Lists, Mundo, Mundo Musique, The Revue, Year-End Lists — December 22, 2014 at 9:00 am

50 Favourite Albums of 2014: Sturgill Simpson, Sun Kil Moon, A Sunny Day in Glasgow, Temples, and Tiny Ruins

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We’re down to the final two days of our Countdown with five more albums to list. The S’es still dominate with three more today. But first, if you lost track of the album, you can find them in the following articles: Alvvays to Benjamin Booker; Chad VanGaalen to Doug Keith; Dream Boat to Hamilton Leithauser; Hiss Golden Messenger to Jesse Marchant; Mac DeMarco to Ought; Parquet Courts to Royal Blood; S. Carey to Snowmine; and Spoon to Strand of Oaks.

 

STURGILL SIMPSON, “METAMODERN SOUNDS IN COUNTRY MUSIC”

Within the first 30 seconds of Sturgill Simpson’s opening track, “Turtles All The Way Down”, we are immediately awakened to the realization that there is a new voice in country music. On this track, Simpson’s own Kentucky-born, coal-mining grandfather declares the introduction of Metamodern Sound in Country Music. For years, decade even, no other genre of music has suffered more than country music with so much lifeless, almost soulless execution from the Nashville-sound machine. The arrival of Simpson, however, has brought a remarkably fresh and authentic vibe back to the field at the same time creating a genre-defining and even genre-busting album. It’s not just one of our favourite or best albums of the year, but it is one of the best country albums in a very long time.

SUN KIL MOON, “BENJI”

Mark Kozelek has always had a knack for songwriting and has a unique voice that one does not easily forget. He has released numerous albums first with Red House Painters, under his own name, and, of course, as Sun Kil Moon. With this year’s release of Benji, we almost received an unedited biographical album of Kozelek singing about death within his family, the Newton tragedy, fear of his mother dying, and growing up in Ohio. Even though he sings about every detail, including eating at places like Red Lobster and Panera Bread and meeting Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie, the songwriting is raw, honest, and gritty, and the album is among the most emotionally-charged of the year.

 

A SUNNY DAY IN GLASGOW, “SEA WHEN ABSENT”

Some albums intend to literally move you with intense beats and catchy melodies. Then there are albums that intend to take you to dreamy landscapes that can only be visualized with your eyes close. This moment is best evidenced during A Sunny Day in Glasgow‘s “Crushin'”, the second single from their dreamy fourth album, Sea Went Absent. The album has a timeless quality, adapting psychedelic and synth-pop of the ’80s and ’90s and blending them with the multiple layers of today’s indie sound. And what makes the album even more impressive is that it was created with the band members living in different cities and on different sides of the Atlantic, although not one lives in Glasgow.

 

TEMPLES, “SUN STRUCTURES”

Temples is one of our favorite bands this year to delve into ’60s and ’70s psychedelic rock and introduce it to a new generation. In 2013, the UK-based band gained a lot of buzz and attention due to the accolades being adorned on them, including from Noel Gallagher. Fortunately for music fans, Temples lived up to the hype. From start to finish, their debut release of Sun Structures seduced listeners with their youthful exuberance, tight harmonies, and acid-laced melodies. Live, they came off as proven showmen, demonstrating that age is meaningless in the world of music and that today’s youth can perfectly imitate the sounds of a generation that made psychedelia part of the music vernacular.

 

TINY RUINS, “BRIGHTLY PAINTED ONE”

2014 saw a number of incredible records released from New Zealand-based artists. However, there is arguably none finer than Tiny Ruins‘ Brightly Painted One. Originally, Tiny Ruins was the project of singer-songwriter Hollie Fullbrook, but she brought on two very talented musicians, Cass Basil and Alexander Freer for Brightly Painted One. Lyrically, this album is devastatingly gorgeous, and musically, it’s one of the most beautifully constructed albums we’ve heard all year. It’s a brooding, heartbreaking album that is also delicately beautiful.

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