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.