Laura’s Top Albums of 2014

Guest Post By: Laura

Laura’s Top 25 Albums of 2014:

25. Mary Lambert: Heart on My Sleeve


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Mary Lambert Official Site


24. The Gaslight Anthem: Get Hurt



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The Gaslight Anthem Official Site


23. Jamie T: Carry On the Grudge

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22. Ed Sheeran: X



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Ed Sheeran Official Site


21. John Newman: Tribute



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20. Against Me!: Transgender Dysphoria Blues

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19. Shakey Graves: And the War Came

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18. July Talk: Guns & Ammunition

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17. James Bay: Let It Go

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16. You + Me: Rose Avenue



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You + Me Official Site


15. Spoon: They Want My Soul



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Spoon Official Site


14. FKA Twigs: LP1

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13. Johnny Marr: Playland

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12. Cold Specks: Neuroplasticity



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Cold Specks Official Site


11. St. Vincent: St. Vincent

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St. Vincent Official Site


10. Neon Trees: Pop Psychology



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Neon Trees Official Site


9. Banks: Goddess



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Banks Official Site


8. Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways



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Foo Fighters Official Site


7. Counting Crows: Somewhere Under Neverland



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Counting Crows Official Site


6. First Aid Kit: Stay Gold

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5. Damien Rice: My Favourite Faded Fantasy



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Damien Rice Official Site


4. Hozier: Hozier

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3. Jack White: Lazaretto



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Jack White Official Site


2. Jenny Lewis: The Voyager



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Jenny Lewis Official Site


1. Ryan Adams: Ryan Adams



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Ryan Adams Official Site

Read more of Laura’s reviews at her music blog Lyrique Discorde

*all mp3s, streams & videos uploaded by & posted w/ permission of artists, labels and/or their PR reps


Mp3 Menagerie: Jenny & Johnny, Yair Yona, Libbie Schrader

Jenny & Johnny – Scissor Runner (mp3 download page)

Have I been living in a cave? Don’t answer that. I didn’t even know that Jenny Lewis and Johnathan Rice had teamed up for an album until they were recently booked for an upcoming Mountain Stage show. Judging from this summery pop song, Jenny & Johnny are trying to be the new She & Him. You can download this mp3 from their new album I’m Having Fun Now, which will be released August 31st, by submitting your email address at the above link.

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Yair Yona – Brave Walls (mp3)*

Exotic and lovely instrumental from Israeli guitarist Yair Yona’s debut album Remember. If you like this song, you’ll love the album.

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*mp3 hosted by & posted w/ permission of band’s PR rep

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Libbie Schrader – Turn to Gold (mp3 download page)

You can download a pretty new song by Libbie Schrader by entering your email address at the above link. “Turn to Gold” is a demo that may or may not be included on Libbie’s upcoming fan-funded EP.

The Whispertown 2000: Done With love Mp3

The Whispertown 2000 (oy, some bands really need better names) will soon be on tour with Jenny Lewis, and they’ve already opened for She & Him, Maria Taylor, and Bright Eyes. Their lackadaisical femme indie twang falls somewhere between Lewis (who guests along with Gillian Welch on the band’s album Swim) and Jolie Holland.

The Whispertown 2000 – Done With Love (mp3 removed)

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Jenny Lewis: Acid Tongue

Former actress and Rilo Kiley singer turned indie starlet Jenny Lewis will release her sophomore solo effort on September 23rd. Acid Tongue features guests Elvis Costello, Johnathan Rice, Zooey Deschanel and M Ward of She & Him, Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes, Benji Hughes, Farmer Dave Scher, Jason Boesel, Jason Lader, Jonathan Wilson, and Vanessa Corbala.

There are several tracks that stand out on the album. Most notable is the bluesy stunner “Pretty Bird”, whose melody caresses Jenny’s voice to reveal a multi-faceted beauty in her lilt that had only been hinted at in her previous works. The lovely, quirky title track simmers Jenny’s pure purr over simple acoustics with a backing choir joining her on the chorus, while “Tryin’ My Best” slides between slinky torch croons and rock shaken Dusty Springfield retro pop. And “Jack Killed Mom” is a surprising burst of Elvis gospel.

“The Next Messiah” begins with a “Roadhouse Blues” riff before Lewis arrives on the first verse on a wave of Delta blues, Western swing, and classic rock reverberation. The lengthy song traverses through several stylistic landscapes, my favorite being the Raising Sand brand of surf psychedelica. Elvis Costello duets on the jaunty country-rock anthem “Carpetbaggers”, which wouldn’t be too out of place on an Alejandro Escovedo album.

Other songs seem quite weak in comparison, yet I suspect they may be more appealing to Lewis’ indie cult. The repetitive choruses of “Black Sand”, “Sing A Song”, and “Badman’s World” aren’t as flattering to Jenny’s voice as the bluesier songs, though the latter at least makes up for it in the verses.

While I loved Rilo Kiley’s “Science vs. Romance” and Lewis’ solo “You Are What You Love”, this is the first album of hers that I’ve owned. It seems a pretty grand way to become more thoroughly acquainted with her music.

Jenny Lewis – Acid Tongue (mp3 removed)

Jenny Lewis Official Site

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Gary Louris: Vagabonds

The name Gary Louris may be unfamiliar, but those of us that were into the various “alternative” music scenes in the mid-1990s have heard him before. Louris was a founding member of Jayhawks and joined musicians from Wilco, The Replacements, Big Star, Son Volt, and Soul Asylum to form the supergroup Golden Smog. Louris has also written songs for Chris Thile and Dixie Chicks. Vagabonds is Gary’s debut solo release and its soulful, organic sound lives up to the impressive legacy of his past projects. Louris is backed by his all-star “Laurel Canyon Family Choir” comprised of producer Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes, Susanna Hoffs of The Bangles, Rilo Kiley’s Jenny Lewis, The Chapin Sisters, and Johnathan Rice among others.


I need a picture of my cherished love between my fingers
I grasp for fragments & I grasp for air in drowning chambers

The chorus of the opener “True Blue” has more than a hint of Jayhawks’ “Blue”, but the verses sprawl in a deeper Americana corner dusted with surging waves of piano. “Omaha Nights” has a catchier roots rock rhythm. The lovely “To Die A Happy Man” seems to be a pensive long distance love song, but hints at deeper contemplations.

The gorgeous harmony of the aforementioned “Laurel Canyon Family Choir” is most clearly heard on the steel teared stand out “She Only Calls Me On Sundays”. The smoother melody of “We’ll Get By” and the dulcet, delicate purity of “Black Grass” is the closest to pop that the album ever gets.

Most artists push weaker tracks to the middle and back of their albums, but Vagabonds only gets stronger as it drifts along. The dusky title track and the sweetly steeled “D.C. Blues” coast into a softer sound, but their sparse beauty is even more striking than the thicker arrangements that precede them.

Gary Louris – Black Grass (mp3 expired)
Gary Louris – Vagabonds (mp3 expired)

Gary Louris Official Site
Gary Louris MySpace

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