The Best Albums of 2014 (So Far), pt 2
2014 is shaping up to be a great year for new releases, so we’re back with ten more of our favorite records of the year, hand-picked by Griffin staff. Stream a playlist of our staff picks below, and don’t forget to check out our first batch of picks here!
Their debut LP, 1979’s Dreamin’ Wild, collected dust for over three decades before being reissued in 2012. Now, Light In The Attic records has released a compilation of a dozen more shoulda-been hits. Crisper and more polished than their debut, Still Dreamin’ Wild captures the Emerson brothers as they embrace the emerging synth-pop sounds of the early 80s. ^Mike
Once a band’s announced an indefinite hiatus, how do they spend their time? If you’re Thee Oh Sees, you put out another record. Answering the bludgeoning urgency of 2013’s Floating Coffin with searing psychedelia and garage rock crunch, Drop is 30 minutes of awesome. ^Mike
I don’t have much to say about the record besides I love it. Sounds like a powerful female Roy Orbison, and the songs are all really moving. ^Josh S.
Sunbathing Animal is the sound of a band trying to grow up. It’s awkward, self-consciously literate, and uneven. It’s also brilliant, and impossible to judge after one listen. There are standout tracks, but you won’t see the big picture until a few consecutive listens. ^Mike
Brian Eno said of the Velvet Underground‘s debut LP that it only sold a few thousand copies, but “everyone who bought one of those … copies started a band!” The same can be said of Spiderland. It’s impossible to overestimate the impact of Slint’s final LP, released in 1991, on the next two decades of rock music, but this lavish reissue box set from Touch And Go Records makes a good case for its legacy. ^Mike
When Unwound split up after 2001’s sprawling Leaves Turn Inside You, the silence was deafening, as vocalist and guitarist Justin Trosper remained largely inactive for over a decade. Now, Trosper, along with original Unwound member Brandt Sandeno, has returned with Survival Knife, and their debut is a thunderous slab of hard rock classicism as seen through the lens of punk’s snarling politicism. ^Mike
Nashville’s William Tyler (formerly of country-soul collective Lambchop) is a finger-picking virtuoso, providing sprawling instrumental soundtracks for an America in decline, but with a tender optimism that shines through each carefully chosen note. Lost Colony shares a lot of stylistic ground with last year’s landmark Impossible Truth, but it’s much more than a mere footnote to that larger work, and should be judged on its own merits. ^Mike
Jack White’s new solo album Lazaretto clocks in at just under 40 minutes spread thinly across 11 songs which crackle, buzz and hiss with fiery energy. Whether it’s the full on blues fusion insanity of the title track or the rollicking country of “Just One Drink”, the songs feel immediate and timeless. There aren’t any immediate stand out “hit” type songs but rather the whole album works together as a patchwork of influences, loves and emotions and the end result is better for it. Let this one grow on you, it’s worth it. ^Daniel
I was tied up most of the morning on Record Store Day, so I missed White Reaper’s last minute set at The Groove in East Nashville. Their set was a highlight of the day, according to everyone that saw it, and if their debut EP is any indication I don’t doubt it. Channeling the fury of the Ramones through the effortless cool of the Strokes, the record explodes with almost-unbelieveable energy. ^Mike
Young and in the Way are historically described as a blackened crust band, or as part of a surging movement in USBM – United States Black Metal. I don’t know that I’d call YAITW black metal, but also – who cares? They absolutely rip, and their newest offering (on Deathwish!) satisfies my need for black metal anguish/hopelessness/nihilism while also serving up heavy, violent, hardcore-tinged riffage. ^Rachel