Well, it’s that time of year when people start thinking about their best of lists for the year that was. Heck, our own Tara Levesque posted her tops reads of 2014 last week. So in that spirit I’m going to post a list of my favourite music of 2014.
I haven’t made a top music list in a few years. Not too sure why, but this year it seemed really easy. There was a lot of great music released that I absorbed in a big way. Looking at the list it’s definitely made up of thoughtful songwriters, though there are, without a doubt, some rockers on here and one hell of a soul record.
The Voyager, Jenny Lewis
Not sure what it was about this record but it resonated with me in a big way. I’m humming songs from it all the time, which I’m sure is driving my partners insane. Jenny Lewis was someone from whom I’ve been waiting for a new record for a real long time, and it was worth the wait. If you have the chance check out her set from this year’s iTunes Festival. It’s really great.
Southeastern, Jason Isbell
The first I’d heard or seen of Jason Isbell was a little over a year ago on Austin City Limits. I watched his set, but really was just killing time waiting for Neko Case. When I saw this record drop this year, I decided to check it out and I’m glad I did. The songwriting on this record is outstanding, it’s personal and intimate. Really fantastic.
Someday, the Moon Will be Gold, Kalle Mattson
Sault St. Marie’s own Kalle Mattson is a rising star and someone I’ve had the pleasure of watching develop and grow for quite a few years now, starting back when we were at MFM and running the Northern Ontario Music and Film Awards. Kalle is a sweet young man, polite, yet confident, and someone who takes his craft incredibly seriously. I foresee great things for Kalle, not only because of his talent but because he’s a really great human. This record, which touches on loss and death of a mother really resonated with me.
The Both, The Both
What happens when you pair together two outstanding power pop songwriting gods? The Both. A collaboration between Aimee Mann, who I’ve loved for years and years (yeah, that’s right she’s the ONLY PERSON EVER to guest sing on a Rush song, suck it nerds!), and Ted Leo, who I only just discovered as a result of this partnership, The Both is a great rock pop record that only gets better with repeated listenings. You’d think they’d been singing together for years the way their voices come together.
We Still Move on Dance Floors, Strumbellas
I came across the Strumbellas first record on Rdio the day it was released, and as a result I think I came to it much earlier than a lot of other people did. I was so excited to see them at Hillside in 2012, it was a high energy set and worth attending the festival for. We Still Move on Dance Floors is a wonderful release from these guys, and it’s a big step forward too in their songwriting. This is a band I’ll follow forever!
Bahamas is Alfie, Bahamas
I can’t say that I loved this latest release from Bahamas as much as some people did, but it’s still a pretty great record, the kind that is still head and shoulders above much of the dreck released in 2014. It’s a record I haven’t listened to nearly enough so I don’t have too much more to say about it. I’ll be spending some time with it over the Christmas break.
If you’re looking for THE french-language band from Quebec that effortlessly blends folk, traditional and rock elements, Canaille is your band. These guys are phenomenal performers. I’ve seen them several times now and each show is mind-blowing. They are really fantastic and deserve to be heard by everyone across the country. I have a rocky relationship with French music (mostly Quebec music that I find, the production of which I’ve found to be too much for my liking), but every now and then a band like this jumps out at me and knocks my socks off. Canaille is a band you should know about!
Sun Midnight Sun, Sara Watkins
Sara Watkins was one of the wee members of Nickel Creek back in the day. This record, while harkening to that start in blue grass, feels more modern, less perfect and breaths in a way I never found Nickel Creek could. The into track on this record is something I like to listen to with headphones on at full volume, and I get chills every time.
Here and Nowhere Else, Cloud Nothings
I came across Cloud Nothings 2012 record, Attack on Memory and LOVED it. If I’d done a list that year, that record would have been on it. Here and Nowhere is an 8 track album of tight, crisp and raunchy rock songs. I like listening to this one while running. It gets my heart rate up.
Half The City, St. Paul and the Broken Bones
I’ve posted about this record on Facebook many times. It is simply a fantastic record. The singer kills it on every track. Hard to believe this is a bunch of white kids.
That’s it. That’s my list, and in no particular order. These are the records I really loved this year. When I did a draft of my list, there were 23 records on it! Big records like The New Pornographers, Zeus, Shovel and Rope, King Tuff, Death From Above among others are on the long list. 2014, for me at least, was one hell of a year for music!
What’s on your list?