The Year In Music 2014: Morgan’s Picks

wishiwashereBy Morgan. This year I felt like a poor music explorer, partially because I poured so much time and energy into job searching and partially because I took time to travel off the grid. So I am honestly more excited to have read Antony and Spencer’s pieces because I have some albums to check out by artists I love yet whose new albums have eluded me. Obviously I need to start paying attention again. But honestly, there are years where I try to be adventurous with my music taste, and this year I suppose I played it safe. My list is comprised of mostly familiar, previously beloved artists, with a few new guys: Hozier and Fink.

Best Albums Of 2014:
1. Wish I Was Here Soundtrack
2. Noah Gundersen – Ledges + 20 something EP
3. Hozier – Hozier
4. Shakey Graves – And The War Came
5. Ben Howard – I Forget Where We Were
6. Alt J – This Is All Yours
7. Fink – Hard Believer
8. Eddie Berman – Polyhymnia + EP
9. Stu Larsen – Vagabond
10. Vance Joy – Dream Your Life Away

Ok I know I’m cheating with the soundtrack, but come on, Coldplay and Cat Power?? And an original Bon Iver track? This album was on repeat for me this year. I’m honestly probably not knowledgeable enough about music yet to make judgments based on objective quality rather than personal taste. So personal taste is playing a big factor here.

Noah Gundersen stole my heart with his original EPs, and after seeing him live the deal has been sealed. In his new EP 20 something he sings about being a young aspiring rock star singing to get famous, and you can see the distance between that young idealist and the realist romantic he is now (because I really think he is both). His lyrics, voice, and musical style compel me to no end.

Something about Hozier and Shakey Graves got under my skin with the elegant transitions in their albums from singer/songwriter to folk rock reminiscent of Shovels And Rope. These albums have it all, from songs that make you dance to songs that make you think.

Ben Howard and Alt-J I will always love, they can do no wrong for me. Ben Howard’s album does not do anything particularly adventurous, but he is one of those artists I wouldn’t want that from anyway. Alt-J’s sophomore album I think fell a little short of their phenomenal first record, but the second one still grabs me with the dance inducing beats and electronic overlays.

Fink was my indie guilty pleasure until I saw him live and realized his sound got over produced, and is in fact shockingly bluesy, even jam band-ish. One of the most impressive live shows I’ve seen in awhile.

Eddie Berman and Stu Larsen were both late in the game favorites, so I am a little close to the albums to make fully fledged assessments. So for now I’ll just say they are awesome, and only getting better with each listen.

Vance Joy just is my indie guilty pleasure, and I’m ok with it.

I aspire to listen to and contemplate artists according to full albums. I know this is how artists present their music intentionally. But I have to admit this is not how I consume music now. Perhaps it is a product of my generation or my shortened attention span and musical ADHD, but I am a song by song listener these days. Only when I have the pleasure of discussing artists with other music lovers who are “collectionists” do I feel fully inspired and obligated to listen to full CDs. It’s not that I don’t want to. There never seems to be enough time, or there is too much music, or Spotify sucks, or I cannot simply afford all the CDs I want to own. But regardless of the excuses, this sort of limited means of exploring music has led me to some of my favorite songs ever, and so I’ve compiled a playlist of the best songs of 2014, according to my sporadic listening habits. I apologize if I borrowed from previous playlists of yours or mine, but here you have it.

Download S&N Mix 10: Morgan’s Best Of 2014.

Best Songs Of 2014 Playlist:
1. Alt-J – “Warm Foothills”
2. Shakey Graves – “Only Son”
3. George Ezra – “Budapest”
4. The Barr Brothers – “Love Ain’t Enough”
5. Jose Gonzalez – “Every Age”
6. Little May – “Boardwalks”
7. Novo Amor – “Callow”
8. Owen Pallett – “I Am Not Afraid”
9. Hozier – “Like Real People Do”
10. Leif Vollebekk – “Off The Main Drag”
11. Fink – “This Is The Thing”
12. Eddie Berman – “Wherever We Go”
13. Passenger – “Heart’s On Fire”
14. Noah Gundersen – “Cigarettes”
15. Cat Power & Coldplay – “Wish I Was Here”

3 thoughts on “The Year In Music 2014: Morgan’s Picks

  1. I’ll gladly be the first to comment! First, let me just say that Wish I Was Here was both a great soundtrack and a great movie — highly recommended! Shakey Graves was a late discovery for me, and almost made my list. And I’m really glad you spoke up about Ben Howard, because I’ve heard a lot of people who loved his first one express disappointment in this one. I personally think its high points aren’t as high as his debut, but that it’s a more even album throughout. He’s showing progress as a producer too, acheiving a fuller sound than before. Great list, Morgan!

  2. Yeah, great list Morgan. Didn’t know Stu Larsen and giving him a listen now. Digging it. And I gave “Off the Main Drag” a listen. Great song. Thanks!

  3. @Morgan. Also dig the list and I’m glad you put WISH I WAS HERE on there. I agree with Spencer: the movie was good and the soundtrack holds up as a complete listen (I think minus one song).

    You left me with a couple of things to check out (Stu Larsen).

    I am one of the ones deeply disappointed by the Ben Howard. I think it’s incredibly dull. There are moments of beauty and brilliance, but they are overwhelmed by grayness and sameness of the songs. I’m just not feeling it.

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