Title is self explanatory and besides that, I really don’t like to wait so we’ll just get right to it, shall we? Plus I don’t fuck around with all that Casey Kasem countdown type shit. I’ll give #1 to you right off the bat. I’ll even throw in 5 extra albums so that makes it a Top 15 list. Who else is going to give you that? Nobody.
But first, some rules. The albums had to be released in 2014. I take the rankings directly from my last.fm listening charts, which my kids cannot dilute nor influence. These are truly the albums I listened to the most in the year of 2014, whether I like it or not. I will also include a playlist with a couple of my favorite songs off each album. If you agree to these rules, come out of your corners, let’s shake hands, and get down to business.
1. They Want My Soul by Spoon: Are you kidding me? A Texas rock band? I’ve been a fan for just about as long as they’ve been around, which is a long time. I listened to this album pretty much nonstop, driving 12 hours straight to get my kids home in time for the first day of school after our annual summer trip to Texas. The album was released the very same day I left Texas for Bama and it was a life saver. If a band ever got together in the studio and said “Hey, let’s make an album specifically for this fan, for this exact day of her life”, this would be that album for me. I loved it on that horrific day and still can listen to it without skipping songs today. And if you know me, that says a lot.
2. Crosses by Crosses (†††): Again, are you kidding me? This is a side project of Chino Moreno, who normally is head honcho for the Deftones. I love Chino Moreno, okay? Let’s just get that out of the way. But I’m not deaf and if I didn’t like his side project, I wouldn’t listen. Chino has a way with lyrics that no one I’ve ever listened to has. I’m a lyric whore, I’ve said it before, and he is my pimp, no doubt about it. Every single one of his lyrics tops anything that Jane Austen ever wrote for Mr. Darcy and if you know me, that says a lot. He will hate fuck you in one song and then make sweet, slow love to you in the next, cap it off with a wedding ring and beg you to have his babies. Holy shit.
3. Royal Blood by Royal Blood: Debut album from the British rock duo Royal Blood. Another one hit out of the park for me. I could listen to this whole thing without stopping or skipping and that is rare for me. Just good old rock and roll, nothing really new but they sound so damned fresh. The songs are sexy as hell and I love their lyrics. A few songs, I could swear the lyrics could have been written by Jack White. Run, don’t walk, to listen to them.
4. Ryan Adams by Ryan Adams: I’ve been a fan of Ryan Adams ever since I first heard his cover of “Wonderwall”. I know that’s not a long time for some of you diehards but since then, I have been devouring anything new the man puts out. This whole album is just good. It just is. The man can rarely do wrong by me but this album will always be special to me.
5. Do To The Beast by The Afghan Whigs: The first album by the Afghan Whigs in over a decade, I was so excited to listen to this for the first time. Although I didn’t appreciate the entire album, at least half of it is loved, and that’s more than I can ask for these days.
6. Half The City by St. Paul & The Broken Bones: My music blogger friend, Fran, posted a video of these guys and I was gone. They are Birmingham boys and I wrote about seeing them here in concert in their hometown here.
7. Lazaretto by Jack White: I did not get to see Jack White in concert this year but I absolutely loved his new album, and then of course, this happened.
8. La Gárgola by Chevelle: I think this album also dropped the day I drove the 12 hours straight back to Bama. Regardless, I hadn’t heard it yet and it blew me away. This was my badass album of the year. I mean, listen to “Take Out The Gunman” and you’ll either want to shoot something or get to a gym as quickly as possible. This was my workout album of the year, for sure. Chevelle’s lead singer, Pete Loeffler, is at his best when he goes from subdued and brooding with barely contained rage to completely unhinged and screaming the very next beat. Check out “One Ocean” for a complete about face. It’s a truly beautiful song and shows some range of what they can do when they’re not taking ass and kicking names. Or kicking ass and taking names. Pete can do whatever the hell he wants. Don’t question him.
9. Tremors by SOHN: Tremors was my laid back, chill album of the year. I would fall asleep to this album and that’s not a bad thing. The lyrics are still there, still passionate and sexy and everything I look for but the whole thing just says “relax”. Not typically my normal thing but I’m glad I found them. Definitely look forward to seeing what they have up next.
10. Strange Desire by Bleachers: This was the debut album of the American indie band Bleachers and it instantly got to me the way The Neighbourhood’s album did last year. Fresh sounding, great lyrics and songs. “Rollercoaster” was definitely my summer jam and “Wake Me” makes my heart race like few songs do.
11. Indie Cindy by Pixies: I’m a huge Pixies fan but this one was quite the let down. The only reason it’s here is because I listened to Blue Eyed Hexe so much, I think I broke the internet for a couple days after it was released. It is a staple on my workout playlist. It’s the Pixies, in one song.
12. Versus by Emerosa: The third album by the post-hardcore band, I hadn’t really listened to anything by them before. They can sound very pop-rocky much like Framing Handley, but there’s something else to them. My favorite tracks from this album showcase that difference, the depth. My favorite tracks from this album aren’t the typical pop rock ones but the ones that bring on the angst and anger for which I’m such a sucker for.
13. X by Ed Sheeran: I still don’t know what to do with this guy, to be honest. I like him but he did that thing with Taylor Swift and that’s just hard for me to get past. He’s adorable and he has a wicked sense of humor so a couple of the songs from this album boosted the album into my year favorites.
14. Hesitant Alien by Gerard Way: Gerard is the former lead singer of the band My Chemical Romance and I was devastated when they broke up a couple years ago. MCR released a greatest hits album this year and it was actually #2 on my album chart but I didn’t include it because it was a greatest hits album. Gerard Way can do no wrong in my musical book. The king of angst himself, I relate to his songs probably more than I ever have any other writer/singer. Justin from Blue October is the only other one who can come close. I didn’t like the whole album but I liked enough of it that it’s a success for me. It has all the quirkiness of Gerard and enough of MCR that makes me feel warm and gooey inside. I hope he keeps putting good stuff out.
15. Bed On Fire by Butch Walker: A bit of a cheat because this is actually a single, the album doesn’t come out until February, I believe. This showed up on my last.fm charts as an album and I’m listening to this single constantly so I’ll include it, even as a cheat. Butch lost his father last year and although it’s his right to mourn his father for however long it takes, I was hoping he’d get back to his normal style of writing soon. Listening to Butch under normal circumstances alternately makes me want to fill the biggest glass I can find with wine and sit in front of a huge ass fireplace buck naked or get naked after drinking an insane amount of hard liquor and climb onto a bar somewhere to dance in protest over getting older. Either way, I’m naked and at this time of year, that’s not a good thing. Trust me. I haven’t seen him in concert yet but this happened this year.
Honorable Mention, Black Widow by In This Moment: I was editing this for the final time before publishing and realized there are no women on this list, which isn’t too surprising. I have a hangup about most girl bands, women singers, etc. I just relate to males more musically but I was shocked that In This Moment didn’t appear. I listen to them a lot, especially while working out at the gym. The lead singer, Maria Brink, is a complete and total badass. She can sing beautiful notes in a breathtaking ballad and then scream louder and fiercer than any metal dude out there today. Also, her lyrics are amazing. Chick’s been through some shit. I’d love to know her. Check them out.
I hope your musical year was as good as mine was. Some years it seems slim pickings but this year was actually a goldmine as far as good albums go. I hope you find a few that you like in this list. If you discovered a band or album you love this year that’s not on this list, please let me know!