Best Albums of 2014, v. 2.0 (January – July)

Best Albums of 2014
Version 2.0 (January – July)
For previous years see
Best of 2007  
 

LPs
  1. The GOASTTMidnight Sun
  2. Beck – Morning Phase
  3. Braid – No Coast
  4. Conor OberstUpside Down Mountain 
  5. The Hold Steady – Teeth Dreams
  6. Damien Jurado – Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son
  7. S. Carey – Range of Light
  8. The Family Crest – Beneath the Brine
  9. Mogwai – Rave Tapes
  10. Me First and the Gimme Gimmes – Are We Not Men? We Are Diva!
  11. French Style Furs – Is Exotic Bait
  12. Matt Pond – Skeletons and Friends
  13. Andrew Bird – Things Are Really Great Here, Sort Of…
  14. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. – Produce Vol. 1 (mixtape)
  15. Say Hi – Endless Wonder  
  16. The Bar (Prometheus Brown and Bambu) – Barkada
  17. RA Scion + Vox Mod – Sharper Tool: Bigger Weapon
  18. Sun Kil Moon – Benji
  19. Jonah’s Onelinedrawing – Me and You Are Two
  20. Fanfarlo – Let’s Go Extinct

Live Albums

  1. Death Cab for Cutie – Live 2012 [ft. Magik*Magik Orchestra]
  2. Band of Horses – Acoustic at the Ryman
  3. David Bazan – David Bazan + Passenger String Quartet: Vol. 1

EPs

  1. Damien Jurado – Sisters of the Eternal Son
  2. American Football – American Football Deluxe Edition bonus materials 
  3. The Hold SteadyRAGS

Singles / 7 inches / Misc

  1. David Bazan – Bazan Monthly, Vol. 1 (Impermanent Record / Deny Myself)
  2. Prometheus Brown – This Ain’t a Seahawks Anthem [single]
  3. Sunny Day Real Estate – Lipton Witch (from Circa Survive split 7″)
  4. The Hold Steady – Easy (from Deer Tick split 7″)

Best Albums of 2014, v. 1.0 (January – May)

Best Albums of 2014
Version 1.0
For previous years see
Best of 2007  
 

LPs
  1. Beck – Morning Phase
  2. The GOASTTMidnight Sun
  3. Damien Jurado – Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son
  4. The Hold Steady – Teeth Dreams 
  5. Conor OberstUpside Down Mountain
  6. The Family Crest – Beneath the Brine
  7. Death Cab for Cutie – Live 2012 [ft. Magik*Magik Orchestra]
  8. Mogwai – Rave Tapes
  9. Band of Horses – Acoustic at the Ryman
  10. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. – Produce Vol. 1 (mixtape)
  11. RA Scion + Vox Mod – Sharper Tool: Bigger Weapon
  12. The Bar (Prometheus Brown and Bambu) – Barkada
  13. Sun Kil Moon – Benji
  14. Jonah’s Onelinedrawing – Me and You Are Two
  15. Fanfarlo – Let’s Go Extinct

EPs

  1. Damien Jurado – Sisters of the Eternal Son
  2. American Football – American Football Deluxe Edition bonus materials 
  3. The Hold SteadyRAGS

Singles / 7 inches / Misc

  1. Prometheus Brown – This Ain’t a Seahawks Anthem [single]
  2. Sunny Day Real Estate – Lipton Witch (from Circa Survive split 7″)
  3. The Hold Steady – Easy (from Deer Tick split 7″)

Best Songs of 2013

Its difficult to put these lists together, because, lets be honest, our top 20 songs lists may actually feature 1/2 of our favorite album rather than a song a piece from each of our favorite albums.  But, that wouldn’t make for a very interesting list.  So – let me state that there are a lot of songs from my top 10 albums that I probably like better than some of these, but I tried to only feature 1 per artist.
1.
Oddly, this track comes from one of my less favorite albums of the year.  Really.  I didn’t like the album much.  But THIS is the track that stuck with me all year.  Even after a million listens and in-the-car sing-alongs with my family, I still love it.  So catchy.  Plus, it features – hands down – my favorite music video of the year, and possibly one of my favorite music videos ever. 
2.
 Byegone

This comes from my #1 album of the year.  Man, I wish it wasn’t such a short album!  For those not in the  know, Volcano Choir is Justin Vernon (of Bon Iver) + Collections of Colonies of Bees, a post-rock instrumental experimental super group from Milwaukee.  I found them years ago as they have some associations with Pele – one of my all-time favorite “post-rock instrumental experimental super groups.”  Volcano did an album a couple years ago, but it didn’t quite click as most of it, from what I gather, wasn’t a full collaboration between Vernon, et al.  Whereas they actually wrote Repave together.  The whole album is great, but Byegone is a real standout.  This song that really gelled for me when they played it live on Jimmy Fallon.  Unfortunately, NBC took the video down.  Boo.  You can grab some other great live performances of Comrade, or a full concert hosted by NPR

3.
Touch
<a href=”http://
” target=”_blank”>Get Lucky was the first track we all heard of the new Daft Punk album, and was my summer jam.  However, even though it and Lose Yourself to Dance (my 3 year old son’s favorite song – he says “this is my jam” when it comes on) were catchy and instant hits…they didn’t have much staying power for me.  They lacked substance and proved a bit shallow and repetitive.  Ironically, Touch was one of my least favorite songs on the album.   The vocals by Paul Williams REALLY rubbed me the wrong way.  But, if you can get past his voice – which I did eventually – this song is immense.  It has enormous depth and over the course of the last few months, has crept up on my list.
4.
Stay Young
This is a tough choice because The Silver Gymnasium has SO MANY good tracks.  It Was My Season, Down the Deep River, Pink Slips, On a Balcony, Lido Pier Suicide Car, or nearly every other song on the album could be on here too. 
5.
Diane Young
After a spectacular self-titled debut album, and so-so sophmore release (Contra), I was very happy to see Vampire Weekend put out a GREAT 3rd album.  It topped a lot of peoples’ lists.  Obvious BicycleStep or Everlasting Arms were all strong contenters.  But, I’ll go with the Diane Young (Dyin’ Young) for today.

6.
Born Too Late
I loved Dent May’s first Ukulele-based album.  It was ridiculous.  For his 2nd album he dropped the Uke in favor of 80’s electro-pop.  I didn’t like it.  For his 3rd album, he kept the 80’s flare, but fleshed the sound out with a lot more organic sounds – horns and such.  The result is great.  He has a gift for catchy pop melodies, and his over-the-top oldschool crooning is infectious.  

7.
Joy to You Baby
 Ah Josh Ritter.  One of my favorite singer-songwriter balladiers ever.  He’s a poet (and an author – he wrote a book last year).  The new album is a little hit and miss, but this track gives me goosebumps sometimes.  
8.
Criminal Fingers
 Over the past 2 years I have had something of an obsession with The Hold Steady.  Finn is a story teller and the characters, places, and narratives that run through all of their albums (recurring characters and scenes) sucked me in.  I can’t wait for their new album – hopefully coming next year.
9.
Demons

 The great thing about this National album is that they come off as a band firmly comfortable with what they are – not trying to reinvent themselves – just doing what they do, and doing it well.  This churner of a song is a great example.

10.
Bloodletter

from RA Scion – The Sickle and the Sword 
Followers of the blog will have heard of RA Scion, formerly of Common Market, before.  Kentucky born and raised, current Seattle-ite, he has been putting out socially conscious hip-hop for years and has reinvented himself so many times.  The new album is spiritual, metaphysical, deep, and a bit spaced-out in content and production.  The production is surprisingly ambient, but has really grown on me.  Unfortunately, the producer Rodney Danger and him have gotten into a disagreement and RA Scion is now offering it for free.  Although he has turned down many offers for donations to help him recoup the personal investment he put into it (and a beautiful video), I still think we should pass the plate.  To make matter worse, this comes off him taking all of the proceeds from the album release party, and donating them to a local Seattle surf rock band La Luz whose equipment had recently been stolen.  No good deed goes unpunished, I guess.

 


11.

Heart of Nowhere

Just like their last album, this one took a couple months to finally hook me – but it got me good.  The entire album is catchy and great.  This is the album opener, and a real standout – even in spite of the HORRIBLE guest vocals on the bridge by Anna Calvi.

12.
Default
from Atoms for Peace – Amok

News of Radiohead’s Thom Yorke putting together a full album with his Atoms for Peace project was very exciting and I played this track repeatedly on my radio show last year.  Standout on the album.

13.

Even if We Try

This comes from one of my early favorites for the year.  New band.  Great harmonies.  Like Fleet Foxes meets Local Natives.

14.
Great Lake Derelict

Post-rock awesomeness + enigmatic vocals.  I love me some Appleseed Cast!

15.

Fam Jam (Fe Sum Immigrins)

Shad is hands down my favorite Canadian hip-hop artist.  Ok…also the only one I know.  He is articulate, intelligent, self-deprecating in his humor, etc…  Great message.  Shout out to First Nations.  Even some controversy on borders and transnational commerce / oil pipelines.

16.

If You Didn’t See Me (Then You Weren’t on the Dancefloor)

Forgive them their name.  These guys (from Detroit) put out great, unabashed, dance tunes.

17.

Grace for Saints and Ramblers

Kind of a hit and miss album, but along with Caught in the Briars, this here is a highlight.  Here’s a great live version they did on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.  



18.
A New Life

Another hit and miss album.  The stand-out track here.  Another live version, via Fallon and the Roots.

19.
Blues to Black

Mike Kinsella rarely disappoints.  I often make the mistake of thinking of him as an acoustic singer-songwriter, but then remember that on most of his songs, he plays a full range of instruments – often layering his ALWAYS piercing lyrics with waves of electric guitars. 

20.

Miracle Mile

Not their strongest album, but a handful of tunes worth keeping.  The lead-off track here is the best.

Best Albums of 2013, Final Version

Best Albums of 2013
For previous years see
Best of 2007

  
As always, taking albums from a bunch of disperate genres and trying to stack them up against one another is an imprecise science.  The difficulty of ranking early-in-the-year releases (which may be feeling stale 10 months later) with brand new ones about which you are still excited, is also difficult.  With that preamble, I’ll pretty firmly commit to the top 10-15 here.  I think they are right where I want them.  Beyond that, I would likely move things around from day to day depending on my mood – which is why I’m just going to post this and get it over with!  Enjoy!  

LPs
  1. Volcano Choir – Repave
  2. Okkervil River – The Silver Gymnasium
  3. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
  4. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City 
  5. RA Scion – The Sickle and the Sword
  6. The National – Trouble Will Find Me 
  7. Noah and the Whale – Heart of Nowhere   
  8. Josh Ritter – The Beast in It’s Tracks 
  9. The Appleseed Cast – Illumination Ritual
  10. Sigur Ros – Kveikur 
  11. Dent May – Warm Blanket 
  12. Atoms for Peace – AMOK
  13. Iron and Wine – Ghost on Ghost 
  14. Owen – L’Ami du Pueple
  15. Night Beds – Country Sleep
  16. Dr. Dog – B-Room
  17. Jim James – Regions of Light and Sound of God
  18. Junip – Junip
  19. Shearwater – Fellow Travelers 
  20. Shad – Flying Colours
  21. Saves the Day – Saves the Day
  22. RA Scion – Adding to the Extra
  23. Drew Danburry – Becoming Bastian Salazar 
  24. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. – The Speed of Things
  25. Mikal Cronin – MC II
  26. Joshua James – Well, Then, I’ll Go to Hell
  27. Ben Folds Five – Live
  28. Cold War Kids – Dear Miss Lonelyhearts 
  29. The Polyphonic Spree – Yes, It’s True
  30. Brendan Benson – You Were Right
  31. Matt Pryor – Wrist Slitter
  32. Latyrx – The Second Album
  33. Matt Pond – The Lives Inside the  Lines in Your Hand
  34. Less than Jake – See the Light
  35. Reggie and the Full Effect – No Country for Old Musicians
  36. Local Natives – Hummingbird
  37. Mike Doughty – Water and Washington
  38. The Head and the Heart – Let’s Be Still 
  39. They Might be Giants – Nanobots
  40. Mike Doughty – Circles Super Bon Bon Sleepless…  
  41. Ra Ra Riot – Beta Love
  42. Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – Fly by Wire
  43. Talib Kweli – Prisoner of Conscious
  44. John Vanderslice – Vanderslice Plays Diamond Dogs
  45. Rogue Wave – Nightingale Floors
  46. Phoenix – Bankrupt!

 

EPs

  1. Their/They’re/There – Their/They’re/There
  2. Calexico – Maybe on Monday 
  3. Drew Danburry – The 1st Pillar, 2nd Pillar,  3rd Pillar and 4th Pillar EPs
  4. Cold War Kids – Tuxedos 
  5. Their/They’re/There – Analog Weekend
  6. Minus the Bear – Acoustics II
  7. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. – Patterns
  8. David Bazan – Spring 2013 Tour
  9. Andrew Bird – I Want to See Pulaski at Night
  10. Matt Pryor and James Dewees – Matt Pryor and James Dewees
  11. Colin Meloy – Colin Meloy Sings the Kinks
  12. Bambu – The Lean Sessions

Singles / 7 inches / Misc

  1. The Hold Steady – Criminal Fingers b/w The Bear & Maiden Fair [single]
  2. Iron and Wine – Next to Paradise b/w Dirty Dream [single]
  3. Dinosaur Jr. – Now the Fall b/w Ricochet [single]
  4. Dinosaur Jr. – Entertainment [single]
  5. Beck – I Won’t Be Long / Gimme / Defriended (3 singles)
  6. The Postal Service – Tattered Line of String & Turn Around (from Give Up: Deluxe 10 Anniversary Edition)
  7. Jimmy Eat World – Damage b/w Stop Whispering [7″ single]

Best Albums of 2013, version 2.0

Best Albums of 2013
Version 2.0
January-October
For previous years see
Best of 2007

 

LPs
  1. Volcano Choir – Repave
  2. Okkervil River – The Silver Gymnasium
  3. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
  4. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City 
  5. Josh Ritter – The Beast in It’s Tracks 
  6. The National – Trouble Will Find Me 
  7. The Appleseed Cast – Illumination Ritual
  8. Sigur Ros – Kveikur 
  9. Owen – L’Ami du Pueple
  10. Atoms for Peace – AMOK
  11. Iron and Wine – Ghost on Ghost 
  12. Night Beds – Country Sleep
  13.  Jim James – Regions of Light and Sound of God
  14. Noah and the Whale – Heart of Nowhere  
  15. Shad – Flying Colours
  16. Dr. Dog – B-Room 
  17.  Saves the Day – Saves the Day
  18. Dent May – Warm Blanket
  19. RA Scion – Adding to the Extra
  20. Junip – Junip
  21. Drew Danburry – Becoming Bastian Salazar
  22. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. – The Speed of Things
  23. Ben Folds Five – Live
  24. Cold War Kids – Dear Miss Lonelyhearts 
  25. The Head and the Heart – Let’s Be Still
  26. They Might be Giants – Nanobots
  27. Matt Pond – The Lives Inside the  Lines in Your Hand
  28. Local Natives – Hummingbird
  29. Mike Doughty – Water and Washington
  30. Mike Doughty – Circles Super Bon Bon Sleepless…
  31. Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – Fly by Wire
  32. Talib Kweli – Prisoner of Conscious
  33. John Vanderslice – Vanderslice Plays Diamond Dogs
  34. Rogue Wave – Nightingale Floors
  35. Phoenix – Bankrupt!
  36. Ra Ra Riot – Beta Love

 

EPs

  1. Calexico – Maybe on Monday 
  2. Drew Danburry – The 1st Pillar, 2nd Pillar,  3rd Pillar and 4th Pillar EPs
  3. Cold War Kids – Tuxedos
  4. Minus the Bear – Acoustics II
  5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. – Patterns
  6. Their/They’re/There – Their/They’re/There
  7. David Bazan – Spring 2013 Tour
  8. Bambu – The Lean Sessions

Singles / 7 inches / Misc

  1. The Hold Steady – Criminal Fingers b/w The Bear & Maiden Fair [single]
  2. Iron and Wine – Next to Paradise b/w Dirty Dream [single]
  3. Dinosaur Jr. – Now the Fall b/w Ricochet [single]
  4. Dinosaur Jr. – Entertainment [single]
  5. Beck – I Won’t Be Long / Gimme / Defriended (3 singles)
  6. The Postal Service – Tattered Line of String & Turn Around (from Give Up: Deluxe 10 Anniversary Edition)
  7. Jimmy Eat World – Damage b/w Stop Whispering [7″ single]

Best Albums of 2013, version 1.0

Best Albums of 2013
Version 1.0
January-July
For previous years see
Best of 2007

 

LPs
  1. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
  2. Atoms for Peace – AMOK
  3. Josh Ritter – The Beast in It’s Tracks 
  4. Night Beds – Country Sleep
  5. The Appleseed Cast – Illumination Ritual
  6. The National – Trouble Will Find Me
  7. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
  8. RA Scion – Adding to the Extra
  9. Owen – L’Ami du Pueple
  10. Iron and Wine – Ghost on Ghost 
  11. Sigur Ros – Kveikur
  12. Jim James – Regions of Light and Sound of God
  13. Junip – Junip
  14. Ben Folds Five – Live
  15. Noah and the Whale – Heart of Nowhere
  16. Cold War Kids – Dear Miss Lonelyhearts 
  17. They Might be Giants – Nanobots
  18. Matt Pond – The Lives Inside the  Lines in Your Hand
  19. Local Natives – Hummingbird
  20. Talib Kweli – Prisoner of Conscious
  21. John Vanderslice – Vanderslice Plays Diamond Dogs
  22. Rogue Wave – Nightingale Floors
  23. Phoenix – Bankrupt!
  24. Ra Ra Riot – Beta Love

 

EPs

  1. Calexico – Maybe on Monday 
  2. Drew Danburry – The 1st Pillar, 2nd Pillar,  3rd Pillar and 4th Pillar EPs
  3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. – Patterns
  4. Their/They’re/There – Their/They’re/There
  5. David Bazan – Spring 2013 Tour
  6. Bambu – The Lean Sessions

Singles / 7 inches / Misc

  1. The Hold Steady – Criminal Fingers b/w The Bear & Maiden Fair [single]
  2. Iron and Wine – Next to Paradise b/w Dirty Dream [single]
  3. Dinosaur Jr. – Now the Fall b/w Ricochet [single]
  4. Dinosaur Jr. – Entertainment [single]
  5. The Postal Service – Tattered Line of String & Turn Around (from Give Up: Deluxe 10 Anniversary Edition)
  6. Jimmy Eat World – Damage b/w Stop Whispering [7″ single]

Best Albums of 2012

Best Albums of 2012
Final Version
Version 2.0 2.1 (January-June)
For previous years see
LPs
  1. Bahamas – Barchords  
  2. Japandroids – Celebration Rock
  3. The Tallest Man on Earth – There’s No Leaving Now 
  4. The Mountain Goats – Transcendental Youth 
  5. Dinosaur Jr. – I Bet on Sky 
  6. Shearwater – Animal Joy
  7. Damien Jurado – Maraqopa 
  8. Dr. Dog – Be the Void 
  9. Pinback – Information Retrieved  
  10. John K. Samson – Provincial 
  11. Ben Folds Five – The Sound of the Life of the Mind 
  12. Gift of Gab – The Next Logical Progression
  13. Andrew Bird – Break it Yourself
  14. Joshua James – From the Top of Willamette Mountain 
  15. Mumford & Sons – Babel 
  16. Ben Kweller – Go Fly a Kite 
  17. Calexico – Algiers 
  18. Ben Gibbard – Former Lives
  19. fun. – Some Nights 
  20. Father John Misty – Fear Fun 
  21. Rocky Votolato – Television of Saints
  22. The Walkmen – Heaven 
  23. Band of Horses – Mirage Rock 
  24. Minus the Bear – Infinity Overhead
  25. Dent May – Do Things 
  26. Sigur Ros – Valtari
  27. The Avett Brothers – The Carpenter 
  28. Bambu – …one rifle per family 
  29. The Lumineers – The Lumineers 
  30. Matt Pryor – May Day 
  31. Matt Pryor – Still There’s a Light 
  32. Beach House – Bloom
  33. Less than Jake – Greetings and Salutations 
  34. Sun Kil Moon – Among the Leaves 
  35. Bob Mould – Silver Age 
  36. Mike Doughty – Lo-Fi Lodge
  37. Brendan Benson – What Kind of World
  38. Great Lake Swimmers – New Wild Everywhere
  39. James Vincent McMorrow – Early in the Morning
  40. Craig Finn – Clear Heart Full Eyes
  41. Jonah Matranga – Voices + Dedications  
  42. Jack White – Blunderbuss
  43. For all the Girls (Drew Danburry) – For all the Girls
  44. Lyrics Born – Lyrics Born Variety Show: Season 5
  45. Rufus Wainwright – Out of the Game 
  46. Galactic – Carnivale Electricos
  47. Fanfarlo – Rooms Filled with Light
  48. Mike Doughty – The Flip is Another Honey
EPs
  1. RA Scion – Beg, Borrow, Steal [Free EP]
  2. Damien Jurado – Maraqopa Sessions Blue/Red/Yellow 3×7″ series
  3. Dr. Dog – Wild Race
  4. Shad – Melancholy and the Infinite Shadness
  5. Rocky Votolato – The Let Go EP  
  6. Andrew Bird – Hands of Glory 
  7. Josh Ritter – Bringing in the Darlings
  8. Sam Means – Nona
  9. Josh Ritter – Five Angels (included with Bright’s Passage audiobook)

Singles / 7 inches / Misc
  1. Atoms for Peace – Default [single] b/t What the Eyeballs Do 
  2. Iron & Wine – One More Try [single] b/t Trouble
  3. Blue Scholars – May Day [single]
  4. Local Natives – Breakers
  5. Jeremy Enigk – Last Rights [Damien Jurado cover] [Free Download from Seattle Times]
  6. Blue Scholars – The Decisive Moment [single on soundcloud]
  7. The Mountain Goats – Steal Smoked Fish [single] b/t In the Shadow of the Western Hills
  8. Andrew Bird – The Crown Salesman [single] b/t So Much Wine
  9. Bon Iver – Towers [single] b/t Bruised Orange (Chain of Sorrow)
  10. Cold War Kids – Minimum Day [single]
  11. Beach House – Lazuli [single] b/t Equal Mind