10. Friday Night Lights
This is the year that, when I wasn’t watching chickens (see #5), I was watching Friday Night Lights. I also bought an ill-advised pair of cowboy boots because of it. Thanks, Netflix, for making FNL so bingeable. I aspire to be as amazing as Tami Taylor, and I miss her. Tim Riggins, thanks for the smoulder and for being an unlikely moral compass. Jason Street, thanks for the pathos. Matt Saracen, thanks for being the character that makes me cry just thinking about you (and thanks for singing to your awesome Grandma. She’s the best). Coach Taylor, thanks for being inspiring. Tyra Colette, thanks for being completely kick ass. I hope you’re a politician somewhere. Landry, thanks for being Lance. Buddy Garrity, thanks for growing on me. Vince, thanks for letting me know where Wallace is. And damn, Julie. Damn.
2014 was a year filled with big name releases. Foo Fighters, Bruce Springsteen, The Black Keys, and U2 all presented new offerings in the way of albums. Despite having recognizable names, no major artist was able to capture my attention like the “little guys” were able to this year. Here are my favorite albums of 2014 that you might have missed.
Deerhoof, La Isla Bonita
Sick, classic Deerhoof sound, funky and rock and roll, sporadic guitars and drums, random melodies, and on top of that, they been killing it for 20 years. This album is everything them: very fun, very upbeat, mellow, nice. . . just the right amount of everything.
Bombay Bicycle Club, So Long, See You Tomorrow
Our friend Jack in BBC is a wonderful singer/songwriter and I am definitely supporting this album. It’s got a lot of different vibes. Cool stuff for sure!
The Afghan Whigs, Do To The Beast
One of the older rock bands I didn’t get to hear right away, but when I did, I was blown away! I loved it when I saw them play for the first time and it was rock and roll soul, very nice music.
I just found out about this band from Googling “2014 best albums.” I like what I hear so I’ll get down with it. They have a really great album cover, which is awesome to get the attention of someone that doesn’t know the band.
Damon Albarn, Everyday Robots
The man Damon is a genius. Anything he does is a hit in his own right. Lovely to have worked with him when I did and would love to see him again and share music.
OFF!, Wasted Years
The guys in OFF! are excellent. Heard them play a lot of this material at their last show in L.A. Everything from the rhythm of the drums to the riffs of the guitars: it’s just a full on rocking album.
Damon Albarn, Everyday Robots
When they released the video for the song “Everyday Robots,” I loved it! The music isn’t somber, but the vibe might make you feel that way, and I mean that in the best way possible. It’s just atypical, can’t compare it. And as usual, the melodies are way too good!
Cherry Glazerr, Haxel Princess
I saw these guys a while back at a small venue in Silverlake. Everything they make is just so happy. Even if it’s not meant to be happy, it just makes you want to bounce up and down. Bought the cassette when it came out; such a great record.
Mac DeMarco, Salad Days
This is a guy I’d love to meet; Mikaiah and I love his music. His studio set up is pretty boss, too. He knows how to make good tunes with outstanding guitar riffs that make you want to swim in a cloud. That’s a ridiculous analogy, but the far out, space-like vibes from the tracks off this record are very awesome!
Trash Talk, No Peace
Awesome guys to begin with, and this record is just an overall solid hardcore album. Monster riffs and Lee screaming down the place! It’ll make you want to get in a fight with someone by the fourth song!
The Bots are Los Angeles brothers and bandmates Mikaiah and Anaiah Lei (17 and 21 years old). Their latest single is “All I Really Want.” For more on the band, check out the interview they did with the L.A. Times earlier this year.
Jeff Tweedy, Sukierae
Sturgill Simpson, Metamodern Sounds In Country Music
The New Basement Tapes, Lost On The River
Anthony D’Amato, The Shipwreck From The Shore
Robert Plant and The Sensational Space Shifters, Lullaby And. . . The Ceaseless Roar
U2, Songs Of Innocence
Tom Petty, Hypnotic Eye
Lucinda Williams, Down Where The Spirit Meets The Bone
Jackson Browne, Standing In The Breach
Willie Nile‘s latest album, If I Was A River, was released on November 11.
It was a GREAT year for new music!
TIER 1 –DESERT ISLAND SHORTLIST
1. The Old 97′s, Most Messed Up
2. Old Crow Medicine Show, Remedy
3. Drive By Truckers, English Oceans
4. Counting Crows, Somewhere Under Wonderland
TIER 2 – STRONG TO QUITE STRONG
5. Conor Oberst, Upside Down Mountain
6. Ryan Adams, Ryan Adams
TIER 3 – THOROUGHLY ENJOYABLE
7. First Aid Kit, Stay Gold
8. Looking Into You: A Tribute To Jackson Browne
9. Beck, Morning Phase
TIER 4 – NOT IN ANY WAY OFFENSIVE
10. THREE WAY TIE: Justin Townes Earle, Single Mothers / Tom Petty, Hypnotic Eye / Jenny Lewis, Voyager
In no order:
St. Vincent at Fuji Festival
JD McPherson at The Echo
JD McPherson, “I Wish You Would”
Ty Segall, Manipulator
Ty Segall at The Echo
Cherry Glazerr, “Had Ten Dollaz”
Birdman, directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu
Tomorrow’s Tulips, “Baby/Glued To You” video
Homeland, 2014 season
A former member of The Three O’Clock, The Quick, The Weirdos, and other bands, Danny Benair owns and operates Natural Energy Lab, a music marketing company, and manages The Danny Benair Record Club on Facebook.
Some people are born to be rock stars. Jerry McGill was one of them. He was talented, devilishly handsome, and had the kind of charisma that can’t be faked. He recorded a single for Sun Records, and it was a minor hit in 1959.
I love punk rock, always have and always will. When I was younger I had a tough time fitting in because I was awkward. It took me a while to understand that I needed to be myself and people would accept that a lot more quickly than any alternatives. During my middle school years I became really good friends with some punks and they told me to just be myself because that would be best for me. Fred, Nick, Iggy, and Daniella accepted me for who I was, a nerd. Well, a pretty badass nerd.
Among the first run of American New Wave bands, the story of Game Theory is among the most quietly heartbreaking. While the ambitious musical and lyrical output of creative mastermind Scott Miller was never destined for an arena-sized audience, a combination of questionable management and bad record deals kept their music from an audience larger than the most ardent true believers.
Omnivore Records’ lush and expansive reissues are bringing Game Theory’s shimmering, melancholy pop to the widest audience it’s received to date. Dead Center, the second album they’ve repackaged and remastered, finds the 1983 iteration of Game Theory at an interesting point in their musical evolution. The production sounds more polished than on the home-recorded Dead Center, with a stronger low end and a greater sonic balance. Their arrangements show a greater sense of ambition, as well as the musical skill to back it up.
Every time I hear someone complaining that rock and roll is dead, I cringe. This proclamation is usually accompanied by a rant against Miley Cyrus or whatever Top 40 artist is being hyped at the moment. Which leads me to wonder: is the concern that rock and roll is dead, or that it’s no longer at the top of the Billboard charts?
Any handwringing over the fate of rock and roll quickly falls apart in the presence of Ty Segall. For one thing, he’s clearly beholden to his forebears while still sounding vital and original. He also puts out a lot of music on a frequent basis. And he releases honest to goodness singles. Granted, a lot of bands release singles these days, especially via iTunes, but what makes Ty Segall’s singles special is that they come with B-sides, which, if we’re going the traditional route, is way more rock and roll because it evokes the format in which rock music ascended the charts: the vinyl 45.