Eric’s Best Albums of 2014 – This Year Was A BEAST For Music! (Part 1 – The First 12)

I know that there are naysayers out there who say, “there’s no good music anymore”, “there are no true rock bands anymore”, “music sucks these days”. I’m not sure where these people live, or what Clear Channel radio station they are subjected to on a daily basis, but 2014 was a MONSTER year for new music. It was so good, in fact, that I wanted to compile a Top 10 list. Nope. Can’t do it. It’s too hard. There’s just way too much good stuff out there!

So with that, I’ll attempt to pull together a series of lists of relevant, solid, you-really-ought-to-give-them-a-spin albums released this year (probably about 36 albums total). I’ll also plug my favorite streaming service (because I love the interface), Rdio. If you don’t subscribe to a streaming service, consider this one. I’ve given it to myself every Christmas for 4 years running now. It’s a great way to check out these records….and you’ll probably still buy them. I’ve discovered (and subsequently purchased) so many records from my Rdio subscription.

Ok, let’s get started. I’ll try to link the artist’s website with the first link (to the left of the colon), and a representative video or audio from the album with the second link. Since I’m not “ranking” these records, that would be too hard – I’m going to span many genres here – I’ll start the numbering scheme with #1. #1 is #1 because it’s the first one I thought of. Yeah, science. That’s what we do here at R2. Science!

  1. Ryan Adams: Ryan Adams – When this album dropped I was in NYC. I spent hours walking the streets and listening to this record. To and from meetings and dinners and the gym and just aimlessly walking. Ryan Adams is one of the most prolific songwriters of my generation, and man can I relate to the songs that he writes. This album captures that analog, recorded to real tape, using vintage guitars and effects, and a kick drum with one head, a blanket and some duct tape vibe. One of my favorites of all time. Yes. All time.
  2. Bob Mould: Beauty and Ruin – I was in Boston when this one came out (I know, unanticipated travel theme). I was going for a run and scouting out places to have dinner. I was scanning Rdio for new stuff and saw this. I loved Mould’s Silver Age record from a couple of years ago, so I thought I’d give it a go. Wow. It was on this run that I officially asked Bob to join my imaginary supergroup with Dave Grohl and Ryan Adams.
  3. Speaking of Dave Grohl, Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways – Just watch the show. If you take nothing else away from this post, watch the show. Everyone knows I have a mancrush on Dave Grohl, and that the Foos can do no wrong, but this (really ambitious) project is amazing. As a stand alone album, it’s really good….as a part of the experience that is Sonic Highways, it’s phenomenal.
  4. Pink Floyd: The Endless River – Growing up a huge Floyd fan, this was exciting for me. It’s like a largely instrumental tribute to Rick Wright, and born of the Division Bell sessions. To hear the sonic tapestry that is PF one more time is awesome. Oh, and Gilmour’s tone. Wow.
  5. Gerard Way: Hesitant Alien – My buddy, Matt King turned me on to My Chemical Romance back in 2004. I loved the huge production, the Jellyfish-like harmonies (if you don’t know Jellyfish, stop what you’re doing right now and go listen to Spilt Milk), and the Queen-esque compositions. Way is the MCR frontman. He’s channeling his inner-Bowie here and nails it. Catchy, hooky, a little edgy, a little bubble gum. Great record.
  6. Restorations: LP3 – Randomly stumbled on this on Rdio while working late one evening. In the last few weeks it has become my FAVORITE record right now. These guys are from Philly. Punk attitude. Thick production. Great guitar tone…and the singer has an interesting voice. Well worth your time. Separate Songs made NPR’s best of 2014 list.
  7. Bahamas: Bahamas Is Afie – Afie Jurvanen is a Canadian singer songwriter, known as Bahamas. I read about him in American Songwriter magazine…checked out the record and was hooked. Solid songwriting on this one.
  8. Broken Bells: After The Disco – By now, you know about James Mercer (of The Shins) and Danger Mouse’s side project. This thick, resonant little post-disco-bee-gees record is fantastic.
  9. Real Estate: Atlas – Beautiful, hooky, singalong songs from this Aussie band. Talking Backwards reminds me SO MUCH of The Connells, and the track, Motel in particular. Their vibe is ethereal and infectious.
  10. Perfect Pussy: Say Yes To Love – Punk is harder and harder to do without sounding like a knockoff of one scene or timeframe or another…or worse like the series of Green Day clones that littered the 90s (I’m talking to you Blink 182, SR71, etc.). Meredith Graves *is* punk rock.
  11. Starset: Transmissions – Sci-Fi progpop a’la 30 Seconds To Mars…except these guys have built a complex backstory. It’s like an interstellar mindcrime. Digging!
  12. Overkill: White Devil Armory – Yes, Eric this list is great but where is the METAL??? Ok, here you go. One of the finest thrash bands in the history of thrash. These New Jersey boys always get left out of the “Big 4” discussions, but I’d argue that Overkill should be *in* the Big 4. I love Megadeth, but Overkill has been (a) more consistent, (b) heavier, and (c) stayed true to their roots without making the same record over and over again.

Okay, that’s the first 12. Check ’em out! I think I have two more sets of 12 to address. If you’re interested, look for the next one tomorrow or Saturday. So much good music this year!

Oh, and don’t forget….This Saturday 12/27 @ Bootstrap Brewing in Niwot, Colorado – come get you’re R2 on!!

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