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2014’s Best Albums According to 2014’s Best

2014’s Top Artists Share Their Favorite Albums

Every year, I painstakingly research the best albums of the year and confidently reveal my Top 25 Rock Albums. But, I’ve always wondered what those talented musicians thought were the best offerings. Now, I know.

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After compiling this year’s list, I reached out to a dozen of the artists that were included on either our Best Albums or Best Songs lists for 2014. A handful (the cooler, more intelligent ones, of course)  happily provided their thoughts, and they had some intriguing selections. Check the picks below and remember to come back next week to see where these artists landed on our Best Of lists.

John Humphrey, Seether:
Great Western Valkyrie by Rival Sons, my favorite new band. Soulful vocals; classic ambient, rock production with a Zeppelin-esque vibe. Bring on the guitar solo! Seether’s Isolate and Medicate will be featured on our Top Albums of 2014.

Leanne Kingwell
My top album of the year is La Petit Mort by James. I believe this group of humans make music for the right reasons; to make sense of the weirdness, worry and wonder of the world. I love Tim Booth’s voice. I love knowing James are still out there, 14 albums in. Waving their wand. Catching my feelings. An honourable mention goes to Camilla Sparksss for daring to do different on her album For You The Wild. And a big thank you to Jonathan L, whose weekly radio show “Lopsided World of L” is my gateway to a world of vital new music makers.  Kingwell’s Choking On Halos will be featured on our Top Albums of 2014.

Renee Phoenix, Fit For Rivals:
Voices by Phantogram is the only album that comes to mind for 2014. I dig electronic music and listening to all the different synth textures. Its fun to sing and dance to in the car… It’s a really interesting album. Fit For Rivals’ “Freak Machine” will be featured on our Top Songs of 2014.

Michael Ian Cummings, Skaters:
My favorite album of this year was by Broncho, Just Enough Hip To Be Woman. Usually when a record connects with me immediately it burns out in about a week. Not this one. It’s been on repeat and I’m nowhere near done with it. So good… Skaters’ Manhattan will be featured on our Top Albums of 2014.

James Durbin:
The last full album I bought was the beginning of this year. I got Arctic Monkeys AM. Technically, it came out in late 2013. The record is incredible. Alex Turner’s vocal prowess is off the hook. Come to find we share the same birthday, give or take a year or two. I have difficulty picking just one track as this is one of those rare records where every song is worthy and capable of being a hit single. I trust my 5 1/2 year old Son Hunter; his favorite track is “Knee Sox”.  Touché Arctic Monkeys. Touché.  Durbin’s “Parachute” will be featured on our Top Songs of 2014.

There you go, interesting choices and some damn good music.   I may need to do some last minute reexamining of my choices, which you can see published here Christmas week.

Rock On!

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Skaters Manhattan Album Review

Skaters – Manhattan Album Review

Manhattan – If you couldn’t tell by the title or the mini city-life vignettes splattered strategically throughout the album, this offering is an ode to New York City. This New York City based quartet has delivered a tome to life in the Big Apple at least from the perspective of a young male protagonist getting to really know the city. On this, their debut, Skaters offer up an album that absolutely demands your attention.

At times, I picture the band as the next Cage The Elephant, Replacements, or sticking closer to their home, The Strokes, but other times they seem just another over-hyped New York next big thing. So which one are they? I’d say that they’re more of the former. There’s talent here for sure and plenty a cause for optimism. Toss out a few of the weaker offerings and it’s a damn good album.

The album is packed with catchy rock offerings interestingly arranged around little vignettes of life in the city. There’s a copious amount of catchy rock tunes, but all is not perfect in The Big City.

Let me start the review by peeking at the first four songs, track by track. Doing this, we see a nice microcosm of the entire album.

“One Of Us” is an aggressive edgy rocker that gets the album off to a smashing start. The song features a bouncy synth opening, but at its core, it’s simply killer guitar-driven rock. “Miss Teen Massachusetts” is an abrupt change of pace. It’s a more melodic offering with a slick guitar riff and it’s another excellent track, this one quite reminiscent of Cage The Elephant. Then it’s “Deadbolt,” a breakneck rocker that absolutely exudes cool punk swagger. Three excellent offerings but all quite different.

It’s about this time where I started wondering “what the hell do these guys want to be?” Then to drive the point home further, the next track is a reggae infused jam in the snappy “Band Breaker. I’m not intent on a every band fitting neatly into a tight niche that defines the artist perfectly, but these guys are too scattered; a shame because their stuff is well-written and generally catchy as hell.

I found myself instantly drawn towards half a dozen songs on the album, but still felt like I was listening to an iPod on shuffle, as the selections were all over the rock music map.

There’s little doubt that this band will be a player in the rock scene for years to come, they just drip with musical talent and exude potential. Personally, I’d like to see them focus their approach a bit and decide what they really want to be when they grow up. Until then, listen to the album yourself and buy the tracks that best fit your tastes. I can absolutely guarantee there are at least a few gems for everyone’s liking.

To me, Skaters are at their absolute best when they’re tearing through pop punk offerings; songs like “I Wanna Dance But I Don’t Know How” and “One Of Us.” Check out Manhattan below an decide for yourself. I’d love to hear your thoughts; let us know what you think in the comments below, on Twitter or Facebook.

Rock on!

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