My 5 Favourite Albums of 2014

Or my opinion, anyway...

Or my opinion, anyway…

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

lost in the dream

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

beck morning phase

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

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

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

black keys turn blue

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 music from the motion picture

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 🙂

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My Favourite Beatles Covers

The Beatles filming the promotional videos for 'Rain' and 'Paperback Writer' -- also hiding behind cellophane... The back cover of 'Revolver' is from the same group of shots.

The Beatles filming the promotional videos for ‘Rain’ and ‘Paperback Writer’ — also hiding behind cellophane… The back cover of ‘Revolver’ is from the same group of shots.

When I first became a Beatles fan, I hated Beatles covers more than I hated One Direction. I vehemently detested them. But as I slowly realised that I was being rather hypocritical as I was making really bad (Really. Bad.) covers myself using the Smart Instruments on GarageBand (this was before I started playing guitar), I began to appreciate good Beatles covers more and more^. And over the past few months, I’ve discovered that plenty of my other favourite artists have done Beatles covers. And now I really love listening to reinterpretations of some of my favourite songs! I decided today that I would compile a list of my favourites, an idea I’ve had for a while, and so here it is. I’ll start off with my favourite Beatles cover of all time…

‘She Said, She Said’ — The Black Keys

This gem came off The Black Keys’ — made up of Dan Auerbach (guitar and vocals) and Patrick Carney (drums) — very first album, The Big Come Up, which was released in 2002. (The album was recorded in the basement of the house that Carney rented, by the way.) ‘She Said, She Said’ is my favourite Beatles song, and I love how the Keys turn the psychedelic masterpiece into a wonderful bluesy rocker. The guitar is amazing, and Auerbach’s distorted vocals match the style very well. This was also the song that introduced me to The Black Keys in the first place, so I have two things to thank it for! This is not the first time the Black Keys have been mentioned on this blog, and it certainly won’t be the last…

‘Run For Your Life’ — Arcade Fire

This is a live cover, but it’s still damn good, in my opinion. It highlights the heaviness of the original (something which isn’t really shown all that much) and they really rock it. Well done, Arcade Fire. (Arcade Fire are an indie pop/rock band from Canada, by the way. They rose to notoriety with their first album, Funeral, though I think the 2010 The Suburbs is their best.)

‘I Saw Her Standing There’ — Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeroes

Sort of a bluegrass reinterpretation of the first song off The Beatles’ first album, I really like this cover. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes (an indie folk band from Los Angeles) covered this song as a part of an album titled Beatles Reimagined. As with The Black Keys’ cover of ‘She Said She Said’, Edward Sharpe’s (a.k.a. Alex Ebert) voice really lends itself to the style of the cover. A job well done, I must say.

‘Oh! Darling’ — Florence and the Machine

I found this cover whilst bumbling around YouTube one day, and it’s really good! Florence and the Machine stay quite faithful to the original, but Florence Welch’s amazing voice gives the song an entire different feel. The lead guitar runs with that awesome reverb are also really enjoyable… 🙂

‘Hey Bulldog’ — Dave Grohl

This cover came out of a certain Grammys tribute from about a year ago (was it really that long ago?!), and this is definitely my favourite cover to originate from the night. Dave and the backing band really rock one of my favourite Beatles songs out really hard. Those drums, the guitar, the keyboard… It almost could be a Foo Fighters song!

‘Happiness is a Warm Gun’ — The Breeders

The only Breeders song I’ve heard is this particular cover, but it certainly makes me want to go and check out more of their stuff! This cover gives the song a more grungy feel, though — as with Florence and the Machine — still stays quite close to the original. And a female singer! Yay!

‘I Wanna Be Your Man’ — The Stones

Is this really a cover, or is it not? Of course, John and Paul wrote it, but The Stones released the song first. For the purpose of this list, I’ll call it a cover. But anyway, The Stones’ version of this song has the distinction of being the only Beatles cover I prefer to the original, though The Black Keys’ cover is my favourite cover. (Sorry, Ringo.) That really awesome slide guitar shows how good a lead guitarist Brian Jones was. (I wish I could play like that!) And Mick Jagger’s vocals are completely wild. Really groovy version. (This was also the song that gave The Stones their first hit. George recommended them to Decca after good ol’ Dick Rowe of the same record company told Brian Epstein a couple of years earlier, ‘Guitar groups are on the way out, Mr Epstein…’ Hmm… No comment.)

And finally, the last cover…

‘Dear Prudence’ — Siouxsie and the Banshees

I have many music-related things to thank my mum for. (Introducing me to The Velvet Underground and The Violent Femmes would be two examples.) This cover is another example. Almost a year ago, I was listening/playing ‘Dear Prudence’, and Mum remembered that Siouxsie and the Banshees had covered it. We played the cover on YouTube. I believe it was the first Beatles cover I ever liked. So thank you, Mum!

And so here we go! Got any other Beatles covers you like? Feel free to use the comments section below! And ’till my next post, good day sunshine! 🙂

^ Of course, there are still some really bad ones — not mentioning any names, *cough*OneDirectionJustinBieberMileyCyrusblahblah*cough*…

The latest additions to my record collection

Good morning (or whatever), good morning, good morning-g! (Nothing to do save your life, call the wife in…)

Yesterday was an absolutely beautiful day in Adelaide (today is just plain hot), so my mum and I went into the city. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know I collect Beatles LPs, so it’ll be no surprise to you that I had been saving my cash for weeks for a trip to my favourite record shop — which is in Rundle Mall (which is in the city, if you’re not Australian). I haven’t been in there for at least three months, so it was nice to buy some more records. I’m known in there as The Beatles girl! But anyway, here are my purchases.

1. Though I bought a couple of non-Beatles records, my priority was (obviously) to buy a Beatles LP. And I got Rubber Soul! I already own this album…on iTunes…so it is really nice to have it on vinyl!

rubber soul lp one

If you look extra carefully at the image below, you might see that the record is not from here (Australia), or England, or America — but from Uruguay! It’s in mono, and though there are no backflaps, some scouting around on the web indicates that it is a first pressing, and the label shows it was released there on Odeon Records (The Beatles’ record label in Japan, too). I won’t go into much detail now, but here’s the back of the album and the LP itself. It is absolutely bee-yoo-ti-ful, in my opinion – it might just be my favourite of all the ones we bought!

rubber soul lp two

2. You might remember from a couple of posts ago that I mentioned that I liked an alternative group called The Black Keys. Well, I bought their latest album Turn Blue (from May 2014, so it’s new vinyl — the album debuted at number one in Australia!) yesterday, as well! The Black Keys are actually playing Adelaide next year, but the stupid venue says ‘for over-eighteens only’. Grr. I really wanted to see them. But the website did say ‘unless otherwise advertised’, so I can only hope it will be advertised otherwise. But anyway, the album is completely and utterly groovy — I would highly recommend it to anyone who really enjoys psych/alt rock. I have had the riff from the ridiculously-catchy ‘Fever’ stuck in my head ever since I listened to the LP last night. And I think it is really cool that some modern artists still release on vinyl — if/when (hopefully the latter!) I am a recording musician, I will be sure to release actual LPs, too.

turn blue black keys one

Turn Blue came with a large poster of the cover (above) AND the album in CD format (plus the beautiful cardboard sleeve), so good value for $40AUD!

turn blue black keys two

3. We have a loyalty card for the shop at which we buy our records, and we had reached ten stamps on our card! I got an Australian-edition first pressing of the Requests EP with the extra money, which was released in 1964 (between the Long Tall Sally EP and Beatles For Sale, I’d say) and plays ‘Long Tall Sally’, ‘I Call Your Name’, ‘Please Mister Postman’ and ‘Boys’. As with Rubber Soul, I won’t go into too much detail now (I need material for their respective ‘MBRC’ posts!), but here it is.

requests one

requests two

4. And finally, my mum bought a 2014-pressing (in other words, a new vinyl) of The Velvet Underground and Nico! Hope she’ll let me borrow it, ‘cos I really like The Velvet Underground… 🙂 On the original versions of this album, one could peel off the iconic yellow banana, and below would be a pink, peeled banana. Sadly, this doesn’t go for the new versions.

the velvet underground and nico one

Our version came with a fancy (well, not quite as fancy as Turn Blue) paper sleeve. It seems that most new LPs come with paper sleeves (as opposed to plastic ones) — my 2013 Help! did, too. But that Help! doesn’t exactly work…but you’ll have to wait for the Help! edition of ‘My Beatles Record Collection’ for that story (I have it on first-ed. British mono, too)… Our (or my mum’s, rather) Velvet Underground and Nico also has a gatefold sleeve, but I won’t post an image of that (probably will come up on Google if you type ‘the velvet underground and nico gatefold’).

the velvet underground and nico two

So there we go — the trip my mum and I made to my favourite record shop in an LP sleeve! (And tangerinetrees99 desperately trying to invent her own cliches…)

And that’s my post for the weekend. I’ll probably do my planned ‘The Rubber Soul Jacket Appreciation Society’ post next (but who knows? 😉 ), but this Thursday is John’s birthday! Happy birthday, Johnny! But of course he will get an extra special post — ‘extra special’ for my favourite Beatle! But until Tuesday/Wednesday, good day sunshine 🙂