It is that time of year again. Lots of great music this year. All in all, I had 89 albums to reduce down to 10. The last 5 cuts were most difficult. They included (in band-name alphabetical order):
- “High Noon” by the Arkells
- “Sleeping Operator” by the Barr Brothers
- “Shines For All the People” by Mike Farris
- “The Future Happens Anyway” by NQ Arbuckle
- “Departures” by The Once.
Just a fantastic year for music! So, here we go with the top 10 goodness…
10. “Shrink Dust” by Chad VanGaalen. My friend Jason also had this album on his top 10 of 2014 list and his words actually very much mirror how I feel about this dude, and this album. A few years ago, Jason, his wife, and I went to the Exchange to see Chad and his band play. It was hands down, the worst show I have ever seen. Loud, obnoxious, out of tune, and the man and his band seemingly laughing about it. It could be their thing to do so but at $30 per ticket, I expect a little more. Regardless, Chad and Co. make very beautiful music. I try hard to dislike him, but I suppose not that hard as this album is a delight in my ears. My favs include: “Weighted Sin”, “Monster”, and “Where Are You.”
09. “Work and Love” by Elliot Brood. Casey Laforet, Mark Sasso, and Stephen Pitkin really do know how to make beautiful music. I’ve seen these fine lads multiple times and each time does not disappoint. Just good ol’ toe tapping, wonderful music. Actually, the last time I saw these folks was at the Exchange and they had the whole crowd jumping up and down. I actually felt the floor flexing! (crazy but strangely excellent!) My favs include: “Little Ones”, “Jigsaw Heart”, “Each Other’s Kids”, and “Tired”
08. “South” by Blackie & the Rodeo Kings. Those who know me well know that Tom, Stephen, and Colin are huge influences in my music. Especially Tom and his deep dark voice (a lot like my musical voice in Burns & Maciag). Really, everything these fine folks do is gold. This album is simply a delight. It is more folky than their last few albums, which is likely why it really stood out for me this year. It seems the older I get, the more folk I get! Although I still also do love the heavy metal. As Rob Zombie said, something along the lines of “once a metalhead, always a metalhead.” I digress (ha). Favs on this album include: “Reinventing the Wheel of Love”, “North”, “South”, “I’d Have to be a Stone”, and “I’m Still Lovin’ You.”
07. “Help Your Self” by Sean McCann. When I first heard the news of Great Big Sea (GBS) sailing out the harbour I must admit I was in shock. I simply love GBS. Their music will always be in my playlists. I only wish I had seen them during the farewell tour. They came around these parts late last year but it was on a work night in Moose Jaw so I opted not to go (shit!). Although GBS has sailed away, the members are still individually making tunes. Alan has a new one coming out in January (looking so forward to this one) and Sean had this one in 2014. What a fantastic album this is! It is new and refreshing. Favs include: “Run”, “Wish you Well”, “Stronger”, and “Fire.”
06. “Once More ‘Round the Sun” by Mastodon. Here we go – MeTaL!! I love love love these dudes. I became a fan of them on their last album, “The Hunter” and have since got all their albums – all of which are AWEsome! “Once More ‘Round the Sun” does not disappoint. Fantastico! As you’ll see in the video below, there is a humour to their tunes. The official video for “The Motherload” is so hilarious, poking a bit of fun at the “twerk” (I must admit, I have turned into my dad lately – not really understanding the kids of the current generation…I mean , twerk? …WTF….ha). Favs include: “The Motherload”, “Tread Lightly”, “Ashes in the Deep”, “High Road”, and “Ember City”
05. “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” by Against Me! We’re midway here folks. I must admit, I wasn’t sure what to think of this album at first when I first heard about the lead singers transgenderism – not that I have difficulty with such things, just that I had been a fan for so long and, let’s face it, this is a pretty radical change. That all said, whatever you think of things like this, this album is classic Against Me! and it rocks ever so much. Favs include: “Black Me Out”, “True Trans Soul Rebel”, “Transgender Dysphoria Blues”, “Unconditional Love”, and “Dead Friend.”
04. “They Promised You Mercy” by Amelia Curran. Amelia is one of those rare souls that you come across in life, a person that just radiates all that is good. I’ve seen her perform a few times and each time was, simply put, magical. Her last album also was in my top 10. This album is no different – just wonderful. Favs include: “I am the Night”, “Song on the Radio”, “Somebody Somewhere”, “Coming For You” (this one is just WoW!), and “Fables & Troubles”
03. “Morning Phase” by Beck. I must say, I was pretty skeptical of this release by Beck. My memories of Beck only really include “Loser” – oh the 90’s 😉 That all changed on my first listen of this so very beautiful album. The layered acoustics and airing atmosphere. All I can say is WOW. It is just an all around wonderful album. I love every song on this album but if I were to pick favs, “Blue Moon”, “Country Down”, “Morning”, and “Blackbird Chain.”
02. “Indie Cindy” by the Pixies. Ok, getting down to the wire now here ladies and gents. After a crazy long hiatus, Frank Black and Co. return with this most excellent album. I might even dare to say that this is my favourite Pixies album (this is just crazy talk…bah to you says I…ha!). From the opening “BOOM” track to “Indie Cindy” to “Blue Eyed Hexe” to “Snakes” – this whole album is an ear yummy masterpiece (that’s right, ear yum yum!). Between this one and my number 1 album below are the narrowest of margins. Favs are those mentioned plus “Greens and Blues” and “Magdelena.” All of it really – so good!
01. “Mended with Gold” by The Rural Alberta Advantage. “Our Love – Our Love Love Love, Love Will Bring Ya Down, Love Love Love, Love will Burn it Down” Right from the opening track of this fantastic album, it had me. I saw these fine folks a couple years back at the Knox church with Dan Mangan. Loved them then, loved them before, still loving them now. “Mended with Gold” is just as excellent as their first 2 albums. Such energy, such great musicianship. Their song writing as well, simply wonderful. Do yourself a favour and pick up this little beaut. On the 33 it spins every other day and in the google play it is a constant. As I said above, between this album and the Pixies “Indie Cindy”, I constantly had them playing and will likely to continue to have them for all time. Every song is a delight but if picking favs is my thing, they would include: “Terrified”, “Our Love”, “Runners in the Night”, “On the Rocks”, and “Vulcan, AB”, and “Not Love or Death.”
Well, there it is. Yet another fantastic year in music. Actually, it was just a fantastic year in general. A lot happened – first home purchase (I’m still getting used to this one), marriage to my lovely Bean, new job! (I am a Supervisor/Team Lead!!…wha!!!! – but I am loving the job – helping people succeed at work brings so much satisfaction), trip to NFLD (amazing place). Thesis still is in the works, but hopefully soon now. I really need to do a 2014 year in review with pics. After the wedding/shindig thing, Newfoundland was the most amazing time. What a wonderful place! Here is bean and me dancing to the fine sounds of the Bystanders (thanks so much to those gents too, and my musical life partner Jason)
Before signing off for another year, I always say maybe I’ll blog more in the coming year – and maybe I will! 🙂 But just in case not – stay well out there everyone!
Signing off for now – tMac