Well, that went by fast… 2014 is over and we’re all one year closer to the inevitable heat death of the universe.
But for now, let’s talk about music!
I like albums so here are some of the albums I’ve listened to this year that tickled my ears:
The Bros continue their musical journey into the abyss of the American experience. Favorite Waitress has a perfect blend of their trademark earnest, ethereal ballads and their grungy folk punk chaos. It’s refreshing to hear a band that still refuses to be over-produced and polished even 10 albums deep. I can still picture the guys playing together in a room when I listen to Favorite Waitress.
Favorite Track: “Alien”
Hashtag Throwback: Check out our session from many moons ago.
117 – Hopelessness
This is my super-hip obscure pic. These guys don’t even have a Last.fm page! No matter, that’s all the more reason to include them in this post. There is a fine line to be tread in music between intellectual and pretentious. Many bands fail at this in one way or another. This isn’t so with 117. With such titles as “Conor Oberst Molested My Little Sister (And I’m Gonna Find That Motherfucker)” Hopelessness is musically complex without being wanky, funny without being “sooo ironic”, and smart without being smug. Check it out if you know what’s good for you.
Favorite Track: “Terry Gross (Wah Dump)”
World/Inferno Friendship Society – This Packed Funeral
Tags: gypsy punk, cabaret, circus punk
Equal parts anarcho-punk, Vegas crooners, and broadway extravaganza, World/Inferno Friendship Society are the Ringling Brothers of punk rock. They hit us with another larger than life record in 2014. If you haven’t seen these guys live, DO IT.
Favorite Track: “Dr. Dracula Who Makes You Get High!”
Robert Plant – Lullaby And… The Ceaseless Roar
Tags: folk, psychedelic rock, golden god
Perhaps the last thing I expected from Robert Plant was a trance album, and that’s essentially what he’s given us with the release of Lullaby And… The Ceaseless Roar. What may start out as a grungy folk tune quickly evolves into a textural sonic experience complete with heavy drums and synth loops. Forget a Zeppelin reunion, I’m just happy Plant is still making legitimately original music.
Favorite Track: “Little Maggie”
Homeboy Sandman – Hallways
Tags: underground hip-hop, rap, stones throw
I’ve been a big fan of Homeboy Sandman since we shot his set at Public Assembly a couple years ago. At the time he had just been signed to Stones Throw, and he’s shown he belongs among the heavy ranks of his peers in the label ever since. Hallways is such a treat to listen to because there is a variety of different producers’ influences, so each song sounds like a completely different interpretation of Sandman’s music.
Favorite Track: “Refugee”
I had a great time at Riot Fest this year, saw lots of great bands, but Samhain was by far my most self-indulgent fanboy moment I had the whole weekend. It’s a rare thing, indeed to get to see these beacons of death rock covered in blood and being super evil all over the stage. Even more so that they played the entirety of their debut album Initium. “What are you guys doing for HALLOWEEN?” The inimitable Glenn Danzig called from the stage in mid-september. Classic.
Easily the most moody and atmospheric concert I saw all year. The sound was incredible, the band was tight and vibey, and the lights and stage setup were rich and immersive. Plant really knows what he’s doing when he picks his musicians. Here’s a clip we shot a bit earlier in the year just a couple days before the concert:
Felice Brothers at Webster Hall
I love watching The Felice Brothers perform because I get a sense I’m watching my buddies up on stage. They legitimately seem to be having fun when they perform, and their audience is very enthusiastic. Somehow they are able to cultivate the feeling of a backyard punk show on the main stage at Webster Hall.
Wu Tang Clan at Riot Fest
I have to include this on my list for two reasons: I had never seen Wu Tang before, and they played 36 Chambers IN ITS ENTIRETY! ‘Nuff said.
The Front Bottoms at Riot Fest
I’ve had a cursory interest in The Front Bottoms for a couple years now, but after seeing them perform at Riot Fest I realized just what great performers they are. They easily had the best crowd at Riot Fest. Somehow physics were defied and there were more crowd surfers than there were audience members to support them.
Here’s to 2015!
Photos by Nathan Carpenter | CBS Interactive