I love music. Unfortunately it’s not as much a part of my life as I would like. If you’ve shared enough drinks with me you’ll learn that I was a DJ and station manager at my college radio station, a magical place where I learned so much about punk, blues, underground hip hop, booze, drugs, and women. For three years I was immersed in music, talking about it and finding new things to listen to, criticize, and fall in love with every single day.
And then I graduated and got a day job somewhere in the midwest. And then I stopped being able to easily find good music…
And then I moved to Seattle!
That’s one more thing about this place. Music is all around you. Every neighborhood has a decent record store, independent or not, and every neighborhood has a venue or two and most of them host shows most nights of the week. KEXP is one of the best stations there is for breaking new bands and it’s not as smug as you might expect. If you like music, it’s here and you have no excuse not to find some new great stuff. That’s why I’m writing this. I’ve found a lot of great music this year and I’m proud of that and I want to share. Now I will remind you that I’m still a dad who works a desk job so if you’re expecting some cutting edge shit, you’ll have to go elsewhere.
This is literally:
The TOP five albums of
2014 the past couple years for dads who have desk jobs….or just what I’m listening to a lot of right now. In no particular order…
PACK A.D. – Some Sssongs
Now I am a sucker for stripped down two person garage outfits and because of this I had to hear more of Pack A.D. after I first heard them on KEXP. When I found out they were two tough looking chicks from Vancouver in business attire I fell in love. I think this demo is an excellent display of their prowess and I’ve read that their full length stuff misses the mark a little bit, which I can totally see as this band is a little unpolished. That is definitely part of the appeal though – rough edges, loose timing, hard guitar, loud drums, and babes yelling some blues tinted rock stylings that risk being unmelodic. This is definitely a band I’d like to see live.
I really enjoy listening to this band while I run but I can’t really explain why. I think I have visions of myself in a mosh-pit or kicking a hole through a wall.
Allen Stone – Allen Stone
I first heard Allen Stone because they were playing a big corporate event at a conference I went to about data management here in Seattle but please don’t judge them on that because that really says more about Seattle than it does about this band. Allen Stone lays down beautiful 70s era style soul jams reminiscent of Marvin Gaye and I would urge you to listen to them before ever looking at this picture of the lead singer, Allen Stone. This guy has the voice and sound of a big beautiful black man trying to sing the pants off of you and yet he looks like he just emerged from a trailer to sell you some meth. Seeing him live almost gave me a seizure because my brain couldn’t reconcile the reality of what I was seeing with what I was hearing. This is also the oldest album on this list as it was released in 2012.
After you’ve sprinkled the apartment with rose petals, lit all the candles, and you’ve put on your robe because this stereotype is going to work tonight, damnit!
The Orwells – Disgraceland
When I first heard this album, I swore I could hear the midwest in it, which is why I wasn’t surprised these kids (look at them, they’re kids) are from Chicago. And it wasn’t just the lyrics about chicks, getting wasted, leather, chicks getting wasted and chicks and getting wasted that brought memories back of flat landscapes and no nightlife. It was also that the riffs and hooks and lyrics seemed to totally lack pretension, one of the only things I can still appreciate about the lands of my birth. This album just wants to rock and I consider it a rare thing when a band wants to rock out and sing about partying and manages to not come off as silly. They pull it off. They also have the best band name I can think of from the past ten years.
When you want to remember all those great memories of your youth that you can’t talk about with your significant other… or anyone else for that matter.
Bishop Allen – Lights Out
I’ve been a huge fan of Bishop Allen, and more specifically, Christian Rudder, for a long time. They have always put out perfect pop tunes for you to devour(see things are what you make of them) but if you ever picked up a previous album you were probably shocked to find that the album was filled with overly intellectual(they’re a bunch of Harvard boys) and often depressing songs about feelings in between those excellent pop gems. Well not this time! Lights out is a perfect pop album, even when they’re singing about their feelings and difficult relationships they get it right. Light and easy but still satisfying from an artistic perspective as the tunes do have some depth both in style and lyrics.
When you want to remember being a young twenty or thirty something Harvard graduate who struggles with their relationships and what love really is and you pine for your younger days when you spent your summers in the Hamptons and ran along beaches wondering if the oceans went on forever and ever….. *sigh*
Cactus Blossoms – Live at the Turf Club
One of my favorite bands I’ve discovered since coming to Seattle is JD McPherson and the Wolves. They had a track on a KEXP live album and I’ve seen them in town twice since then and they’ve rocked it both times. This latest time at the Tractor however they had a great opener in the Cactus Blossoms. Let me tell you something, I don’t really enjoy country music. Sure I like Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash like everyone else, but I hardly associate that with country or at the very least I operate under the impression that you can’t be less than 60 and make good country music. These two young guys though, the Cactus Blossoms, two brothers from Minneapolis, are working hard to change my mind. One review calls them the perfect blend of old and new country but I feel like that could be an insult if I lofted it at someone. They’re the kind of band that could make you think you might actually enjoy country or make you long for a simpler, slower time and place. They’re just two guys with guitars and great voices and there’s something really powerful in the simplicity of it.
Change Your Ways or Die (the Buffalo Song)
While you’re cooking dinner and your wife and daughter are hanging out and you just want to be content with the world.