2014 was a crazy year in music. We had unexpected reunions, surprise albums (go away U2), vinyl sales reach record highs and Taylor Swift’s 1989 sell 1.28 million in it’s opening week. Music fans were also graced with amazing new music from bands you thought had given up, like Weezer and Smashing Pumpkins. I listened to a lot of music this year and tried expanding my taste into different genres, this list is basically a small collection of all those hours of listening.
10. Shakey Graves – And the War Came
This was one of the albums I was most excited for all year. Prior to this release I had only heard lo-fi recordings and live versions of Shakey’s songs on YouTube and Soundcloud. This album is well produced and does not skip out on the folk song writer’s signature sound. Alejandro Rose-Garcia’s raspy voice harmonizes perfectly with Esme Patterson on “Big Time Nashville Star” and the upbeat “Dearly Departed.” The on thing to take away from this album is that it isn’t quite folk, it isn’t quite country, and it isn’t quite singer-songwriter, its a well balanced blend of all three.
9. Ryan Adams – Ryan Adams
Another album I was looking forward to all 2014. Not only did Adams release this self-titled album, he released a 7″ vinyl EP of punk songs the same week and has been releasing 7″ single vinyls, of new material, each month since September! This guy does not sleep, there’s just no way he does. Adams’ latest album is heavy on electric guitar but doesn’t shy away from acoustic ballads like the album’s second track, “Kim.” The songs consist of heartbreak, struggle, and captivating lyrics we’ve come to expect from the extraordinary songwriter.
8. Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds In Country Music
I had not heard a song by Sturgill Simpson until this album came out this past Summer. Simpson is unlike any country artist you’ve heard today. He sticks to his country roots while adding touches of modern day. Sure, he’s got a deep voice and twangy sound like most country artists, but how many country artists sing about marijuana, LSD, or psilocybin? As far as I know, just one. Simpson has the best understanding of what true country should sound like of any artist today and this album displays that understanding perfectly.
7. PUP – PUP
This was one of my favorite albums I didn’t even know existed until a friend suggested it after seeing them open for The Menzingers. This Canadian punk band isn’t just guitars and distortion, they’ve got incredibly catchy melodies and riffs that sound like if Weezer had actually stuck to their Metal roots. The album is full of fast songs but also slower songs like “Yukon” that really show off their technical guitar and song writing skills.
6. Jack White – Lazaretto
Jack White has been one of my favorite musicians since I was 12 and heard The White Stripes album De Stijl, so naturally I’m going to love his solo music. The cross between genres he incorporates into his albums is astounding. He can go from blues to country to punk all in one song. Not many artists can pull that off but White has figured out the formula to do just that. Much like White’s first solo album, Blunderbuss, this album consists of devastating guitars that rip but also contains softer, more acoustic guitars on tracks like “Entitlement” or the album closer “Want and Able.”