Another year ending, another collection of albums that topped my list of music for 2014. Amidst the list are several reasons why rock and metal are still alive and haven’t been killed off by pop albums, of which there’s a couple I found worthy of being included here. Let’s take a look at what I considered tops in my musical opinion.
- Pharrell Williams “G I R L”
– a pop album on just about every level, with a heavy emphasis on hip hop. Pharrell makes it so easy to produce hits like “Happy” which I am not tired of, even after hundreds of listens. And as overused as the word “Bae” is, I don’t mind the song “Come Get It Bae” and it’s infectious grooves. And then to add Justin Timberlake to the song “Brand New” just makes this entire album a dream to listen to.
- Miniature Tigers “Cruel Runnings”
– I saw this Charlie Brand-fronted quartet 3 times this year, including a killer set at Austin City Limits. They have never disappointed live nor have they on record. Their latest album contains instant classics like “Used To Be the Shit” and “Oblivious”. Of course the big hit “Swimming Pool Blues” went major viral on both alternative radio and digital streaming services. The production quality has vastly improved over the last two albums and it works well in many areas. Can’t wait to hear what they create next.
- Judas Priest “Redeemer of Souls”
– the original Metal Gods, on the verge of retirement, came out with a new album this year. Surprised all of us Priest fans. But a very nice surprise it was. Originally reviewed here, I praised this new release on just about every level. To the great Rob Halford scream in “Halls of Valhalla” and the “Hell Patrol” like sound on “Redeemer of Souls” makes this metal fan happy to have an album of this type excel to greatest expectations.
- Broken Bells “After the Disco”
– I admit that this sophomore album isn’t as stellar as the debut album released back in 2010, where it made it into my top albums list for that year. The songs here are just as creative and fun to listen to, so don’t let my words make you think this isn’t great. I finally got to see them live at Austin City Limits this year and they are superb live. The deep bass in “No Matter What You’re Told” and the dark Joy Division like sound in aptly titled “Control” got me hooked within a few listens.
- Phantogram “Voices”
– I got their album early on in the year. I liked it. They came across as kind of a goth crossover band, but then I saw them live at X96 Big Ass Show and damn, did they blow me away. Then less than 2 weeks later, I saw them at Austin City Limits. Again, blown away. So I went back to track the album a few more times and it held up just as well as I remembered live and on my iPod.
- Buckcherry “Fuck”
– I’ve been a Buckcherry fan for many years now. I don’t believe I’ve heard an album of theirs that I wasn’t an instant fan of. This 6 song EP is no slouch at rocking hard, using the f-word as the main focus point of each song. “Say Fuck It” is their cover of the Icona Pop song “I Love It” Yes, I do. Something great to hold me over until their next full length release.
- Smashing Pumpkins “Monuments to an Elegy”
– There’s only one original member left and that’s Billy Corgan. He’s an eccentric band leader who has managed to keep things together over the years with various players who have come and gone. But this new album, which is part of the larger and ongoing Teargarden by Kaleidyscope project, excels in many ways. It’s proof to this longtime Pumpkins fan that we should put aside the weird perceptions and just listen to the music. Songs like the title track “Monuments” with its “Alright, Alright, Alright” chorus to the first single “Being Beige”, the sound that we’ve all come to know is still here, just slightly modernized. I’d still like an official reunion, though.
- Pixies “Indie Cindy”
– Last year, this Boston band released their first new batch of original music in 9 years – 22 years if you count their last album, “Trompe le Monde”. EP1 made my top list last year with all new music, recorded the year before in 2012. After EP1, there was EP2, EP3 and EP4. All of those combined became Indie Cindy, released earlier this year. This is a grand return for The Pixies. Songs like “Blue Eyed Hexe” and “Another Toe in the Ocean” have been favorites on mine and now all on the same album with 10 other songs like “Bagboy” and “Greens and Blues” make this one of my most listened to albums this year.
- Slash “World On Fire”
– Two years ago, Slash’s band of merry musicians made my top albums list, placing just below the top spot. And now here we are two years later, and Slash lands another place at number two. But this album of 17 tracks, which came out late September and reviewed earlier last month, is top billing on every note, strum and scream.
I’ve tracked this album so many times since it came out. It was my go-to album when I was sitting on a plane the last couple of trips I took. Starting with “Wicked Stone” and listening through “Battleground”, these are some solid ass songs that I play over and over. If you are a Slash fan and you don’t have this album yet, go get it. I will forgive you for the delayed purchase.
- Foo Fighters “Sonic Highways”
– Dropping late in the year, this album quickly became an instant hit with me. But of course, it’s Foo Fighters and Dave Grohl and they can make some fantastic music each and every album they release. I reviewed this album a little more than a month ago, which tells you how powerful it is and how quickly it earned it’s place as my favorite of the year.
My review aside, there’s nothing wrong with it only being 8 songs, which all have their place in the track listing order. I still get chills when Dave screams “Fuck it all/I came from nothing“. The only downside to this album is not even related to the album. It’s the fact that the band won’t be making a stop here in Salt Lake City next year. Guess I need to travel to see them, so I can hear these songs live and add a 4th time seeing them live.
And now, I present my top album pick for 2014….
I know I might have missed something on this list, at least when compared to others best of lists. So speak up below in the comments below.