Tuesday, December 30, 2014

This was the year that was ... my new music from 2014 #2014Music #2014inReview

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Whoops, never got the new One Direction album!
A review of the year that was in new music I listened to. Notables are described below, and best of the best (or at least the ones that got multiple plays from me) are highlighted. I've also noted a few other "honorable mentions" (or disappointments). For the full list, go to the end of the post.

If I had to name a Top Ten, this would be it (in order of release):

  1. Rosanne Cash, The River and the Thread
  2. The Caribbean, Moon Sickness
  3. Broken Bells, After the Disco 
  4. Beck, Morning Phase
  5. Ingrid Michaelson, Lights Out 
  6. Sarah McLachlan, Shine On 
  7. Tori Amos, Unrepentant Geraldines 
  8. Jack White, Lazaretto 
  9. Robert Plant, lullaby and ... The Ceaseless Roar 
  10. Taylor Swift, 1989

The first album out for the year I'll highlight comes from Stephen Malkmus and the JicksWig Out at Jagbags. Bruce Springsteen's High Hopes was an  interesting and curious album. Remakes of various songs ("Ghost of Tom Joad", "American Skin") that rival the originals. Some cover songs ("Dream Baby" and the title song) that are quite good. Bit of a hodge-podge from The Boss, but one that holds together pretty well.

By far, one of the best albums of the year was Rosanne Cash's The River and the Thread. Cash delivered a fabulous set, one of the many highlights is "A Feather's not a Bird."
Cash was joined by step-sister Carlene Carter on the new album list and her Carter Girl a pleasant and root-sy album. Johnny Cash brought us the posthumous release of Out Among the Stars produced by countrypolitan star Billy Sherrill.

David Crosby's Croz saw Crosby's voice is still holding up pretty well considering all it's been through over the years. If you close your eyes and concentrate, you can almost hear the early 1970s as you listen to the album. "Find a Heart" (the closer) is one of the best on this set.

I can't say enough about the Broken Bells' After the DiscoWow, another stunning album by the Bells. Incredible mix of songs without a loser in the bunch. Likewise, a new band to me, the Temples' Sun Structures was very good, sort of "retro" (sounds like spacey 60s UK pop). Still not quite sure of the album (or the sound), very Donovan-like at times (which is good), but gets a bit repetitive over the course of the album. Does grow on one after a number of listenings.

Moon Sickness was The Caribbean's stunning 2014 delivery to fans of the DC-based group. From Beck in 2014 dropped Morning PhaseAn album that takes a few spins to grow on you. The album found Beck in a mellow mood, "Heart is a Drum" one of my favorites on the album.

Chet Faker's, Built on Glass was a great debut by the Australian singer. Aimee Mann joined up with Ted Leo as The Both and put out a good self-titled album (The Both). How did I miss Ingrid Michaelson all these years? Her Lights Out was full of great songs. I'll make note of Ian Anderson's Homo Erraticus as an interesting entry in his post-Tull canon and Santana's Corazon (the biggest disappointment of the year).

May saw a trio of very good albums, starting with Lykke Li's I Never Learn, Sarah McLachlan's Shine On and an amazing new album by Tori Amos's Unrepentant Geraldines.

Neil Young had two albums this year, the Jack White collaboration A Letter Home (in May) and  Storytone (in November). As always with Young, both were interesting, but I preferred the novelty of A Letter Home over the double-takes of the solo/string version of Storytone.

Two of the Pistol Annies released solo albums, Miranda Lambert was out of the gate first with Platinum (a sassy fun album from June)  Angaleena Presley followed in October with American Middle Class (a sassy fun album too!). There was some new style punk (is that what it was?) from Jack White's Lazaretto and old style from Chrissie Hynde's Stockholm .

2013.07.01-IMG_4584 After a five year hiatus, Phish released a very engaging Fuego that was highlighted by the title song. Oh, "Chandelier", do I need to say anything else about Sia's 1000 Forms of Fear? I'll note that Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers gave yet another solid album with Hypnotic Eye and yet another incarnation of Yes delivered Heaven & Earth (July 22, 2014).

Robyn Hitchcock continuously delivers albums that I simply love, this year it was The Man Upstairs which was a great mix of originals and covers. U2's Songs of Innocence made me feel old because I did really like it, thus fulfilling a demographic I suppose. Likewise, Robert Plant's, lullaby and ... The Ceaseless Roar came from an even more ancient rocker who has let his music grown older gracefully. 

John Mellencamp's Plain Spoken was a good albums and Lee Ann Womack's The Way I'm Livin' was a nice comeback album, from one of the original "new Nashville" women.

In the, "I was really hoping this would be better category" was Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett's Cheek to Cheek. The collaboration had a number of high spots, but couldn't sustain an entire album. Bennett was joined by new other octogenarians in releasing albums, Leonard Cohen's Popular Problems (September) proved that Cohen can still growl out a great song; likewise, Willie Nelson's Band of Brothers (June) brought us the ageless Nelson and some great new songs. Speaking of growlers, Marianne Faithfull gave us Give My Love to London (with a catchy title song and a number of other winners). 

1970s SoCal superstars Jackson Browne and Stevie Nicks both delivered in October. Jackson Browne's Standing in the Breach was highlighted by "Yeah, Yeah". Stevie Nicks's 24 Karat Gold - Songs from the Vault was a release of 1970s era tunes that still play well in 2014. Johnny Marr followed up his 2013 solo debut with Playland.

Taylor Swift proved to all the haters that she's one of the biggest stars of the decade with a transitional 1989 that was full of catchy tunes (starting with the lead off single, "Shake it Off").
2014 saw the first official full release of Bob Dylan and The Band's "Basement Tapes"; it also saw the release of The New Basement Tapes' Lost on the River, an all-star group helmed by Elvis Costello who put Basement Tape-era lyrics to new music, close to something, but not quite.

And ending the year, was Bryan Ferry's Avonmore and Billy Corrigan delivery of a new Smashing Pumpkins album, Monuments to an Elegy.

Singles:
  • Sabrina Carpenter, Rowan Blanchard, "Take On The World ("Girl Meets World" Theme)"
  • Britanny Spears, "Alien" (actually from late 2013)
  • Taylor Swift, "Shake It Off"
  • David Bowie, "Sue (Or in a Season of Time)"
And now, the Albums of 2014:
  • Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, Wig Out at Jagbags (January 7, 2014)
  • Blank Realm, Grassed Inn (January 13, 2014). 
  • The Pixies, EP2 (January 13, 2014).  
  • Bruce Springsteen, High Hopes (January 14, 2014). 
  • Rosanne Cash, The River and the Thread (January 14, 2014)
  • David Crosby, Croz (January 28, 2014)
  • Broken Bells, After the Disco (January 14, 2014)
  • Temples, Sun Structures (February 11, 2014)
  • The Caribbean, Moon Sickness (February 18, 2014)
  • Benmont Tench, You Should Be So Lucky (February 18, 2014)
  • Beck, Morning Phase (February 25, 2014).
  • Luther Dickinson, Rock 'n Roll Blues (March 18, 2014)
  • Jon Langford & Skull Orchard, Here Be Monsters (April 1, 2014)
  • Carlene Carter, Carter Girl (April 8, 2014)
  • Chet Faker, Built on Glass (April 14, 2014)
  • The Both, The Both (April 15, 2014)
  • Ingrid Michaelson, Lights Out (April 15, 2014)
  • Ian Anderson, Homo Erraticus (April 15, 2014)
  • Johnny Cash, Out Among the Stars (March 25, 2014)
  • Lykke Li, I Never Learn (May 5, 2014)
  • Santana, Corazon (May 6, 2014)
  • Sarah McLachlan, Shine On (May 6, 2014)
  • Tori Amos, Unrepentant Geraldines (May 12, 2014)
  • Neil Young, A Letter Home (May 12, 2014)
  • Miranda Lambert, Platinum (June 3, 2014)
  • Jack White, Lazaretto (10 June 2014)
  • Chrissie Hynde, Stockholm (June 10, 2014)
  • NRBQ, Brass Tacks (June 17, 2014)
  • Willie Nelson, Band of Brothers (June 17, 2014)
  • Phish, Fuego (June 24, 2014)
  • Sia, 1000 Forms of Fear (July 8, 2014)
  • Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Hypnotic Eye (July 28, 2014)
  • Eric Clapton and Friends, The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale (July 29, 2014)
  • Yes,  Heaven & Earth (July 22, 2014)
  • Sinead O'Connor, I'm Not Bossy, I'm the Boss (August 12, 2014)
  • Robyn Hitchcock, The Man Upstairs (August 26, 2014)
  • U2, Songs of Innocence (September 9, 2014)
  • Robert Plant, lullaby and ... The Ceaseless Roar (September 9, 2014)
  • John Mellencamp, Plain Spoken (September 16, 2014)
  • Leonard Cohen, Popular Problems (September 22, 2014)
  • Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett, Cheek to Cheek  (September 23, 2014)
  • Lee Ann Womack, The Way I'm Livin' (September 23, 2014)
  • Marianne Faithfull, Give My Love to London (September 29, 2014)
  • Annie Lennox, Nostalgia (September 30, 2014)
  • Jackson Browne, Standing in the Breach (October 6, 2014)
  • Stevie Nicks, 24 Karat Gold - Songs from the Vault (October 6, 2014)
  • Angaleena Presley, American Middle Class (October 14, 2014)
  • Johnny Marr, Playland (October 14, 2014)
  • Taylor Swift, 1989 (October 27, 2014)
  • Neil Young, Storytone (November 4, 2014)
  • The New Basement Tapes, Lost on the River (November 10, 2014) 
  • Bryan Ferry, Avonmore (November 17, 2014)
  • Smashing Pumpkins, Monuments to an Elegy (December 8, 2014)

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