2014: A Year of Aural Bliss

Archie Pelago album cover

Hello 2015! January is already over? What? I haven’t blogged in a long time. I discovered the reason for this is an unintended consequence of a great year of getting six (whoo-hoo!) pieces published. After getting used to an editorial process with another person, I found the ability to self-publish blog posts overwhelming. Were my words really worthy of permanence on the Internet? But then I realized I’m not a famous person. Anonymity can be a comfort.

What I wanted to write about is that there was a ton of great music in 2014!

 My Top Ten Album List

1. Archie Pelago and Grenier: Grenier Meets Archie Pelago

I stood up and took notice the first time the track came on a Rhapsody editorial radio channel. I listened to it repeatedly. The bass and drums come in at 1:20 and I bobbed my head, but it’s when those steel drums sneak in at 1:53 that I indeed swooned to “Swoon.” The rest of the album is a thermostat running from hot to cold and a metronome swinging from bumpin’ to chilling out. From the deceptively simple architecture of “Monolith” to the pulsating strobe light of “Jellyfish Supernova” to the buoyant, glimmering swirl of “Two If By Sea,” the album is a wide globe of textures. Grenier Meets Archie Pelago is confident, original and affecting.

2. Glass Animals: Zaba

The sound is coherent and idiosyncratic. Each song is built upon robust melodies, sort of like Chet Baker in a jungle. My favorite track, “Hazey,” mixes syrupy, smooth vocals, ominous horns and exotic percussion and the result is ear crack. Hit me again with that spooky magic.

3. Kimbra: The Golden Echo

My interest was piqued from all the rave reviews. At first listen, I was intrigued because it’s hard to sound truly different and stand out, but Kimbra’s second album definitely accomplishes that. But on the many subsequent listens, I realized it’s not just different, it’s an ambitious masterwork. Intricate, boisterous and wonderfully strange.

4. Disclosure: Settle

“Latch” hit me with its emotional poignancy from the first time I heard it. One of the most perfect and soulful tracks I’ve heard, regardless of genre. The other cuts remind of the best of heyday 90s British electronica.

5. Iggy Azalea: The New Classic

She has her share of haters and social media drama. But this was a well-crafted and snazzily produced collection of radio sugar by a talented performer. I can listen to it beginning to end on repeat.

6. London Grammar: If You Wait

Like Glass Animals’ Zaba, an example that a unified collection of songs need not always mean “homogenized.” Hannah Reid has smoky, mezzo-soprano pipes that will knock your ass on the ground with their power.

7. Phantogram: Voices

I liked Eyelid Movies, but with Voices they really punched it up. Dynamic and catchy.

8. Interpol: El Pintor

Perhaps they will never again reach the brilliance of an album like Antics. But this album is solid and my favorite track, “Same Town, New Story,” is full of uneasy, twitchy tension and mysterious lyrics that I dig about Interpol.

9. Metronymy: Love Letters

Ebullient and poppy. I can’t help but want to turn it up and dance around to “Reservoir.” To me, this album is a lot more substantial than a lot of electropop out there that is shallow, forgettable and favors a trendy sound over an actual message and genuine songcraft.

10. TV On The Radio: Seeds

They’ve never been one of my favorite favorite bands, but this album has its many moments of surprising turns and sonic revelry.

 

 

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