| December 26, 2014

music countdown 2013 fly fishing music

New Fly Fishing Music VideoI never thought I would finally find the time to pull a stack of 2014 CD releases together, stack, sort, and finally break it down to the top ten music releases of 2014. It’s difficult for several reasons besides time. Last year was a pretty low down year for the music and musicians I consider reliable to release music – good music.

This year has had it’s controversial moments, like Apple pushing the U2 CD to iPhone users without their permission. All I can say about that CD is; we waited how long for this, to have it force fed to us?




And make no mistake, the entire music universe seems to be waxing nostalgic over the Beatles as that 50th. anniversary beat rolls on. Fifty-years ago the Beatles did this, or they did that … it was enough to make me go back and listen to their first release after finishing the definitive epic “The Beatles: All These Years,” by Mark Lewisohn. The harmonic convergence of John, Paul, George and Ringo always seemed mythological to me, and when you read how these lads found each other, well I believe it is beyond a natural happening. There were releases this year that would have made the Top 10 if I had not recognized the fact it was the Beatles being fed back to us (or those of you who are too young to realize you’re hearing the Beatles). Imagine that; a band feeds US music back to us fifty years ago (at first), and the US eats it up. Now US artists are feeding us the Beatle sound and we’re eating it up again! What a world.


Rather than ties for last, or a lengthy “Honorable Mention” to lead things off, we can just dispense with that up front. Once you get past the Top 10 It’s A Long Way to the Top if you Wanna’ Rock-and-Roll (AC/DC). I can say there is a distinctive imbalance in sounds this year – no jazz, no country, and nothing regional to the Gulf Coast or mountain bluegrass states. If you take the time to listen to the audio, you may find a few artists sprinkled in that had good songs, but just not a good enough total release.

The Black Keys – “TURN BLUE”

The Black Keys sound is (North) American as it gets. Their last CD was so good they couldn’t help but fall. It was a classic. I can see they are taking a breath, dialing down the guitars and dialing up the keyboards on this one. There’s nothing wrong with that and any other year this would be a TOP 5 release. Basically, when you see me putting “Turn Blue” at number 10, you know this year is special. They deserve a breather, and listening to them right now, even with one guitar tied behind their back, makes me want to push them up a few spots. SONG – “Fever”

Drive-By Truckers – “English Oceans”

Again, a CD this strong at number 9 is like a warning shot across the bow … it’s a strong year. The DBT’s are up to form, telling stories that I can see from their perspective. The story telling style is running a little thin after all these years. I would like them to cut loose with some distinct stand-alone songs that give us a break from the routine. This CD is looser than many of their recent releases though. That said, NUMBER 9 is a good place to be this year! SONG – “Grand Canyon”

Phish – “Fuego”

Clean, clean clean. The sound we audiophiles miss from our rock-and-roll is a clean sound with musicians playing great music that is well executed, and well done all the way around. Think Steely Dan, Alan Parsons and few others from the past. I heard Phish recorded this release in from a different approach, and different perspective than past releases. I fished with a fan of Phish on the Texas Gulf Coast for a couple of days last summer, and he didn’t like this one. Phish is well known for their jam-band live shows, and not well known for their studio releases. My expectations were very low because I have purchased studio releases of theirs in the past, and they were … disappointing. NOT this release. I think the reason I like it is because it is so clean, and not a loose jam (like their shows). Whatever the reason, this CD gets spun over and over again in the studio. It’s seamless. I imagine a rocky mountain high would make this one come at you from a whole different, even better, perspective. SONG – “Wingsuit”

Jack White – “Lazaretto”

There is zero doubt that Jack White is a top guitar slinger, and I like guitars a lot. It’s a short CD, but damn it is intense. Be careful. If your speakers are on their last legs, this one will do it. He does mix it up a bit though. “Temporary Ground” has the twangy steel mixed with violin and rigidly scaling vocal harmonies that create this edgy feeling of experiment – you’ll either love or hate. He never totally loses control of the direction, but he does change directions a few times on this one. Song – “Just One Drink” (NC17)

Robert Plant & The Sensational Shape Shifters – “Lullaby and … The Ceaseless Roar”

You gotta’ be kidding, right? No. That old guy you see on TV, the one with the huge mane of hair and a face like the Grand Canyon still has it. He is on the edge of sound, and can mix it up in a way that sucks you right in for the entire CD. From the singing of yodels to the sounds that have an Near Eastern flavor. It’s like being dragged by your ears – from West Texas across the country, across the Atlantic and to where west meets east. And the music doesn’t let loose easy. Think Kashmir. SONG – “Embrace Another Fall”

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Category: Culture on the Skids, Event Podcasting, Music

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