CK’s top ten albums of 2014
Ten records. Four debuts. Three albums that could be soundtracks. One list.
To listen to all ten of these albums, check out this Spotify playlist.
10. Highasakite – Silent Treatment
A late entry into my top ten, I’ve been entranced by this Norwegian band since Tk first recommended them to me. This is decidedly the most beautiful pop album of the year. There’s something so intriguing about Ingrid Helene Håvik’s voice on the record; it’s almost Joanna Newsom-esque (though less squeaky).
MUST HEAR: “Darth Vader,” “Lover, Where Do You Live?,” “Since Last Wednesday”
9. Spoon – They Want My Soul
PHEW! I have to admit, I was worried after 2010’s Transference left a bitter taste in my mouth. Luckily, my trepidation coming into this album turned out to be unfounded. They’re BACK! Once again, they’ve put out a catchy juggernaut that threatens to stick in your headspace for months after even a single spin.
MUST HEAR: “Inside Out,” “Do You,” “Rent I Pay”
8. Twin Forks – LP
Although this is a debut album, it seems like we’ve heard this one before. Maybe it’s the proliferation of indie-folk hybrids made popular by Mumford & Sons, or maybe it’s the triumphant return of Chris Carrabba (the singer-songwriter behind Dashboard Confessional). Either way, the mixture of folk/bluegrass instrumentation and Carrabba’s voice is one not to be missed.
MUST HEAR: “Back to You,” “Cross My Mind,” “Kiss Me Darling”
7. TV On The Radio – Seeds
If you haven’t noticed already, a strong, unique vocalist is perhaps my favorite elements of a band. As a result, I will always be a sucker for Tunde Adebimpe’s voice. This album seems perfectly crafted, with that deep rumble crooning over a meticulously-arranged rock record with a huge heart. To punctuate the punctilious nature of this release, the CD and vinyl versions of this album have perhaps the best packaging of any album this year.
MUST HEAR: “Careful You,” “Lazerray,” “Happy Idiot”
6. The Warren G. Hardings – Get a Life
The Warren G. Hardings are Seattle bluegrass at its finest. After being successfully kickstarted, they’ve put out a debut album that is sure to put a smile on the face of its backers. Heck, this album is a freewheeling, toe-tapping extravaganza, no matter who you are. If you’re in the greater Seattle area (or even if you’re not), make sure to find a way to see them live.
MUST HEAR: “Darling,” “The Devil’s in the Roots,” “Drifting”
5. The War On Drugs – Lost in the Dream
I love the cadence of Adam Granduciel’s vocal melodies; Tk stole the comparative thunder here, but it reminds me a bit of Bob Dylan. My only complaint with the album is that sometimes the songs take a little too long to develop and as a result, the music seems to fade a bit too far into the background.
MUST HEAR: “Red Eyes,” “An Ocean in between the Waves,” “Burning”
4. Bleachers – Strange Desire
Jack Antonoff decided to make a record that sounded like it could be the soundtrack to a John Hughes movie. Listen to the record through that lens, and it takes on new meaning, seeming all the more nostalgic, wistful, and fun.
MUST HEAR: “Rollercoaster,” “I Wanna Get Better,” “Reckless Love”
3. Weezer – Everything Will Be Alright In The End
Just like Spoon, it’s so great to be able to say “They’re BACK!” for Weezer. I’m a huge Weezer fan, but their previous album, Hurley, is the only Weezer album that I don’t own. They’d hit rock bottom. Through the years, I defended Weezer when they dropped album after album that failed to recapture the magic of their first two records. It was beginning to seem as if that elusive album might evade Weezer forever. I don’t know what the magic element was this time around (producer Ric Ocasek?), but now, finally, FINALLY, it’s here. Everything Will Be Alright In The End is that record.
MUST HEAR: “Foolish Father,” “Go Away,” “Cleopatra”
2. Antemasque – s/t
This is the best record Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala have been involved in since (and perhaps including) Frances the Mute, back when they were the braintrust behind The Mars Volta. Perhaps the dissolution of that band has freed them up to create something a little more accessible and straightforward. Don’t get me wrong, their trademark intensity shines through as always; It’s just so great to have these two making music together again, and to hear Cedric’s voice on a record you can actually sing along with.
MUST HEAR: “50,000 Kilowatts,” “In The Lurch,” “4AM”
1. Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues
This album refuses to fade into the background. Instead, Transgender Dysphoria Blues is arresting, demanding the listener pay attention for the duration of the record. Alternating between moments aggressively profane and profoundly heartbreaking, this is punk rock with a purpose. I don’t think Laura Jane Grace set out to become an icon when she wrote this record. I don’t know if that’s what she wants. But if the next generation of punks starts to think about acceptance rather than rebellion, she will have made a difference.
MUST HEAR: “Transgender Dysphoria Blues,” “True Trans Soul Rebel,” “Black Me Out”
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Tags: against me!, antemasque, bleachers, bob dylan, chris carrabba, dashboard confessional, highasakite, ingrid helene havik, joanna newsom, majestic pegasus, mars volta, ric ocasek, spoon, tunde adebimpe, tv on the radio, twin forks, war on drugs, warren g hardings, weezer