Curated by Thomas Hentges of Burlap Wolf King. You can follow Burlap Wolf King on Facebook and download his latest EP on Bandcamp.
1. The War on Drugs // Lost in the Dream
Adam Granduciel and company buy into the idea that one man’s pain can be another man’s pleasure and produced my favorite album of 2014. Granduciel didn’t reinvent the WOD sound so much as augment it with this effort. No other album was spun more around my home than Lost in the Dream this year!
LISTEN: Red Eyes
2. Doug Paisley // Strong Feelings
Canadian singer/songwriter Doug Paisley’s first full length since 2010’s Constant Companion finds him returning to the his usual formula… great songs, great lyrics and minimal, but poignant arrangements that allow each song to be showcased within this impeccably crafted album.
LISTEN: Song My Love Can Sing
3. Robert Ellis // The Lights From the Chemical Plant
Nashville, by way of Texas, singer/songwriter Robert Ellis’ 2014 effort was an early front-runner for record of the year for me. I was lucky enough to see Robert perform at First Avenue last February, just weeks before the album’s release. Ellis sites George Jones and Paul Simon as his biggest influence and the evidence is audible.
LISTEN: Only Lies
4. Sturgil Simpson // Metamodern Sounds in Country Music
Many folks have attempted to recreate the '70s outlaw country sound over that last fifteen years and most have failed. Sturgil Simpson croons like a modern day Waylon Jennings and is as true a country artist as you will find today. The secret to his success: He leaves the clichés at home and has chiseled out his own unique brand of modern country music.
LISTEN: Turtles All The Way Down
5. Sean Rowe // Madman
Sean Rowe’s sophomore release on ANTI records finds the barrel-throated baritone singer/songwriter exploring new musical territory while echoing many of the same influences of his first outing, The Salesman and the Shark. Waits-esque blues sit well next to sincere ballads and even a dose of R&B.
6. Hurray for the Riff Raff // Small Town Heroes
New Orleans’ Hurray for the Riff Raff released one of the most fun albums of 2014. The group seamlessly weave folk, R&B, blues and doo-wop influences to put power behind the strong songwriting and singing of front woman, Alynda Lee Segarra.
LISTEN: St. Roch Blues
7. Rodrigo Amarante // Cavalo
Brazillian singer/songwriter Rodrigo Amarante released one of the most beautiful records of 2014 in Cavalo. With help from producer Devendra Banhart, Amarante explores soundscapes outside the comfortable realm of your typical singer songwriter record and successfully showcases Amarante’s intimate, dripping voice.
LISTEN: Mon Nom
8. Natural Child // Dancin’ With Wolves
Nashville’s Natural Child polished their sound with the addition of Benny Divine on keys and Luke Schneider on pedal steel and released another one of 2014’s most fun albums. With obvious influence from the late JJ Cale, the Flying Burrito Brothers and the Stones, the five-piece country-rock band crank out earnest early-'70s nostalgia.
LISTEN: Saturday Night Blues
9. Tweedy // Sukierae
Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy teams up with his son, Spencer, and creates more of the kind of adventurous audio we have come to expect from Tweedy over the last fifteen years. What started as an attempt at a solo effort, ended up a family affair and it only strengthens the appeal of this fantastic album.
LISTEN: Wait For Love
10. Foxygen // …and Star Power
Young psychedelic purveyors Foxygen returned to strength in 2014 with one of the year’s most ambitious and unique albums. Where 2012’s We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic found the group well-versed in the musical history of their home, San Fransisco, 2014’s …and Star Power comes off as their “East Coast’ album with several obvious nods to the Velvet Underground and early, solo Lou Reed.
LISTEN: Cosmic Vibrations
11. Steve Gunn // Way Out Weather
12. Strand of Oaks // Heal
13. Lydia Loveless // Somewhere Else
LISTEN: Somewhere Else
14. Ryan Adams // Ryan Adams
LISTEN: Gimme Something Good
15. Justin Townes Earle // Single Mothers
LISTEN: Worried Bout The Weather
16. Mac DeMarco // Salad Days
LISTEN: Salad Days
17. The Black Keys // Turn Blue
LISTEN: Turn Blue
18. Drive-By Truckers // English Oceans
LISTEN: Made Up English Oceans
19. Damien Jurado // Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son
LISTEN: Silver Timothy
20. Bonnie Prince Billy // Singers Grave a Sea of Tongues
LISTEN: Quail and Dumplings
Favorite Song of 2014
The War On Drugs // Eyes to the Wind
Favorite Re-issue of 2014
Ernie Graham // Ernie Graham
Favorite Live Shows of 2014
1. Jonathan Wilson, Turf Club (St. Paul, MN)===
2. Jason Isbell, Orpheum Theater (Sioux Falls, SD)
3. the War on Drugs, the Waiting Room (Omaha, NE)