1. ELBOW “Fly Boy Blue/Lunette” (from The Take Off And Landing Of Everything 2014). New ELBOW album is wonderful, as can be expected from these guys. Also a great starting point place if you are not familiar with them.
2. NEIL FINN “DIzzy Heights” (from Dizzy Heights 2014). This is a great version of the title track to the new album, already fun to see how the lush album arrangements are paired down for live performance. Nothing lost in the smaller arrangement. Saw him in Boston this month. What a pro and what a band!
3. ST. VINCENT “Birth in Reverse” (from St. Vincent 2014). This may be my favorite ST. VINCENT album so far. Perhaps ANNIE CLARK has come to grips with the fact that she is a guitar hero. I love the choreography in this performance, although the drummer gets off way too easy.
4. BEN WATT “Hendra” (from Hendra 2014). Just out, this is Watt’s first solo album in 30 years. Of course he has been busy with EVERYTHING BUT THE GIRL, his DJ work and releases and penning two books in the interim. This video is a beautiful version of the title track, featuring the great BERNARD BUTLER, whom I understand is touring with BW. Almost makes me want a guitar with humbuckers… almost.
5. LIAM FINN “Snug As Fuck” (from The Nihilist 2014). How about “what the fuck?” I am not sure what this is but I like it. Happy Jubilancy Day.
6. WARPAINT “Love Is To Die” (from Warpaint 2014). One of my daughter’s favorites. This is very good.
7. NINA PERSSON “Dreaming Of Houses” (from Animal Heart 2014). Former CARDIGANS songwriter and singer has a new solo album of well crafted pop. Very clever and very catchy.
8. ROSEANNE CASH “The Sunken Lands” (from The River and The Thread 2014). She describes how difficult it must have been to be her grandmother, but I can’t imagine the burden of being the Man in Black’s kid was much easier. She is one of the most literate and poised songwriters in not just country music but, in all of music.
9. LAURA CANTRELL “Starry Skies” (from No Way There From Here 2014). With Radio Thrift Shop in hiatus, the Proprietress has crafted an excellent new record. I have seen this new album written about quite a bit and heard her featured on NPR and it’s nice to see her getting noticed in the media. She is a country music historian whose music is becoming an important part of country music’s history.
10. GUY CLARK “Cornmeal Waltz” (from My Favorite Picture Of You 2013). I love the the picture this song brings to mind. Not that familiar with him, I know him from the periphery. I know enough to know that this guy is the shit amongst songwriters, and not just Alt Country songwriters either.
11. NEKO CASE “Night Still Comes” (from The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You 2013). Probably should have included in the best of 2013 list but I am not always on the same page as Ms. Case. But now that I have spent more time with this album, I can easily see its charms.
12. FRANK OCEAN feat. MICK JONES, PAUL SIMONON and DIPLO “Hero” (single 2014). Hey, what about the chorus of kids? I looked it up and they are the Los Angeles Children’s Choir. Why no “feat.” for them??
13. DAMON ALBARN “Everyday Robots” (from Everyday Robots 2014). I like the video. I usually hate videos but this is very interesting and does not distract from the song.
14. TEMPLES “Shelter Song” (from Sun Structures 2014). This is pretty cool. Sounds like 1968. These kids either found their parents Nuggets box set or their grandparents old records.
15. JEREMY JAY “Covered In Ivy” (from Abandoned Apartments 2013). I can’t remember how I stumbled across this guy but I just read he used to write film scores.
16. BROKEN BELLS “Holding On For Life” (from After the Disco 2014). JAMES MERCER of THE SHINS and DANGER MOUSE of Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse. Oh wait, that’s Minute Mouse. His stuff sounds much different.
17. THE RAILS “Bonnie Portmore” (from forthcoming album Fair Warning 2014). THE RAILS are KAMI THOMPSON and JAMES WALBOURNE. KAMI is RICHARD and LINDA‘s kid and TEDDY‘s sister. James is a great guitarist, most recently backing up RAY DAVIES, who is no slouch.
Follow Blailist on Spotify and you can listen along. (Spotify did not have LIAM FINN or THE RAILS yet).