Monday, December 29, 2014

A Year in Music - 2014

If you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you know I will give shout-outs to what I think is the best music of the past year.

Again, I have no formula on this.  It can be one or two albums or songs - or it can be 10. Rarely can I find 10 "good" albums, but can usually must up that number for songs.

So here we go........

Album of the Year

The year was full of marginal music best.  While I liked some of the music, overall, the albums lacked consistency and cohesion. Some of them even lacked talent.

I have to go with Damien Rice

For me, My Favourite Faded Fantasy was the best disk of 2014. It was a late comer, but for all the music I acquired this last year, it stands out more than any of the others. And most importantly, I really dig it. 

However, I do have my two runners-up. 

Rosanne Cash's the River & the Thread was my top pick, up until Rice's November release. Cash still has a good disk - and it's landing in many top 10 (or top 5....sometimes even the top spot) critic's choices for the year. 

I can't believe I haven't even had an opportunity to review Chrissie Hynde's Stockholm yet. Probably it will be my January RotM selection. It's a really good disk, not that I'd expect too much crap from Hynde - at least that wasn't "I'll Stand By You".  {shudder}

Songs of the Year (in no particular order)

I'm a little all over the board here. Some Americana, Bluegrass, Pop.....but that's just me. You won't find me picking Speed Metal or Opera, so you're safe on that front.

I don't think it's coincidence that most of my selections, and the accompanying videos, are live takes of their studio counterparts. It goes to show how strong the material and artists actually are.

"the Long Way Home" - from Rosanne Cash's album the River and the Thread.

Just Cash and her husband's (John Leventhal) guitar and it still works. No studio trickery. The song has a very Bobbi Gentry bent and it works.

"Destination" - from Nickel Creek's album A Dotted Line.

Their first new recorded music in over seven years - and was a contender for my Album of the Year.

I dig "Destination" in this NPR Tiny Desk Concert performance. It's better than the album version or other live YouTube clips that are out there. But since this video just not this song, you really only have to listen to the first four minutes or so.

The video is a little disconcerting to me. The band, while still "youngsters", have been together for 25 years, know each other so well that during the first song there is almost no, if any, connection between each other. It's like they're high functioning Asperger folks, but in reality have just worked together so long they don't need visual cues. Still - great talents, great musicians, good harmonies.

Lots of good picks from Rice's disk, but I keep coming back to "the Box'. The disk version has a swelling string section as the song goes on - which is impressive. But you see that the basic, live song is just as strong.

The only one of a My Music Monday selection to make it to this list. Suzanne Vega and her live version of "I Never Wear White".  It is much better than her album version (imho) and this is better than her other live versions.

I think the reasons for that is that Vega is generally an acoustic guitar artists and the studio and other versions are electric guitar and it makes a nuanced song less so.

"Come Unto Me" - the Mavericks from their album, In Time.

Yes, it's from a live performance in 2012, but it wasn't released until sometime in 2013 and it stretched into my 2014 playlist.

I love the group, though this last disk was very Mariachi-y. "Come Unto Me" was a little less so and with a more cajun influence. ...and the accordionist in the video is kind of dreamy.  ...and singer Raul Malo still has one of the best voices out there.

"Happy" - by Pharrell Williams

Because it's still fun to listen to.

I'm sure I'm missing stuff, but it's a good slice.

What are your favourite songs / albums from 2014?


GregM said...

I have to credit you with turning me on to Roseanne Cash. It was because of your recommendation here that I got 'The River and The Thread' and it's been my on my top two most listened CD's (yes, I still buy CD's).

The other is 'Fall to Grace' by Paloma Faith. Although it was released in 2012, I didn't pick it up until this year. I prefer it to her more current release, 'A Perfect Contradiction'.

Bob said...

Thanks for the Rosanne.
That's a great way to start the week!

Ur-spo said...

I enjoy lists like these
I get exposed to new and marvelous music this way.
thank you.