PERFECT|MIDNIGHT|WORLD // Favorite Albums of 2014 (so far)
When the year started, I felt like there was a deluge of strong singles (that list coming next), but great albums seemed to be trickling out at a snail’s pass. Now, six months later, I think it’s safe to say that the two have evened out, as I could have easily made this list three times as large without much trouble. Of course, it’s easy to fall in love with an album on a couple of listens and then slowly forget it’s existence as more new sounds find their way to your rotation. That’s why as I shrunk my favorites list down to twenty for this mid-year round-up, I focused on the albums that have maintained or have shattered expectations. Look over this list, I see two albums in particular that I imagine will be in my top five at year’s end - barring something truly remarkable happening. One of those albums is not such a surprise as I’ve been a huge supporter of the artist since he launched his career back in 2010, with the experimental lo-fi, bedroom R&B classic “Love Remains” - How to Dress Well’s “What is this Heart?” lived up to the promise and landed with an emotional wallop that I’m still absorbed within. The other album came from out of nowhere and caught me completely off guard with it’s “Twin Peaks” inspired take on some stunning mix of new wave, folk, and dark pop - and that album is Haley Bonar’s brilliant “Last War”.
Outside of those two albums, any of these choices could be number three at this point. It’s been a rich six months of music that has fueled me creatively (Alcest, Ought, and The War on Drugs), entertained me thoroughly (Kevin Drew, Future Islands, and Tycho), and even did the me the honor of being genuinely moving and thought provoking (Haley Bonar, Gem Club, The Antlers, and How to Dress Well). I won’t bother with individual critiques at this stage in the year - just some links to stream the albums on Spotify if you’re inclined (please seek out and buy what makes you happy so they will have funds to keep making you happy). I can’t promise that you’ll love everything equally, but i can’t imagine that you’ll find yourself disappointed in the least.
Gem Club’s second album provides a perfect soundtrack for thoughtful, beautiful times. The Boston band reveals new intricacies on In Roses, which sounds more resplendent with more ambient passages. The voices and cello merge and weave together perfectly.
In collecting my most played and favorite songs of the first quarter of 2014, I was kind of shocked by how solid the year has been thus far. I can’t remember a year in recent memory that had so many standout tracks and albums so early. So, in making my selections, I didn’t fuss a whole lot and mostly went with the songs that I’ve played the most, as well as some fresh material that I just couldn’t leave out. I did remove some demo work from some artists who will be releasing material later this year, just so that I can give highlight versions that are intended for mass consumption.
No reason to waste any time. These are the thirty songs that have made the first quarter of 2014 an extra special audio journey. Click the track for streaming audio and in most cases, my original thoughts on the song. Thank you for listening. Enjoy
FAVORITE FIRST QUARTER SONGS (Alphabetical by Artist)
the cells of this body
have all lost their memory
confused by each other
to work out of order
and I hate that they require
the need to be together
how could they go wrong
this terrible anatomy
will surely get the best of me
You ever come across a thing a beauty by surprise? That moment where you think to yourself what have I deserved to experience this moment? With simple chords on the piano, a violin, a horn and a weighted soul Gem Club has created such a moment.