Category Archives: Music

Favorite Albums of 2014

Every year I offer a bit of reflection on the last four quarters of music more so for my own personal musings. I have an annual personal journal (yes, I only update it once a year) for much the same reason: experiencing time is weird and full of paradoxes. It seems to go by fast, but so much happens. Little details go missing in the blur. Attempting to assign some descriptors known as words onto the experiences seems almost futile. But here I am.

For music, 2014 was an exceptional year. There were a few headline leaders taking a lot of acclaim as usual, but there is incredible volume of high quality artists making music. This is in thanks both to the democratization of the tools used in making/producing music as well as the continued improvement of digital distribution/streaming. Obviously we’ve been heading in this direction for a while now, but now that it’s being more frequently embraced by both content creators and listeners, the result has been incredible.

If you have the urge to listen to something new of any genre, it’s easier than ever. There are services that will even do the hard work of finding those artists for you. It used to be only a few crazies like me who would take the time to dig up and research new artists, but now, anyone with Pandora or Spotify can dive into something new. And I’m not being elitist about that — I think it’s awesome, and I’m glad people can experience new content so easily. Thanks, information age: you have officially become digital crack cocaine. And the masses are euphoric.

I felt so passionately about so many albums this year that 50 albums was starting to feel like too few. But the limitation helps me be more critical about the quality. I almost did narrative for the entire lot, but once again, it’s only for the top 20. I mean, for that alone, it’s nearly 10 pages of text in Google Documents. I don’t think people care what I have to say that much.

Okay, here we are. The list follows at the break:

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Favorite Albums of 2013

Technically this is my Favorite Albums *10th Year Anniversary Edition (there may be a total of two people who’ve read them since that year, so it’s worth celebrating).

I started writing these in 2003 (originally on LiveJournal). They started as lists and eventually expanded into narrative discussions as well. As I’ve always said: it’s not my attempt at deciding what is better than what, but what I personally enjoyed the most. That’s sort of a cheap cop out, but I don’t consider myself a critic; I’m only a listener who occasionally enjoys sharing what I think and making recommendations.

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50 Favorite Albums of 2012

I’m at it again with one of the only things I ever blog about anymore: my favorite music of the year. I did fifty again this year, with short to long write-ups about the top 25.

My overall reflection about this year in music: Not quite as strong as last year, but still good. There were many albums that I liked, but few that I really loved. The R&B influence on alternative music which has been going strong for going on 4-5 years has gone from hip to ubiquitous. But there are still some holdouts of bands with some actual equipment hanging around, and they’re still putting together great albums. It’s almost strange listening to new stuff from The Mountain Goats. It feels like it’s stirpped down, or too reminiscent of the past to be new.

Hip-hop feels like the real winner of 2012. Its popular and alternative acclaim is not only strong in the U.S., but also highly adored in Europe (especially the UK and France). Its influence is also felt strongly within electronic music spheres–be it indie pop groups like Purity Ring and Phantogram to those pesky trap music DJs.

80s dream pop inspired artists are still going strong, though one wonders how much longer we’ll allow their endlessly echoing reverb before we tire of them. I know I’m good for now, so long as the production is good and the vocals stay as ethereal as Victoria Legrand’s.

Perhaps there were no completely new and innovative movements this year. But I still feel like there was a lot of diversity, and certainly a lot of new artists with much to look forward to in the future.

On to the list… (I apologize for the long load times. I decided to insert audio links and they take a bit of time to load)

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50 Favorite Albums of 2011

I’m still digesting this year in music. There has been so much. I feel like I’m going to keep finding out about albums that went under my radar for many years to come after this. So while I’m not feeling as confident as I’d like to be putting this list together, it’s still my ritual to do so around this time of year. It’ll at least help the digestion process, I think. Also, I’m really hungry right now, so I think I see where that metaphor is coming from.
I’ll never understand people who think there isn’t any good music today.
Well, here we go. If I have time later this month I might update this blog posting with pictures of the album covers, but I just don’t have time right now.

New Age Retro Hippies

I’ve been contemplating and re-listening to the albums I’ve heard this year in anticipation for writing my Favorite Albums List for 2011 next month. It got me thinking about the state of current musical styles, and I felt compelled to make some comments on it as a whole. Not that I’m the Keeper of the Zeitgeist, but I do pay attention to new artists, their obvious influences, and the direction music seems to be going compared to previous years.

50 Favorite Albums of 2009

List of my fifty favorite albums from 2009.

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