Monday, December 8, 2014

The Music Maven's Music Monday #26: My Top 10 Albums of 2014

By Tillie Elvrum aka The Music Maven

What an amazing year in music it’s been.  Despite the somewhat gloomy state of the mainstream music industry, I heard more amazing music than ever this year and I’m happy to report that the live music scene is better than ever – which leads me to my Top 10 Albums of 2014.  It’s always hard to narrow down my list, but it’s a fun process to revisit all the albums I listened to and the ones that stuck with me over the year – these are the albums that had the most repeat plays over 2014 and found a place in my heart that will last for years to come.
10.  Benjamin Booker Benjamin Booker
The first time I heard Benjamin Booker I stopped in my tracks – his voice was raw and the guitar work was punk, rock, and blues infused. I had to find out who was making this wonderful racket – Benjamin Booker’s debut album is amazing.  I haven’t seen him live yet, but I will remedy that as soon possible!

Essential listening: Violent Shiver, Always Waiting, Wicked Waters
9.  Morning Phase Beck
As a longtime Beck fan I always look forward to what this mastermind will do. When I heard the first single off of Morning Phase, Blue Moon, I knew I would love this album.  It’s just a gorgeous album from start to finish. Not a bad track on the whole album.

Essential listening:  Wave, Heart Is A Drum, Turn Away, Waking Light
8.  Royal Blood Royal Blood
This band took the music scene by storm this year and deservedly so. The first time I heard this album I sat in awe – pure face-melting rock n’ roll courtesy of this Brighton UK duo.  So good!

Essential Listening:  Figure It Out, Out Of The Black, Loose Change
7.  Heal Strand of Oaks
Strand of Oaks aka Timothy Showalter’s 4th album Heal is a great guitar driven album.  It’s deeply personal lyrics hit you right in the gut and stay with your for a long time.

Essential Listening:  Goshen ‘97, Shut In, JM, Same Emotions
6. Hold My Home Cold War Kids
Cold War Kids is one of MY bands – a band I love so much it hurts sometimes.  Even with several band member changes over the past couple of years, the band hasn’t lost their stride. They continue to produce music that makes me happy. Looking forward to seeing them in January!

Essential Listening: First, All This Could Be Yours, Drive Desperate, Go Quietly, Flower Drum Song
5.  Sylvan Esso Sylvan Esso
I had noticed all the buzz about Sylvan Esso, but hadn’t given them a good listen until I saw them live – they were so good live that I bought their album right there.  So impressed with this duo.

Essential Listening:  Coffee, My Mami, Play It Right
4.  Lazaretto Jack White
I love Lazaretto even more than White’s first solo effort Blunderbuss.  He’s one of the few artists out there that I have trust in – he does what he wants and never compromises his musical integrity.  Jack White hasn’t disappointed me yet.

Essential Listening: Lazaretto, High Ball Stepper, Just One Drink, Would You Fight For My Love
3.  Ryan Adams Ryan Adams
Have always LOVED Ryan Adams – and this album is one of his best.  It’s the Ryan Adams that many have come to know and love, and listeners will find a comfortable place to rest in this album.

Essential Listening:  Gimme Something Good, Trouble, Am I Safe, Wrecking Ball
2. Listen The Kooks
This album was the surprise of the year for me. Listen is their fourth full length album and the band went into new territory with the help of producer Inflow.  The album opens up with a rousing gospel choir on the song Around Town.  The use of the gospel choir and R&B influences can be heard throughout the record, but not in a gimmicky way.  For a distinctively British sounding band, The Kooks display a lot of soul on this album.  And I like it!  There is no mistaking Listen for a Kooks album, but it’s nice to hear them take chances and the result is a fresh sounding album.

Essential Listening:  Around Town, Forgive & Forget, It Was London, Bad Habit, See Me Now, Are We Electric

And my #1 Album of 2014
1. Sweet Disarray Dan Croll
What can I say…I love Dan Croll.  I was really looking forward to his debut LP and it’s better than I could’ve hoped for.   The album should’ve came with a warning because it’s like music crack – highly addictive.  It’s heavy on African rhythms, interesting guitar grooves, funky bass lines, beautiful harmonies, and lyrics that are playful and moving.  Sweet Disarray has the most plays on my iTunes account and the cd took up residence in my car stereo for months – it’s just an album that I keep coming back to. I saw A LOT of bands this year Pearl Jam, Imagine Dragons, Arcade Fire to name a few – but Dan Croll’s set at Larimer Lounge is still my favorite.
Essential Listening from Dan Croll’s Sweet Disarray:  From Nowhere, Thinkin Aboutchu, Wanna Know, In/Out, Compliment Your Soul, Only Ghost, Can You Hear Me, Sweet Disarray, Maway, Must Be Leaving, Always Like This, Home.  *Yes, that’s every track off the album. Every song is that good. Trust me.*

Thanks to all the music makers out there – I can’t imagine my life without the songs that soundtrack my life. I can’t wait to see what wonderful sounds you bring us in 2015!

The Music Maven's Top 10 Albums of 2014

12 comments:

  1. Great list! You reminded me of the kooks new album :) straight to spotify!

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  2. I'm so glad you mentioned Sylvan Esso being good live! They're coming to my town and I want to go, but I'm always iffy on electronic acts. If tickets are still available after the holidays, I'm going for sure!

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  3. really great list

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  4. I love that you have people not everybody has on their list. All ten of these albums are ace, I know many of them are on my top list. I'm just happy to see somebody appreciate Dan Croll, that man is brilliant.

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  5. Tillie ElvrumDecember 09, 2014

    Thank you, Alex! Glad I could remind you of a really great album!

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  6. Tillie ElvrumDecember 09, 2014

    I always get a bit nervous when I see more than one Mac on stage, but Sylvan Esso are more than just an electronic act. Both are really great musicians in their own right and they know how to work a crowd. They played two sold out shows here. Go see them!

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  7. Tillie ElvrumDecember 09, 2014

    Thanks for reading!

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  8. Tillie ElvrumDecember 09, 2014

    Glad you enjoyed the list! Dan Croll is working on his second album and I cannot wait to get my hands on it!

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  9. Thanks to The Music Maven all of us LOVE Dan Croll...what would I do without her?!

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  10. I bought Dan Croll's album on Amazon after seeing him in SD (with Megan! YAY!).
    I love the album!
    And holy crow!!!! Benjamin Booker is amazing! buying the album NOW!!!

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  11. Tillie ElvrumDecember 09, 2014

    Enjoy Joie...he's so good. No words!
    And I'm so glad that you gals could see Dan Croll -- makes me so happy!

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  12. It was the BEST!!!! And so excited for all the new music!! xx

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