My Favorite Albums of 2014 (So Far)

My Favorite Albums of 2014 (So Far)

They say that time flies when you’re having fun—and if there’s even an ounce of truth to that statement, 2014 has been an all-around blast. Being a music junkie, album releases obviously impact how I’m feeling about any given year. And so far, 2014 has been hitting the high bar that 2013 set.

Here are five of my favorites albums, so far.

Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues

Transgender Dysphoria BluesAgainst Me! have been making pop-friendly punk for nearly two decades now, but the late 2000′s found the band lacking the ferocity they once harnessed. That all changed with this year’s Transgender Dysphoria Bluesa semi-autobiographical account of the life of front woman Laura Jane Grace, who publicly came out as a transgender woman in 2012. The album’s lyrical content is hands-down the most important you’re going to hear all year, but Transgender‘s musical content nearly matches in quality, having found a drive of its own.

Cloud Nothings – Here and Nowhere Else

Here and Nowhere ElseIn 2012, Dylan Baldi took his musical venture Cloud Nothings from a bedroom project to a full-blown rock outfit. Here and Nowhere Else, Cloud Nothings’ second release as a full band, is another healthy dose of raw guitars, ferocious drums and yelping vocals. The record gets in and out in half an hour, not wasting any time in rocking the heck out. And though its heavier than some Cloud Nothings fans may be used to, Here and Nowhere Else is just as full of hooks and catchy choruses as the ones Baldi used to pen alone in his bedroom.

Modern Baseball – You’re Gonna Miss It All

I’m only 22,You're Gonna Miss It All but sometimes I feel too old to appreciate Modern Baseball. The band is technically of the “emo” variety, but that tag is most assuredly due to front man Brendan Lukens’ memorable but sulky vocals. The actual music that Modern Baseball dabbles in is all over the map, ranging from pop to punk to acoustic ballads. Their second record, You’re Gonna Miss It All, caught me completely off guard — but its quietly become my most spun record of the year.

tUnE-yArDs – Nikki NackNikki Nack

Nikki Nack finds Merrirl Garbus (AKA tUnE-yArDs) perfecting her unique brand of progressive pop; it’s weird, it’s fun and, above all, it’s just good music. For anybody who’s sick of the blandness surrounding today’s indie pop scene, Nikki Nack will be just the breath of fresh air they crave.

The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream

Lost in the DreamThe War on Drugs‘ Lost in the Dream brings to mind Springsteen, Petty and Dylan, but the album stands alone because it takes those influences and crafts something sprawling and unique out of them. Every track here sifts into the next, crafting one seamless, beautiful blur. I have a hard time believing a more cohesive, front-to-back record will be released this year—and that doesn’t bother me one bit.

Luckily for us, the second half of 2014 is looking just as juicy as the first. I’m already looking forward to Spoon‘s They Want My Soul (8/05), and self-titled debuts from Alvvays (7/22) and Jungle (7/15).



Andrew Brandt
@andrewtbrandt

Andrew is a communications intern at Murfie. When he’s not blogging here, you can probably find him blogging at a handful of other music sites. And when he’s not blogging at all, you can probably find him curled up with a good beer and a great book.



Perpetual at Best: Songs That Get Stuck in My Head

Headache

Warning: This article contains content that may cause severe psychological annoyance. For better or for worse, these are songs that enter the deepest recesses of my subconscious and squat the land of my cerebral campground like an unwanted relative around the holidays. These are not necessarily “bad” songs. However, upon hearing them in one’s head for the ten thousandth time, the lines between “good” and “bad” become nonexistent. The songs become, instead, perpetual at best.

My mind is a psychotic radio dial. When I wake up in the morning, music immediately begins to swell in my head whether I Come Away With Mepress the play button or not. I do not have a radio alarm clock; it seems as if I was born with one already installed. Some days this is a blessing. Who wouldn’t want to wake up and start the day with Elvis Costello or Norah Jones crooning them through their morning routine? Or maybe a bit of Madama Butterfly for a dramatic edge to the day? I like these days.

Then there are other days, or sometimes even weeks, where I find myself waking up to an immediate crescendo of Michael Jackson’s “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” from Thriller. I couldn’t explain it at first; I hadn’t heard this song in years. In an attempt to force it out of my head, I tried listening to it over and over again throughout my daily activities. ThrillerBrushing my teeth, I had it playing in the other room. Smearing butter over toast in the kitchen, it was blaring away. Leading a 1970′s disco troupe in a synchronized dance-off in my living room, you bet it was playing. Sometimes you have to sacrifice your sanity to put a spring in your step.

How did I eventually cure myself of this Michael Jackson madness? A chance encounter with Mott the Mott the HoopleHoople’s 1972 smash hit, “All the Young Dudes.” I didn’t stand a chance against this song: from the mighty and infectious guitar solo in the opening bars, to the glam-rock bell tones of the chromatically descending chorus, the song loops in my head like rock and roll funeral march. The song was written by David Bowie specifically for the band upon hearing that they were on the verge of breaking up. (Fun fact: the song that Bowie had originally offered the band was “Suffragette City,” which would later become a hit on The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Mott the Hoople turned it down.)

Permission to Land

Speaking of glam-rock, we come to the greatest ear-worm of them all: “I Believe in a Thing Called Love,” by The Darkness. This 2003 release is almost a caricature of itself; ear-piercing falsetto vocals and over-the-top guitar and synth transport the listener to the heyday of the 1970s. The chorus is catchy to the point of being almost unforgettable. In my own case, I literally cannot forget it. And I think I’m okay with that.

Want something stuck in your head? Murfie makes it easy. Buy CDs in our marketplace starting at $2 ,and you’ll see what I mean. 



Grant Peterre
@gpeterre

Grant is a Communications Intern at Murfie. He has played the guitar nearly his entire life, and his music and writings have been featured in international publications. He makes his home in both the United States and Italy, and will always be traveling in search of something.


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Last Call: Your Murfie Week in Review

 

Mon.
7/7


[Twitter] We recommended pre-ordering new albums by Anand Wilder and Cloud Boat.

[Twitter] We bumped some reggae tunes on the office Sonos PLAY:5.

Tues.
7/8


[Blog] We previewed the upcoming album Terms of My Surrender by John Hiatt.

[Website] We re-vamped and improved search on murfie.com.

Weds.
7/9


[Blog] Wishy Wednesday delighted a few lucky Murfie members.

[Twitter] Our CEO Matt Younkle shared a cool article about music ownership vs. rental.

[Blog] We previewed Weird Al’s newest album Mandatory Fun.

[Twitter] We recommended pre-ordering Trampled by Turtles’ upcoming album.

Thurs.
7/10


[Blog] Andrew wrote a review of Radiohead’s career.

[Twitter] We reacted to an awesome article about CD collecting.

Fri.
7/11


[Blog] Andrew recommended a few albums to fans of Bruce Springsteen.

[Twitter] We suggested Murfie as a way to #declutter CDs.


Bruce Springsteen

You Just Might Like: Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen is a man who needs no introduction: throughout his five-decade long career, he’s released 18 studio albums, won 20 Grammys—and has sold nearly 65 million records in the US alone.Born to Run

Even though the Boss’s discography is an enormous, shape-shifting beast, sometimes its not enough; sometimes you greedily crave more than the Boss can given you. Perhaps you’re looking for a darker take on Darkness on the Edge of Town, or perhaps you’re aching for a modernized Born to Run. Either way, you’re in luck: a lot of kids kicking around in bands today were raised on Bruce’s best stuff.

Here are a few you just might like.

The Gaslight Anthem

The Gaslight Anthem:

The Gaslight Anthem is four dudes from Jersey who not only idolize Bruce, but have actually opened for him. Their ties to Springsteen mostly lie in band leader Brian Fallon’s lyrics, which claw for lost youth and faded lovers—even though they’re probably too young to have earned that right. Musically they’re a tad heavier than Bruce’s biggest anthems, but the two artists’ spirits ride on the same highway. Their 2010 album American Slang is a great place to start.

The Hold Steady:

The Hold StBoys and Girls in Americaeady is a Brooklyn group that hails from the Minneapolis bar band scene. They’re well versed in catchy riffs, epic piano solos and lyrics that hail a unified scene. Lead singer Craig Finn shouts and speaks more than he sings, but his enthusiasm for his words, for his band—and for music in general—allow him to pull his style off with, well, style. The Hold Steady’s 2006 album Boys and Girls in America riffs off of Kerouac’s On the Road and Springsteen’s Born to Run at an equal rate, and is a fantastic jumping off point.

Arcade Fire:Neon Bible

Arcade Fire have recently shifted into dance-friendly territory with Reflektor, but just a few years back they proudly wore Springsteen’s influence on their sleeve. This is especially apparent on anthems like “Keep the Car Running” and “(Antichrist Television Blues),” two standouts from Neon Bible. The Boss himself even joined Arcade Fire onstage for “Keep the Car Running” at a gig in Ottawa in 2007, a performance which you can (and should) catch below.


Andrew Brandt
@andrewtbrandt

Andrew is a communications intern at Murfie. When he’s not blogging here, you can probably find him blogging at a handful of other music sites. And when he’s not blogging at all, you can probably find him curled up with a good beer and a great book.



radiohead

Radiohead: A Career Defying Expectations


Pablo Honey
Radiohead, an English rock band from Oxfordshire, has made a career out of defying expectations. Over eight studio albums, the band—which consists of Thom Yorke, Johnny and Colin Greenwood, Phil Selway and Ed O’Brien—has constantly re-invented their sound, and managed to rack up 18 Grammy nominations and over 30 million in record sales along the way.

The five men met as boys in 1985, and quickly formed a band called “On A Friday.” Yet they didn’t hit their first break until 1991, when they happened upon a representative from EMI. After requesting that the five-piece change their name, the band signed a six-record deal as the newly named “Radiohead.”

RadioheThe Bendsad released their first record, Pablo Honey, in 1993. Largely influenced by the recent grunge and alternative rock movements, Pablo Honey sold relatively well and spawned the hit “Creep”; it also spawned the band’s first nickname, “Nirvana Lite.” Yorke and company quickly grew tired of being lazily lumped in with their peers, so for their next record, The Bends, they worked with producer Nigel Godrich in an attempt to shift their focus. What resulted was critical success and a cemented status as one of the top Brit-rock bands around.

OK ComputerYet again, Radiohead quickly grew tired of being set side by side with the other Britpop bands of the ‘90s. They responded in 1997 with the illustrious OK Computer, an album chock full of guitars and Thom Yorke’s now-legendary falsetto. Lyrically, OK Computer harks on the pitfalls of consumerism and the isolation experienced in the modern age; instrumentally, it’s all over the map: there are ballads (“Karma Police”), rockers (“Electioneering”), and songs that hit every mark in between (“Paranoid Android”). OK Computer was both a critical and commercial blockbuster, instantly landing the number one spot on the U.K. charts and eventually winding up at the 162nd spot on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

ExpectationKid As to deliver a hit record vastly increased after OK Computer, and again, Radiohead responded by shifting into new sonic territory. In 2000, they unleashed Kid A onto the world. Or should I say, the Internet did; Kid A was one of the first albums to ever leak on file sharing programs, and, with its heavy reliance on electronic samples and digital effects, it was an eerie fit. Even though Radiohead’s trademark guitar-driven sound is nearly absent on Kid A, it’s arguably their best. Heck, forget Radiohead: Kid A—which went on to win a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album and was subsequently ranked the number one album of the 2000s by both Rolling Stone and Pitchfork Media—is arguably one of the greatest albums of all time.

AmnesiacRumor had it that the Kid A sessions had fostered enough music to span two discs, and, lo and behold, Radiohead released Amnesiac the following year. Amnesiac explores the same digital world as Kid A, (they both feature “Morning Bell”) but their respective perspectives are quite distinct. Amnesiac marked the fifth time the band had worked with Nigel Godrich, and it was nominated for the Mercury Prize in 2001.

Hail to the Thief Radiohead returned to their rock roots in 2003 with the release of Hail to the Thief, their most overtly political statement to date. Hail to the Thief is also the band’s most musically sporadic work, due to the way it was quickly recorded and loosely assembled. It was their fifth straight album to be nominated for the Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album.

In RainbowsAfter Hail to the Thief, Radiohead was no longer under contract with EMI. So for their next album, In Rainbows, the band opted out of signing any new contracts. Instead, they released it themselves in a pay-what-you-want format that many independent bands have adopted for use today. At the time, I thought they broke music. Now, I see that the marketing strategy was tremendously successful, though it doesn’t hurt that In Rainbows is a blend of nearly every version of Radiohead imaginable. In Rainbows is also arguably the band’s most accessible album besides OK Computer, which was, perhaps coincidentally, released exactly ten years earlier.

In 2011The King of Limbs, Radiohead released their most recent album, King of Limbs. Again working with Nigel Godrich, King of Limbs found the band focusing less on typical song structures and more on looping techniques. On one hand, the album is clearly distinct from the rest of their catalogue; on the other, its differences are what makes it wholly a Radiohead record.

As of 2014, Radiohead is on a well-deserved break. In the mean time, us fans are anxiously awaiting their next pitch. I hope it’s another curveball.


Andrew Brandt
@andrewtbrandt

Andrew is a communications intern at Murfie. When he’s not blogging here, you can probably find him blogging at a handful of other music sites. And when he’s not blogging at all, you can probably find him curled up with a good beer and a great book.