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Monday, December 29, 2014

My Favorite Albums of 2014 (16-25)

My blog hasn't been quite so active lately since I've been busy with other things, but I've still been listening to plenty of music and working on my annual favorite albums of the year list. This year I've narrowed things down to my top 25 (although I may talk about some others that just missed the cut in a post later). Here are entries 16-25. I'm hoping to follow this up with 6-15 tomorrow and squeezing in 1-5 on the last day of the new year. I hope you find something you enjoy here. I'd love to hear what albums other people enjoyed that I missed.

25) The Antlers - Familiar

Familiars is the fourth album from the New York indie rock trio. It continues their tradition of making gorgeous music. My favorite tracks are "Palace" and "Intruders."

24) Benjamin Booker - Benjamin Booker

This album is Benjamin Booker's debut, and his high energy version of blues rock is instantly infectious. The album kicks off with the track "Violent Shiver," which is a great start to an album. I love the guitar work, and I can't wait to hear more from him in the future. In addition to "Violent Shiver," my other favorite tracks are "Wicked Waters" and "Have You Seen My Son?"

23) Cataldo - Gilded Oldies

Seattle-based Cataldo was new to me this year. I can't recall how I discovered them, but I've found myself returning to this album (released in March) quite a bit over the year. You can download the lead track for the price of an email address on their website. My favorite tracks are "Sinkhole" and album closer "Other Side."

22) Shovels & Rope - Swimmin' Time

Shovels & Rope is the stage name for married duo Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent. Swimmin' Time is their follow up to their excellent "O' Be Joyful" in 2012. Once again, Hearst's voice is the real star, but the charm and chemistry of both members is readily apparent in all of their music. I saw the them a couple years ago at Sasquatch Music Festival, and I highly recommend going to see them if you ever get a chance.

21) Courtney Barnett - The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas

Technically this is just a repackaging of two previously released EPs by the Australian Courtney Barnett. And technically it was first released last year. However, it got a US release this year, and this is my list, so I'm including it! Courtney Barnett's music is sort of wandering indie rock that reminds me a bit of Kurt Vile, who released one of my favorite albums last year. Her music is highlighted by her wonderfully witty lyrics. "Avant Gardner" and "History Eraser" are my two favorite tracks off the record.

20) Cold Specks - Neuroplasticity

In 2012, Cold Specks had my second favorite album of the year. While Neuroplasticity didn't quite grab me the way I Predict A Graceful Expulsion did, I will always listen to anything featuring Al Spx's incredibly voice. This album featured the addition of a trumpet, which added a nice new element. My favorite track is "Bodies At Bay."

19) Sallie Ford - Slap Back

Last year, Sallie Ford and The Sound Outside put out one of my favorite albums of the year as well as a really good EP. Thus, I was pretty disappointed to hear the band was splitting up, but I was intrigued by Sallie Ford's new venture (under her own name), which included three local women from other bands to round out her new group. Sallie Ford's energy is ever present as she blends sounds from the 60s-90s (venturing away from her 50s sound with The Sound Outside). Everything she does seems to work, and however she chooses to make music, I'll be there eagerly anticipating it. My favorite track from the new album is "Coulda Been".

18) Nick Waterhouse - Holly

Nick Waterhouse's second album proves that his solid debut was no a fluke. His sound is a really nice mix of rock 'n roll, old school R&B, and soul that sounds like it could have been at home in the 50s or 60s. My favorite tracks on the album are "This Is A Game" and "Dead Room."

17) Ex Hex - Rips

This Washington D.C. trio creates some rockin' tunes led by Mary Timony (formerly of Wild Flag). This album is my annual reminder that Merge Records is the best label around. I'm glad to have been introduced to another band by them. My favorite tracks are "Beast" and "Hot and Cold."

16) Collapsible Mountains - Ribs On Heart

Scotland's I Build Collapsible Mountains has been a blog favorite that I've written about several times. It appears that Luke G Joyce has added another member in Sophie Adams and dropped the "I Build" to become just Collapsible Mountains now though. While I happen to miss the old name a bit, I love the new sound. The vocals of the two beautifully pair with one another throughout the album. This is especially true on the lead track "Endings." This is a gorgeous album, and I highly recommend going to grab it for yourself over on their Bandcamp page and supporting an excellent independent artist in the process.

Below you can listen to a song from each album on the list. If you like something, go check out more and/or support the artist.

Check back tomorrow for albums 6-15.

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