We listen to a lot of music in our house. Rare is the time when none is playing, even in the background. But often the music is in the foreground and I will listen to albums all the way through over and over and over. But it’s rarely about what is new. Maybe new to us. I am often late to the party. Sometimes years late. More, it’s about what is right for the time. I’m not sure I listened to enough new albums this year to make a “Best of 2014” list. So, how about a more modest list of “Music I’ve Enjoyed in 2014” in no particular order?
In the comment section tell what music you’ve loved in 2014.
1. NEEDTOBREATHE – Rivers in the Wasteland. I resisted listening to them for a long time due to their awful name. And I have a rule about not listening to music that might be heard in Lifeway. But this album is rare phenomena. Great lyrics, vocals and melodies in the world of CCM. Highlight: “Wasteland”
2. The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream. I didn’t even listen to this one till the Tuesday before Christmas. I’ve now listened to it
22 23 times. The more I listen, the more I hear and the more I enjoy this strange album. Could be my favorite of the year. Highlight: “Burning”
3. U2 – Songs of Innocence. The only thing more surprising than how they released their newest album was the quality of the album. It may end up being one of their top albums. The lyrics are as powerful as any album they’ve put out. Not since Aching Baby have they been so brilliant. Highlight: “Iris”
4. BRMC – Live in London. When I saw them live in 2013, I felt as if I had seen something really special. Heard something that strummed the electric nerves of reality in a way, I had not experienced previously. This DVD/CD captures it well. I’ve watched it so many times it plays in my head regularly. Highlight: “Beat the Devil’s Tattoo”
5. Bill Mallonee – Winnowing. I’ve been listening to his songs for so many years, I don’t even know where nostalgia ends and just plain good americana music begins. I’m pretty sure, though, this is one of his best. He should be more famous than he is, but if he was, we may not have these hurting songs. Highlight: “Tap Your Heart On It’s Shoulder”
6. John Fullbright – Songs. I’m very new to this guy. But his music is the kind that makes you believe you’ve been listening to these songs for years. Incredible vocals. great songwriting. And when he gets on the piano, it all gets as wondrous as the night sky. Highlight: “Happy”
7. Steve Earle – El Corazon. This album is almost 20 years old. But it’s fairly new to me. And it’s an almost perfect album. The songs are varied. They range from standard Texas country to folk to near grunge followed by a song you will swear was one of Hank’s. Highlight: “Fort Worth Blues”
8. The Violet Burning – The Story of Our Lives. This 3 CD epic concept album has been around for a couple of years but I’ve never put in the effort to sit down and listen straight through. It takes some commitment. But it was so worth it and after doing so I made it a priority to do it again. And then again. It’s brilliant, and dark and then beautiful. Highlight: “br0ther part 1”
9. Ryan Adams – Ryan Adams. I buy everything by David Ryan Adams. And I have about 60 bootlegs and unreleased albums. He’s just a genius and almost everything he does is at the very least interesting. Highlight: “Shadows”
10. Jack White – Lazaretto. This is such an odd mixture of songs. But it works in a way only Jack White could make it do so. And it may be my favorite album he has ever done. So infectious and full of little ear worms. Highlight: “Temporary Ground”
11. Corey Nolen – Drive Down South. I love country music. Not modern pop country. The real deal. And Corey delivers on this album produced by Brian Murphy of the Lone Bellow. Corey is also my neighbor and doing a house show at my place on Jan 10th with Ashley Spurling, who sang on all the Red Mountain Church albums. Highlight: “Haunt Me”
12. Thad Cockrell – To Be Loved. A voice that will blow you over the first time you hear it. I’d heard his name for years but had never really sat down and listened to him. But then we heard him do a few songs live with Andrew Peterson and I immediately went and bought his album and have not regretted that purchase one bit. Highlight: “To Be Loved”
13. Steve Taylor and The Perfect Foil – Goliath. I’ve been waiting 20 years for this album. Seriously, it’s been over 20 years since Steve Taylor released an album. And this does not disappoint. It’s clever and brilliant punk rock and it was worth the wait. Highlight: “Comedian”