Best of 2014 Music

THE DRUNK MONKEYS

TOP TEN IN MUSIC 2014

 

10.) D’ANGELO

9.) BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN

8.) BASTILLE

7.) TV ON THE RADIO

6.) TAYLOR SWIFT

5.) JACK WHITE

When Jack White released his second solo album Lazaretto under his own label (Third Man Records), it broke the record for most first week vinyl LP sales of all time.  This is likely because of two factors.  The first is that White puts a great deal of thought into all aspects of the vinyl’s production; using only Third Man to record, master, press, and distribute his albums.  The vinyl comes with a free audio download, 40 page booklet and several other novelties to intrigue the casual fan and collector alike.  The second reason for Lazaretto’s success is that White continues to explore new genres and while collaborating with unlikely artist.  For example, while touring, White now takes two separate bands on the road to perform the songs from his two solo albums as well as some classics from the White Stripes.  One band is made up entirely of men while the other is all women.

The self-titled track packs the same thunder you’d expect from the explosive rock White showcased with The Dead Weather or even the White Stripes.  But the song becomes even more delicious after watching the video where bright pools of paint are being shaken and bounced by bass-cranked speakers, while White slides about in a torrent of jump-cuts that echo the song’s stuttered, crunchy beat.  Lazaretto also flashes straight bluegrass melodies in tracks like “Temporary Ground” and includes an instrumental tune, which is rare if not a first for White, called “High Ball Stepper”.  Still a heavily, power-driven guitar track, “High Ball Stepper” sounds like it features dueling female vocalists mimicking an owl.  But the strange thing is that the “vocal” sounds are actually amplified violins warming up for recording.

Aaron Wiegert, Poetry Editor

4.) JENNY LEWIS

The Voyager isn’t remarkably different from Acid Tongue, Jenny Lewis’ last solo album, at least musically. If anything, it represents a perfecting of rather than departure from Lewis’ updated take on the 70’s Laurel Canyon sound that’s been a part of her work since More Adventurous.

But The Voyager does find Jenny in a more nostalgic state of mind, as she looks back on the life of a Hollywood kid and contemplates her own childless mid-30’s. “Late Bloomer” in particular shows a newfound strength in lyrical storytelling, along with the prettiest melody on a record full of pretty melodies.

Matthew Guerruckey, Editor-in-Chief

3.) ST. VINCENT

2.) SUN KIL MOON

Benji, the title of the most recent Sun Kil Moon release, is an allusion to a dog movie from the seventies as well as a reference to Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie, who is a colleague of Sun Kil Moon frontman, Mark Kozelek.  “Ben’s My Friend” a lengthy, upbeat track contrasts a laid back, even tropical atmosphere, with the verbose, relentless nature of slam-poetry or free-style rap.  Verses like “There’s a thin line between a middle aged guy with a backstage pass and a guy with a gut hangin’ ‘round like a jackass” are consistent with Kozelek’s observational, even prosaic approach to songwriting, but on Benji Kozelek fleshes out a great deal of his family and personal history.  He does this with the special detachment of a storyteller whose experience with aging has nudged him closer to Death’s inevitable maw.

“Richard Ramirez Died Today of Natural Causes” was written and composed because of a text message Kozelek received from his girlfriend.  The mysterious guitar tuning and eerily repetitive chord progression creates a strange sense of comfort, like a very real haunted house, where you’re introduced to the fear of living with a serial killer on the loose, while having the comfort of knowing that you’re not at any real risk.

The bulk of the songs on Benji are about death.  “Carissa” is an ode to a cousin who died young in a freak accident.  The irony of the song is that “Carissa”, whom Kozelek vaguely knew, has brought the memory of Carissa to the conscience of so many people, her life now taking on a new meaning that could not have been conveyed even by those who knew her best, as Kozelek will “sing [her] name across every sea.”

Aaron Wiegert, Poetry Editor

1.) WEIRD AL YANKOVIC

Weird Al has been a well-known musician and parody songwriter for several decades, but it seemed like his last really big album was destined to be 1993’s ‘Bad Hair Day.’  Then something amazing happened.  He announced that he would release one last full-length album in connection with eight, yes eight music videos coming out a day apart from each other.

What followed was his best work yet, bringing us the only good to come out of “Blurred Lines” in the form of “Word Crimes”, a song destined to make grammar nazis happy until the end of time.  Songs such as “Tacky”, “First World Problems”, and “Handy” served to remind the world why there doesn’t seem to be any other good parody songwriter.  Why would we need another one when we already have Weird Al?

Taras David Butrej, staff writer 

LISTS OF NOTE 

AARON WIEGERTPoetry Editor 

1.) Sun Kil Moon

2.) Jack White

3.) TV on the Radio

4.) Beck

5.) New Pornographers

6.) Clear Plastic Masks

7.) Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

8.) Haunted Hearts

9.) Mark Kozelek

10.) Ben Fields

GABRIEL RICARDFilm Editor

1.) Bruce Springsteen

2.) Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

3.) Janelle Monáe

4.) Jenny Lewis

5.) Foster the People

6.) St. Vincent

7.) Pixies

8.) Weird Al Yankovic

9.) Against Me!

10.) Foo Fighters

NATHANIEL TOWEREditor, Bartleby Snopes

1.) Run the Jewels

2.) The Afghan Whigs

3.) TV on the Radio

4.) Ben Howard

5.) St. Vincent

6.) The Antlers

7.) How to Dress Well

8.) Spoon

9.) Sharon Van Etten

10.) Future Islands