Welcome to my second Year-End Best-Of (YEBO) list of 2014 all about music! In a few moments, I will detail for you my favorite albums of the year. As always, you must realize that, since I'm not a professional music critic, I'm not just given free albums to listen to. I actually have to seek out albums myself either via purchase, from the library, or loaners from friends. So I really don't have too many albums on which to base this list. Only about 52 full albums and two EPs. It was a pretty sparse year. But it was more than enough for me to pick a ten best.
So here you go, in reverse order (10 to 1), my top ten albums of 2014...
I'm sure you'll be able to tell by reading the "reviews," but I'm not much for music reviews. Just the thoughts on my mind at the time.
10. Queens of the Stone Age - ...Like Clockwork
You'd think I would be a bigger fan of QOTSA than I am. They do so much work with one of my favorite musicians of all time, Dave Grohl, that it should be a natural fit. But I've just never taken to Josh Homme and his merry band the way I would have thought. But I LOVE this album. Something about it just spoke to me the very first time I heard it. C'mon, how often can you say that happens?
Notable Tracks: "I Sat By The Ocean" and "My God Is The Sun"
9. Pet Shop Boys - Electric
Who hasn't heard of the Pet Shop Boys? They're one of the defining bands from the 1980s synthpop genre. Funny thing? I'd never listened to, let alone owned, a single one of their albums until this year. Electric became the second album I picked up from the Boys and I love it. I can't explain why it took me so long and it's shameful that it did. But I'm on board now. Forgive me?
Notable Tracks: "Axis" and "Thursday (featuring Example)"
8. INVSN - INVSN
Founded by Swedish musician Dennis Lyxzen of Refused, INVSN was little more than a solo side project at one point but became a full-fledged five-piece band that, after more than a decade of playing, finally put out a full-on LP. I'm glad they did, too.
Notable Tracks: "The Promise" and "Distorted Heartbeat"
7. Foals - Holy Fire
Foals was a band I discovered via Sirius/XM satellite radio but never bothered to pick up an album until I heard the first single from Holy Fire, "Inhaler." I was hooked and I got this album as soon as I could. Great stuff. Now to look up the previous two studio albums from this British band.
Notable Tracks: "Inhaler" and "Bad Habit"
6. Tegan and Sara - Heartthrob
Heartthrob was actually one of the first albums I bought of 2013 mostly because I fell completely head over in heels in love with the single "Closer." Just completely smitten. Still am. Thankfully the rest of the album was just as good as their lead-off single. After nearly a year of solid listening, I still really enjoy it.
Notable Tracks: "Closer" and "I Was A Fool"
5. Daft Punk - Random Access Memories
For many months, I was certain this album would top my list for 2013. Then again, I was pretty convinced Capital Cities' Tidal Wave of Mystery would be pretty high, too, and it's nowhere to be found. How an opinion can change, eh? This was a fantastic album, no question about it. But I think I got a little turned off in recent months solely because I never heard a solid follow-up to the lead-off single "Get Lucky." Wikipedia says the album has spawned four singles, but I have yet to hear any of the last three on the radio. Did I miss them?
Notable Tracks: "Get Lucky" and, if you like a little spoken word and something very different from mainstream radio releases, try "Giorgio by Moroder"
4. Haim - Days Are Gone
Sometimes I hate the Internet. I discovered the sisters only band Haim last year with the release of their single "Forever." For at least half a year, I was pronouncing their name /HAYM/ like "Corey Haim," when, in fact, it's supposed to be /HAY-im/ akin to the Hebrew "l'chaim." Or, perhaps I've just been mispronouncing Corey's last name all these years. Or he has. Whatever. I was worried this album was not going to hold up well as it took nearly a year for it to be released after the lead-off single. Thankfully, I was wrong. It's actually one of the most solid albums I've heard all year, start to finish and I've listened a good dozen times now.
Notable Tracks: "Forever" and "If I Could Change Your Mind"
3. Nine Inch Nails - Hesitation Marks
About four years ago, I was one of those fans sweating when Trent Reznor announced that his trademark band, Nine Inch Nails, was going on hiatus. He had found immense success producing ethereal soundtrack music for films like The Social Network and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo with Atticus Ross and he was also working with his wife on a band named How To Destroy Angels, so why not branch out? But I didn't like it. Sure, I loved his new stuff, but I worship NIN. I have since the release of Pretty Hate Machine in 1989. Then, this year, Reznor announced a new NIN album. YES!!! And it was so worth the sweating and worrying.
Notable Tracks: "Copy of A" and "All Time Low"
2. Pearl Jam - Lightning Bolt
While I've always appreciated Pearl Jam, I can't say I've always been a huge fan. Sure, I've seen them live twice and I do own all their albums, but that was mostly because Katie is the big fan. Me? I'm more casual about it. This album, though, made me a stark raving fan. It's solid from start to finish and, I feel safe saying, that's the first time I've felt that way since their debut album Ten.
Notable Tracks: "My Father's Son" (not a popular choice by many accounts) and "Let the Records Play"
And now for the top of the heap, the cream of the crop...
1. CHVRCHES - The Bones of What You Believe
I can't say enough about this album although I believe I've raved enough on Twitter and here on my blog, previously. Just get it. You'll thank me.
Notable Tracks: Every single one of them, but I would recommend "Lies" and "Gun" as starters
What good stuff did you listen to this year?