The best of electronic and synthpop 2014

Caribou made an album, Our Love, that reminds me a lot of late ’90s electronic (think Moby, only better).

Manchester producer Andy Stott got a lot of love for Faith in Strangers. The other album Stott put out in 2014 (under the name Millie & Andrea) is the intriguing Drop the Vowels.

Mean Love is a multi-genre experience from Sudanese artist Sinkane.

These are among the year’s electronic and synthpop highlights along with Neneh Cherry’s comeback, excellent releases from Wild Beasts and The Juan Maclean and the extraordinary It’s Album Time from Todd Terje.

Caribou – Our Love

Millie & Andrea – Drop the Vowels

Wild Beasts – Present Tense

Neneh Cherry – Blank Project

Sinkane – Mean Love

Todd Terje – It’s Album Time

The Juan Maclean – In a Dream

The top albums of 2014

There were strong contenders for top albums of the year. Any of the top five albums I named would easily slide into the No. 1 spot. Here are the top 20 albums of 2014. The top 20 includes some old favorites and a handful of debuts.

20. Deerhoof – La Isla Bonita.

19. Tweedy – Sukierae.

18. The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream.

17. Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 2.

16. The Fresh & Onlys – House of Spirits.

15. Dum Dum Girls – Cult of Love.

14. Mozes and the Firstborn – Mozes and the Firstborn.

13. Wand – Ganglion Reef.

12. La Sera – Hour of the Dawn.

11. Ty Segall – Manipulator.

10. Together Pangea – Badillac.

9. Solids – Blame Confusion.

8. EMA – The Future’s Void.

7. Woods – With Light and With Love.

6. Protomartyr – Under Color of Official Right.

5. Ex Hex – Rips.

4. Parquet Courts – Sunbathing Animal.

3. Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire for No Witness.

2. St. Vincent – St. Vincent.

1. Iceage – Plowing Into the Field of Love.

Click here to see the rest of the All the Young Punks’ top 40.


The top 40 albums of 2014

It was such a great year for music, I had trouble narrowing my top albums’ list to 40. Let’s begin by counting down from Nos. 40 to 21.

40. Ultimate Painting – Ultimate Painting.

39.  Allah-Las – Worship the Sun.

38. Lower – Seek Warmer Climes.

37. The Growlers – Chinese Fountain

36. Purling Hiss – Weirdon.

35. Twin Peaks – Wild Onion.

34. September Girls – Cursing the Sea.

33. Thee Oh Sees – Drop.

32. White Fence – For the Recently Found Innocent.

31.  The Hold Steady – Teeth Dreams.

30. Cloud Nothings – Here and Nowhere Else.

29. Cheatahs – Cheatahs.

28. Cherry Glazerr – Haxel Princess.

27. Sharon Van Etten – Are We There.

26.  J. Mascis – Tied to a Star.

25. Cheap Girls – Famous Graves.

24. Neneh Cherry – Blank Project.

23. Cold Beat – Over Me.

22. Curtis Harding – Soul Power.

21. The Men – Tomorrow’s Hits.


Click here to see the top 20 albums of the year.  

Justin Townes Earle plays Space

Having just released his latest album, Single Mothers, in September Justin Townes Earle plans to put out a companion record, Absent Fathers, next month. With a mix of blues and country, Earle staked a claim in recent years as an original musician and songwriter even as he cites influences that include his father Steve and other namesake Townes Van Zandt.

Earle plays a sold-out show at Space in Evanston Wednesday.

Ty Segall, A.J. Davila round up their singles

Davila 666

The 7-inch record release has been a staple of the indie rock scene since the earliest days of punk rock. Of course, the single and B-side concept has been expanded to digital EPs, bonus tracks and split records. It’s a great bonus when a band can compile the best of these releases into a compilation worthy of a full album’s length.

The prolific Ty Segall shows on $ingle$ 2 that he can compile a group of mostly B-sides into a record that beats most other bands’ original album releases. Among the highlights: Cherry Red, Mother Lemonade, Hand Glams.

Puerto Rican garage band Davila 666 is taking a break but Pocos Anos, Muchos Danos, the first compilation of the group’s singles, is a real treat. Sung in Spanish, the music is classic garage. Among the highlights: Pa Que Vives, Primo Muerta, Me Va Muy Mal.

The band’s frontman, A.J. Davila, has been busy this year, giving us two solid solo efforts. Early this year, he released Terror/Amor and last month he put out Beibi with his new band lineup (AJ Davila y Terror Amor). Both albums are worth checking out.