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


Suzie McNeil: Broken & Beautiful

Broken & Beautiful is the debut solo album from Suzie McNeil. The former Rockstar: INXS contestant opted for a power pop sound rather than the pure rock style she had on the show, which is a bit disappointing but still quite good. When covering classic songs like The Stones’ “Start Me Up” and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”, McNeil proved her pipes were more than capable of tackling any raucous rock song. But her own music leans more toward the highly charged, energetic pop of Pink, Kelly Clarkson, or even The Killers. The result is very entertaining and infectious, though far too over-produced for a voice with such a strong range as Suzie’s.

Songs like “Lonely (Are You Coming Home?)”, the title track, and the shimmering closer “The One” alternate between Killeresque arena rock-pop and a softer radio friendly pop.

As soon as I heard the catchy “Hung Up” with its Kelly Clarkson hook, I thought it would be the perfect radio pop single. Apparently it is already on its way to being a hit in Canada. Unlike many of the tracks on the album, McNeil had a hand in writing the tune and it seems to indicate she doesn’t need much helping in making good music.

“Believe” was the promotional theme for NBC’s weight loss reality show, The Biggest Loser. By a weaker singer, the inspirational lyrics would be far too saccharine sweet to bear. But Suzie’s raspy wail carries it off. The Goo Goo Dolls’ Johnny Reznick co-wrote “Poison”, which is probably why much of the arrangement sounds exactly like his band’s “Iris”.

Pink – credited under her real name, Alecia Moore – co-wrote the bluesy ballad “So In Love”, and McNeil’s throaty vocals could easily be mistaken for the song’s writer. The hard-edged pop of “Skin” and “Where Were You?” also sound very much like Pink, or perhaps classic Heart.

Since leaving the Rockstar reality series and recording her own album, Suzie McNeil has recorded duets with Clay Aiken and the JD Fortune fronted INXS, toured as a backup singer for the aforementioned Pink, had her music featured in television shows, and is currently appearing in the stage production of “We Will Rock You” at Toronto’s Canon Theatre.

I was not granted permission to share an mp3 from the album, but you can hear samples at the links below. And here’s a mp3 from Suzie’s live performance on Rockstar:INXS:

Suzie McNeil – Losing My Religion (mp3)

Suzie McNeil Official Site
Suzie on MySpace

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