Favorite Albums of 2014 as chosen by members of The Flaming Lips, Dr. Dog, Mercury Rev, Circulatory System, Sunbears, Morgan Delt, Birdflower, Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s, more

The critics have spoken and The War On Drugs’ Lost In The Dream is their most cited “album of the year.” Future Heart readers have voted and Jack White’s Lazaretto topped the poll. Billboard has crunched the numbers and The Black Keys’ Turn Blue is the most popular rock release of 2014. But what are musicians’ picks?

With this curiosity in mind I asked members of Dr. Dog, Mercury Rev, Circulatory System, Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s, Sunbears and The Flaming Lips – as well as Morgan Delt, Graham Colton, Daniel Huffman, and many other musicians – to name their favorite album(s) of 2014. I chose artists of different ages and various stages of their careers and deliberately kept my request vague in aim of getting the broadest range of responses. It’s not just the variety of what is chosen that makes a post like this interesting; how the musicians respond is the heart of why this sort of survey is insightful. Some explained their 2014 highlights with a single paragraph. Others offered straightforward lists, or detailed each of their favorite records. Mercury Rev’s Grasshopper went the one-word-review route. A few revealed a lot more than just albums. Stardeath and White Dwarfs’ Casey Joseph linked soundcloud profiles he likes. Unknown Mortal Orchestra rejected the notion of “playing favorites” altogether. Others admitted they hadn’t dug much new music in 2014. I particularly like Morgan Delt’s picks, the newest of which was recorded 45 years ago. Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but that seems to suggest something about Morgan Delt as well as his music (and perhaps even the very act of listening to music in 2014) in the best ways possible, while also tipping us all off to some great ’60s records we might not have heard. And so it is with all the musicians’ picks. Their lists – especially when piled upon each other – give a more fascinating view of the past year in music than a standard “Albums of the Year” post ever could while also serving a more pragmatic purpose: helping fellow listeners in our never-ending quests of music discovery.

Which isn’t to suggest there isn’t consensus. Beck, St. Vincent and Ariel Pink all get name-checked several times, and for those keeping track, Deerhoof’s La Isla Bonita is mentioned the most below. That’s besides the point though. Seeing for instance Foxygen and Eno & Hyde each get a couple shout-outs might reveal something about those artists and the musicians picking them, but so does seeing the many recommended releases of lesser renown. See for yourself:


Grasshopper has been busy throughout 2014 creating Mercury Rev‘s eighth studio album (and napping with his newborn baby Donovan). He reviewed five of his favorite albums from this year with one word each:

1. Beck Morning Phase  —  Inspiring!
2. St. Vincent St. Vincent  —  Astonishing!
3. Five Dollar Priest Five Dollar Priest  —  BANG!!
4. Harry Dean Stanton Partly Fiction  —  Heroic!
5. Leonard Cohen Popular Problems  —  Legendary!”

Best known as Dr. Dog‘s drummer, Eric Slick released solo collection four track demos and a 7″ with his duo Lithuania this year. He also toured with Dr Dog, recorded their latest album, Live At a Flamingo Hotel, played The Complete Last Waltz annual concert for his second time and tweeted witty band name puns and EDM jeers. He had his most fun in 2014 at Carowinds Amusement Park with Lithuania bandmate Dominic Angelella on their spring tour, and his self-described “weirdest personal life moment in 2014” was “Wayne Coyne hugging me in Hudson, NY while wearing sequined eyelids and fairy wings, gently whispering, ‘We are all in this together, Eric.'” His musical memories of 2014 can not be contained to just albums, though that’s a start:

Albums of the Year 2014 AD (in no order):

  • Hermit Thrushes Potsherd Gold Meadow
  • Celestial Shore – Enter Ghost
  • Cloud Becomes Your Hand Rocks or Cakes
  • Scott Walker and Sunn 0))) Soused
  • Field Mouse Hold Still Life
  • Nat Baldwin In The Hollows
  • Flesh Seeds Flesh Seeds EP
  • Make A Rising Wounded Fhealers Series
  • Deerhoof La Isla Bonita

Albums released in 2013 that I discovered and loved in 2014:

  • Jaye Bartell Loyalty
  • Speedy Ortiz Major Arcana
  • Cass McCombs Big Wheel and Others

Songs I listened to the most in 2014:

  • Juicy J. “Bandz a Make Her Dance” Seriously, this song is so fucking good.
  • Sun Kil Moon “Alesund”
  • Jaye Bartell “Dance With Me”
  • Wolf Parade “I’ll Believe In Anything” This song holds up.

Best overall pop singles of 2014:

  • Perfume Genius “Queen”
  • Joyce Manor “Schley”

Best shows of the year:

  • Colin Stetson at Big Ears Festival. I will never recover.
  • Cass McCombs and Meat Puppets in Philadelphia.
  • Hermit Thrushes in a sweltering South Philly basement.
  • Amanda X at Everybody Hits. Every human should play with that much intent.

Derek Brown has a full schedule playing epic rock shows, late night TV and music festivals the world over with The Flaming Lips. That’s when they’re not working on any number of other projects, like say, recording a fake companion album to Dark Side of the Moon. Somehow he also finds time to be the Academy of Contemporary Music at the University of Central Oklahoma’s Business Development Center Manager. For his list he chose two albums, one EP, one music video/ song, one book and one reunion. 

Derek Brown’s Favorite Musical Whatever of 2014

My list is a little different because as much as I love the LP format, I don’t get to experience them the same way I used to. I’m constantly ingesting music through news, videos, and other mediums that this list made the most sense for me.

Ariel Pink pom pom

I’ve been so lucky to have Ariel’s music soundtracking my life for the last 10 years. His twisted, melancholic re-interpretation of everything that’s made music so great for the last 40-something years creates some sort of alternate-world that I can’t put my finger on (but I’d love to go visit). pom pom being a double-LP, he does lose me on some of his throwaways (“Nude Beach A-Go-Go”, “Jell-o”), but tracks like “White Freckles” and “Lipstick” are classic Ariel, only with more focus than his earlier, more frustrating releases. And “Picture Me Gone” (along with the unnerving video), as far as I’m concerned, is about as good as it gets.

Pure X Angel

I was pretty sure I was going to like Pure X when I first saw the gothic-looking cover of their LP Pleasure. I love how Angel can’t seem to be bothered to advance beyond its lazy, hazy pace, but instead keeps things consistently mellow. If you only check out one track, make it “Every Tomorrow” (and make sure you listen for the sweet synth solo). And the use of the chorus pedal on the electric guitar on this record made me not sell mine!

Small Black Real People EP 

I read lots of record reviews that will claim a record harkens back to the glory synthpop days of the ‘80s, but very few of those records capture the elements that I believe made that era so cool. This EP is an exception and has some wonderfully dark and strange soundscapes. What initially caught my eye about this release was Frankie Rose guesting on vocals..which if she had released a record this year, it would’ve probably made this list!

Sturgill Simpson “Turtles All The Way Down”

George Salisbury, Lips visualist partner-in-crime to Mr. Coyne, sent this video to me one morning and I couldn’t make sense of what I was seeing or hearing. At first, what seemed like a reasonable facsimile to country’s golden years soon turned into a song with a laundry list of mind-altering drugs with a backdrop of visuals you’d probably find at a Primus concert. It made me nostalgic for Oklahoma summer nights on the lake.

Face the Music: A Life ExposedPaul Stanley autobiography

Jon Wurster summed up my love/hate obsession with KISS in The Onion’s AV Club “Song Hate” a couple years ago… “I will buy any book or documentary on KISS. I have very minimal interest in the music, but I love to know everything about their inner workings. How do they think?”

As a kid, I fell in love with KISS’s 1970’s output, and I still love that music today (and don’t care about much else they did), but I will read anything about the band from any era simply because they’re such an odd, unapologetically corporate, organization. Paul was smart to write his book after the other three original members wrote theirs as he gets the final say and has the advantage of portraying himself the good guy. His continuous putdowns of Gene Simmons are beyond comical and surprising considering what a love-fest they portray to the public.

That being said, when I’m stuck on an endless, mindless flight somewhere crossing an ocean, my go-to KISS autobio is still Peter Criss’s ridiculously mind-numbing Makeup to Breakup. It doesn’t get any dumber than that, folks.

Christine McVie rejoining Fleetwood Mac

I’ve had little interest in dealing with an arena show to see the Mac for recent tours, but the return of Christine changes everything. Yes, I’m sure age has caught up to them and there will be too many back-up singers on stage to help flesh it out, but to have the chance to see this classic lineup of the band play songs like “You Make Loving Fun,” “Say You Love Me,” and (fingers crossed) “Hold Me” is something I never thought I’d have the opportunity to witness.

Derek Griffin Almstead conceived, constructed, sequenced, mixed and mastered one of 2014’s bonafide psych masterpieces, Circulatory System‘s Mosaics Within Mosaics. Known for his work with numerous Elephant 6 groups (of Montreal, Olivia Tremor Control, Circulatory System, Elf Power and others), Derek gigged with Circulatory System, The Glands and his own Faster Circuits in 2014. He promptly replied to my request for a list last week, noting:

“These are the records that played the most at my house this year. Not all of them are new but are new to me (except Zeppelin). No particular ranking.”

  • Led Zeppelin – II
  • Led Zeppelin – III
  • Led Zeppelin – (4 symbols)
  • Led Zeppelin – Houses of the Holy (Atlantic/Swan Song)
  • Woo – It’s Cosy Inside (Drag City)
  • Woo -Into the Heart of Love (Emotional Rescue)
  • Woo -Whichever Way of Going, You Are Going Wrong (Emotional Rescue)
  • Hiragi Fukuda -My Turntable is Slow (Selection Records Inc.)
  • Kevin Dunn -No Great Lost (Casa Nueva)
  • Fennesz -Becs (Editions Mego)

A few days ago he sent this follow-up message:

“Ok last minute addition! D’Angelo – Black Messiah.

Morgan Delt released another of 2014’s bonafide 2014 psych classics, his self-titled debut. He also issued new song “Elastic Id” on the Psych For Sore Eyes 2 comp (mastered by Sonic Boom), sang on Al Lover’s Sacred Drugs, played a Daytrotter session, was on the bill of seemingly all of the year’s coolest concerts and festivals, contributed to The Flaming Lips and fwends’ full LP remake of Sgt. Pepper’s, and played guitar backwards on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

“These are the records I listened to the most this year.”

  • The Left Banke – The Left Banke Too [1969]
  • The Beau BrummelsVolume 2 [1965]
  • The Pretty ThingsThe Pretty Things/Phillipe DeBarge [1969/2009]
  • The Ceyleib PeopleTanyet [1967]
  • Wendy & BonnieGenesis [1969]

Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s guitarist Ronnie Kwasman has been in the center of his band’s prolific year. They released two albums in 2014: Sling Shot to Heaven and Tell Me More About Evil, the soundtrack to a film about the group which Ronnie also produced. There was also the “Your Sister’s House” / “Beating Off in Public” 7″, a “Viv” flexi, spring tours and early work for their next LP, which they’ll head into the studio to start recording in a few weeks. When he’s not touring he works in the film industry for The Onion, Clickhole, MTV, TLC and others, as well as his podcast Bob and Ron’s Record Club.

Circulatory SystemMosaics Within Mosaics (Cloud Recordings)

Will Cullen Hart is one of the greatest sonic manipulators of our time. This album strengthens his legacy with another collection of mini-symphonies and beautiful melodies, cosmic, wandering, blurry lines of shapes and patterns intertwine to create a kaleidoscope of truly pure head music for modern times.

Angel OlsenBurn Your Fire For No Witness (Jagjaguwar Records)

This was definitely my most played album this year. An amazing collection of songs with perfect understated production by John Congleton, this is a classic album in all senses. This one will stay with me for a long time. Songs that really really moved me and that voice…chills every time.

Brian Eno & Karl HydeHigh Life (Warp)

Interlocking, repetitive, funky, sonically numbing and just what I wanted to hear from Eno. Microtonal Fractal Rock: the closer you listen the more detail it reveals, a study in subtlety, with slightly shifting modes that create very visual sonic structures in your minds eye.

Ty SegallManipulator (Drag City)

Reminds me of the best of SF Sorrow-era Pretty Things. This is what all of his singles, side projects and past albums have been hinting at. Fully realized and so far, his masterpiece. Just perfectly recorded psych rock of the highest order. He just nailed it. Drum sounds for daze.

Foxygen …And Star Power (Jagjaguwar Records)

Wow, sprawling, dizzying and just exactly right; just a beautiful piece of art. From the extremely Rundgren-esque piano-led songs to the experimental mind warp pavilion, these dudes make an extremely adventurous LP that reveals more with each listen, layers of an onion.

Afghan Whigs Do To The Beast (Sub Pop)

Dulli has never lost it, nor has he ever gone away. A true romantic, making relevant mind movie cinematic large screen gritty and dark sophisticated rock n roll. Showing the kids how it’s done. God bless these dudes.

Ariel PinkPom Pom (4AD)

Psychedelic, cartoon-like, funny – reminds me of so much Bonzo Dog Band meets the Residents meets TWINK meets The Who Sell Out meets the Mothers filtered thru a transistor radio from a different galaxy but so so much more. Every song references some other obscure and weird band but he managed to make catchy songs out of memory fragments from motel rooms and dreams as well as infomercial theme songs played by the rock a fire explosion on LSD. The most out-there album of the year, like nothing else released this year or any year this is just FUCKING AMAZING.

Crosby, Stills, Nash and YoungCSNY 1974 (Rhino)

Serious Shit. Gritty, sweaty, a band in their prime captured at the perfect moment and perfectly recorded. I don’t usually like live albums but this is an exception. For this version of Neil’s “Revolution Blues” alone it’s worth it.

Bob DylanThe Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 (Columbia)

The Blueprint, The Masterworks,The Grail. What every Dylan fan has been waiting for. Completest and consuming. The greatest era of Dylan and the Band finally expanded to include everything. Thanks.

Much Needed.

SUNBEARS! released their latest album Future Sounds last month, followed by a special “ReANIMATED stroboscope LP” edition on Record Store Day. In addition to touring this year, they also contributed to With a Little Help from My Fwends and spread good vibes with all they crossed paths. Frontman Jonathan Berlin discussed these projects in his October Future Heart interview. Here’s his 2014 albums list, followed by bandmate Jared Chase Bowser’s.

Harold BuddJane 12-21

Been a long time fan of Harold Budd since I heard the early Eno Ambient collab albums in my late teens. Though some may see his works throughout the years as redundant, I can’t help but appreciate his attention to nuance. Each of his albums just kind of wash over you and then you sometimes find yourself listening to something far more dense and complex than you first realized. This album stays true to its predecessors. There’s something to that, being able to put across something musically dark and have the listener not cringe when experiencing dissonance. I love that. Probably one of the most interesting things to me about music right now: dissonance.

Kyary Pamyu PamyuPika Pika Fantajin

I discovered Kyary on YouTube a few years ago. I haven’t even looked into who is responsible for the music or her whole super-Japan-epitome-of-kawaii thing. Maybe it’s her? I don’t know… I’ve just purely enjoyed her whole thing. She can really do whatever she wants and no one would care if it’s weird or chill. That’s probably what I love most about this album from song to song: it’s almost schizophrenic, but it works for her whole thing.

Electric WürmzMusik, Die Schwer zu Twerk

Had been anticipating this album for a long time and it didn’t disappoint at all. Been a mega Drozd fan for a long time and honestly feel like he can do no wrong. (Should I talk about Atlas Eets here? Because even tho it ain’t “new,” I still think it’s worth a mention and is also in my years top list. Imagine Steven at old upright piano with a cigarette hanging from his lip playin’ old smokey x-mas songs). Most of what I love about Flaming Lips usually turns out to be a Drozd composition. And I love the current Lips phase: The Terror, Embryonic, this whole noise thing. Pushing everyone’s thresholds and tolerance for dissonance and noise…but candy coating it in a pop song arrangement.

Beck Morning Phase

This was my every morning album this last half the year. Every day, wake up, play this vinyl. Many folks touted it as some kind of Sea Change redux, but who cares?? Every song is perfect. My favorite bits of the album are the string features. Some of the best pop string arrangements I’ve ever heard – same goes for Sea Change.

The War on DrugsLost in the Dream

This album was on repeat basically since I learned about it. This was my first War on Drugs album that I’d heard, I still haven’t heard Slave Ambient or whatever. Everyone kinda says I need to check that one out too. But hey this album is one of those that really makes you wanna get off your ass and do something. At least it does me. Ha ha.

BronchoJust Enough Hip to be Woman

Met some of the dudes in Broncho a few years ago back when some of them were playing with a band called Unwed Sailor. SUNBEARS! played a show with them in Tallahassee. Nathan [Price] told me to check out Broncho and I did. And then it turned out that we all had a bunch of mutual friends. Small world scenario. All that being said, their new album is even more “Garage Pop” than their last, a genre that I always refer to them as. The new album is somehow dirtier but catcher than the last, distorted drums and lo fi, under gained jangly guitars, and doubled pop vocals. The album ends sooner than I want it to with each listen.

SUNBEAR’s Jared Chase Bowser also plays drums with Black Kids and bass with SWIMM. Here’s his list.

1. BeckMorning Phase
Having been a huge fan of Beck’s Sea Change, I was really looking forward to this record after hearing it was in the same vein stylistically. Needless to say, it didn’t disappoint and is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I’ve ever heard. I was also lucky enough to catch Beck and The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger in New York on the night I proposed to my [then] girlfriend, so I’ll always associate this record with that era of my life. Good times!

2. The War On DrugsLost In The Dream
This is another kind of subtle masterpiece album in my opinion. The production and song writing are so good, but you don’t even realize it at first. The more I listened, the more I fell in love. It makes me want to take a road trip out west, drive into the sunset, and jam it with the windows down!

3. Lana Del ReyUltraviolence
I’ve always loved Lana. I liked the route she took with this record. I found that the raw direction was a little more sincere and timeless sounding that what she was doing before with the almost hip-hop sounding production at times. “Brooklyn Baby” is so good!!!

4. Sun Kil MoonBenji
I’ve loved Mark Kozelek’s music for a long time. I hear that he’s not so nice, but I don’t care. His songs are just good. I don’t love this whole record all the way through, but the songs I like, I love… mostly the sad songs. It’s just something about his voice that is very nostalgic for me. The vinyl is pretty gorgeous as well!

5. Damien RiceMy Favorite Faded Fantasy
This was well worth the wait… something like eight years between albums?? Always been a big fan of Damien’s music, especially around winter time. Despite the happier tones of SUNBEARS!, I generally gravitate towards more depressing/somber music so this really does it for me. A late contender for best records of 2014, but it definitely made the cut. Hehe.

The member’s of Linear Downfall pulled double duty in 2014: in addition to their own projects, they recorded, made a music video and played shows with The Flaming Lips’ Steven Drozd and Wayne Coyne as The Electric Würms. Linear Downfall’s main work this year includes their just released A Pink Floor and Two Others EP, starting their next album, extensive touring, and filming their own movie, Sufferland. They discussed these projects further in their Future Heart interview earlier this year. Together they decided on these three albums for the class of 2014:

  • Deerhoof: La Isla Bonita
  • St. Vincent: St. Vincent
  • Mac DeMarco: Salad Days

Hopewell and Common Prayer frontman (and Mercury Rev sideman) Jason Sebastian Russo traveled throughout 2014 while recording both a film and an album titled Guiding Light. Additionally Jason has been finishing off Hopewell’s next record, and playing bass for Kevin Devine.

“My younger brother once told me he had to stop listening to the burned copy of Nick Cave’s Murder Ballads I gave him because it made him feel like he was about to do something that would land him back in jail. That’s about the best description of the new Swans record I can muster. Everybody is writing about it so I won’t waste words – it’s great. It makes me think even harder about why I listen to music. It doesn’t always have to make me feel good. Other than that, I’ve been digging Amen Dunes Love, and August Wells A Living and a Dying Game. Great vibey psych-folk and gorgeous lyrical laments, respectively. My bandmate, Tara, would fistfight you for the new King Tuff record, and I dug their debut from ages ago, so this is probably something you should listen to, too.”

Daniel Huffman, also known as New Fumes, also known as one half of Birdflower is also known for pressing the most colorful, psychtastic vinyl records known on earth. His 2014 work includes TOBACCO’s Ultima II Massage “hand-dripped” vinyl run and various releases for Graveface Records. As for his own music-making: this year Daniel finished Birdflower’s to-be-issued debut LP, released its first two music videos (discussing the second, “Crystalize My Heart,” in this Future Heart interview), played shows aplenty, contributed to With a Little Help from My Fwends, collaborated on Stardeath and White Dwarfs’ Wastoid, and offered new track “Where Are the Aliens” up for grabs as part of the Let’s Create Something Magical Vol 1 compilation. The latter is Weird Destiny Productions’ coloring book project featuring drawings by Huffman (among many others) and a companion CD.

“In no order, off the top of my head, this is what I can remember being excited about, though I know there were more.”

  • DeerhoofLa Isla Bonita
  • Ariel PinkPom Pom
  • TOBACCO – Ultima II Massage
  • Stardeath and White DwarfsWastoid  
  • Electric WürmsMusik, die Schwer zu Twerk
  • Et CeteraLady Blue (reissue)
  • Eno & HydeHigh Life
  • LiarsMess
  • Morgan DeltMorgan Delt
  • Thee Oh SeesDrop
  • HeldonAllez-Téia (reissue)

AJ McKinley plays guitar for BATTLEHOOCH who released their third EP Wink and gigged – with of Montreal among others – in 2014. Read his recent Future Heart interview here.

“For most the of the year I would have said the new St. Vincent record but there have been some very strong entries towards the end of the year. Most notably Ariel Pink’s Pom Pom (it sounds like a lost Mothers of Invention record) and Panda Bear’s Mr. Noah EP. Also, shout out to San Francisco’s own J. Kick whose album Rent Control has been blowing my mind extra hard the past few weeks.  He’s a genius and his album needs to be heard by more people.”

Prince Ruperts Drops has regularly gigged in New York throughout 2014 and dropped their second album last month, Climbing Light. Dig it and dig in via Beyond Beyond is Beyond.

  • Steve GunnWay Out
  • Weather RhytonKykeon
  • Hans ChewLife & Love
  • Turn to CrimeCan’t Love
  • 1-800-BandDiver Blue

Graham Colton started 2014 with the release of his sixth studio album, Lonely Ones, and a tour supporting it (he discussed the ambitious left-turn he took on the record in an interview with The Future Heart in March). More recently he co-founded a music tech startup that aims to be for DIY touring musicians what AirBnB is for hotel seekers and Uber is for people on the move. Called fanswell.com, it allows any artist to book concerts in fans’ living rooms, backyards, private spaces, etc.

“My favorite album of 2014 was Lost in the Dream by The War on Drugs. I love the simplicity to it and the overall pace of the record. It sticks with you and is one of those albums you can have on anytime and it never gets in the way. Of course, there are moments when you wanna turn it up and sing along like an idiot in the car. I do that a lot with this album. ”

Hour Of The Time Majesty Twelve, or HOTT MT for short, released the single “Dream Machine” and a cover of the Daft Punk’s “Digital Love” (another track on Let’s Create Something Magical) and gigged this year, in between working on their next album.

Flying Lotus: You’re Dead

Shafts of distorted light illuminating a war zone. Soundtrack to the desperate survival mode a large part of the world functions on. So lovely, you don’t even know.

Pomar: Snot Gnar

Originating in a basement, in an alley, in Chinatown LA. For-real east-side sounds that are simultaneously humorous and terrifying.The first time we heard this the ground actually disappeared from beneath us. It was really just gone and we couldn’t find it for days.

Deerhoof: La Isla Bonita

Freedom and uninhibited exploration that still makes you want to dance. Deerhoof is doing Deerhoof better than ever, can’t even believe it. Heroes of themselves, with the album pushing them deeper into outer space.

With Gum, Joe Bello released the band’s sophomore self-titled album in August (which Joe and Trent Bell co-produced). Joe is also central to Children of the Moon, an Oklahoma supergroup with Cosby Bray of the Ugly Suit, Alex Coleman and Zach Zeller of Horse Thief, Chris Gaylor of the All American Rejects, Chase Kerby, Chelsey Cope, Clinton Thorp and many more. This year they released the single “Feed the Rain” and finished three-fourths of a debut LP penciled for May 2015 release – all recorded at Pink Floor Studios. Joe says, “We only get to play a show together like once a year, the last one being in May, just because of everyone’s crazy schedules” but that the upcoming album “should be an exciting strange, loud rocking mess!” Gum have also written and started recording their net album, aiming to complete it by next October.

  • Broncho: Just Hip Enough To Be Woman
  • Spoon: They Want My Soul
  • Phantogram: Voices
  • Deerhoof: La Isla Bonita
  • Beck: Morning Phase

The Gorlons released their self-titled debut album in February, a live album in April and gigged throughout 2014. Their “best of” list comes in the form of one pick per three of their members: keyboardist Seth Goodwin, bassist Geoff Green and frontman Ross Taylor Murphy.

Seth Goodwin

“I’ve been waiting for a record like Typical System by Total Control for years…this is a masterful fucking record. The album starts with a perfect dark synth/drum sequence and when the vocals kick in they sound like Steve Kilbey (The Church) fronting Bunker or some other band on the Sacred Bones Deathrock comp that came out earlier this year. The next track sets a dichotomy that exists through out the record: perfect dark synth pop that brings to mind this Kiem record I used to love a bunch. (I know, name dropping is fucking lame but maybe there’s some bored dork out there that will read this and find that Kiem record and if they do send it to me because when they shut down megaupload that album disappeared from the internet.) It’s the only album this year that I think meant anything to me. There were a lot of great albums, especially great hip hop…buuuuuut this album is everything I’ve wanted from a post punk album. It’s entered into my top ten favorite albums of ever. Go get that…and get that Kiem record ya fucking dork.”

Geoff Green

“I would say St. Vincent’s new self titled album, but though it is exceptional, I still find it to be inaccessible. There is rarely a good time to play the album with company, and I’m not usually in the best head space to fully enjoy the album. The Woods album With Light and With Love really connected with me. It reminded me of the way I felt in 2006, but with less pretense. My top pick, however, would have to be Mac Demarco’s Salad Days, as I never would have survived the all-night drive from Nashville to Springfield without it.

So I guess that’s a top three.”

Ross Taylor Murphy

“Although at first I completely hated and loathed …And Star Power by Foxygen compared to their last album – mostly due to poor recording quality, poor performances, and half thought out ideas – the more I listened to it the more I loved it. I was on tour all October with a different band and we ran out of shit to listen too in the van so eventually and reluctantly at first I put the tape in again. Coincidentally I ended up seeing them a few days later in Boston and it was probably the best show in a couple years for me. Completely chaotic. We ended up listening to the cassette of this a lot on the trip. It’s a fun album!”

Stardeath and White Dwarfs bassist Casey Joseph toured and dropped the band’s long-anticipated second album Wastoid in 2014. They also released several new music videos and performed David Bowie’s classic LP The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars in its entirety twice live: first to ring in the new year, and then for Record Store Day.

SZA Z

This one is fucking great in my opinion. Great features, the production/beats are amazing. They are arranged in a pretty orchestrated way, and it just flows. I’m into it. “Babylon” is one of the best beats I’ve heard in a really fucking long time. Shit’s dope.

Curren$y The Drive In Theatre

The production on this album is soooooo tight. Favorite tracks would be “Stovetop,” “Stolen”,”Hi Top Whites”…the whole album really. The beats on this album have great feel, nice pockets. This album is really good, to me.

Casey adds, “I’ve been listening to a lot of shit on soundcloud to be honest. A few links of people I’ve been really into are.”

Bubba Ayoub – aka one-man band Juggable Offense – released his debut The Fearless Coward in 2014 and is currently on a tour running through New Year’s Eve. Read his recent discussion with The Future Heart detailing his unique guitar set-up (Moog guitar with erbe verb, wogglebug, echophon, and rene effects).

Living Standards by Mover//Shaker

So, in 2014 I kinda fell ass backwards into realizing that some emo bands are what happens when introspective artistic sadboys become ultra accomplished guitar players and then write songs about their feelings. I think it was literally the next day that I saw my first Mover//Shaker show. It was an incredible experience. I’m proud to call these guys my friends, and if my girlfriend (who’s so invested in emo she told me at least four times that isthisbandemo.com is stupid because it doesn’t include a bunch of essential artists) is right (which she always is), these guys have something special and are going places. Either way, go listen to this EP because it’s rad and awesome and pretty and my friends rock. I promise.

Tecuciztecatl by His Name Is Alive

Okay, so, imagine for a second that Thin Lizzy had a female vocalist, wrote an album about twins partially inspired by a pair of real life twins who make ragtime folk in 2014, and slathered said album in Mellotron and Steve Howe worthy guitar riffs. That’s what Tecuciztecatl sounds like.

Doom Fortress by Voyag3r

There’s a record store in metro Detroit that I’ve been frequenting since the day they opened in 2010 (UHF, for those interested). One of the employees, Scotty, runs Bellyache Records [label], home to Voyag3r. On a horrendously cold day in Detroit’s coldest winter in a hundred years, I went into UHF and he recommended Voyag3r’s first single, thinking (correctly I might add) that I’d love it. Voyag3r make synth rock for imaginary sci-fi films crafted on shoe-string budgets and pressed straight to VHS tape. And you need to hear it, whether you love John Carpenter or break out into a cold sweat over the mere thought of watching a horror movie.

Soused by Scott Walker and Sunn 0)))

Monoliths and Dimensions taught me to love the drone, for which I’ll be eternally grateful, but Soused throws apes-learning-to-use-bone-tools-sized obelisks of Russian Muff fueled drone, left-field-because-they’re-mainstream Boston leads, Meg White/Moe Tucker beats and some weird old dude’s demented caterwauling into a blender and produce the most consistently satisfying and baffling album of the year. At least as important as all of that musical stuff is that on two occasions separated by a few months my mom came up with the most amazing descriptions of this album: “It sounds like you invaded a satanic zoo,” and “it’s better than that Jurassic Park Revisited stuff you were listening to earlier,” referring to the single from Bob Dylan’s Frank Sinatra covers album. “That sounded like dinosaurs in distress.”

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