Greg Jones’s Top 10 Albums of 2014
#10: The Banner Days – The Banner Days
Although we mostly feature “emerging” artists around here, this album is clearly the work of two veteran musicians and songwriters. It is folk in the deepest, richest sense and it is phenomenal. Sure to put a smile on the face of a lot of typical ETTG readers, this is the kind of album that is whole and complete all in its own. I hope to hear Bradford Loomis and Beth Whitney making music for many, many more years.
#9: Cape Canyon – Bluebonnet EP
Cape Canyon, for my money, are the Rodney Dangerfield of the folk world right now. They are getting zero respect and I can’t figure out why. Seriously people get with this band! These guys are supremely talented. Sometimes they sound like beach rock, sometimes like 90s rock, and sometimes just like great classic folk music. Seriously listen to the first track and tell me you don’t think of Brian Wilson’s Beach Boys…
#8: Aliza Carter Band – Clearer
Sometimes you run across an album that can take your breath away… and bring tears (of joy) to your eyes. That happened to me with this album. Aliza Carter Band have the most accessible, wonderful, spirited sound that feels like family and warm hugs. It feels like the tonic for what ails you. There’s no way to write about this understated, delightful album without sounding cliche. Just try it.
#7: Ben Abraham – Sirens
There aren’t a lot of albums I’ve looked forward to more than Ben Abraham’s. Not only is he a seemingly amazing dude, he can really sing. It’s a bit more “pop” than most of this list, but it’s the right kind of singer songwriter pop that is infectiously enjoyable. But what really rocks my world about this album is that it’s just so dangerously fun while also encouraging genuine reflection on things like life and love. Seriously, give “I belong to you,” “Collide,” and “A Quiet Prayer” a listen… they do not disappoint!
#6: Falls – Into the Fire
Drawing comparisons with The Civil Wars and other great duos, these two have their own contribution to the music industry. Making a beautiful sound that is part country, part folk, and a whole lot of genuine, this album Into the Fire is really powerful.
#5: Year of the Buffalo – Roam Free
It’s not every day that an album can manage to get several tracks on the “song of the year” list, but Year of the Buffalo did just that. Using a variety of styles in the folk and Americana realm, they managed to create an album that is infectiously enjoyable and at times just stunning. “Leo” and “Tennessee Man” are great, along with the opener (seen earlier on the top song countdown).
#4: Hinterlands – Hinterlands EP
It probably seems like cheating to put an EP on here, but seriously just click play. Give them a listen. There’s clearly something special going on with this duo. The harmonies are out of this world and the whole composition just feels perfect. They remind me of what I initially loved about the great Penny and Sparrow last year. Seriously these guys are great.
#3: St Paul de Vence – Farther Than Light
St Paul de Vence is a true folk band, bringing together classic songmaking elements from bygone eras. This is one of the best albums to come out in years for its ability to integrate so much emotion into thoroughly enjoyable instrumentation and vocals. Every song on this album blows me away. It’s just beautiful.
#2: Noah Gundersen – Ledges
Noah Gundersen remains a favorite of mine and he did not disappoint with Ledges. An album that had three “song of the year” candidates and no “skip” tracks, it’s clearly his best songwriting yet. He continues to be able to capture both meaning in reality with a sonic ethos that keeps us coming back for more. I just can’t help but wonder… what’s next? “Isaiah” and “Dying Now” are the best tracks on the album.
#1: The Native Sibling – Letters Kept to Ourselves
In deciding my album of the year, I have to keep in mind that total composition is important. Every song is connected, bringing forth a powerful and engaging message. The Native Sibling produced what might be the best total package album I’ve heard in years. Their hearts are dripping from the tracks. Seriously give them a listen.
And just to cheat a little, here are a few other albums that I’m sure will get coverage on a lot of other lists, but were very highly touted by me this year: St Paul and the Broken Bones – Half the City, Lake Street Dive – Bad Self Portraits, John Fullbright – Songs, Robert Ellis – Lights from the Chemical Plant