Top 20 Album of 2014

#1 Album of 2014, Never Hungover Again by Joyce Manor by Rollie Agado

I had never heard of Joyce Manor until May or so of this year...   I believe Ian Cohen had made a mention of catching them live a few days before this album dropped and everyone in attendance already knew every word for anthemic sing-alongs.

I didn't think anything of it until I fired up the record on my computer, worked along side it and then found myself tapping my foot along to the second song of the album: Falling in Love Again.

The song was under two minutes and before I knew it... I was finding myself wanting to air drum to the following track.   Again.. another song just over 2 minutes.

Never Hungover Again - weighs in at 10 songs & 19 minutes in total length.  It quickly became the album that had the most listens in 2014...  it was an album I would throw on to do something for 20 minutes at a time and I knew right away if I was spending too much time on something if I had heard a song twice.

I picked it up on Vinyl and discovered that a CD was enclosed with the record.  That CD has not left my Car deck in all of 2014.  I've actually acquired a new car in 2014 - so up until last week when we put in a Stevie Nicks CD - it was the only CD that had ever been played in my new car.

I listen to this record all the fucking time.  I listen to it when I work... when I drive... when I cook... when I fly across the country and when walk the dog.   

I caught them live in October and they put on one of the best shows I caught all year.  It's the best album I listened to all year and you should go out of your way to own this record.

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#2 Album of 2014, Singles by Future Islands by Rollie Agado

I love this record.  I love the track listing and the band's decision to harness and sound and feel that reminded me of Talk Talk, the Cure and Adult. when I listened to it in the dark.

My admiration for Future Islands goes back a couple of years now...  they released an album called On the Water in 2011 that completely took me by surprise.  I remember listening to the song Balance off that album and wondered how in the fuck would an entire room of people dance to that?

I remember reading something at the end of 2013 that the band was holed up recording a new record for 2014 and I made a reminder to look for it every week in the New Release bin...

Well a funny little thing happened when they got a ton of attention for a performance at Coachella and the Late Show with David Letterman.  They fucking killed it.... 

The band that I kinda imagined performing together on stage and Samuel T. Herring, emoting "controlled mosh" in a form of dance that completely matched what I thought it should look like in my head.

I honestly can't say enough about this album.  Like the War on Drugs album, I think it will be looked back on as a landmark release for 2014.

Recommended listens:

#3 Album of 2014, Lost in the Dream by The War on Drugs by Rollie Agado

One of my favorite things to do when pouring over critics best of 2014 lists is seeing where the War on Drugs album - Lost in the Dream ranks.  I believe we ranked it #2 over at the Bearded Gentlemen Music, and it came in at #3 on Pitchfork.

I honestly can't think of an album I wanted to listen to more before I finally scored my copy at the beginning of the year.  I remember listening to it and kinda reveling in the sadness of the record...  it reminded me of listening to music on the Radio as a kid in the 80's.  I heard bits of Dire Straits, Tom Petty, Dylan and Mellencamp in the music too...  

It's possibly the finest indie recording of the year and if it wasn't for a pair of records that pulled on my heart strings a little more - it would have easily been my album of the year.

Recommended Tracks:

#4 Album of 2014, Reverie Lagoon: Music for Escapism Only by Seahaven by Rollie Agado

When I put together my best of list in 2013, I made one very regrettable mistake.  I should have made my #3 album of the year - Pretend to Be Brave by Boat, my definitive #1 album of the year.  I feel really good about my #1 pick this year, but the only album in my top ten that gives me any pause is this album by Seahaven.

It’s one of those kinda records that has a sonic tapestry that kinda reminded me of Sunny Day Real Estate records in the 90’s.  I say that because their records kinda had distinctive sounds and you knew what kinda journey you were going to embark on when you sat through the first couple minutes of the opening track.

The skies are grey this New Years Eve morning and I can’t think of a better album to have on right now.

Recommended tracks:

#5 Album of 2014, You're Gonna Miss It All, Modern Baseball by Rollie Agado

"I hate worrying about the future... cuz all my problems are based around the past...."

The opening lyrics to an album that reminded me it was ok to completely fall head over heals for an album penned by guys nearly half my age.  This by the way totally freaked me out... I think I had the conversation about "age appropriate" music like 10 times this year with a number of friends this year.

I then saw a tweet by Ian Cohen that said something to the effect of "we should all talk to one another in Modern Baseball quotes".  He was totally right by the way...  

When I boiled all of my 37 year old problems down to the root issues, they were pretty much the same ones I heard on this record.  Loving and falling in love in 2014 is difficult in ways that I can't describe.  So I'll rely on Modern Baseball to say it all for me:

"my head is on the verge of exploding, no amount of aspirin or pizza can help this from hurting"

Better yet... watch the video to "Your Graduation".  Don't kid yourself if you've never been the dude or chick in the vampire costume.

#6 Album of 2014, Here and Nowhere Else by Cloud Nothings by Rollie Agado

Not to be confused with the band Nothing, the Cloud Nothings should have cracked my top 5.  They actually released one of my favorite albums in 2012 also... and just like the last record - this one is a fucking keeper.

They work with incredible record producers every time they go into the studio and I had the privilege of catching them live in Austin earlier this year.

If you've never heard these guys before... you may hear someone tell you that they sound like Nirvana.  That's not a bad comparison...  both bands have had Steve Albini produce albums for them, so they have that in common.

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More importantly, the two acts sorta tap into a nerve and are currently recording some of the best stuff out there.  This album purposely weighs in at 8 songs and 31 minutes.  It doesn't outstay its welcome and if you give it a chance it will reward you over and over again.

The Cloud Nothings show was aces

A video posted by september29th (@september29th) on


#7 Album of 2014, Youth Culture Forever by PAWS by Rollie Agado

Now we're finally getting to the albums that really touched my soul in 2014... all the albums from this point forward are keepers.  I just fired up this album for a listen while I write up this brief recap and all it took was the opening notes Erreru Humaine to make it all come rushing back.

If you find yourself confused with a loved one... this is the record you should delve into.  It's kinda great for break ups and it's also kinda great to listen to when you're in the middle of taking that risk to let someone know you're into them.  It's also really good to throw on and wrestle with the painful feelings of not really being over someone.   

There's a track on here called Give Up - that I recall playing over and over a lot before telling Rhiannon how I felt about her.   It actually almost made me not muster up the courage to sit down across from her and tell her how I felt.  I then kinda remembered I would have a song that would haunt me if I chickened out so I went ahead and put my heart on a platter.

It worked out for me in the end... 

Fuck this album is amazing.

Recommended tracks:

#8 Album of 2014, Lazaretto by Jack White by Rollie Agado

Boys and Girls, I have a very strong suspicion that this is going to win Album of the Year at the Grammy's next year...  

When I heard about the album earlier in the year, my friend Ted sent me link to a youtube video - that talked about all the gimmicks Third Man Records baked into the album for people willing to spring for the ULTRA vinyl edition.

It worked on me... I picked mine up on release day.  On gimmicks alone, this album would have cracked the top 20.   It just so happened to be one of the most rewarding listens of the year.

I can't think of a better mainstream release in 2014 and I'm not saying that because I spent a good part of my 20's in the Motor City - loving all things White Stripes.  If you listen to this record repeatedly, I think this album captures a sound that Jack has been trying to find for a very, very long time.  As a longtime fan, I often found the constructs around his musical output to be obstacles.  

  • The color schemes of red & white, the defined box of guitar and drum only.
  •  Being one fourth of a full band that featured Brendan Benson
  • Finally striking out on his own, moving to Nashville - forming two backing bands of sorts, one that was made up of all women and another that had incredible session musicians of all races...  new colors- blue, black and white.

He's reached some rarified air on this record...  if you haven't given it a proper listen, you're genuinely cheating yourself from an amazing experience. 

Recommended tracks:

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#9 Album of 2014, Transgender Dysphoria Blues by Against Me! by Rollie Agado

Do you remember the last time you watched a movie, read a book, listened to a podcast or sat thru a documentary that completely captivates your attention and you learn about a subject that you've never genuinely invested thought into?

That happened when I listened to this album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues...   You can spend a good part of the night reading up on the creation of this record and Laura Jane Grace's thoughts on the album's subject matter by doing a quick google search.

In addition to learning about the band, the backdrop of the record... if you really give this album a proper listen, I think you'll find yourself learning about the emotional journey that we all struggle with to find self acceptance.  I think that's the most beautiful thing about this record...  it sorta gives you a glimpse into what Laura Jane Grace was going through in 2012 when this record was being created.  You get little glimpses into her life... decisions she's made and how that has impacted the ones she loves and new found thought processes.

Strangely enough... I caught this band live earlier in the year and I kinda left the show feeling a little disappointed.  Not so much with their performance...  it just kinda felt like they were fulfilling another night on their extensive tour schedule.  I kinda hoped to attend and maybe hear a little bit more about the songs on this record between tracks.  A little something acknowledging that these songs were about very *real* things that are occurring to her. 

Recommended tracks to listen to:

#10 Album of 2014, Drowners by the Drowners by Rollie Agado

This album was quite possibly the trickiest album to rank in my 2014 top 20 list…  I knew that I wanted to include it in my top 20 after giving it repeated listens throughout the year I just wasn’t sure if it should crack the top 10 or not.

After giving a number of spins in November, I settled on it being #10.  If you’re a fan of the Strokes or the Libertines - you’re in for a treat.  These guys hail from Brooklyn and reportedly have a strong obsession for the Smiths.  You can kinda hear that in a number of their songs too…  One of the strangest things I’ve read about the band this year was that the sound was incredibly derivative. 

I acknowledge that they sound like a number of other great pop bands, but that still doesn’t mean that this isn’t a great pop record.  The album is filled with incredible/catch tracks that have made it incredibly rewarding to revisit again and again.

Recommended tracks