I thought I’d do a non-Beatley post today, and focus on some of my favourite music of last year. Last year was the year that I started to get into contemporary music, and I now foster an intense love of modern indie music of all kinds, as well as my great passion for classic rock. (Though The Beatles will always be my favourite band.) I’ve been meaning to do this post for a couple of months, but I’ve really only found a chance to write it now! (Next year, I will try not to do this post 2 months into 2016…) So today, I will list my five favourite albums — whether I judged them via an LP or a YouTube playlist or something in between — of the year that was. And let the list begin!
5. Lost In The Dream, The War on Drugs
This is The War on Drugs’ third album, and it was apparently recorded over two years and was rewritten many times! But it resulted in this wonderful album… According to main songwriter Adam Granduciel, Lost In The Dream was basically like a solo album for him. Some of the main influences for the album include Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and synthy ’80s pop, which I can definitely hear. A wonderful album!
FAVOURITE SONGS: ‘Lost In The Dream’, ‘Eyes To The Wind’, ‘Disappearing’.
4. Morning Phase, Beck
As I’m sure most people have heard by now, Beck’s latest effort won Album of The Year at The Grammys, and deservedly so! (And as for that Beck/Kanye West rubbish, Kanye is definitely the person who needs to “respect artistry” here.) I am very happy that it won! I only listened to this album a short while ago (on a plane, in fact), and it instantly became one of my favourites. I love the folky, “soaring” feel of the album, and Beck’s vocals are gorgeous! As written above, very much the deserved Album of The Year winner in a very mainstream-orientated Grammys night.
FAVOURITE TRACKS: ‘Morning’, ‘Say Goodbye’, ‘Unforgiven’, ‘Waking Light’, ‘Blackbird Chain’
3. Angus and Julia Stone, Angus and Julia Stone
According to my faithful triple j 2014 Annual (triple j is Australia’s radio station for all things left of mainstream. Also the home of the triple j Hottest 100, which you have probably heard of.), Angus and Julia Stone — two indie-folk-orientated siblings from Sydney — had decided to never play together again in 2012. But then, an American producer named Rick Rubin heard one of the duo’s songs and was determined to do whatever it took to work with the two. He managed to get them back together, and this piece of indie perfection was the result!
I particularly love the beautiful guitar-work, the keyboards/synths, the chiming indie-pop feel, the album’s air of danceablility and of course the exquisite vocals from both parties! (The familiar accents are also nice.) A great album to come out of a great country…
FAVOURITE SONGS: ‘Get Home’, ‘Death Defying Acts’, ‘Other Things’, ‘Do Without’, ‘All This Love’
2. Alvvays, Alvvays
I discovered the debut album of Canadian indie-pop band Alvvays (pronounced ‘always’) after reading an interview with their vocalist and guitarist Molly Rankin in my favourite magazine. I checked them out on SoundCloud, and after listening to ‘Adult Diversion’ (one of the “better-known” tracks on the album) on repeat for months, I decided to listen to the actual album. Laden with jangling guitars, synths, thumping drums, a touch of distortion and beautiful, quintessentially indie vocals, I have a feeling that Alvvays will quickly become the next big thing in indie pop! I can’t wait for their second album.
FAVOURITE SONGS: ‘Adult Diversion’, ‘Dives’ and ‘Atop A Cake’. (Another song — ‘Underneath Us’ — was included in Australia as a bonus track. I would also include this song in here, if it were part of the core album.)
And, my favourite album of 2014 is [insert drum roll here]…
1. Turn Blue, The Black Keys
The recording of garage/blues/indie duo The Black Keys’ eighth studio album began in early 2013, during a break from the world tour corresponding with their previous album, El Camino. As with their previous album, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney (guitar/vocals and drums respectively) had not written any of the songs before recording, and simply wrote them on the day of recording. The album was to be produced by Brian Burton (aka Danger Mouse). But Auerbach and Carney had different ideas on how the album was to pan out. Things got a little tense between the two and recording was put off for a few months. Later in the year, the duo recommenced recording in California, and until about March 2014, they — along with Burton — created what would be the most psychedelic, sprawling and self indulgent (in the best way possible!) album of their career. The album is based around the theme of a difficult breakup, which reflected the nasty divorce that Auerbach was experiencing in 2013.
This was the first Black Keys album I bought. In fact, it was the first album less than 30 years old that I had bought at all. I love it for it’s sprawling nature, the searing guitar solos on ‘Weight of Love’, the spiky synths on ‘Fever’, the chiming bells, the ringing falsetto counter-vocals, just everything… And it introduced me to one of my very favourite bands. So that, my friends, is why Turn Blue is my favourite album of that great big year that was!
FAVOURITE SONGS: ‘Weight Of Love’, ‘Fever’, ‘In Our Prime’, ‘Gotta Get Away’, ‘Bullet In The Brain’, ‘Waiting On Words’…
And my award for best film soundtrack of 2014 goes to…
Boyhood, various artists
Boyhood is definitely my favourite film at the moment, and its awesome soundtrack is good enough to rival the film itself. As the film was made over 12 years — spanning the life of main character Mason from ages 6-18 — there’s music from all the periods included in that time frame (plus more)! Whether it be a party backed by The Black Keys’ ‘She’s Long Gone’, or a six year old Mason trying his hand at graffiti to The Hives’ ‘Hate To Say I Told You So’, visiting a club to Gotye and Kimbra’s ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’, or the end credits rolling to Arcade Fire’s ‘Deep Blue’, with some Cat Power and Vampire Weekend in between — even a Beatle-related scene backed by ‘Band On The Run’ (!) — the soundtrack is perfect in every way. (Except for maybe the inclusion of ‘Good Girls Go Bad’. I hate that song.) A soundtrack-made-in-heaven to supplement a film-made-in-heaven, in my humble opinion.
FAVOURITE TRACKS: The entire thing (except for ‘Good Girls Go Bad’ and ‘Crazy’ by Gnarls Barkley)!
And so, what were your favourite albums of 2014? Please send me a postcard or drop me a line, stating your point of view!
A few contenders for my favourite album of this year have already come up! I have a feeling that Pond’s Man, It Looks Like Space Again will make my shortlist, and the tracks I have heard on triple j from Twerps’ Range Anxiety sound pretty good, too. But Tame Impala are releasing a new album this year. Though no-one except for Kevin Parker has actually heard it, I think I already have a possible Number One on my hands…
And we have an important Beatle-y celebration coming — it would have been George’s 72nd birthday this Tuesday! Happy birthday, Georgie! I shall post my birthday post for him probably on Tuesday (if I get a chance)! But until then, good day sunshine 🙂