) solid slabs of catchy Frank Black weirdness.

 

Also disappointed by the new ones from Drive-By Truckers, Wye Oak, Mogwai, and The Afghan Whigs. Of course, there are plenty of records I have yet to hear. 

Edited by Jason Panella
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To Be Kind, Swans

 

I was waiting for someone to mention this. (Sure, it's the only 2014 album I've heard thus far, but I know it would be on top even if that wasn't the case.)

Did George Clinton ever get a permit for the Mothership, or did he get Snoop Dogg to fetch one two decades late?

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Yeah, I can understand Tom - I mean, it happens. I forgot Sun Kil Moon was even a 2014 album, but Benji absolutely should be somewhere on mine, too. I like Albarn's projects usually, but I didn't get into Everyday Robots much. It felt a little dull to me.

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I like Albarn's projects usually, but I didn't get into Everyday Robots much. It felt a little dull to me.

 

Me too! The All Songs guys were so high on this album, but I thought it felt pretty shallow. Radiohead and others were doing better bleak futurism long before this record. 

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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I like Albarn's projects usually, but I didn't get into Everyday Robots much. It felt a little dull to me.

 

Me too! The All Songs guys were so high on this album, but I thought it felt pretty shallow. Radiohead and others were doing better bleak futurism long before this record. 

 

 

It'll probably be the first album to fall of my list when I hear better stuff, so I get what you're saying. I'll say this, though—while I love Yorke and company, Albarn's music interests me far more than three of the last four Radiohead albums.

Edited by Jason Panella
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It'll probably be the first album to fall of my list when I hear better stuff, so I get what you're saying. I'll say this, though—while I love Yorke and company, Albarn's music interests me far more than three of the last four Radiohead albums.

 

 

I had to think for a moment what the last four albums are, and take a stab at guessing. In Rainbows?

(I can't agree anyway, but it's my favorite of that particular bunch)

Edited by bloop
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