The Best Albums Of 2014: Part 1

Staff Writer Melissa Caruso Gives Us Her Picks For The Best Albums Of The Year

Foxygen – And Star Power

My uncle is your ordinary Budweiser-drinking man who’s been listening to the same classic rock station for the past 30 years. So when he told me he dug indie rock band Foxygen, I was taken aback. After listening to …And Star Power, with its nods to Todd Rundgren, Lou Reed and Syd Barrett, the shock has since worn off.

…And Star Power plays like a beautifully bizarre cosmic variation of pysch rock that bursts into the territories of the Flaming Lips, of Montreal and White Fence, who all appear on this double album. With as much affinity for sweet melodies as they do of eclectic undertakings like the four-part-title track arrangement, Foxygen acts out our fantasies of endless weightlessness. To promote the album, Jonathan Rado and Sam France mushroomed into a nine-piece outfit, making stops at this year‘s Coachella and Woodsist music festivals. The band was also listed as one of Pitchfork’s “Best Live Acts” for the second year in a row. Not too bad for a pair of 24 year olds.

Joe Fletcher – You’ve Got the Wrong Man

Joe Fletcher proves a country man can still survive in 2014 with his solo album You’ve Got the Wrong Man. Similar to Jason Isbell–who departed from Drive-By Truckers to hone in on his solo career–Fletcher has shed his backing band which appears on 2011’s White Lighter to treat us to an intimate string of melancholic country rock ballads that place him among Nashville’s elite. It’s no coincidence Patrick Sweany, Deer Tick’s John McCauley and JP Harris all appear on the album nor is it a surprise Fletcher’s been invited to perform at Newport Folk Fest for consecutive years.

With his out-of-luck characters—an AWOL soldier looking for love, a reticent trying to fit in at a party—Fletcher tips his hat to his outlaw heroes of music’s past while maintaining his own rustic flavor. To take a bite out of our imaginations, songs must be simple. Thank you Joe Fletcher for reminding us that sometimes, all you really need is three minutes of finger-pickin’ love.

Fly Golden Eagle – Quartz

Here’s an album of ineffable qualifications crafted by a band with the capacity to take risks in the rite of artistic and entrepreneurial vision. While it may seem that music mecca Nashville doesn’t need any more recognition, think again. Fly Golden Eagle has landed.

With their double album Quartz, Fly Golden Eagle has settled into a psychedelic niche that survives beyond weight of publicity. Too often bands come and go, fads never to pass a transient status, however, this is not the case with Fly Golden Eagle. Why else would Benjamin Booker, Hurray for the Riff Raff and the Alabama Shakes all want the band to play on their albums?

Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires – Dereconstructed

There are just some records you don’t quit. Dereconstructed is one of those, a cannon of unbridled Southern rock and punk arrogance that supplements Sub Pop’s notoriety. Dereconstructed finds ways to raise awareness of polemic issues that hit home for singer Lee Bains. He writes for the neglected and underprivileged, the ones who get into scrapes through no fault of their own, but somehow always manage to come up happy. Probably because they know what most have yet to grasp: the American Dream is elusive. Too bad more bands don’t write albums like this—there’d be a lot less blind following the blind.

Denney and the Jets – Mexican Coke

Only the crème de la crème get invited to perform at Burger Records’ Caravan of All-Stars, a bicoastal touring circus that has gained much popularity since its 2013 inception. Nashville’s rowdiest, Chris Denney of Denney and the Jets, landed a spot on this year’s bill alongside Natural Child thanks in part to his 2014 release, Mexican Coke.

Mexican Coke is a lot like American Coca Cola except the former uses natural cane sugar instead of a high-fructose corn syrup. Denney and the Jets’ choice of album title wasn’t a coincidence; it’s music reflective of a natural sound, a refreshing taste amid today’s sugar-coated artificial tang. With Mexican Coke, the listener is invited to a gleeful debauchery backyard party that knows no curfew. Blame it on the Rolling Stones or any other group of misfits that first got Denney interested.

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