Although I have previously posted a rather buggery filled list of music that impressed me in 2014, I thought it was time for me to share a more personal list of music that touched me in 2014. There was a lot of great music released in 2014 from both new and established artists. I initially made a list in early December 2014 of my favourite eleven albums and upon reflection I’m still confident that they are the best eleven albums of 2014. After much consideration I want to present to you my top 11 albums of 2014:
1. Once More ‘Round The Sun by Mastodon
Words will never do this band justice – it is a simple as this for me, they are the coolest band of the past decade. Everyone else pretends to evolve the idea of rock music but only one band to me has truly done it and that band is Mastodon. With “Once More ‘Round The Sun” Mastodon illustrated that they are still the only group of artists in the modern era successfully taking the idea of the riff into bold new places. Whenever I lose hope in humanity I put on a Mastodon record and remember that there is still good air to breathe.
2. Bloodstone and Diamonds by Machine Head
There are some bands that come into your life and change your whole world. They get ingrained in your DNA and shape every inch of your personality, giving you the space to grow and evolve with a feverish desire for life. Their music becomes more than a hobby or simple entertainment, it becomes religious with each new album like a Gospel. A lot of these bands are rooted in your youth and even as you get older, you still have the space to inherit sonic and emotional revolution. One band who is deeply ingrained in my DNA is Machine Head and it is a journey that began in late December 1997 when I was just 14 years old.
For the past 17 years of my life Machine Head have been a constant. Regardless of what I’m listening to or what new movement of sound I’m freaking out on Machine Head remain with me, with my love for the band continuing to grow as each year passes. They sounded just as vital in 2014 as they did to me in 1997 and I am serious when I say that I owe my life to them.
In 2014 the band released their eighth and quite possibly greatest album “Bloodstone and Diamonds.” Machine Head may just be a “metal” band to the snobs but fuck them I say, there is a purity and intense amount of art that goes into the music they make. Further to this point, I don’t think I’ve encountered a band, either metal or non-metal, who matches the amount of honesty and emotion that they summons. They are indeed blessed with a special gift and I believe that any well-adjusted appreciator of music needs to invest in the wonderful sound that Machine Head makes.
That kind of special power that they wield is all over “Bloodstone and Diamonds” is one of the most positive things existing in this world at the moment and I know that I’m not the only one who has been saved by what they have created with this album. As a human being I want to provide nothing but love and light to the world but I understand all too well how light and dark need each other to survive. I am never going to be foolish enough to only focus on the light and the artists who only speak of the light side of life because in all honesty to find true redemption you must go deep into the darkness that fills you and the world, that is the only way to rise and be a beacon of hope and light. So once again thank you Machine Head for all you did for me growing up and for giving me the power to survive in. I owe you my life and an extra cheers to Robb Flynn for helping me become the man that I am today. I can’t wait for the future and all the wonderful music that Machine Head will go on to make from here.
3. .5: The Gray Chapter by Slipknot
Once upon a time about seven years ago I had a friend whose name was Emily. We were very close and I adored her, mainly because she laughed at all my jokes and told me all her secrets. There are a lot of pointless folk music artists in my collection as a result of that friendship, mainly because I was trying to appear as well adjusted and sensitive but you know there is only so much fucking “IRON AND WINE” and “BON IVER” you can listen to before you require something with a bit more substance. Anyway, the point of this story is that on one of our magical adventures together we were discussing the whole “what albums are you currently addicted to” bullshit that comes with a boy / girl friendship. As I thought we had reached a point of comfort I raved to her about how the brand new SLIPKNOT album “All Hope Is Gone” was all I found myself listening to and how much I had loved them since 1999. My passion for that album and the band as a whole kind of overtook me and I just went full on about the intricacies as to why they are one of the most important bands to ever exist. After I pulled out of my passionate speech I fixated on Emily’s face and it had this rather concern yet disgusted look on it. She looked almost ashamed to be sitting there with me and uttered a sentence that has stayed with me and that sentence is as follows – “But Dan, isn’t it rather childish to still like something as juvenile as Slipknot, maybe it is time to grow up.” This was then bookended with her launching into a session of pity laughter like she almost felt sorry for me, like I needed some kind of guidance on her behalf for being a fan of Slipknot.
That was seven years ago, I’m no longer friends with Emily and this story helps illustrate why a band like SLIPKNOT is so important to not just me but a lot of other people. In short, the brand new SLIPKNOT album is a masterpiece that annihilates anyone and everything.
4. Self-Titled by Ryan Adams
If Ryan Adams career had occurred in the 1960’s or 1970’s he would have been a household name and an absolute superstar. Unfortunately we don’t live in an era where humans respect art or good songwriting anymore. People are happy to continue to disrespect art by stealing it and because of that humans like Ryan Adams are pushed to the sidelines and great records like the one he released in 2014 go largely unnoticed. This is a record that just blew me away and renewed my faith in songwriting once again. Just a solid set of songs with incredible melodies that showcase that Ryan is at his best when he is nursing a broken heart.
5. The Best Day by Thurston Moore
Another solid movement of noise meditations that are saturated in heartbreak and youthful optimism and proof that growing old doesn’t mean getting less radical.
6. Tied To A Star by J Mascis
I honestly believe that it is impossible for J Mascis to release a bad record or write a bad song – this album is further proof that he is flawless
7. Self-Titled by +++ (Crosses)
When you’re looking at life through innocent eyes it seems love and desire are quite simple, but sometimes she wounds and it’s so very smooth. That is when an album like +++ (Crosses) self-titled debut album sounds best, when you are wounded yet optimistic. This is the kind of album that fires up your romantic imagination making you feel like that somewhere out there she waits and that 84 will be worth living for.
8. Down IV – EP Two by Down
It always bothers me when I read some clickbait bullshit article on any online music website about the “death of rock n roll” in 2014. I raged quite loudly when that clean cut neat fuckwit Artic Monkey’s singer gave his big speech about “bringing back rock n roll” and all that earlier this year. The reason it annoys me so much is because I hate to break it to all of you, but the real enemy of rock n roll is the ignorant music listener who is too much of a fucking idiot to look a bit deeper. Considering we live in the age of the internet I would have assumed that finding new music for people would have been so much easier but apparently somehow all the good “rock music” just magically disappeared. There is an ample amount of good rock music being made on both a mainstream and underground level and it isn’t hard to find. In fact in 2014 a lot of my listening has been dominated by amazing rock records and the brand new DOWN release – DOWN IV EP 2 – is at the top of that list. The recent release strategy from DOWN of releasing four separate EP’s is paying off dividends and has seen them put out some of their strongest material to date. On EP 2 we see DOWN continue down the path started on EP 1 but it feels like there is a bit more of a progressive feel to these songs and a total ode to all that is glorious about Doom Metal. Only a band like DOWN could re-invent, re-interpret and total throw the Sabbath sound into the future – as displayed so beautifully on the EP’s fourth track “Conjure” – and still make it sound so effortless. In 2014 DOWN are leading the pack in terms of what modern rock n roll is and unlike those clean cut neat folk in Artic Monkeys they don’t give a fuck what decade it is – DOWN are rock n roll lifers who will continue to create long after the modern trends have dried up and fizzled out.
9. Indie Cindy by Pixies
On “Indie Cindy” The Pixies are releasing music for music’s sake and that joy beams off of each track. Whether they lose or gain fans is irrelevant because they have already done so much to infect the DNA of independent rock music and shape it for the better. I have to be honest and say that when I’m in the mood for Pixies music these days I put on this record because it gives so much more than the previous discography and picks up where the band left us. The songs on “Indie Cindy” are new classics waiting to happen and with hindsight I truly believe that humans will salute the brilliance of this album. I cannot fault it personally and even with the Kim Deal sized hole in some sections it never becomes boring or lacking. Having Kim’s influence on some of this music would have indeed taken it beyond the stratosphere but at the same time the songs do not suffer as a result and I personally yearn for what Kim does with The Breeders moving forward. In 2014 it is nice to have one of the innovators of guitar rock return with something fresh, exciting and futuristic that serves the legacy and gives us a glimpse at what is to come.
10. Self-Titled by EYEHATEGOD
The woman who marries me will love me deeply because of my appreciation for the deep intense heavy sludge blues of a band like EYEHATEGOD and will share in the sheer joy that their dirge provides. This album was a welcomed return from the pioneers of all things sludge and doom.
11. Phantom Radio by Mark Lanegan Band
Another set of dusty electronica from another human being who is incapable of releasing a bad album – a wonderful late night treat for those who remain haunted by catholic school girls.
Here are a bunch of records that also rocked my world in 2014:
By: Dan Newton