On The Record: Best of 2014
Lots of music came out in 2014. Plenty have passed through one ear and out the other, but some of it did stick. Below are some of those albums that stayed in my head throughout the past year.
Ten (Well, 11) Favorites from 2014:
Plectrumelectrum and Art Official Age
The Purple One looks to be back for real, with a pair of albums that would fit into his glory days releases. Plectrumelectrum shows the rocking side of Prince, while Art Official Age brings out spacey pop. Both are brilliant.
The Minnesota fave returned in early 2014 with an album loaded to the gills with confidence, merging tight playing and song writing with Messersmith’s signature, off-kilter view of life.
Young Englishmen turn the clock back to 1971 for a trippy set of tunes. Plenty of acts have done that over the decades, but Temples also brought a strong set of songs to go with the sonic phasers and psychedelic moments.
After an intriguing side album with David Byrne, Annie Clark went back on her own for a tremendous set of mature pop and rock music.
It’s easy to feel some contact pride over this former Minnesota resident’s success, but Last War is also an album of beautifully honed music that hides heartbreak beneath the surface.
Sonny Knight and the Lakers
I’m Still Here
It took Sonny Knight decades of personal and musical struggle to finally get his debut album together. The local soul and R&B singer made good here, celebrating in a distinctly Minnesota way on tunes like “Juicy Lucy.”
Elliott Kozel loves hot and sweaty sex—at least, that’s what it sounds like on this heavy-breathing EP.
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings
Give the People What They Want
Jones roared back from a cancer diagnosis in 2013 with this collection of self-assured soul that continued to keep the traditions of old-time soul alive.
In a live setting, she can certainly command the house, and that extends to this debut album, which heralds a strong new voice on the music scene.
Beauty and Ruin
Bob Mould is definitely not a new voice, but years deep into his second career renaissance, the former Husker Du/Sugar frontman continues to issue effortlessly great, raging collections of tunes.
Ten More Albums Worth the Time From 2014:
The War on Drugs
Lost in the Dream
Transgender Dysphoria Blues
The Black Keys
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
New Cast Recording
Trampled by Turtles
Album from late 2013 that would have been on that list, except for deadlines:
Songs of Innocence
Bad enough that U2 decided to unleash this mediocre set of tunes on the world, but forcing the entire globe (at least those with an iTunes account) to have to listen to the likes of “The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)” and “The Troubles” was just cruel.
Massive Reissue That Takes the Better Part of a Day to Listen to:
Bootleg Series #11: The Complete Basement Tapes
Dylan and the soon-to-be Band rock out near Woodstock, with both emerging on the other end as changed artists. It’s a tremendous, exhaustive set that will keep any Dylan-phile busy through the winter.
The Greatest of Greatest Hits Collections
Nothing Has Changed
It’s not hard to put together a hits set for Bowie, but most in the past have focused on his glory days from Space Oddity to Scary Monsters. These three discs move backwards in time, proving that while his whole career hasn’t been as consistent as those years, the highlights from 45 years of music making stand up.