Favorite Music of 2014

My top ten in alphabetical order:

The River and the Thread-Rosanne Cash's meditative travelogue of the South gets better with every listen.  

Self-titled-Hozier.  What a voice, what a songwriter.  His massive hit "Take Me To Church" was worn out this year but the album as a whole is a masterful debut and cements his place as one of the most important new artists out there today.  

Wildewoman-Lucius. My daughter introduced me to this band and I've been loving them ever since.  Seeing them live is wonderful but they're one of the rare duets who translate just as beautifully to recordings.  I love the 80s vibe mixed with soul and country.  Music that is joyous and poignant. 

Lost on the River-The New Basement Tapes.  A supergroup composed of Jim James (My Morning Jacket), Rhiannon Giddens (Carolina Chocolate Drops), Elvis Costello, Marcus Mumford (Mumford & Sons), and Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes), and produced by T Bone Burnett, takes some of Dylan's best lost lyrics, adds to them, and ends up with one of the most beautiful albums in recent memory.  

American Middle Class-Angaleena Presley's (Pistol Annies) debut solo record could be the soundtrack for contemporary Appalachia.  It's that honest, that subversive, and that complex.  A completely original and uncompromising album from an artist who is ahead of her time.  Presley shines a light on the heart of modern rural life, exposing its joys, sorrows, hypocrisy, and everything in between.  

Self-titled-Parker Millsap.  I attended a concert of Millsap's in New York City where he opened for Patty Griffin. His set drew a five minute standing ovation from one of the toughest audiences in the world.  His music is keenly intelligent, moving, and singable.  

Fair Warning-The Rails.  This one hasn't been released in America yet, although it's a hit in England.  This duo (including Kami Thompson, daughter of Richard and Linda, sister of Teddy) not only has some of the best harmonies of recent memory but has also assembled an album full of longing and beauty.  I love every single song on this one.  You can get a free download of their song "Bonnie Portmore" (my favorite on the album) by going to www.therailsofficial.com

In the Lonley Hour-Sam Smith.  I'm not much of a sucker for pop albums but I was for this one.  

Lazeretto-Jack White.  The king of contemporary rock n roll has always loved country music and he has perfectly merged the two here.  If you ever have the chance to see him live, do it.  Amazing show.  

The Way I'm Livin'-Lee Ann Womack.  The country album of the decade.  Womack has that unmistakeable voice, that great knack for songcatching, and is a true class act.  Even if you're not a country fan, this is a record to put on repeat.  

Other favorite albums of the year, arranged alphabetically:

Tori Amos-Unrepentant Geraldines
Beck-Morning Phase
The Secret Sisters-Put Your Needle Down
First Aid Kit-Stay Gold
Hurray for the Riffraff-Small Town Heroes
Supernova-Ray LaMontagne
Lydia Loveless-Somewhere Else
Nickel Creek-A Dotted Line
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers-Hypnotic Eye
Linda Thompson-Won’t Be Long Now
Lucinda Williams-Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone

Singles, in no particular order

Call Me-St. Paul & the Broken Bones
The Devil Is All Around-Shovels and Rope
Take Me to Church-Hozier
Figure It Out-Royal Blood
Dontcha-The Internet.  This is a pretty perfect pop song.  Makes me want to dance.  
When I Get My Hands On You-The New Basement Tapes
Riptide-Vance Joy
Your Southern Heart-Rosanne Cash
Don’t Just Sit There-Lucius
Heart is a Drum-Beck.  One of his best songs, ever.  I can't get it out of my head.  
No Rest for the Wicked Lykke Li.  A haunting song.  
I Hate to See Your Heart Break-Paramore.  Maybe my favorite single of the year.  A perfectly written country-influence pop song by an underrated band.  
Left Hand Free-Alt-J.  So weird, so much fun, so catchy.  
Rude-Magic!-The catchiest song of the year, and one of the most fun, if not the most profound.  But beats most of what's at the top of the charts. 
Latch-Disclosure (with Sam Smith)
Always N Forever-The Orwells.  
Blue Collar Jane-The Strypes.  This band is big in Ireland.  I wish American teenagers could get excited about rock and roll that is this much fun.  

I hate it when I hear people say that there's no great music out there.  There is.  It's just not usually on the radio.  Dig deeper and find it.  


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