The Best Albums of 2014 (So Far), pt 3

The Best Albums of 2014 (So Far), pt 3

Here are ten more albums that have been in heavy rotation around Griffin HQ. Check out our last two sets of picks here and here, and make sure you stream the exclusive Spotify playlist of our favorite tracks from these albums at the bottom of the page!

Ryan Adams, Ryan Adams (2014, PAX AM)

Ryan Adams’ new self-titled release is as much fun to listen to as I imagine Ryan and the band had making it. This record is more mature than past releases, and 80s-era rock and roll is king, full with double-tracked electric guitars hard panned in stereo and that shimmery chorus effect we seldom hear. “Stay With Me” has mid-80s Heartbreakers-influence all over it. Listen close and you may think you hear Stevie Nicks singing harmonies. Adams’ vocal cadence in “I Just Might” nods at Springsteen something fierce. ^Miles

Botanist, VI: Flora (2014, The Flenser)

Botanist is a black metal band consisting of bass, drums, hammer dulcimers, and harmonium. If you can give that premise a chance, the result is impossibly layered and complex, yet accessible and catchy. Botanist might sit beside Deafheaven in your playlist, and they do share some emotional, melodic shoegaze tendencies. But Botanist is far weirder, and far more rewarding. The new record, VI: Flora, is my favorite album of the year. The record art features beautiful, peaceful botanical illustrations, while the music inside compresses, expands, builds, and squirms, as if there’s something inside ready to violently bloom. ^Rachel

Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers, The Independent (2014, Emma Java Records)

Clyne is best known for his co-writing of the theme for “King Of The Hill” and the pop/alternative hit “Banditos” when fronting The Refreshments in the mid 90s. Returning to his Southwestern roots, he founded The Peacemakers in 1998. They return with their 7th studio album (and 12th release overall) this year. The songwriting evolves as the entire band gets co-writing credit this round, making for a more well-rounded sound than some previous efforts. Produced by Clyne’s drummer of 19 years, it is full of metaphor and introspection by men coming to terms with no longer being as as young and innocent as they once were. And there is nothing wrong with that. ^Bill D

Mike Doughty, Stellar Motel (2014, Snackbar Records)

The former Soul Coughing frontman delivers 16 all-new cuts  whose production was fueled entirely by fans on PledgeMusic.  Stellar Motel delivers a bassier, hip-hoppier vibe than Doughty’s delivered in while.  Guest turns from Big Dipper, Laura Lee Bishop, Unhellys’s Kim, MC Frontalot, Jay Boogie, Moon Hooch and half-a-dozen others result in a long player that hits way more than it misses. Standout cuts include “When the Night is Long” and “Let Me Lie.” ^Web

Ex Hex, Rips (2014, Merge Records)

Sometimes you just want to rock, and that’s exactly what guitarist Mary Timony and company do on this phenomenal debut LP. Timony, a 25-year veteran of the legendary Washington DC punk scene, hasn’t lost a step since we last heard from her on Wild Flag’s 2011 debut, and her new band (Betsy Wright on bass and Laura Harris on drums) are more than up to the challenge. In a word, they rip, with singalong power-pop rave-ups that are shamelessly, irresistibly fun. ^Mike

Gaslight Anthem, Get Hurt (2014, Island Records)

Gaslight Anthem’s Get Hurt feels more like a sophomore effort than a successful band’s fifth studio album, and I mean that in the best way possible. It’s often with a sophomore album that you’re able to discover what lies at a band’s core. Get Hurt is sonically a far cry from ’59 Sound or even Handwritten, but after a few listens you find that what makes a Gaslight album a Gaslight album is the sincere, earnest songwriting, backed up by a talented, hard-rocking band. Have a little patience with this album and you’ll find a lot to love, even if it’s not the follow-up to ’59 Sound we’ve always hoped for. ^Daniel B

New Pornographers, Brill Bruisers (2014, Matador Records)

Joyous and revelatory, Canadian pop collective The New Pornographers’ Brill Bruisers is packed to the gills with stirring songcraft and swelling harmonies. Chief songwriter Carl Newman sounds like a man unburdened. The lyrics are no less ascerbic, but there’s a persistent optimism in the background for the first time in years. There are plenty of anthems here, and vocalists Neko Case and Dan Bejar have standout moments throughout, but perhaps the most accomplished track is “Backstairs,” a slow-building and hugely rewarding tour de force. ^Mike

Spoon, They Want My Soul (2014, Loma Vista Recordings)

Four years after the disappointing Transference, venerable Austin pop outfit Spoon are back with their 8th LP, and it’s nothing if not a return to form. Despite a couple of missteps (the already-dated-sounding “modern” production of “Outlier”, for example) They Want My Soul is a hugely satisfying pop rock record, highlighted by the standout one-two punch of “Do You” and “Knock Knock Knock”, and especially the title-track, which showcases bandleader Brit Daniel’s charmingly strained vocals and stabbing, staccato guitar. ^Mike

Angus & Julia Stone, Angus & Julia Stone (2014, Republic Records)

Their self-titled third album. Introspective. A well-spent lazy afternoon. The Stones’ voices blend like brother and sister. Probably because they are. First impression: Clear, lucid production, each instrument peeled like a grape, their voices steeped in Holly Golightly. But, lest that ever prove wearing, there’s welcome resonant murkiness reminiscent of the Greenhornes. The album builds through 15 tracks to the energetic All This Love. Then, you get Roses as a quirky bonus. ^Rowley

Weezer, Everything Will Be Alright In The End (2014, Republic Records)

You’re probably going to be hearing a lot that Weezer’s new album is a “return to form” and that is certainly true but maybe not in the way you would expect. I think it would have been easy for Cuomo and Co. to just record “The Cardigan Song” and cash the checks, but what they did instead is so much better and satisfying. This sounds so much like “old-school Weezer” not because the songs sound the same musically (because in fact they sound quite different once you get below the surface) but because Rivers seems to have regained his ability to write vulnerable lyrics with a dash of humor. Too often in the past the songs have been too goofy to relate to, but that isn’t the case here. Even if Everything Will be Alright in the End doesn’t always sound like a “Weezer album” it always feels like one, and that’s what we’ve been missing all these years. ^Daniel B

One response to “The Best Albums of 2014 (So Far), pt 3”

  1. […] Those are our favorites! Tell us about your favorite releases in the comments, and make sure to check out parts one, two, and three! […]

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