REVENGE OF THE WRITERS: BLURT’S BEST AND WORST OF 2014

REVENGE OF THE WRITERS - BLURT'S BEST AND WORST OF 2014

What stood out in the music world for 2014? The folks who work in the trenches here are gonna tell ya. Guarantee: all dialogue reported verbatim. Pictured above: some of our favorite axe-slingers from the year that just ended. See if you can pick out Steve Gunn, Robert Zimmerman, Lucinda Williams, Mark Kozelek, Sharon Van Etten and Ty Segall.

BY THE BLURT CRÜE

As part of our 2014 year-end wrap-up—go elsewhere on the BLURT site to view our Best Albums Of 2014—we summarily yield the podium to the staffers and contributors who detail their personal picks for 2014. The first section has the lists for the staff, while the second section has those submitted by some of the regular contributors. (We also have our annual “Farewell” covering some of the notable music world deaths of 2014, among them Pete Seeger, Bobby Womack and Ian McLagan.)

Also check out our 2012 and 2013 coverage:

2013 In Review: Blurt’s Top 75 Albums

Revenge of the Writers: Best and Worst of 2013

Farewell: Music World Passings 2013

 2012 In Review: Blurt’s Top 75 Albums

Revenge of the Writers: Best and Worst of 2012

Farewell: Music World Passings of 2012

 

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——————EDITORIAL STAFF PICKS——————————————–

 

JENNIFER KELLY, Contributing Editor (Walpole, NH)

2014 Albums

  1. Protomartyr — Under Colour of Official Right (Hardly Art)
  2. Sleaford Mods — Divide and Exit (Harbinger Sound)
  3. Angel Olsen — Burn Your Fire for No One (Jagjaguwar)
  4. Damien Jurado — Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son (Secretly Canadian)
  5. Ex Hex — Rips (Merge)
  6. Ty Segall—Manipulator (Drag City)
  7. Gareth Dickson—Invisible String (Sleeping Man)
  8. David Kilgour — End Times Undone (Merge)
  9. Watery Love — Decorative Feeding (In the Red)
  10. Jennifer Castle — Pink City (Important)

Also very fine and in the order that I thought of them:

Old 97s—Most Messed Up (ATO)

Dark Blue—Pure Reality (Jade Tree)

Setting Sun — Be Here When You Get Here (Self)

Centro-Matic—Take Pride in Your Long Odds (Navigational Transmission)

Weyes Blood—The Innocents (Mexican Summer)

Chris Forsyth and the Solar Motel — Intensity Ghost (Paradise of Bachelors)

Ex-Cult — Midnight Passenger (Goner)

Andy Stott — Faith in Strangers (Modern Love)

Lee Gamble — Koch (Pan)

Steve Gunn — Way Out Weather (Paradise of Bachelors)

Hamish Kilgour — All of It and Nothing (Ba Da Bing!)

So Cow — The Long Con (Goner)

Luluc—Passerby (Sub Pop)

Connections — Into Sixes (Anyway)

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JOHN B. MOORE, Contributing Editor/”I Don’t Wanna Grow Up” Column (Philadelphia)

Jbmoore00@hotmail.com

 

2014 Albums

Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues

Shovels & Rope – Swimmin’ Time

Cory Branan – The No Hit Wonder

Foo Fighters – Sonic Highways

Bob Mould – Beauty & Ruin

The New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers

Hard Girls – A Thousand Surfaces

The Smith Street Band – Throw Me in the River

Parker Millsap – Parker Millsap

Beach Slang – Who Would Ever Want Anything So Broken?

 

Best Record Label

tie: Bloodshot Records/Side One Dummy

 

Best Concert of the Year

Billy Joe Shaver/Willie Nelson, 11/16/14, New Braunfels TX (http://blurtonline.com/review/willie-nelson-billy-joe-shaver-111614-new-braunfels-tx/)

Best New Artist

Beach Slang (finally a band that digs a little deeper than Nirvana’s Nevermind in mining influences from the ‘90s.)

 

Dumbest Band Name

You Blew it! (Not offensively bad like some, but just plain stupid and once the pot smoke clears out of the room you will realize you’re saddled with a name worthy of a middle school Blink 182 cover band.)

 

Worst Trend

Labels and publicists that have stopped sending physical releases (fourth year running!)

 

Favorite Story I wrote for Blurt: Masked Intruder (http://blurtonline.com/2014/07/john-b-moore-dont-wanna-grow-wmasked-intruder/)

 

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LEE ZIMMERMAN, Contributing Editor (Miami, FL)

lezim@bellsouth.net

2014 Albums

  1. Rosanne Cash — The River & The Thread (Blue Note)
  2. Rodney Crowell –Tarpaper Sky (New West)
  3. Steep Canyon Rangers — Tell the Ones You Love (Rounder)
  4. John Hiatt — Terms of My Surrender (New West)
  5. Avett Brothers — Magpie (American Recordings)
  6. Old Crow Medicine Show — Remedy (ATO)
  7. The Lone Bellow: Then Came The Morning (Descendent Records)
  8. Over the Rhine — Blood Oranges in the Snow (Great Speckled Dog)
  9. Eliot Bronson — self-titled (Saturn 5 Records)
  10. Jason McNiff and the Lone Malones — God Knows Why We Dream (independent)

 

Archival/Reissues

  1. Bob Dylan and the Band — The Basement Tapes Complete (Sony/Legacy)
  2. Crosby Stills Nash and Young –CSNY 1974 (Rhino)
  3. TIE: — Paul McCartney and Wings — Wings at the Speed of Sound and Venus and Mars (Concord)
  4. Big Star — Live in Memphis (Omnivore)
  5. Hollies – 50 at Fifty (Rhino/Parlophone)

 

Concerts

  1. Fleetwood Mac
  2. Steep Canyon Rangers
  3. Lyle Lovett
  4. Avett Brothers
  5. Justin Hayward

DVDs

  1. The Doors — Feast of Friends (Eagle Vision)
  2. Yes — Songs from Tsongas: 35th Anniversary Concert (Eagle Vision)
  3. TIE: Rolling Stones – From the Vault –L.A. Forum, Live in 1975 and Hamilton Coliseum,

Live in 1981 (Eagle Vision)

  1. Queen — Live at the Rainbow 74 (Eagle Vision)
  2. Various Artists — One for the Road: Memorial Concert for Ronnie Lane (Angle Air)

Top 5 Music Books

  1. “High Notes: A Rock Memoir” by Richard Loren with Stephen Abney (East Pond Publishing)
  2. “Reverb — An Odyssey” by Joe Ely (Letters at 3 AM Press)
  3. “Best Rock Writing 2014” edited by Rev. Keith A. Gordon (Excitable Pressworks)
  4. “Wild Tales” by Graham Nash (Crown Archetype)
  5. “27: A History of the 27 Club” by Howard Sounes (Da Capo)

 

Films

  1. “Interstellar”
  2. “The Theory of Everything”
  3. “Gone Girl”
  4. “Guardians of the Galaxy”
  5. “Boyhood”

 

Best Record Label

New West, home to both revered artists like Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell and Buddy Miller, as well as a host of up and coming young bucks. The essential Americana label.

 

In Memoriam – Most Lamented Death

TIE: Jack Bruce and Ian McLagan – both sad and sudden. See my comments on Ian below

 

Best New Artist

Scott Miller. He’s not really new as he’s got several albums under his belt, both on his own and as part of the V-Roys. But in terms of the recognition and appreciation he’s due, he’s far too unknown. So let’s start over. Check out his most recent album Big Big World and get in his groove

 

Worst New Artist

Any one of the endless string of crappy acts I see week after week on “Saturday Night Live.” Who are these people, and how in the world do they rate a national spotlight?

 

Dumbest Band Name

Diarrheal Planet. I can hear it now, ten years hence on some oldies radio station, the deejay proclaims, “Hey, we’ve got a special Diarrhea Planet weekend! Let it flow, but don’t let it go to waste!” Really guys, it’s a disgusting handle. Ya might want to rethink.

 

Sex Object of the Year

Body paint… and body paint only

 

Asshole of the Year

Anyone who can’t acknowledge an email by simply hitting “reply.” Seriously, you lack even that basic effortless modicum of courtesy. WE know you’re busy, but aren’t we all. There’s no excuse for you to be rude, dude.

 

Best Hair or Facial Hair

Ethan Johns

 

2015 release I am most anticipating

Bob Dylan’s forthcoming collection of old standards — not because I think it’s gonna be great, but rather because (A) I can’t wait to hear how truly weird it will be, and (B) I can’t wait to unleash my inner snarky self when I write the review

 

Coolest trend or whatever

I wish I could point to the resurgence of cassettes, but while it may be celebrated by some, I find myself asking the singular question. In God’s name, why?

 

Most Fucked Up or Annoying Trend of Whatever

I sound like a broken record — pardon the pun — but once again I find myself railing against the continuing takeover of downloads and streams. Folks, I don’t care who you are… if you don’t cherish music in a physical form, then you are not benefitting from the entire experience. Music in amorphous form deprives us of the opportunity to hold it, marvel at it, linger on it as a piece of art, complete with all the visual manifestations of a well-done cover, the intricate liner notes about who did what and the sheer joy of being able to add it to the collection overall. Downloads and streams make music disposable, and beyond the momentary listening experience, makes it transient as well. Wake up people! Don’t let this art form fade away.

 

Wildcard: 50 Words From or About Me

At the age where a younger me might now refer to the current me as an old man, I feel both reborn and revitalized, free to express myself whatever way I please, without regard for whether my irreverence or wackiness might appear politically incorrect or sadly misconstrued. It’s the music that makes it so, a continuing source of sanity and inspiration that lights my way through times both good and bad. Age is indeed just a number — look at Mick or Keith or Sir Paul or the revitalized Fleetwood Mac and the fans that still flock to their shows if you still doubt that. For those of us of a certain age — artists and enthusiasts alike — it’s a common bond, and one to be embraced proudly. Youth may or may not be wasted on the young — I’d lean towards the latter — but it ought not be abandoned by those with the vitality and wisdom to savour it, any calculation of accumulated birthdays be damned.

 

Favorite Blurt Article:

My interview with the late Ian McLagan. I’ve interviewed many artists in my time, but being a diehard Faces and Small Faces fan — and knowing this man’s extraordinary reputation both as a musician and as a sweet soul — I looked forward to that exchange more than most. And indeed, he didn’t disappoint. I then met him in person at the Americana Music Festival in Nashville this past September and it was a dream fulfilled. It’s a rare opportunity to meet a legend and an individual who also happens to be a hero. His sudden death affected me like that of the passing of a friend or family member. It was a terrible loss, one that will be felt for eons to come. I feel so fortunate that our lives intersected for that all too brief time.

 

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JOHN SCHACHT, Contributing Editor (Charlotte, NC)

 Twenty-nine records that made my 2014 boat float…

Twin Peaks – Wild Onion (Grand Jury Music)

Frazey Ford – Indian Ocean (Nettwerk)

Parquet Courts – Sunbathing Animal (What’s Your Rupture?)

Wesley Wolfe – Numbskull (Tangible Formats)

Timber Timbre – Hot Dreams (Arts & Crafts)

Bry Webb – Free Will (Idée Fixe)

Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire for No Witness (Jagjaguwar)

Field Guides – Boo, Forever (Muir Woods)

Naïm Amor – Hear the Walls (Fort Lowell)

The Loudermilks – The Loudermilks (You Know What?)

Cracker – Berkeley to Bakersfield (429 Records)

Holy Sons – The Fact Facer (Thrill Jockey)

The Proper Ornaments – Wooden Head (Slumberland)

Woods – With Light and With Love (Woodsist)

Peter Matthew Bauer – Liberation! (Mexican Summer)

Beck – Morning Phase (Capitol)

Chris Staples – American Soft (Barsuk)

Temperance League – The Night Waits (Like, Wow!)

Morrissey – World Peace Is None of Your Business (Harvest – Capitol)

Lee Fields & the Expressions – Emma Jean (Truth and Soul)

Tony Molina – Dissed & Dismissed (Slumberland)

Antlers – Familiars (Anti-)

The War on Drugs – Lost In the Dream (Secretly Canadian)

Floating Action – Body Questions (New West)

Sun Kil Moon – Benji (Caldo Verde)

Blank Realm – Grassed In (Fire)

Kahoots – Take to the Fields (Telegraph Harp)

Brian Lopez – Static Noise (Funzalo)

Bo White – Millenial Tombs (Kinnikinnik)

 

 

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STEPHEN JUDGE, Publisher/Owner (Raleigh, NC)

 

2014 Albums

 

Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds in Country Music (High Top Mountain/Thirty Tigers)

U2 – Songs of Innocence (Interscope)

Johnny Marr – Playland (New Voodoo)

Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness (Jagjaguwar)

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – Hypnotic Eye (Warner Bros.)

Jack White – Lazaretto (Third Man)

Beck – Morning Phase (Capitol/Universal)

Spider Bags – Frozen Letter (Merge)

Ty Segall – Manipulator (Drag City)

Sharon Van Etten – Are We There (Jagjaguwar)

 

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MICHAEL TOLAND, Contributing Editor/”Throwing Horns” Column (Austin, TX)

 

2014 Albums

  1. Mastodon – Once More Round the Sun (Warner Bros.)
  2. River of Snakes – Black Noise (Bad Fidelity)
  3. Panopticon – Roads to the North (Norvis/Bindrune)
  4. High Spirits – You Are Here (Hell’s Headbangers)
  5. Jim Mize – s/t (Big Legal Mess)
  6. Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings – Give the People What They Want (Daptone)
  7. Foo Fighters- Sonic Highways (RCA)
  8. Dawnbringer – Night of the Hammer (Profound Lore)
  9. Lee Fields & the Expressions – Emma Jean (Truth & Soul)
  10. Spectral Lore – III (I, Voidhanger)

 

 

Archival/Reissues

  1. Rowland S. Howard – Six Strings That Drew Blood (Liberation)
  2. Game Theory – Blaze of Glory/Dead Center (Omnivore)
  3. Nils Lofgren – Face the Music (Fantasy)
  4. Nikki Sudden – Fred Beethoven (Troubadour/Easy Action)
  5. The Posies – Failure (Omnivore)
  6. The Walkabouts – Devil’s Road and Nighttown (Glitterhouse)
  7. Lone Justice – This is Lone Justice: The Vaught Tapes, 1983 (Omnivore)
  8. National Wake – Walk in Africa 1979-1981 (Light in the Attic)
  9. The Clientele – Suburban Light (Merge)
  10. The Unforgiven – s/t (Real Gone Music)

 

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STEVEN ROSEN, Contributing Editor (Cincinnati)

 

  1. The War on Drugs — Lost in a Dream (Secretly Canadian)

 

  1. The Delines — Colfax (El Cortez Records)

 

  1. Steve Gunn — Way Out Weather (Paradise of Bachelors)

 

  1. Jenny Lewis — The Voyager (Warner Bros.)

 

  1. Wussy — Attica! (Shake It Records)

 

  1. Hiss Golden Messenger — Lateness of Dancer (Merge Records)

 

  1. EMA — The Future’s Void (Matador)

 

  1. Sun Kil Moon — Benji (Caldo Verde)

 

  1. Future Islands — Singles (4AD)

 

  1. Rosanne Cash — The River & the Thread (Blue Note)

 

Best Album Title

Me First & the Gimme Gimmes — Are We Not Men? We Are Diva. (Fat Wreck Records)

 

Saddest Moment

Learning Ian McLagan died, just one month after seeing him give an energetic, enthusiastic concert featuring much material from a new album, United States. I had interviewed him in advance of the show, and he was so excited about a possible Faces reunion in 2015.

 

Favorite Music Website

Blurt (You’re fired, Rosen! No nepotism ‘round here, brah… –Ed.)

 

*************************************

FRED MILLS – Blurt Editor (Raleigh NC)

Fmills123@nc.rr.com

2014 Albums

LUCINDA WILLIAMS – Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone (Highway 20 Records)

GOV’T MULE – Dark Side of the Mule (Evil Teen)

ANGEL OLSEN – Burn Your Fire For No Witness (Jagjaguwar)

JEFFREY DEAN FOSTER – The Arrow (Angel Skull

LA CERCA – Sunrise For Everyone (Fort Lowell)

WAR ON DRUGS – Lost In The Dream (Secretly Canadian)

THURSTON MOORE – The Best Day (Matador)

TY SEGALL – Manipulator (Drag City)

SHARON VAN ETTEN – Are we There (Jagjaguwar)

GROUPER – Ruins (Kranky)

FUNKADELIC – First Ya Gotta Shake The Gate (+180)

UNCONSCIOUS COLLECTIVE – Pleistocene Moon (Tofu Carnage)

SHARON JONES & THE DAP-KINGS – Give the People What They Want (Daptone)

SPIDER BAGS – Frozen Letter (Merge)

U2 – Songs of Innocence (Interscope)

JAMES WILLIAMSON – Re-Licked (Leopard Lady)

 

Archival/Reissues

BOB DYLAN & THE BAND – The Basement Tapes Complete (Columbia/Legacy)

FELA KUTI – Vinyl Box Set 3: Compiled By Brian Eno (Knitting Factory)

MOGWAI – Come On Die Young Deluxe 4LP (Chemikal Underground)

JAMES BROWN – Love*Power*Peace (Sundazed)

DESTROY ALL MONSTERS – Destroy All Monsters 3LP (Munster)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Native North America Vol. One (Light In The Attic)

NEIL YOUNG – Official Release Series Discs 5-8 (Reprise)

WALKABOUTS – Devil’s Road Deluxe (Glitterhouse)

CAPTAIN BEEFHEART – Sun Zoom Spark 1970 to 1972 (Rhino)

THE POP GROUP – Cabinet of Curiosities + We Are Time (Freaks R Us

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Country Funk II 1967-1974 (Light In The Attic)

GUN CLUB – Fire of Love (Superior Viaduct)

THE KINKS – Muswell Hillbillies (Legacy Edition) (Sony Legacy)

SNEAKERS – Sneakers 10” EP (Omnivore)

RY COODER – Soundtracks (Warner Bros.)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Dangerhouse: Complete Singles Collected 1977-1979 (Munster)

DEVO – Miracle Witness Hour: Live in Ohio 1977 (Futurismo)

JOHN COLTRANE – Offering: Live at Temple University (Impuse!)

RADIO BIRDMAN – Box Set 8CD (Citadel)

AFGHAN WHIGS – Gentlemen At 21 (Elektra/Rhino)

 

Top Tracks

JEFFREY DEAN FOSTER – The Sun Will Shine Again (Angel Skull)

RUN THE JEWELS – Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck) (Mass Appeal)

WAR ON DRUGS – An Ocean in Between the Waves (Secretly Canadian)

U2 – Every Breaking Wave (Interscope)

RYAN ADAMS – Feels Like Fire (Pax Am)

LAURA REED – Naturally (Five Foot Giant)

JAMES WILLIAMSON w/LISA KEKAULA – I Got A Right (Leopard Lady)

SPOON – Do You (Loma Vista)

ANGEL OLSEN – Lights Out (Jagjaguwar)

PINK FLOYD – The Lost Art of Conversation (Columbia)

 

Music DVDS

FELA KUTI – Finding Fela! (Kino Lorber)

R.E.M. – REMTV (MTV/Rhino)

BIG STAR – Live in Memphis (Omnivore)

JASON ISBELL – Live At Austin City Limits (Southeastern)

DOORS – Feast of Friends (Eagle Rock)

DRIVIN’ N’ CRYIN’ – Scarred But Smarter (Oasis)

Jerry McGill: Very Extremely Dangerous (Fat Possum)

Muscle Shoals: The Incredible True Story of a Small Town with a Big Sound (Magnolia Home Entertainment)

Punk In Africa: Three Chords, Three Countries, One Revolution… (MVD Visual)

I Dream of Wires: Hardcore Edition (Idow)

 

Film

Boyhood – Richard Linklater, dir.

Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me – James Keach, dir.

Birdman – Alejandro G. Inarritu, dir.

Guardians of the Galaxy – James Gunn, dir.

Nightcrawler – Dan Gilroy, dir.

Interstellar – Christopher Nolan, dir.

Get On Up – Tate Taylor, dir.

Inside Llewyn Davis – Joel & Ethan Coen, dirs..

 

Music Books

Sub Pop USA: The Subterraneanan Pop Music Anthology, 1980-1988 – Bruce Pavitt (Bazillion Points)

A Man Called Destruction: The Life and Music of Alex Chilton from Box Tops to Big Star to Backdoor Man – Holly George-Warren (Viking)

True Love Scars – Michael Goldberg (Neumu Press)

Brothers Be, Yo Like George, Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard On You? A Memoir – George Clinton (Atria Books)

Shaman’s Blues: The Art & Influences Behind Jim Morrison & The Doors – Denise Sullivan (Sumach-Red)

The Deliverance of Marlowe Billings – Dan Stuart (Cadiz Music)

The Doors Unhinged – John Densmore (Percussive Press)

Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records – Amanda Petrusich (Scribner)

Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia – Adam Lerner, ed. (Princeton Architectural Press)

Hell: My Life in the Squirrel Nut Zippers – Tom Maxwell (Oyster Point Press)

The Knights of Fuzz: The New Garage & Psychedelic Music Explosion (Purple Cactus)

Turn Up The Radio! Rock, Pop, and Roll in Los Angeles 1956-1972 – Harvey Kubernik (Santa Monica Press)

Punk USA: The Rise and Fall of Lookout! Records – Kevin Prested (Microcosm Publishing)

Dance of Death: The Life of John Fahey, American Guitarist – Steve Lowenthal (Chicago Review Press)

Ain’t It Time We Said Goodbye: The Rolling Stones on the Road to Exile – Robert Greenfield (DaCapo Press)

Honorable Mention: Best Rock Writing 2014 – Rev. Keith A. Gordon, ed. (That Devil Music) (only reason it’s not on my main list is because I contributed to the anthology so I felt it would be a conflict of interest to essentially nominate a project I was part of)

 

Concerts

Paul McCartney – 10/30/14, Coliseum, Greensboro NC

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band – 4/24/14, PNC Arena, Raleigh NC (my review: http://blurtonline.com/review/bruce-springsteen-e-street-band-42414-raleigh/ )

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – 9/18/14, PNC Arena, Raleigh NC

 

Best Record Label

Light In The Attic / Omnivore Recordings (tie): This year I was all about the archival releases, and it was damned tough to pick one (or two… sigh) given some of the other stellar efforts on the part of such mainstays as Sundazed and Rhino as well as the likes of Real Gone Music and Munster. But LITA took the art of packaging to a new level, particularly their vinyl releases (tip-on sleeves, massive books, heavy vinyl, outer boxes, etc.); and Omnivore consistently came up with bands with the perfect blend of name recognition and underground cool (hello, Posies), additionally offering first pressings in gorgeous colored vinyl.

 

Best Music-related Website

Spotify… JUST KIDDING! Let’s go with Discogs.com http://www.discogs.com/

 

Best Music Videos We Premiered at Blurt

BROTHER DEGE – Set It Off http://blurtonline.com/news/video-premiere-brother-dege-rock-doc/

CHURCHWOOD – Cain http://blurtonline.com/news/video-premiere-churchwoods-cain/

THE DB’S – Write Back http://blurtonline.com/news/video-premiere-emily-hubleys-new-animated-dbs-clip/

ROCCO DELUCA – Colors of the Cold http://blurtonline.com/news/video-premiere-new-rocco-deluca/

BROWNOUT w/ALEX MAAS – Hand of Doom http://blurtonline.com/news/video-premiere-brownout-black-sabbaths-hand-doom/

 

In Memoriam: Most Lamented Death

Joe Young, guitarist for AntiSeen (April 30, 2014). My old friend died of a sudden heart attack in the driveway of his home, and the news was among the most shocking and saddening I received all year. Joe and I hung out regularly when I lived in Charlotte, NC, during the ‘80s and early ‘90s, and I was proud to also call myself a fan of his perfectly primitive style of destructo punk guitar. I dearly miss him.

 

Best New Artist

Eastlink (Melbourne, Australia) – Eastlink album released by In The Red Records. Read our story here: http://blurtonline.com/review/eastlink-eastlink/

 

Worst New Artist

Shakey Graves (but the band name is great, so what do I know; the 2014 album was And The War Came, released by Dualtone)

 

Dumbest Band Name

So Cow (but the band itself is great – 2014 album The Long Con, released by Goner)

 

Best Album Sleeve Art or Packaging

Neil Young – A Letter Home Deluxe Box Set (Reprise) Even though the Jack White-produced album was a tad underwhelming, it was still a pleasant listen — and this box was just unfucking believable. You got two versions of it on vinyl, a CD version, a DVD version and a version pressed up on seven separate 5” clear vinyl singles, all housed in an oversized custom box and containing a fat booklet. Pure collector catnip.

 

Hero of the Year

Mark Kozelek, just ‘cos

 

Asshole of the Year

Twice-time winner Scott Stapp (Coming for 2015 selection: Kanye West fans, for not knowing who Paul McCartney is.)

 

Fave Internet Meme of 2014

Bill Cosby

 

Best Hair or Facial Hair

Valient Himself, of Valient Thorr

 

Sweetest Buns

Charli XCX (not sure why I am picking her but it’s a way to avoid even mentioning Nicki Minaj, eh?)

 

Nicest Package

Robert Plant, as always.

 

2015 Release I Am Most Anticipating

American Aquarium – Wolves (self-released, Feb. 3) Our Raleigh compatriots should make a huge impact with their latest studio album, which is the perfect marriage of sweet Americana twang and full-on hard rockin’.

 

Coolest Trend or Whatever

Rock ‘n’ roll beefs (see: Mark Kozelek, War On Drugs). Why should hip-hoppers have all the fun (and drive-bys)? It’s time for rockers to start keepin’ it real. What’s truly shameful is that within the rock milieu, in the past only rock critics would have beefs, graduating over the years from fanzine letters columns to internet forums and message boards while maintaining a respectable level of hostility and spurious territoriality. Now, though, with Mark K and Adam G setting examples this year, the rock musician community can get moving with some serious artist-on-artist violence.

 

Most Fucked-up or Annoying Trend or Whatever

Year-end lists.

 

Wildcard: 50 Words (or less) From or About Me That You Won’t Read on LinkedIn

I love Jethro Tull.

 

Favorite story or review I wrote for Blurt

“KONNECTING WITH THE KINKS: Ray Davies in ’75,” or, how I “met” the Kinks mainman one day but he didn’t actually “meet” me… and lived to tell about it, sorta. Guest-starring: one ladder, one set of stage lights, and one large chunk of Afghani hashish. http://blurtonline.com/feature/konnecting-kinks-ray-davies-75/

 

 

 

————————CONTRIBUTORS’ PICKS—————————-

 

BARRY ST. VITUS (Berkeley, CA)

 

2014 Albums

Bobby Bare Jr. –‘Undefeated’ (Bloodshot Records)

John Wesley Coleman III – ‘The Love That You Own’ (Burger Records)

David Kilgour & the Heavy Eights –‘ End Times Undone’ (Merge Records)

The New Christs – ‘Incantations’ (Impedance / Closer Records)

Parquet Courts – ‘Sunbathing Animal’ (What’s Your Rupture / Mom + Pop)

Purling Hiss – ‘Weirdon’ (Drag City)

Spider Bags – ‘Frozen Letter’ (Merge Records)

The Vibrators – ‘Punk Mania: Back To the Roots’ (Cleopatra Records)

Wussy – ‘Attica’ (Shake It Records)

HEDGING TIE: Meatbodies – ‘S/T’ (In The Red Records) + Parkay Quarts – ‘Content Nausea’ (What’s Your Rupture)

 

BONUS: The Ike Reilly Assassination – ‘Am I Still The One For You?’

Free download of a ‘Best Of’ collection with 4 Killer New Songs: http://noisetrade.com/ikereilly/am-i-still-the-one-for-you (Don’t say I never gave you nothin’.)

 

Archival / Reissues

The Beatles In Mono – Box Set (Capitol Records)

Captain Beefheart – Sun, Zoom, Spark: 1970 to 1972 Box Set (Rhino / Warner Bros.)

Death of Samantha – If Memory Serves Us Well (St. Valentine Records)

Gene Clark – Two sides To Every Story: Deluxe Edition (High Moon Records)

George Harrison: The Apple Years 1968 – 1975 Box Set (CMG)

The Kinks – Muswell Hillbillies: Legacy Edition (Legacy Records)

The Kinks – The Anthology 1964 – 1971 Box Set (Sanctuary Records)

The Velvet Underground – 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition (Universal)

 

Books

Amanda Petrusich – “Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild Obsessive Hunt For The World’s Rarest 78rpm Records.” (Scribner Pub.)

Timothy Gassen – “The Knights of Fuzz: The New Garage and Psychedelic Music Explosion.” (500 pg. update) (Purple Cactus Media Prod)

Michael Goldberg – “True Love Scars” (Neumu Press)

Dave O’Leary – “The Music Book” (Booktrope)

Bruce Pavitt – “Sub Pop USA: the Subterranean Pop Music Anthology, 1980 – 1988.” (Bazillion Points)

RUNNER UP: Hunter Davies – “The Beatles Lyrics: The Stories Behind The Music…..” (Little, Brown and

 

Films

Grand Budapest Hotel

Interstellar

Birdman

Only Lovers Left Alive

The Edge of Tomorrow

 

Best Record Label

Sundazed

 

Best Music Website

http://www.beefheart.com

 

In Memorium: Most Lamented Death

Jack Bruce

 

Best New Artist

In a vast sea of dipshits, no one floats to the surface.

 

Worst New Artist

Overwhelmed by choices in a vast sea of dipshits.

 

Dumbest Band Name

TIE: ‘We Butter The Bread With Butter’ and ‘Butter The Children.’

 

Best Album Sleeve Art

Meatbodies – Meatbodies (In The Red)

 

Hero of the Year

Tara, the Hero Cat.

 

Asshole of the Year

So many to choose from, can’t pin down just one, but it’s for sure a Republican politician.

 

Coolest Trend or Whatever

Continued decriminalization/legalization of marijuana.

 

Most Fucked Up or Annoying Trend

Continued American imperialistic, white supremacist, capitalistic, hetero-patriarchy.

 

Favorite Review Wrote for Blurt

‘Sunbathing Animal’ – Parquet Courts (What’s Your Rupture / Mom + Pop)

http://blurtonline.com/review/parquet-courts-sunbathing-animal/

 

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JORDAN LAWRENCE (Columbia, SC)

 

2014 Albums

  1. Run the Jewels RTJ2 (Mass Appeal) “I’m gonna bang this bitch the fuck out!” Killer Mike shouts in the spoken-word intro to RTJ2. “You might wanna record the other way, you feelin’ like history being made. This motherfucker put a mirror on the goddamn screen.” True to his word, Mike’s second tag-team effort with fellow incendiary mastermind El-P reflects the chaos that was 2014. Brimming with violent charisma and razor-sharp braggadocio, social unrest is the subtext for every punishing rhyme—whether it’s El-P’s “Give a fuck if you deny it kids/ You can all run backwards through a field of dicks” or Mike’s more pointed “‘Cause when you live on MLK and it gets very scary/ You might have to pull your AK, send one to the cemetery.” The beats and verses escalate with hypnotic perfection: As comfortably psychedelic textures harden into bouts of bracing noise and concussive bass, the rappers’ push-and-pull chemistry moves from simple boasts to vicious political barbs. Mike’s passionate onstage speech in Ferguson, Missouri and his USA Today op-ed objecting to rap lyrics as courtroom evidence grabbed headlines, but all that attention would mean nothing if RTJ2 weren’t already so powerful.

 

  1. tUnE-yArDs Nikki Nack (4AD) Astounding in its social aims—“Nothing feels like dying like the drying of my skin and lung/ Why do we just sit here while they watch us wither ‘til we’re gone?” Merrill Garbus wonders on “Water Fountain,” signaling a corrosive afro-pop explosion that claws at socio-economic divides—Nikki Nack pushes the already far-ranging musician out of her formerly messy comfort zone, honing her hooks and placing her beautifully confounding voice front and center, in all of its racially ambiguous glory: “I sound like the real thing,” she muses at one point. “Joke’s on you.” Whether such lines leave you laughing or seething, it’s hard to deny that Garbus is slinging heat.

 

  1. Y’ALL I’m Here Right Now (Funny/Not Funny) No disrespect to the charming sprawl of Ty Segall’s similarly minded Manipulator, but the year’s best glam-garage hybrid came from this new and relatively unknown quartet from Virginia. Picking up the pieces from two rock bands, Invisible Hand and Naked Gods, that chased similar ends, I’m Here Right Now is both cozy and captivating. The guitarmonies alternately sizzle and swaddle, and leader Adam Smith is suave like Bolan until he goes crazy like Bowie.

 

  1. Caribou Our Love (Merge) Leave it to Dan Snaith to fashion the year’s freshest electronic collection around music’s most depleted subject. But it’s his earnest romantic sentiments that hold Our Love’s disparate ideas together. “Can’t Do Without You” is a restless techno stunner that spends three tantalizing minutes building repetitions of the titular phrase into a massive, club-crushing drop. The murky dubstep infusions of “All I Ever Need” elucidate mainstream EDM’s current obsession, retooling the sound as the backdrop for a percolating ballad. Well played.

 

  1. Swans To Be Kind (Mute/Young God) Tidier but no less expansive than 2012’s The Seer, this new collection finds the already legendary Swans further refining their new identity four years after ending a 13-year hiatus. Subtle touches—tinklings of glockenspiel, eerie peels of pedal steel—underpin grooves that mutate and distort across songs that last 10 and 30 minutes, none of which are wasted on Michael Gira, who shrieks and cackles with all the clear-eyed lunacy his fans have come to expect. They’re not the violent noise-rock band they once were, but what Swans are now is just as good—if not better.

 

  1. D’Angelo and the Vanguard Black Messiah (RCA) Much has been made of the versatile arrangements—the fire-breathing funk of “1000 Deaths,” the proto-hop strut of “Sugah Daddy”—and the political firepower—D’Angelo moved up the release date so lines like “All we wanted was a chance to talk/ ‘Stead we only got outlined in chalk” could speak to unrest following the police killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. But it’s the spellbinding vocal performances on his first album in 14 years that elevate Black Messiah, bridging its myriad ideas and frustrations with buttery, sensual charm.

 

  1. Hiss Golden Messenger Lateness of Dancers (Merge) How do you react when everything in your life is great, but the big questions still keep you up at night? You write a record like Lateness of Dancers, where North Carolina’s M.C. Taylor—father to a happy family, signee to one of the world’s greatest independent labels—stakes his contentment against still nagging spiritual uncertainty. His talented friends cushion him with sparkling folk-rock that choogles warmly and shimmers with a cosmic sense of wonder. “The misery of love is a funny thing,” Taylor offers, summing up the album’s devastating duality. “The more it hurts/ The more you think/ You can stand a little pain.”

 

  1. Flying Lotus You’re Dead! (Warp) Forgiving a few moments when Flying Lotus’ musical reach somewhat exceeds his grasp, You’re Dead! is filled with some of the most thrilling and unlikely genre fusions to emerge in some time. During the opening tandem of “Theme” and “Tesla,” the adventurous producer drifts through Amon Tobin-esque ambient noise and Miles Davis bop with an electro-lush sheen. “Never Catch Me,” with its warped and wonderful Kendrick Lamar verse, takes Stankonia on an intergalactic odyssey back to its Funkadelic roots. Setting the past, present and future of jazz, soul and hip-hop on a level playing field, Flying Lotus relishes in their vast differences and equally profound similarities—a gesture that’s potent politically, as well as artistically.

 

  1. Tombs Savage Gold (Relapse) Within Savage Gold’s superheated confines, various strains of metal are melted down and repurposed, fused into surprising new alloys: The blackened gusts that begin “Portraits” harden into a shower of sludgy brimstone. “Seance” blurs the line separating crusty hardcore from torturous death metal—massaging tempos, tightening and unwinding complex guitar lines—forging a song that evokes mindless savagery and diabolical menace in equal measure. Deeply rooted in metal’s various traditions but unbound by their rigid boundaries, Tombs erupt with new possibilities.

 

  1. Concord America Suns Out Guns Out (Post-Echo) So breathless and belligerent are these garage upstarts that it takes a few listens to truly appreciate the Atlanta trio’s rough-and-tumble alchemy. “So Gay” sneers like Nick Cave and careens like Thee Oh Sees. “Crown Vic” force-feeds its Oblivians-worthy blitz a steady diet of burly crust-punk fuzz. The title track targets the loopy, party-loving lilt of hometown compatriots The Black Lips, instilling it with an amphetamine heartbeat and a dizzying array of twisted guitar lines. Not bad for a record that lasts just 18 minutes.

 

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DANIEL MATTI (Raleigh, NC)

2014 Albums

  1. Gridlink – Longhena (Handshake INC)
  2. Plebieian Grandstand – Low Gazers (Throatruiner Records)
  3. Full of Hell/Merzbow – S/T (Profound Lore Records)
  4. Code Orange – I Am King (Deathwish)
  5. Single Mothers – Negative Qualities (Matador)
  6. Sun Kil Moon – Benji (Caldo Verde)
  7. Run The Jewels – RTJ2 (Mass Appeal)
  8. Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds In Country Music (High Top Mountain Records)
  9. The World Is A Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid To Die – Between Bodies (Broken Circles)
  10. Xerxes – Collision Blonde (No Sleep Records)

 

Honorable Mentions:

Sylvan Esso – S/T (Partisan)

Pianos Become The Teeth – Keep You (Matador)

Blut Aus Nord – Memoria Vetusta III Saturnian Poetry (Debemur Morti)

Old Man Gloom – The Ape of God (Profound Lore)

Flying Lotus – You’re Dead (Warp)

 

Films

  1. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
  2. The Raid 2
  3. The Babadook
  4. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  5. Snowpiercer
  6. Tusk
  7. They Came Together
  8. Nymphomaniac
  9. Guardians Of The Galaxy
  10. Foxcatcher

 

************************************

DANNY R. PHILLIPS

On paper, 2014 was a godforsaken year for me. Divorce after 18 years of marriage to my best friend, illness that would not go away, my dearest cousin battling cancer, depression, the list goes on. This year, the thing that kept me from taking that one last long nap (and I considered it more than once) was, primarily, my beautiful children and second, my love of music. The end of the year best of lists are always fun for me. They afford music junkies like me a chance to cast upon the world what they believe to be the best music among millions of songs and thousands of records released this year. Moreover, I have an ego and it is a solid “look at me” opportunity. Therefore, without further procrastination, here are my top five Best Albums of 2014 in no particular order.

2014 Albums

Bob Mould – Beauty and Ruin Over the past two years or so, the legendary front man of the bands Husker Du and Sugar has released two of the finest albums of his career, 2012’s “Silver Age” and this year’s Beauty and Ruin. Driven by “The War” and “I Don’t Know you Anymore,” Beauty is a slice of classic Mould: loud guitars, catchy songs, powerful lyrics and, above all else, honesty coats what he is selling.

St. Vincent – “s/t” Top notch guitarist Annie Clark aka St. Vincent has gone from a face in the crowd as a member of The Polyphonic Spree to a major artist in her own right. The self-titled “St. Vincent” is an achievement and a huge step forward toward becoming the heir apparent to Devo’s art rock throne. Check out “Birth in Reverse,” “Digital Witness,” “Rattlesnake” and “Psychopath” for proof.

Black Luck – Firebrand Hailing from Lawrence, Kansas (home to the greatest record shop in the world Lovegarden Sounds), BLACK LUCK is ready to set the world ablaze. Overcoming adversity (threatened lawsuit that necessitated a name change, no money, etc…)The band has managed to release four eps in the last two years, each building upon the next. Each a step forward in ability, quality and ferocity. Firebrand is a mix of Fugazi, Converge, Jawbreaker, Bad Religion, Bad Brains and Billy Bragg. It is in your face while still injecting melody and beauty into the chaos riddled eye of their pissed off storm. One of my favorite bands of the last five years, easily. Sure, some d-bag owned their old name, that’s ok they’ll rule the world. I have spoken.

Royal Blood- “s/t” Thank you sweet baby Jesus for allowing crunchy, molasses sludgy, rock n roll to be brought back to the forefront. Brighton, England’s Royal Blood have given us a debut that is equal parts Black Sabbath, Corrosion of Conformity, The Melvins and just a sprinkling of Queens of the Stone Age, breathing life into rock and hopeful killing “indie bands” like Bastille and Grizzly Bear once and for all.

Stiff Middle Fingers- Songs about Sucking At the root of it all, I am a punk rock guy. So it was beyond refreshing for Songs about Sucking to land in my mailbox. Nitro driven frontman Travis Arey and the boys mine the golden snot covered road laid before them by bands like Naked Raygun, The Descendents, Articles of Faith and Black Flag to make a furious racket all their own. Check out the songs “Common Cents,” “Psycho Bitch” and “World’s Biggest Guillotine” for a solid brass knuckle punch to your forehead.

Honorable Mentions: The New Basement Tapes Lost on the River, St. Paul and the Broken Bones Half the City, Against Me! Transgender Dysphoria Blues, Jack White Lazaretto, Interpol El Pintor, Swans To Be Kind, The War on Drugs Lost in the Dream

 

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ZACH BLOOM (Oakland, CA)

2014 Albums

St Vincent — St. Vincent (Loma Vista/Republic)

Real Estate — Atlas (Domino)

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart — Days Of Abandon (Yebo Music)

Future Islands — Singles (4AD)

Sun Kil Moon — Benji (Caldo Verde)

Ex Hex — Rips (Merge)

Charli XCX — Sucker (Asylum/Atlantic)

Sharon Van Etten — Are We There (Jagjaguwar)

Wild Beasts — Present Tense (Domino)

Damon Albarn — Everyday Robots (Warner Bros.)

 

Tracks

Iggy Azalea (feat. Charli XCX) — Fancy (Island)

Charli XCX — Boom Clap (Asylum/Atlantic)

Real Estate — Talking Backwards (Domino)

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart — Eurydice (Yebo Music)

Hamilton Leithauser — Alexandra (Ribbon Music)

Bombay Bicycle Club — Home By Now (Island)

TacocaT — Crimson Wave (Hardly Art)

Future Islands — Seasons (Waiting On You) (4AD)

Cloud Nothings — I’m Not Part of Me (Carpark)

Sharon Van Etten — Our Love (Jagjaguwar)

 

*****************************************

STEVE WILSON

2014 Albums

Benjamin Booker – s/t (ATO) Reverend Gary Davis and the Velvet Underground not only co-exist, they jam in Booker’s music. The production is field song-punk verite, all rock salt and grime. The songs are sturdy and roiling from the soul. – Booker’s guitar a punk-metallic force, his vocals like Ted Hawkins singing with the Pixies.

 

Sloan – Commonwealth (Yep Roc) Their eleventh album finds the Canadian quartet giving a “side” to each of the four musicians. While their individual proclivities and qualities emerge, it’s clearly Sloan – the best pop band in the world (since Super Furry Animals, who contested the crown, are no more).

 

Vashti Bunyan – Heartleap (Fat Cat) It took her 35 years to record a sophomore album, after releasing the (eventually) influential sleeper Another Diamond Day; Lookaftering was a lovely song suite with gorgeous arrangements from composer Max Richter. Heartleap follows Lookaftering by a mere nine years. A self-produced affair, recorded privately and quietly for private, quiet listening.

 

Felice Brothers – Favorite Waitress (Dualtone) The studious, earnest “New Basement Tapes” have their moments, but the Felices are closer to the loose, ragged spirit of the original “Basement Tapes,” and a lot more fun.

 

Ex-hex – Rips (Merge) From Helium’s density, to Wild Flag’s super-woman jam rock to this – Mary Timony’s new band delivers a straight up pop-punk album. Just when Timony’s vocals start to sound a little too Smith College she flashes signs of Patti Smith inspiration, and her Thunders-esque guitar, plus the drumming of Laura Harris, keeps the music rocking.

 

Parquet Courts – Sunbathing Animal (What’s Your Rupture) Pavement – blah, blah, blah. But Parquet Courts reflect the Monochrome Set, Richard Hell, and the Embarrassment, too. On this, their deepest and rangiest album, Parquet Courts rock dirtier, harder and more driven than Malkmus and company ever did.

 

Lykke Li – I Never Learn (LL/Atlantic) Lykke Li follows her breakthrough, Wounded Rhymes, with a record, despite a few pop moments, that is a slower, darker and more exposed set of songs. Like some Piaf for a new age, her songs of heartbreak and defiance thrill and charm.

 

Ty Segall – Manipulator (Drag City) Ty Segall, a modern garage-pop Bach, is often too prolific for his own good. Manipulator, though, hits (mostly) on all cylinders and reveals many layers of the artist’s talents. Just enough hooks, just enough irreverent smack.

 

War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream (Secretly Canadian) Before I got lazy and preoccupied with life I wrote this for Blurt (but now I’m back!): http://blurtonline.com/review/war-drugs-lost-dream/

 

Real Kids – Shake … Outta Control (Ace of Hearts) It’s an admittedly sentimental pick. A little jerry-built, all studs showing – it won’t make anyone forget their iconic debut from 1977. But as his work with the Devotions demonstrated, Shake proves that John Felice is still rocking.

 

Archival/Reissues

 Velvet Underground – s/t 45th Anniversary Deluxe edition. (Polydor) The Val Valentin mix, the mono mix, the “Closet Mix” (Lou’s vocals forward, instruments panned hard right and left) – all gathered together in one place. The quality of the two-discs of live material from the Matrix in San Francisco is remarkable; and so is the playing – loose, spirited, Lou and Sterling in guitar hero mode.

 

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DAVE STEINFELD (New York)

 

2014 Albums

  1. Mary Gauthier — Trouble and Love (In The Black Records) The follow-up to 2010’s The Foundling, Trouble and Love is just as powerful, harrowing and, ultimately, life-affirming. This eight-track song cycle chronicles the end of a love affair and its aftermath. Trouble and Love proves beyond a doubt that Mary Gauthier is one of the best singer-songwriters working today. Hard to choose a favorite song but if pressed, I’d probably go with “How You Learn to Live Alone.”
  2. Ben Watt — Hendra (Unmade Road) The first album in three decades from the male half of Everything But The Girl is well worth the wait. Hendra‘s highlights range from the ballads “Matthew Arnold’s Field” and “The Levels” — both of which deal with the death of loved ones — to the edgy sociopolitical commentary of “The Gun” and the sad but surging “Forget.”
  3. Counting Crows — Somewhere Under Wonderland (Capitol) Counting Crows return with a concise album that proves Adam Duritz is still the king of pain — and that his six bandmates know how to take that pain and wrap in a varied and effective set of musical backdrops.
  4. The Empty Hearts — self titled (429 Records) The debut effort from The Empty Hearts — a supergroup featuring alumni of The Cars, The Romantics and Blondie — offers a fresh take on the garage rock and power pop that prompted its members to play music in the first place.
  5. Jackson Browne — Standing in the Breach (Inside Recordings) Browne’s first album in six years features a combination of personal and political songs. The title track and “Which Side” fall into the latter category. But the opener, “Birds of St. Marks,” is actually a love song Browne wrote in the ’60s but which remained unrecorded until now and which echoes his classic work.
  6. Broken Bells — After the Disco (Columbia) The sophomore set from James Mercer and Danger Mouse offers the perfect soundtrack to an autumn night on the town….
  7. Suzanne Vega — Tales from the Realm of the Queen of Pentacles (Amanuensis Productions) Vega’s first album of new material since 2007, well produced by guitarist Gerry Leonard, finds her mainly in signature story-telling mode. But it also includes one of her best-ever rockers, “I Never Wear White.”
  8. U2 — Songs of Innocence (Interscope) The hype surrounding the new disc by Bono and the boys initially put me off listening to it. But once I gave it a try, I had to admit it was a very good album on its own merits that really didn’t need Apple to help sell it. U2 pay homage to their past on this album, whether on the pulsing “This is Where You Can Reach Me Now” — which is dedicated to the late Joe Strummer — or on quieter numbers like “Song for Someone,” “The Troubles” and “Iris (Hold Me Close)” — which is about Bono’s late mother.
  9. Temples — Sun Structures (Fat Possum) Listen to the debut by this young band from Kettering, England and you’d swear it was recorded in 1967. These guys wear their influences on their paisley sleeves — and for the most part, it works.
  10. Otis Clay & Johnny Rawls — Soul Brothers (Catfood Records)

Two veteran soul men team up for an album that mixes originals with covers of classics like Jimmy Ruffin’s “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted.”

 

Honorable Mention:

  1. Catie Curtis — Flying Dream (Catie Curtis Records)
  2. Puss N’ Boots — No Fools, No Fun (Blue Note)
  3. Mike Farris — Shine for All the People (Compass)
  4. Mary Lambert — Heart on My Sleeve (Capitol)
  5. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers — Hypnotic Eye (Reprise)

 

Archival/Reissues    

  1. Suzanne Vega — Close-Up Series box set (Amanuensis Productions)
  2. The Kinks — The Essential Kinks (Sony Legacy)
  3. The Dream Academy — The Morning Lasted All Day (Real Gone Records)
  4. Various Artists — 20 Years (Ruf Records)
  5. Tears for Fears — Songs from the Big Chair, deluxe edition (Island/Universal)

 

Music Books

Through the Eye of the Tiger by Jim Peterik with Lisa Torem

 

In Memoriam: Most Lamented Death

Pete Seeger, Joe Cocker, Joe Sample, Jack Bruce and Tommy Ramone — take your pick. And if we can include people outside the music industry, most definitely Maya Angelou and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

 

 Films

Begin Again: A charming film about music, love and New York City. Great cast led by the ridiculously likable Mark Ruffalo (who also played a great role this year in “Foxcatcher”).

 

Best Concert

Ben Watt… twice! First at Joe’s Pub and more recently at Le Poisson Rouge, both in NYC. Watt’s first American solo shows in decades were intimate affairs that touched on various stages of his career and proved emotional not only for him but for many of us who were in the audience.

Best Label

Real Gone Music

 

Best New Artist

Mary Lambert

 

Worst New Artist

Charli XCX

 

Asshole of the Year

Robin Thicke

 

2015 Release I Am Most Anticipating

The next studio album from Rickie Lee Jones

 

Most Fucked Up or Annoying Trend

I’m not even sure where to begin… Do I go with the fact that more record and book stores than ever have gone out of business? That more legends are leaving us as the first generation of rock and rollers enters their golden years? That record companies continue to fall victim to consolidation, affecting not only the number of talented artists that get signed but also the number of staff members needed to work those artists? That commercial radio stations continue to tighten their playlists while ignoring all the great music that’s out there? That Jon Bon Jovi keeps touring and releasing albums despite the fact that he never had anything interesting to say in the first place? Hell, I’ll go with all of the above.

Wildcard: 50 Words From or About Me

I’m originally from Connecticut but have lived in New York City for many years. Have been writing about music professionally since 1999 for radio, print and the Internet. Personally, 2014 was a year of highs and lows with little in between… And aside from the January and February, it was probably the fastest year yet. Definitely a good year for music despite the continued efforts of the music business to sabotage it.

 

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HAL BIENSTOCK (New York)

2014 albums

St. Vincent (Loma Vista/Republic)

D’Angelo & the Vanguard – Black Messiah (RCA)

Spoon – They Want My Soul (Loma Vista/Republic)

Cloud Nothings – Here & Nowhere Else (Carpark)

Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds in Country Music (High Top Mountain)

The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream (Secretly Canadian)

Robert Plant – Lullaby… and the Ceaseless Roar (Nonesuch)

Iceage – Plowing into the Field of Love (Matador)

Ex Hex – Rips (Merge)

Sun Kil Moon – Benji (Caldo Verde)

Honorable mention: Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire for No Witness (Jagjaguwar), Sharon Van Etten – Are We There (Jagjaguwar), White Lung – Deep Fantasy (Domino), Prince – Art Official Age (Warner Bros.), Woods – With Light and Love (Woodsist), Real Estate – Atlas (Domino), Benjamin Booker (ATO)

Reissues

Bob Dylan & the Band – The Bootleg Series Vol. 11: The Basement Tapes Complete (Legacy)

Led Zeppelin – Reissue series (Rhino)

The Velvet Underground 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition (UMe)

Grateful Dead – Wake Up to Find Out: Nassau Coliseum 3/29/90 (Rhino)

Sleater-Kinney – Start Together (Sub Pop)

I’m Just Like You: Sly’s Stone Flower 1969-70 (Light in the Attic)

Yo La Tengo – Extra Painful (Matador)

Country Funk Volume II: 1967-1974 (Light in the Attic)

 

Tracks

Goshen ’97 – Strand of Oaks (Dead Oceans)

Seasons (Waiting on You) – Future Islands (4AD)

Turtles All the Way Down – Sturgill Simpson (High Top Mountain)

Lights Out – Angel Olsen (Jagjaguwar)

Under the Pressure – The War on Drugs (Secretly Canadian)

I’m Not Part of Me – Cloud Nothings (Carpark)

 

Concerts

The Replacements/The Hold Steady – 9/19, Forest Hills, NY

St Vincent – 8/9, Brooklyn, NY

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – 7/26, Brooklyn, NY

Mark Kozelek – 3/14, Austin, TX

The National – 6/19, Brooklyn, NY

 

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JASON GROSS (New York)

 

2014 Albums

Sleaford Mods – Austerity Dogs (Harbinger Sound)

tUnE-yArDs – Nikki Nack (4AD)

Bruce Springsteen – High Hopes (Sony)

Bleeding Rainbow – Interrupt (Kanine)

Marianne Faithfull – Give My Love To London (Easy Sound)

Jack White – Lazaretto (Third Man)

Amy Ray – Goodnight Tender (Daemon)

Mayday! and Murs – ¡MursDay! (Strange Music)

Gordon Voidwell – Bad Etudes (no label)

Charli XCX – Sucker (Atlantic)

 

Reissues/Archival

Jon Hassell/Brian Eno – Fourth World- Possible Musics Vol. 1 (Glitterbeat)

Various Artists – Gipsy Rhumba – The Original Rhythm of Gipsy Rhumba in

Spain 1965 – 1974 (Soul Jazz)

Various Artists – C86 – The Deluxe Edition (Cherry Red)

Matt Nelkin – Boombap Riddims (Liquid Beat)

Fugazi – First Demo (Dischord)

Various Artists – Super Black Blues (Ace)

Various Artists – The Last Shout! Twilight of the Blues Shouters 1954-1962

(Fantastic Voyage)

The “5” Royales – Soul and Swagger (Rockbeat)

Hank Williams – The Garden Spot Programs, 1950 (Omnivore)

Half Japanese – Volume 1 1981-1985 (Fire)

 

Tracks

ZHU Ft. Sean Dee “Faded (Remix)” (no label)

Mark Morrison “Return Of The Mack (SNBRN Remix)” (thissongissick.com) Boy

“Railway (Daniele Di Martino Edit)” (Soundcloud)

Beyonce “Partition” (Parkwood)

Only Real “Pass the Pain” (Harvest)

A-Trak featuring Andrew Wyatt “Push” (Fool’s Gold)

Metronomy “Love Letters” (Because)

  1. Cole “Be Free” (Dreamville)

Maddie and Tae “Girl In A Country Song” (Dot)

 

Books

Thomas Brothers – Louis Armstrong, Master of Modernism

Harvey Kubernik – Turn Up the Radio!: Rock, Pop, and Roll in Los Angeles

1956–1972

Joel Selvin – Here Comes the Night: The Dark Soul of Bert Berns and the

Dirty Business of Rhythm and Blues

Amanda Petrusich – Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records

Eilon Paz – Dust and Grooves- Adventures in Record Collecting

 

Film/DVD

Nas- Time Is Illmatic

Super Duper Alice Cooper

God Help the Girl

Get On Up

Whiplash

 

Videos

Maddie and Tae “Girl In A Country Song”

The Last Skeptik “Hero Mask – A Short Film Presentation about Assassination”

Sidi Toure “L’eau; The Water”

Benny “Little Games”

“These Young Iranians Arrested for Recording Tehran Version of Pharrell Williams’ “Happy””

 

Best Record Label

Soundcloud

 

Best New Artist

18+

 

Best Album Packaging

Jack White – Lazaretto

 

Hero of the Year/Coolest Trend

Tie- Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle for reminding us that the best comedians can be the best truth-tellers

 

Worst Trend

Sony caving in to hackers over ‘The Interview’ and setting a REALLY dangerous precedent and was so bad that they had to scramble to try to backtrack over it

 

Concerts

Buzzcocks- Webster Hall- Sept 2014

The Julie Ruin with Screaming Females & Shellshag- Asbury Lanes Apr 12, 2014

Replacements/Hold Steady/Deer Tick at Forest Hills stadium- Sept 19, 2014

 

 

2015 Album I’m Anticipating

Kanye West or Sleater-Kinney

 

In Memoriam

Eric Garner, Michael Brown

 

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STEVE KLINGE 

2014 Albums

The Antlers – Familiars (Anti-)

Rosanne Cash – The River & The Thread (Blue Note)

Drive-By Truckers – English Oceans  (ATO)

Future Islands – Singles (4AD)

The New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers (Matador)

Sharon Van Etten – Are We There (Jagjaguar)

Sun Kil Moon – Benji (Caldo Verde)

Tune Yards – Nicki Nack (4AD)

The War On Drugs – Lost In The Dream (Secretly Canadian)

Lucinda Williams – Where The Spirit Meets The Bone (Highway 20)

 

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Tim Hinely (Denver, CO)

2014 Albums

Dean Wareham- S/T

Literature- Chorus (Slumberland)

Lydia Loveless- Somewhere Else (Bloodshot)

Alvvays- S/T (Polyvinyl)

Connections- Into Sixes (Anyway)

Ex Hex- RIPS (Merge)

First Aid Kid- Stay Gold (Columbia)

The Gotobeds- Poor People Are Revolting (12XU)

The Hobbes Fan Club- Up at La Grange (Shelflife)

The Zebras- Siesta (Jigsaw)

Ausmuteants- Order of Operation (Goner)

The New Pornographers- Brill Bruisers (Matador)

Gold-Bears- Dalliance (Slumberland)

Jonly Bonly- Put Together (12XU)

Lunchbox- Lunchbox Loves You (Jigsaw)

Luluc- Passerby (Sub Pop)

Trick Mammoth- Floristry (Fishrider)

Ark Life- The Dream of You & Me (Greater Than Collective)

Withered Hand- New Gods (Slumberland)

The Men- Tomorrow’s Hits (Sacred Bones)

2014 Archival Collections

The Chills- BBC Sessions (Fire)

Donna Loren- These Are the Good Times: The Complete Capitol Recordings (The Now Sounds/ Cherry Red)

St. Christopher- Forevermore Starts Here: The Anthology 1984-2010 (Cherry Red)

Tar- 1988-1995 (Chunklet)

Further- Where Were You Then ? 1991-1997 (Bad Paintings)

Strawberry Story – Gravy (self released)

The Bluebells- Exile on Twee Street: Songs form Glasgow 1980-1982 (Cherry Red)

Peggy Lipton- The Complete Ode Recordings (Real Gone Music)

Pugwash- A Rose in the Garden of Weeds (Omnivore Recordings)

The Mighty Lemon Drops- Uptight: The Early Recordings 1985-1986 (Cherry Red)

 

Reissues

Bedhead- 1992- 1998 (The Control Group)

Yo La Tengo- Extra Painful (Matador)

Big Star- #1 Record and Radio City (Stax/ Concord Music Group)

Crayon- Brick Factory (HHBTM)

The Posies- Failure (Omnivore Recordings)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One thought on “REVENGE OF THE WRITERS: BLURT’S BEST AND WORST OF 2014

  1. Pingback: All Those Best Of…Music Lists of 2014 | That Eric Alper

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