With so much great feedback about the year in music, it was only right that I split Reader’s Edition into two parts. Check out Part I here and special thanks to Erik, Tom and Evan for contributing below!
Erik K. – My 2014 album of the year is a bit circumstantial, I was smoking bud while on a road trip from ATL to NY and listened to The War on Drugs’ Lost in a Dream for the first time. I proceeded to play the album 3 or 4 times in its entirety, getting more intimate with each listen. The album recalls greats like Springsteen and Dire Straits while sounding completely new. It’s both classic and fresh – I believe the word is: transcendent. Did I mention I was high?
Tom. B. – For me, 2014 was the year of live music, as I attended more concerts than ever before, including a last minute trip to Coachella and about a dozen show’s at Boston’s Sinclair, a one-year old venue that seats 500 and there’s not a bad seat in the house. Interestingly enough, the fall tour schedule ended with 3 of my favorite shows
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. played on a Sunday night, which wasn’t ideal. The crowd was not really present, but they still played great music. The show left me wishing that I could see them in Detroit, as the place must go nuts for We Almost Lost Detroit. They also played a few tracks from their upcoming album, none of which sounded like the slowly meandering James Dean (in a good way) – for this reason it is one of my most anticipated acts of 2015.
2. J Roddy Watson and the Business, in addition to having a bad ass band name, was able to smash out strong tracks one after the other, with J Roddy earning his solo-moniker as front man. Having only heard their album a handful of times before attending their show, they still managed to be one of my favorites this year.
1. I heard about Watsky through some Spotify radio once, and a week later he happened to be playing at Boston’s House of Blues. He went to Emerson in Boston, so I expected a strong showing. The ticket was $25, and this was one of the only reasons I returned to the House of Blues after a 2 year hiatus. A white rapper that got his start in the slam poetry scene? Ummm, okay. This sounds like disaster all over. However, this was one of the most inspiring performances I have seen, and certainly at the top of my list of live rap/hip-hop shows. It re-established my trust in venues the size of House of Blues, as the crowd showed up in a major way and brought this concert alive. Watsky was my biggest surprise of 2014.
Some other mentions from my year in music:
Kid Ink is one of my favorite artists that no one seems to be talking about? First with “Hello World” last winter, and more recently “Money and the Power”.
On the flip slide, Hozier was definitely the artist that most of my friends thought they discovered first. While “Take me to Church” was on the radio and a few commercials, I think Work Song was everyone’s favorite after only a single listen. His great singing/songwriting was backed up by a nice collection of intimate live recordings on both Spotify and YouTube.
Finally, my guiltiest pleasure of 2014 was probably Flo Rida’s “Whistle”. God damn that song. I even tried it at karaoke once.
Honorable mentions go out to the Griswolds for their great summer jams, Typhoon for the entirety of White Lighter, and Cold War Kids for their powerful return, especially with their track “First” which I have listened to countless times.
One more thought – YouTube has proven to be one of my favorite musical discovery sources, this year I added to NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts with a plethora of KEXP’s awesome productions out of Seattle (great quality live recordings). You should check them out.
My top pick for 2014 is both sides of the new mixtape from Childish Gambino aka Donald glover aka Troy Barnes from Community. His mix of smooth singing and on point rhymes make his music appropriate for any occasion. Kauai is a great cd to listen to when casually hanging with friends of all varieties and STN MTN is a little more hardcore to turn up in the car by yourself or in my case cruising down the mountainside. Favorite tracks are: “Retro”, “Palisades”, and “Dream/Southern Hospitality/Partna Dem”. it has been on play non-stop whether I’m in the car, working out, or snowboarding. Take a listen even if for no other fact to marvel in the fact that this guy is an accomplished tv writer/actor, stand-up comedian, and now hip-hop artist.