For once I’m writing this at a not too unreasonable point after the end of the year in question, so no need for a backdated post inserted via time travel…
1. LILILIL — Benji Hughes
I can’t think of another album in the last decade — if not ever — that leaves me with such a big grin every time I listen to it. LILILIL is concept album Benji wrote for his daughter. The story is a time travel rock opera set in outer space and narrated by Jeff Bridges. Various characters leave “space messages” that are basically introductions to “space jams” by Benji. Plus the whole thing starts off with a repeated chant of “I am from the future…I am from the future…I am from the future.” You had me at hello…
2. OXOXOXOX / Songs in the Key of Animals / XXOXOXX – Benji Hughes
Yes, I really am saying my 4 favorite albums of 2014 are by the same artist. And it was pretty much a no brainer. Since they are only available for purchase as a set I’ll go Nielsen-style and group them together under a single number. (This also gets me off the hook from needing to rank them individually.) Can you say infallible band?
3. Supernova – Ray LaMontagne
Ray’s best record since his debut. Taking chances with vocal arrangements and cool stuttery noises that paid off big. Any other year this would have been number one with a bullet.
4. The Voyager – Jenny Lewis
Breezy, poppy, snarky, confident and fun.
5. V for Vaselines – The Vaselines
Kurt Cobain’s fandom and Nirvana’s 3 famous covers sent me seeking out the Vaselines 20 years ago. Some songs I have always loved (“The Day I Was a Horse,” “Teenage Superstars” and “Dying For It”), but mostly I respected them and found the other songs more interesting than good. The same was mostly true about their 2010 comeback record — but V for Vaselines is easily the best album in their catalog. I hope they do another one.