Favorites in Your Face from 2014

I’ll bite.  I’ll share with you what 2014 licks I was humming in my head,  what I was tapping my foot to, and what I was singing loudly at my dashboard.  Adding to previous posts, here are my favorite albums of 2014.

Disgraceland – The Orwells

Don’t know where I found this, most likely songza, but this found its way into my Spotify.  Music genres never die, even if they fade from the pop charts, and so garage rock lives in these young lads.  This album is rocking, energized, even when the lyrics get mellow or twisted.  All that good, simple alternative rock mixing tempos and guitar solos to make a handful of almost great songs into a great album.

Dirty Sheets official video:

Everything Will Be Alright In The End – Weezer

How many albums did you pay for this year?  Seriously.  I bought one, downloaded it, burned on to a compact disc, and sang loudly at my dashboard.  Burned another compact disc, and put it in my wife’s dashboard.  Favorite tid bits on this album include the hard hitting first track: Aint Got Nobody.  Track 7, Da Vinci Code, perhaps because it is classic corny lyrics over catchy rock melody.  Track 8, Go Away, pulls off the his/her duet nicely.  Also, The last three songs form great instrumentals.

Here is the only official music video I could find: Back to the Shack.

. . . and that’s it.  Two albums.  There was other good music out there. But I can’t say I listened to other 2014 albums more than three times in their entirety.

Last of all, WA’s list had 1989 by Taylor Swift.  I probably would’ve heard more than two tracks if it was on Spotify or anything streaming.  Where does one listen if you have to buy?

The Favorites of WA

J Reed started us off yesterday, listing his favorite albums of 2014, and hoping we’d hop into his post. I would do that, but I’m both lazy and selfish, so I’ll throw in three albums in this post.

Before I start with the music, I need to mention that I listen almost exclusively to NPR. I hear bumper music on Here and Now and think to myself, well that sounds wicked fresh. So don’t buy anything on my recommendation unless you think 8 year old My Morning Jacket riffs are the height of innovation and cool. Also, this is in no real order except that RTJ2 would have been tops on my list as well*.

Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds in Country Music

I do not like country music as it exists at the moment. Too much Kenny Chesney, not enough Johnny Cash. Too much Jason Aldean not enough Waylon Jennings. It all seems very frightened and reactionary, a microcosm of white culture at large reacting to a changing environment. But country music was once a place of outsiders and misfits (actual ones, not just ones who played them on TV). Simpson’s record is a little bit more like that. Also, this track has the lyric “On that railroad of sin, I was a highballin train.”

War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream

The only one of my choices that could even vaguely be called “lost in a bus station music” or “mopey music for people with bangs”, I guess this came out with a lot of fanfare that I don’t remember. There’s something nostalgic about some of their songs, even as they seem pretty current. Also, this is a great album if, like me, you find yourself on a deadline and need to complete a lot of writing with minimal distraction. The song below is Red Eyes (and I don’t think I’d ever seen the weird-ass video). Under the Pressure is probably a better song, but no one is sitting through a nine minute video on the internet.

Taylor Swift – 1989

Fuck you. Don’t even start. With the exception of “Welcome to New York”, which is an unmitigated disaster and train wreck that should never have happened, ole T-Swizzle has put together a pretty good album. “Shake It Off” has probably become the anthem of far too many ladies you know (and, perhaps more secretly, of many men) and the knowingness and playfulness of “Blank Space” actually make me excited for what she might be capable of as she grows and matures. Is it art? Maybe not, but it’s catchy as shit, and this is a list of favorites not most likely to be lauded in a hundred years. I like it, and since I can’t decide between the two, I’m posting both. Blast these during lunch and tell me your afternoon doesn’t go a little faster and a little brighter. Happy New Year!

*I usually only listen to music in my office, which is in a church that houses a nursery school. So I invite you to imagine what it was like for the week that I had RTJ on blast.

Our favorites, 2014

I’m starting this post, and hopefully the rest of the V+V team will come in and add theirs. Come back and see if they do.

J Reed: Here are my three favorite albums of 2014. I could argue that they’re also the best records of 2014, but you know, that’s all subjective and shit. You’re free to argue; you’d just be wrong.

Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 2

It was damned hard to believe that Killer Mike and El-P could release a better record than 2012’s R.A.P. Music. But they did, just a few months later, tied together as the group Run the Jewels. The outstanding thing is they released the record for free. But, how in the hell could they follow that up? With this ridiculous pièce de résistance named the same but appended with a “2,” which follows their just two-year-old tradition of throwing away the rules of hip-hop and starting over. It’s political, revolutionary and bombastic like their previous two records, but…amped up. It’s the musical equivalent of driving a car through the Common Ground and serving dinner the same day.  Oh, and it’s free.

Diamond District – March on Washington

This isn’t just local love. The guys who make up Diamond District have been making the most underrated rap music out there for the better part of a decade, and this might be their best work in years. They’re incredibly verbose and clinical, and the three guys’ deliveries are as distinct and diverse as those of any of the greatest rap groups. They might not get much love outside the D.C. area, but here their work transcends the parochial with universal social commentary. On a halfway related note, here’s a profile of Jay Brown, the director of the music video below.

Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues

Laura Jane Grace has long been one the better songwriters in the game, capable of weaving the personal and social together delicately in a way few people not named Bob Dylan have been able to do. The record was originally going to be a rock opera about a fictional character coming to terms with being a woman, until Grace came out and announced that she was, in fact, a woman. The songs on the album are biting, often tragic but sometimes funny. The recording on the album was reportedly a nightmare, but it is one of the few records in history that scream with intense urgency “I am a record that must be made.” And thank god it did, although I’m pretty sure that god himself couldn’t stop it.

Morning Constitutional – Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Good morning, everybody. Kim Kardashian and Kanye West bought their neighbor’s house. Now, your morning constitutional:

Newly reelected New York Republican Rep. Michael Grimm will resign on January 5 following his guilty plea for tax evasion.

The new House majority whip, Louisiana Republican Rep. Steve Scalise, admitted that he addressed a white-supremacy organization as a state representative in 2002.

The U.S. carried out an airstrike Monday in Somalia targeting a senior leader of the al-Shabaab militant group.

Iraqi forces and allied Shia militia have driven Islamic State militants out of the town of Dhuluiya.

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh claimed Tuesday that former state guard head Lammah Sanneh attempted a coup and may have been injured or killed in the process.

A methane gas plume the size of Delaware in New Mexico just one example of a massive methane gas leak problem that is the side effect of natural gas production.

Great feature at New York Times on how Ebola roared back. Reuters also reports that the IMF’s focus on cutting debt over healthcare spending also contributed to the Ebola outbreak.

Dubai International has overtaken Heathrow as the busiest hub for international air travel.

Oil trades below $57/barrel, a 5 1/2-year low.

The success of Obamanomics.

The 113th Congress narrowly avoided being the least-productive Congress in modern history thanks to an active lame-duck session.

Twenty-two animal species went extinct in 2014.

Finally, 27-year-old man crashes new McLaren P1 less than 24 hours after getting it.

For the 2014th consecutive year, perennial favorite Christmas has won the yearly skirmish in the eternal War on Christmas.

Oh well, we tried. We really tried.

Finally successfully completed the annual Christmastime journey from V+V HQ to New England and looking forward to some solid carousing down at the V+V Boston Office this weekend.

From all of us at Verities and Vagaries, however your celebrate, we hope the best for your wintertime festivities (or solemnizations).


Morning Constitutional – Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Good morning, everybody. Cameron Diaz and Benji Madden are engaged. Now, your morning constitutional:

Heavy fighting in southern Afghanistan is putting large areas that were previously secured by the U.S. under threat from the Taliban.

Meanwhile, an Afghan police chief says that security forces have killed 151 Taliban fighters near the Pakistan border in the east over the past 12 days.

North Korea has Internet again after a nearly 10-hour-long outage. The reason for the outage is unclear.

The Ukrainian parliament on Tuesday voted to end the country’s non-aligned status, likely a move towards membership in NATO.

Congressional Republicans to block reappointment of CBO head Doug Elmendorf because he refuses to include dynamic scoring—that tax cuts pay for themselves—in cost analyses.

The Commerce Department announced that the U.S. economy grew 5% in the third quarter, the fastest growth in over a decade.

France is deploying up to 300 soldiers around the country after seemingly unrelated attacks in Nantes, Dijon and Tours left more than 20 injured over the past few days.

Nicaragua has begun construction of their own inter-oceanic canal to rival Panama’s.

Greece failed again in the second round of voting to elect a new president. If one is not chosen in the third round, it could mean a snap general election next year.

Coal mining deaths are close to a record low.

Looks like climate change is going to ruin Pinot Noir wine.

Finally, principal loses job over misspelled school sign.

Till the End of the Day

Here’s some stuff to look at while day turns to night:

Today in Fuck You: Goes right to Patrick Lynch, the head of the New York City police union, who I guess has a history of being a nutjob.

“We are outraged by violence done to police, because it violence done to all of us as a society. In the same measure, we look away from violence done by the police, because the police are not the true agents of the violence. We are.”

New York Republican Congressman Michael Grimm will plead guilty to tax evasion and likely try to keep his seat in Congress.

Conservative judge strikes down North Carolina’s terrible and ridiculous abortion requirements.

Pretty good profile of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who’s been giving speeches in Iowa.

The maker of Cards Against Humanity sent people a list of donations made to the senators representing their state.

How slavery and capitalism formed the modern world.

On the history of donkeys and the military.

The Scientology Christmas catalog is indeed insane.

I think this is my favorite ClickHole thing ever.

Here’s that perfect Serial sketch from SNL: