THE TOP 20 ALBUMS OF 2014 (non-Hip Hop)


A collection of cover songs from a small band that should blow you away.  They transform Pink Floyd’s “Money” from a psychedelic anthem on greed to a desperate, bluesy grind.  “Ain’t No Sunshine” moves from an R&B classic focused mostly on the vocals to a jam-based anthem of longing and pain.  And all the techno is removed from Moby’s “Natural Blues,” replaced with actual instrumentation that shows how well written the song was in the first place.  That’s what makes for a great cover, right?  It’s not being able to do a note-for-note copy, it’s the ability to recognize the untapped power of a song.

This is the best covers album of the year, hands down.

4.  AWESOME MIXTAPE VOL. 1 (aka the soundtrack to Guardians of the Galaxy)

Making corny music cool again, and cool music even cooler, this collection of 1970s music hits every note.  It’s got one classic David Bowie song, but the rest are gems you know by heart but wish you didn’t (“Escape (The Pina Colada Song)”) and tunes you haven’t heard in years and forgot how cool they are (“Come and Get Your Love”).  Okay, maybe it’s not cool to include this since it’s basically a collection of tried-and-true major hits, but tough.  It’s great.

The best movie of the year also sported the best soundtrack.

3.  DIVE INDEX-Lost in the Pressure

This album probably affected me spiritually more than any other this year.  The lyrics, the ambient trance of the music, and the eerie vocals combined to form an hypnotic experience.  Phenomenal record that nearly nobody has heard of.

2.  JOHN MELLENCAMP-Performs Trouble No More Live at Town Hall

This is exactly what it says it is: Mellencamp and his incredibly talented band playing the 2003 album titled, “Trouble No More,” a record covering folk and blues music ranging from Robert Johnson and Son House to Woody Guthrie and Lucinda Williams, mixed in with a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited,” and fresh takes on some of his hits like “Paper In Fire” and “Small Town.”  The band and its leader are at the top of their game, which is rare for artists who have been around for 30 years.  His voice still carries all the rage, pain, and conviction of a 20-year-old who likes it when it hurts so good, but the soul of the music is now infused with the wisdom of a man who knows that when he fights authority, authority always wins.  Absolutely brilliant.  I listened to this twice, back-to-back, when I first got it.


1.  SPOON-They Want My Soul

This band never disappoints, and every album is a little different from the one before it.  For my money, Spoon is the greatest band playing music today.

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