Jan 5, 2015

Matthew Martin's Top 10 Albums of 2014

10. St. Paul & The Broken Bones - Half The City
This AL band generated quite the buzz before this album ever hit shelves - and with good reason.  This album is full of near-perfect throwback soul/funk gems that Alabama is getting good at reviving.


9. Gary Clark Jr. - Live
The first time I ever actually heard Gary Clark Jr was when I saw him live in Baltimore at a small venue called the 8x10. When I heard his debut album, I wasn't in love because of the slick production and added, unnecessary instruments.  That's why I think this album is so essential.  This is GCJr at his best.  Live, blistering, and unrelenting.


8. Natural Child - Dancin' With Wolves
I don't want to say Natural Child hit their stride on this album, but rather, they hit their comfort zone. Adding pedal steel and keys to the band, they have created, essentially, a modern day Harvest.


7. Mastodon - Once More Round The Sun
This happens to be my favorite Mastodon record to date. While that may not be a popular opinion among some Mastodon faithful,  I believe this is Mastodon doing what they do best.  Each song hits at break-neck speed and by the time you reach the last quarter of the album,  you equally beg for the onslaught to cease and to continue.


6. Lucero - Live From Atlanta
Another live album on this list because of how significant I think this one is.  Lucero is a great band.  They have transitioned from a cowpunk band to this band we have today at little-to-no detriment to their core sound.  This album is document of that complete transformation and more proof that if you have not seen Lucero live, you have to do so immediately.


5. Drive-by Truckers - English Oceans
Cooley. Really, the review could end there, but what fun would that be? With Cooley and Hood splitting the duties here, this album finds the Drive-By Truckers yet again reworking the band and creating something even stronger and tighter.  While I, unabashedly, really have enjoyed most of what DBT have put out, this album will arguably stand out as one of their greatest.


4. The Hold Steady - Teeth Dreams
I don't even know what to say about this album. It's great. There isn't a bad song on here. When I first listened, I'll admit, I was a little taken aback by the production quality (maybe too slick?), but as time has gone on and I've listened to the album numerous times, I have realized that there is not one thing wrong with this album.


3. Against Me! - Transgender Dysphoria Blues
On importance alone, this album deserves to be in the #1 spot.  But, this album happened to be released in a year that 2 other great albums were also released.  Musically and lyrically, this is a near perfect album.  Laura Jane Grace sings her heart out about a hell few of us know much about.  Give this album a listen, then listen again, then listen one more time.  It's absolutely stellar.


2. Sturgill Simpson - Metamodern Sounds in Country Music
Another important album- albeit for different reasons- Simpson's Metamodern Sounds in Country Music attempts to take everything we know about traditional country music and turn it on its head.  Simpson sings about LSD, reptile aliens, and love- all on the first track of the album.  As the album progresses, it's clear you're listening to something familiar and incredibly unique all at once.  Country music fans have been waiting for something like this, and I hope this album clears the path for other artists more inclined to sing about interesting topics- rather than trucks, beer, and backroads.


1. Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires - Dereconstructed
Speaking of important albums, I'm not sure there has been a more important Southern album.  This one came out and completely shattered my expectations.  Taking shots at the Southern ideology that still permeates some of Southern culture, the album is important because it shows that you can love something so much that you can recognize the attributes that sicken you and try to attack those head-on.  The South is a great place, but there are lots of things, past and present, that are nauseating.  LB3 attacks every angle with pinpoint accuracy.  And, let's not forget the incredible music on this album.  LB3 and band sound perfect on this album with, in my opinion, perfect production styles suited to the band's sound and style.  Oh, and if you haven't read Bitter Southerner's write-up on this band and album, please do so now!

By Matthew Martin

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