Top Albums of 2014

It’s that time of year again when I nerd out and share my 10 favorite (and least favorite) albums that were released during this calendar year. In no particular order (except number 1)...


1. 7 Seconds - Leave a Light On


I have been freaking OUT since this album was released. It was in my headphones non-stop for weeks, before I was able to listen to anything else.  The title track is so good it brings tears to my eyes (and it was so inspiring, that I’ve written not one but two cover versions of the song for my solo shows).  

Highlights: Exceptional, Leave a Light On, Slogan On a Shirt




Dennis from Refused has a new band.  This time it’s a VERY Joy Division-esque project.  The more music Dennis releases, the more underrated I think he is as an artist.  

Highlights: #61, The Promise, Distorted Heartbeat


3. Emily’s Army - Swim EP


This is what Wolf Parade SHOULD sound like if they weren’t trying so hard to be hipsters. (This is Joey Armstrong’s project -- the son of Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day….I’m probably too old to like this as much as I do).

Highlights: the whole thing, it’s only 4 songs


4. Information Society -- Hello World


It’s not the “classic” lineup that made that “pure energy” record everyone bought, but it’s the core 2 guys -- Kurt and Paul -- that were the brainchildren behind the band.  It’s an incredibly solid synth album with great pop songs pretty much beginning to end.  If you like Devo, Cause & Effect or Depeche Mode, I’d recommend picking this up.

Highlights: Land of the Blind, Jonestown, Tomorrow the World


5. Erasure - The Violet Flame


Another solid synth/electronic record released this year.  Very few surprises; this is basically a dance record like you’d expect from Erasure with strong songs from beginning to end.  (The extended version comes with a 2nd disc of live tracks that’s also pretty rad.)

Highlights: Dead of Night, Elevation, Stayed a Little Late Tonight


6. Disclosure - Settle


There were a bazillion electronic/DJ records that came out this year, several of which grabbed my attention. (They often make great background music while I’m working on a website.)  Disclosure was my favorite of the bunch; I found myself streaming this album for several days in a row while working. Eventually I gave up and just bought the physical CD.

Highlights: When A Fire Starts to Burn, Latch, F For You


7. Eels - The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett


Eels are too prolific for my own good. Every year they put out a record and every year it makes my top 10 list and every year I have to try and come up with something clever to say about it. I give up.  (There is an extended version of this CD that comes with a ton of extra songs!)

Highlights: Lockdown Hurricane, Parallels, Agatha Chang


8. The Hold Steady - Teeth Dreams


The Hold Steady strike me as America’s answer to The Weakerthans (from Canada).  Semi-quirky pop songs with great metaphors and references buried in the songs.  This album is no exception.  I get more into this band every time they release a new album.

Highlights: I Hope This Whole Thing Didn’t Frighten You, Spinners, Wait a While



9. The Dead Milkmen - Pretty Music for Pretty People


My head is still trying to comprehend that The Dead Milkmen are releasing albums again. The world is a better place because of it. The 17-year-old-Nolan in me is quite pleased.  

Highlights: Big Words Make the Baby Jesus Cry, Make It Witchy, I’ve Got To Get My Numbers Up



10. 8 Bit Operators -- Tribute to Depeche Mode


A bunch of electronic-synth-dudes got together and recorded covers of Depeche Mode songs that sound like the background music in old Nintendo games. It’s awesome. :)

Highlights: Just Cant Get Enough, Enjoy the Silence, Behind The Wheel



+1. John Gutenberger - Whatever Forever

(Johnny from Far, Two Sheds, Milwaukee, etc.) Recorded years earlier, but just released in 2014.  It’s very much an acoustic-Milwaukee record; very Replacements-esque, which is what I’ve always loved about John’s songwriting and singing.

Highlights: Sad Songs, Someone to Lose, Chuck’s the One



Biggest Disappointment:


Zen Arcadia - Earthquakes