Jon’s Top 5 of 2014

2014 is done. Sadly, I didn’t get to listen to *everything* that came out this year, but I did hear a lot. There were some great records, some stinkers and a couple that I’m still not sure about. In Flames released an alternative rock record, the Headstones and Big Sugar both released an acoustic albums and Stan Bush continued to do what Stan Bush does. Judas Priest and AC/DC both loudly declared that they’re not dead yet (and don’t plan to be for quite some time.)

I was able to make a “best of” list. If you can only check out five albums before moving on to 2015’s new releases (as they trickle in), make sure to listen to the bands highlighted below.

#5 – Adebisi Shank – This Is The Third Album of a Band Called Adebisi Shank

The third and final album from the cheeky and unfathomably weird math/post-rock group strayed the furthest from post-rock conventions, daring listeners to follow along with them. Some tracks really worked, some were kind of befuddling. But I was always happy to accept the band’s unwillingness to tread water.

Album Highlight: Voodoo Vision

#4 – Moist – Glory Under Dangerous Skies

To some, Moist’s return in 2013 was just the latest in a konga-line of 90’s Can-Rock bands reforming. However, their record was the best of the bunch, showing a return to the intensity and menace that made them a must-see band in the first place. Yet fans yearning to hear the softer side of David Usher (who hasn’t aged a day) were served as well.

Album Highlight: Mechanical

#3 – …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead – IX

It seemed like for the past ten years … And You Will Us By The Trail of Dead was trying to write the next big epic. Unfortunately the records came off as more bloated and overwrought than anything. It was when they took a step back and just cut loose with Lost Songs (2012) that they would release one of the best albums yet. With IX they’ve managed to focus that energy and finally create that huge record we’ve been waiting for.

Album Highlight: How To Avoid Huge Ships

#2 – Raised By Swans – Oxnadalur

Eric Howden’s third album under the moniker Raised By Swans was the first to be recorded completely solo, with Howden playing all of the instruments and programming his own drums. A trip to Iceland was influential in the songwriting process behind Oxnadalur and it shows in the cold, fragile aesthetic. Bleak, powerful stuff here.

Album Highlight: Chasms

#1 – Ringo Deathstarr – God’s Dream

Released at the tail end of 2013 in Japan and in early 2014 in North America, God’s Dream is my album of the year. Making use of the best tricks of early-90’s shoegaze and the hooks used by alternative rock, Ringo Deathstarr crafted an exciting, diverse record.

Album Highlight: Chainsaw Morning

The rest:

#6 – Solstafir – Otta
#7 – Eels – The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett
#8 – Skull Fist – Chasing The Dream
#9 – Phantom – …Of Gods and Men
#10 – Electric Wizard – Time To Die