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

10.  THE KOOKS-Listen

Some will call this a lazy album.  It’s pop, full-blown pop.  It’s not sophisticated.  It has simple hooks and uses the old “kids on the soaring chorus” trick to inspire.  And yet, I love it.  Every time I hear it, it makes me happy.

9.  MELISSA ETHERIDGE-“Only the Good Die Young (Billy Joel cover)”

Performed live on a Howard Stern show tribute to one of the largely, and unjustly, forgotten kings of 1980s radio, Etheridge turned this pop song on its head.  When Billy sings it, he’s a guy begging to get laid.  We’ve all done that.  When Etheridge sings it, sex becomes an important form of social protest, and her prowly, growly voice makes it just about the sexiest thing I’ve ever heard.

8.  CENTRO-MATIC-Take Pride in Your Long Odds

What can I say about this one?  It’s a lot like other Centro-Matic records, only better.  Their sound bridges Americana and indie rock seamlessly, and as soon as I put this record on I felt like I was home on a well-worn couch, fat and happy.

7.  LOLAWOLF-Self Titled EP

A Brooklyn band fronted by Zoe “Lenny’s Daughter” Kravitz, Lolawolf released a self-titled EP in January that blew me away.  It was sexy, sassy, and soulful.  The EP was available for stream on Soundcloud, free, and quickly became a darling of the internet world.  I can’t believe they don’t have a major label full-length out yet, but I guess that says something about the state of the music industry in 2014: It’s not courageous, it’s not rewarding merit.

6.  PET FRIENDS-Come To Your Senses (EP)

Holy crap are these guys talented.  It feels like the kind of “cool punk” The Kaiser Chiefs and Bloc Party were publishing a while ago.  Every song is a keeper, every song is a potential hit single.  Hooks, lyrics, terrific vocal delivery…Flawless.

NEXT: The top 5, and the greatest cover album of the year–free for download!

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