Favorite Albums of 2014

Aphex Twin - Syro: This one strikes me as a a bit more "chill" and melodic than a lot of James' classic period stuff, but I think it helps the album sound quite contemporary and fresh while still retaining some of that signature sound and production.

Cloud Nothings - Here and Nowhere Else: Ok, even though I am not doing any rankings, this is probably my album of the year. Their previous effort was also excellent, and they are probably my fave band of the past few years. Smart, driving, bombastic rock and roll with a lot of fuzz and wit. Heaven.

Drive By Truckers - English Oceans: I thought the last Truckers albums had lost a step, and in my mind they've struggled to do something interesting and fresh since Isbell left. This album rights the ship, and is a really nice evolution of their schtick and their sound. It isn't near their best, but it is one I enjoyed a lot this year.

Flying Lotus - You're Dead!: In a year where I got into Sun Ra a bit and listened to a lot of classic jazz in general, this was a nice bridge/mashup between old and new. A very solid album start to finish.

Killer Be Killed - Killer Be Killed: A blistering debut by an intriguing supergroup, this one got a lot of play in the car this year. Heavy, fast, and angry...and always compelling.

Mastadon - Once More 'Round the Sun: Another album that, like DBT's, represented a kind of return to form and a nice evolution. This one fires hard on all cylinders and reminds me a lot more of Crack the Skye than the more lackluster The Hunter. They continue to be my fave modern band to listen to when I am in the mood for some heaviness, and this one offers up something new with each listen.

Pink Floyd - The Endless River: This one didn't get a lot of love from critics since it is basically The Division Bell outtakes, but I think it really works very well as a (mostly) instrumental album and, truth be told, I think at this point I prefer it to TDB. "Louder than Words," the one track with vocals is excellent, and everything else is vintage, proggy Floyd sound.

Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels 2: I didn't listen to a lot of hip hop this year, but this one is easily the best I did listen to. Ace.

Jack White - Lazaretto: This is probably my favorite post-White Stripes thing White has done. The album is all over the place in a good way, and White's range and eccentricities are on full display. It works, though, and I hope he keeps following whatever muses are calling to him lately...

---Honorable Mentions---

Trent Reznor and Atticus Rose - Gone Girl OST

Tweedy -Sukierae

Thurston Moore - The Best Day

FKA Twigs - LP1

The Smashing Pumpkins - Monuments to an Elegy

---Best Reissues/Compilations---

The Smashing Pumpkins - Adore Deluxe Box Set

Wilco - Alpha Mike Foxtrot: Rare Tracks 1994-2014 Box Set

Sun Ra - In the Orbit of Ra

(still need to listen to the Dylan box set...)

---Biggest Disappointments---

-Beck - Morning Phase & Beck - Song Reader - Beck has been on a slump for at least the last 3-4 years now. Morning Phase was just predictable and dull, and Song Reader wasn't very good on the whole. Each had some good tracks, but Beck used to make albums that were artistic events. No more.

-Neil Young - Storytone - Neil's earlier "A Letter Home" was good and the solo disc in Storytone has some nice stuff, but the focus of this one - the orchestra disc - is a production nightmare of middling songs.

-Foo Fighters - Sonic Highways - I like the Foos a good deal, but I think the more effort they put into making a special album (e.g. bringing in lots of guests, traveling to various locales, etc.) the worse their albums become. This one was meh, and a huge drop in quality from the excellent Wasting Light.