The average album is only played 1.6 times according to some American researchers from the 1980’s*. You probably bought many albums last year that you discarded after 1.6 plays never to be listened to again, unless you want to get your monies worth via self-sabotage by listening to dodgy crap over and over again.

A great album will be on your repeat listen playlist. Nowadays your music player can even keep count of how many times you played a track**, proving what your album of 2014 was without prejudice.

Your favourite album doesn’t need to be cool and get the hipster seal of approval. I share with you my favourite 10 albums of 2014, so you can find a little goodness that you may have missed in 2014.

All that I ask in return is that you play the album that piques your interest at least 1.6 times.

#10 Damien Jurado – Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son

File under: indie-folk

Damien Jurado Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son

I swear that Seattle’s Damien Jurado could be the son of Paul Simon. Maybe he’s a little taller. Remember that little album called Graceland that Paul Simon released in 1986 and it took over the world? This is Jurado’s Graceland. Starting from the grandiosity of his single Silver Timothy which totally sucked me in, to Jurado’s former flatmate Father John Misty writing him an epic essay convincing me to part with my money instead of spending it on chocolate. Thank you, Father.

The whole album seems kinda magical. ‘You lost your mind on a music note’ yes, that’s how the album makes me feel! He croons on Jericho RoadWe are secrets sold’. WTF? I like to sing along, but I know not what it means 😉

Key tracks: Silver Timothy, Jericho Road, Return To Maraqopa, Metallic Cloud, Silver Malcolm, Plains to Crash
See More: Father John Misty’s Essay on Damien Jurado (Spin)

#9 Mastodon – Once More Round The Sun

File under: prog-rock

Mastodon Once More Round The Sun Cover, Source: https://www.facebook.com/Mastodon

Atlanta’s sons Mastodon know how to rock and how to create music that deviates from the norm. They are so good at riffage that it is impossible not to have them in your top 10 if they have released an album! Drummer Brann Dailor is the main singer on Once More Round The Sun, where normal singing duties are split with bass player Troy Sanders and guitar virtuoso Brent Hinds (he is crazy good!).

Following on from their last album The Hunter (which was also great), Mastodon stay on the rock vibe with some 80’s shtick thrown in. Apparently they were further influenced by rock bands Alice in Chains and Deftones on this album.

Key Tracks: Tread Lightly, The Motherload, High Road, Chimes At Midnight, Asleep In The Deep, Ember City
See More: Mastodon: The Motherload on The Late Show with David Letterman

#8 Augie March – Havens Dumb

File under: indie-rock

Augie March Havens Dumb Cover

A five-year hiatus did not do any harm to Augie March’s songwriting skills, as shown on Havens Dumb. Opening track AWOL reflects the early swaying sound of the band that you first fell in love with, and the first single from the album After The Crack Up is perhaps a nod to the future of the band. Recorded in singer Glenn Richards home in Tasmania, the album captures a sound of Australian sparseness and a time long ago.

Definite History is possibly their best song yet, it is chilling and stark and absolutely brilliant. The relevance to Australians will be far more significant with knowledge of the political context, but the song is still moving nevertheless.

Key Tracks: AWOL, After The Crack Up, Father Jack and Mr T, Definite History, Villa Adriana, Never Been Sad
See More: Augie March New Album Due 2014 

#7 Sharon Van Etten – Are We There

File under: indie-folk

Sharon Van Etten Are We There Cover, Source: https://www.facebook.com/SharonVanEttenMusic

The wizard of songwriting Ms Van Etten finally gained some proper recognition in 2014. Are We There stole the hearts and minds of many, and they’ll only have more joy as they go through her back catalogue. The first single Taking Chances is still the knock-out track on the album for me with Van Etten’s voice soaring towards the end. While Your Love Is Killing Me whacks you in the guts when she sings “Burn my skin so I can’t feel you”. “I sing about my love and fear and what it brings” on I Know is a great description of Sharon Van Etten’s Are We There.

I’m nominating Everytime The Sun Comes Up as a great quirky choice of song for funerals, “I washed your dishes, but I shit in your bathroom” could be a poignant end.

Key tracks: Taking Chances, Your Love Is Killing Me, I Love You But I’m Lost, You Know Me Well, I Know, Everytime The Sun Comes Up  
See More: Sharon Van Etten: Taking Chances

#6 Chet Faker – Built on Glass

File under: electronic-soul

Chet Faker Built on Glass, Source: https://www.facebook.com/Chetfaker

Our boy from Melbourne Chet Faker released his first full length album Built on Glass in 2014 to great acclaim. Apparently Nick Murphy (aka Chet Faker) wrote the album three times, but scrapped the first two. Such a pity, how do we know we wouldn’t have loved the other two albums just as much? It could have been an amazing trilogy concept album.

Anyhow, Built on Glass is a lovely first album, the soul of Chet Faker bleeds all over the tracks, and he stands out among the greats. Gold and To Me hit me the most upon first listen, but I love the message behind Talk Is Cheap and the dance track for friends you used to have, 1998. The track Melt which features Kilo Kish on vocals has the best line on the album “my happiness is a fucked up mess” which we all can probably relate to. Unless you’re eating chocolate ice-cream… right now.

Key tracks: Release Your Problems, Talk Is Cheap, Melt, Gold, To Me, 1998
See More: Chet Faker Live @ The Forum

#5 Jane Tyrell – Echoes in the Aviary

File under: trip-hop

Jane Tyrell Echoes in the Aviary Cover, Source: Jane Tyrell, Source: https://www.facebook.com/janetyrrellmusicMelbourne’s own Jane Tyrell certainly surprised me with the release of her debut album Echoes in the Aviary. The songwriting on this album is stunning and vividly sends me to the place Tyrell sings about with her crooning old school tone. If you can coax one of Australia’s best songwriters, Paul Kelly, to come and see you play, you must be rather special. The girl has style and guts, and sings a tune about her father “I won’t be known as my father’s daughter, he will be known as my father” (The First Stand). The album was written at a time when Tyrell was struggling to retain her passion for music, and the song Ships in particular captures that mood perfectly.

A former hip-hop back-up singer with oodles of talent, teaming up with fine musicians for her debut, Tyrell deserves to be on every trip-hop lover’s sound system. Wish I could buy you all a copy!

Key tracks: Wild Waters, Echoes in the Aviary, Raven, Ships, Shapeshifters, Stolen Apples (Paul Kelly cover)
See More: Jane Tyrell: Wild Waters

#4 Shihad – FVEY

File under: rock

Shihad FVEY album cover, Source: https://www.facebook.com/shihad

New Zealand rockers Shihad returned to form with FVEY, but that’s not why the album cracked my top 5. The riffs and bass lines are classic hypnotic Shihad magic, but it is the passion in the lyrics and the political message that grabbed me by the jugular. Think Your So Free’s line “When do you think we’ll wake up?” so typifies the state of world politics today where George Orwell’s fiction is becoming our reality.

Jon Toogood sings about the “days of privacy are dead” in FVEYand if you don’t know anything about PRISM and the reason why Edward Snowden is on the run from his own government, please educate yourself before it’s too late. There ain’t no Rage Against The Machine no more, so who else is singing about the important stuff?

Key tracks: Think Your So Free, FVEY, The Big Lie, Grey Area, The Living Dead, Cheap As
See More: Shihad New Album FVEY Released

#3 James Vincent McMorrow – Post Tropical

File under: electronic

James Vincent McMorrow - Post Tropical Cover

Post Tropical was released at the very beginning of 2014 and stuck around to make it up to my top 3. I love the instrumentation of the album building to a crescendo and falling away, and the tons and tons of mandolins used on The Lakes are just gorgeous. James Vincent McMorrow outdoes himself with his vocals on Post Tropical, and I swear he almost popped a vein in his neck when he sang the track Red Dust live early last year. You probably loved Cavalier and Red Dust when they were released in 2013 but you totally forgot to buy the album.

After seeing McMorrow live in January I raved about his amazing talent comparing him to Jeff Buckley. You probably thought I went stark raving mad. I still stand by my claim and if you miss out on seeing him perform live in your lifetime you’ll only have yourself to blame!

Key tracks: Cavalier, Red Dust, Gold, All Points, Glacier
See More: James Vincent McMorrow: Post Tropical Released

#2 Banks – Goddess

File under: alternative-pop

Banks Goddess Cover

Jillian Rose Banks has created a damn fine debut album in Goddess. She has compiled one great track after another which isn’t very easy to do. Most try, and fail. Her vocals on the album are exceptional and she sounds like Fiona Apple on some tracks (You Should Know Where I’m Coming From), and the electronic production fills the mood of each song beautifully. The vulnerability in her voice struck a chord with me for authenticity’s sake, I believe she has made soup for undeserving boys! Those bastards.

Brain was the first track I heard from Banks and not too longer after I listened to all her singles and bought her album that very day. I rarely listen to pop these days as I long ago fell off the mainstream bandwagon, so it is strange to me that I fell in love with this album so much.

Key tracks: Goddess, Brain, You Should Know Where I’m Coming From, Stick, Drowning, Beggin For Thread, Warm Water
See More: Banks – Goddess

#1 Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 2

File under: hip-hop

Run The Jewels 2 Cover, Source: http://www.runthejewels.net/

A live performance of Run The Jewels 2 last week at The Forum in Melbourne cemented to me that this album is unstoppable. I probably play the thing every 3.5 days and on some occasions it is played twice in one day. The album is of its time like no other released last year, and in the future we’ll be able to play it back and get a real feel for the sentiment of 2014 (let’s make a time capsule!).

‘Top tag team of two summers’ indeed, rappers Killer Mike and
El-P banged the bitch out in late October and have not taken a breather since. I rated Run The Jewels as #5 on my list of 2013, and low and behold within 12 months they climb up to the pinnacle of my best albums of 2014!

The album features a number of guests (Zack de la Rocha from Rage Against The Machine, Travis Barker from Blink-182, Boots, Gangsta Boo, Diane Coffee, and the late Isaiah “Ikey” Owens former Mars Volta on piano) and still sounds 100% like RTJ. Lie, Cheat, Steal is a tale about greed and power in our society, Early is a sad and scary view of being pulled over by the cops with a bag of weed with wife and kid in tow, Crown is about the regret of selling drugs to a pregnant woman, and Love Again (Akinyele Back) is an explicit track about sex not for the faint-hearted.

Just go and get it now!

Key tracks: Early, Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck), Blockbuster Night Pt 1, Lie Cheat Steal, Crown
See More: Run The Jewels 2: Get It Now

Once again, I give thanks to the wonderful musical artists in 2014 who put together glorious music and generously shared it with our humble ears. I had a kick-ass year in which I got to see 7 artists of my Top 10 live, and each of you rocked my noodle! 

Expected Albums in 2015:

Other cool shit coming our way…

  • Sleater Kinney – No Cities to Love (20 January)
  • Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear (10 February)
  • Faith No More – {no title as yet} (April)
  • Run The Jewels – Meow The Jewels and RTJ3 (TBC)

* Source: The Guardian Book of Rock & Roll, edited by Michael Hann, 2008.
** I don’t really want Apple to know how many times I have listened to Bob Marley lest they figure out I am plotting a revolution.

Advertisements

About noisynoodle

I am a noisy noodle hailing from Melbourne, Australia who loves listening to noise in all forms, but preferably in music, TV and film. I’ve moonlighted on community radio at SYN-FM many years ago when I was still a “youth”. My mission is to promote live music (get off your bum and see something!), highlight interesting TV shows that are ignored by the ratings, expose some cool films and to not go deaf trying!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s