Tag Archives: rock and roll

The Top Five Best Albums of 2014

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

It sounded like a lame joke I might make to myself or on Twitter: Rolling Stone has thought it over, and they’ve decided that the best, most interesting, and/or most inspiring albums of 2014 are: the one that U2 gave away for free, and the one that Bruce Springsteen pulled together from a decade of outtakes. I like U2 and I’ve got love for latter-day Springsteen. But the question remains:

Don’t you think we can do better?

Not every music publication’s best-music list is as lame as Rolling Stone‘s, of course, but there is a certain familiarity and timidity in a whole lot of them. The kind of over-the-top poptimism that gives Taylor Swift a lot of bonus points for making an album that isn’t unlistenable and that a lot of people bought. Or the kind of inclusiveness that insists you need to count down 50 top albums of the year, which is to say mention a lot without really calling anything way better than anything else. I understand that a crap-ton of albums are released every year. But is a list of 50 a best-of, or is it an abridged chronology?

So here’s the SportsAlcohol.com music nerds to tell you what’s what. Rob, Marisa, Sara, Craig and I submitted fairly disparate Best Albums lists and rallied around a few top vote-getters to create our rock-solid top five. We’re pretty sure it’s the best one on the internet. So there’s nothing left to do but enjoy it. And then argue with us like we’re Rolling Stone.
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TRACK MARKS BEST OF 2014: “Lazerray” by TV on the Radio

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

This week, SportsAlcohol.com writers are recounting the best music of 2014. Today’s Track Marks focus on individual songs from albums that didn’t make our collective top five, but did appear on our individual best-album ballots.

TV on the Radio seem like super cool guys; are they secret sci-fi/fantasy nerds? What “Wolf Like Me” did for werewolves, TV on the Radio’s “Lazerray” does for lasers; the band clearly gets most amped when it’s singing about stuff that sounds like they’re free-associating off of the DuckTales opening credits. I feel like with all the talk about the tragic death of bassist Gerard Smith and Seeds being their attempt at a healing comeback, the driving ass-kickery of this song has been kinda slept on, even though it’s up there with “Wolf” and “Caffeinated Consciousness” as some of the most awesome stuff TV on the Radio has ever put recorded. It’s OK that the rest of Seeds doesn’t sound like this, because it’s quite beautiful, and how could anything really sound like this for a whole album? Those sweet horn accents that come in around the 2:15 mark sound all the sweeter because they come in there like it’s the only point where they might be able to get a word in edgewise. When I saw TV on the Radio over the summer, they were kicking ass throughout, but when “Wolf Like Me” came on, people lost their shit and started moshing like twenty rows back. I can’t imagine this won’t happen with “Lazerray” in the future, especially if solar flares can mosh.

TRACK MARKS BEST OF 2014: “Goshen ’97” by Strand of Oaks

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

This week, SportsAlcohol.com writers are recounting the best music of 2014. Today’s Track Marks focus on individual songs from albums that didn’t make our collective top five, but did appear on our individual best-album ballots.

Here’s how I heard about Strands of Oak and came to buy their newest album Heal:

1. A friend sent me a link to the song “Goshen ’97.”
2. I listened to the first thirty seconds of “Goshen ’97.”
3. I bought the album.

I’m not sure I’ve ever gone from literally never having heard of a band to buying their album that quickly. Such is the power of “Goshen ’97,” a song where the guy from Strand of Oaks sings about being a teenager, singing Smashing Pumpkins by himself, and futzing around with a tape machine. This sounds gently nostalgic on paper, whereas in the song it sounds approximately as triumphant as punching through a fucking volcano.

Due respect to the dude from Strand of Oaks, but the music video for this song is all wrong. One of the biggest opening stomps in any rock song I’ve heard in ages, and the video opens on an image of the dude sitting on his bed, smoking, mostly naked, and looking sad. Even when it cuts over to some roller-skaters, Mr. Oaks is still just sitting there like he’s fucking Sam Beam or something. I know the song goes, “I was lonely but I was having fun,” but the video seems like it only heard the first part. Eventually there’s some slow-mo thrashing, but no, I’m sorry, it’s not enough. This video does the worst thing any music video can do: it fails to capture exactly how I personally feel while listening to this song. For me, “Goshen ’97” is the sound of the exhilarating desperation of being alone. It’s just you, some guitars, and possibly the volcano you just punched through.

TRACK MARKS BEST OF 2014: “Blue Moon” by Beck

Sara

Sara

Sara is big into reading and writing fiction like it's her job, because it is. That doesn't mean she isn't real as it gets. She loves real stuff like polka dots, indie rock, and underground fight clubs. I may have made some of that up. I don't know her that well. You can tell she didn't just write this in the third person because if she had written it there would have been less suspect sentence construction.
Sara

This week, SportsAlcohol.com writers are recounting the best music of 2014. Today’s Track Marks focus on individual songs from albums that didn’t make our collective top five, but did appear on our individual best-album ballots.

I know I’m in the minority on this but I like Beck most when he’s mopey. Sea Change was a very meaningful record to me in high school; to paraphrase Rob from High Fidelity, it takes a very particular kind of person to think they’ll be alone for the rest of their life at twenty-five, so it must take an extraordinarily neurotic one to worry about that at sixteen. But for whatever reason, I felt less lonely when I listened to “The Golden Age.” I suspect it has something to do with the fact that Beck, for all the gimmicky (and wonderful!) singles he released in the nineties, has a warm and inviting voice when he’s crooning. Morning Phase, his 2014 record, is full of that sound, and no song on that record more so than “Blue Moon.”

The song feels in many ways like a continuation of “The Golden Age.” They share a similar rhythm, which lacks the urgency of his more aggressive singles but is buoyed by a dreamy tempo that’s perfect for driving at night with the top down. “Blue Moon” has more playful instrumentation, with the main theme provided by a plinking charango and a swell of soulful “ooh-ooh’s” carrying along the chorus. I could listen to the jumpy clavinet progression near the end for hours. It’s so lush and swoony that you’d be forgiven for ignoring the lyrics, which invert the Rodgers and Hart classic of the same name from a singer finding solace in the skies above into a naked plea to the people who surround him. “Don’t leave me on my own,” Beck entreats, and by the time the song is over we’re sorry to go. While the rest of the album plays in a pleasant earthy register it’s with this song that it truly hits the stratosphere.

Paint’s Peeling: At a Rilo Kiley Show in 2003

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

Some of your beloved SportsAlcohol.com writers are going to see Jenny Lewis tonight. She will probably play Rilo Kiley songs. I first saw Rilo Kiley in 2003. This is a made-up story about other people seeing Rilo Kiley for the first time in 2003.

I’ve heard they cry at Bright Eyes shows. Not just from Emily. I did some research on the internet. It’s kind of embarrassing but I didn’t realize people my age didn’t really use newsgroups for this stuff anymore. The Bright Eyes newsgroup is mostly a bunch of assholes making pretty good points about how Bright Eyes sucks, and I don’t really have a problem with that except it seems like kind of a weird theme for the Bright Eyes newsgroup, and also makes me think, fuck me, is this how I sound on the Star Wars groups? So it makes sense that you have to hunting around LiveJournal and the Saddle Creek message boards and, for as long as your eyes can take it, MySpace to find a bunch of people – let’s be honest, mostly girls – crying their virtual tears over Conor Oberst and his stupid one-man band and haircut.

I don’t know if Rilo Kiley people are going to be the same as Bright Eyes people. I would think they’d be as different as Rilo Kiley sounds from Bright Eyes, which to me is pretty different, but apparently they have a lot of fans in common so maybe I’m the weird one. Anyway, research can’t hurt. I want to know what those internet-type people are like even if I’m not going to be one of them. Some of them sound okay.

I chatted with this one guy on AIM. He gave me the idea of what this Rilo Kiley show would be like. I mean, I’ve been to shows; I know what that’s like. I know the difference between hardcore bands playing the back room at the pool hall and the assholes from the seventies and eighties and today who play at Kalamazoo or Ann Arbor. But I don’t know: somehow the Saddle Creek bands seem different, like they’ll change the shapes of the rooms by entering them and bringing in whatever. The AIM guy backed that up, actually. He said it’s like nothing else although at that point I wasn’t one hundred percent sure what “it” was and I didn’t really want to ask.
Continue reading Paint’s Peeling: At a Rilo Kiley Show in 2003