- ageless wonder Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds wonderful version of “Mermaids” live in Prospect Park,
- the live return of Slowdive,
- the album returns of Godflesh and The Vaselines,
- the weirdness of Dean Blunt, Caribou, and Aphex Twin (I’ll have whatever they are having),
- The Wu-Tang Clan rapping (well) together again,
- Michael Gira and Swans continuing “comeback,”
- Ghostface and AZ on multiple tracks together,
- the concept and execution of Kreezus, Killed by Deathrock, Vol. 1 (aka, the best reissue of 2014), and
- Run the Jewels being an actual rap group.
1) Bombay Bicycle Club - So Long, See You Tomorrow: There are moments of pure, liquid joy on this album, and in 2014, that’s enough.
2) Lydia Loveless - Somewhere Else: An alt-country album with a song called “Verlaine Shot Rimbaud” is something I am interested in.
3) Makthaverskan - II: Maja Milner has some Debbie Harry in her voice, and none of the icy composure, in this loose, cathartic album.
4) TV on the radio - Seeds: They’re back, albeit slightly poppier, and with stronger vocals.
5) Los Campesinos! - A Los Campesinos! Christmas: You know the drill; whenever they release an album, it gets slotted about here. Even if the album is a seven-song EP.
6) The Men - Tomorrow’s Hits: Rock. Action. Not a wasted note on this album.
Tier Two, in alphabetical order:
Alcest - : French metal band goes shoegaze, with sexy results.
Alvvays - s/t: Jangle so hard there’s a love song to Archie Moore on this album.
Angel Olsen - Burn Your Fire For No Witness
Beck - Morning Phase: A worthy sequel to Sea Change.
Cloud Nothings - Here and Nowhere Else: Seething post-grunge.
The Coathangers - Suck My Shirt: A sleazy mix of garage punk, early ‘80s Sunset Strip rock, and jangle.
D’Angelo and the Vanguard - Black Messiah: The “Chinese Democracy” of R n B is exists, with an album of jazzy, slinky, brittle funk that sounds both loose and composed. So maybe more like the My Bloody Valentine of R n B, then.
Eagulls - s/t: Just as much emphasis on the “punk” as on the “post.”
Eternal Summers - The Drop Beneath
Fear of Men - Loom: There’s a Stereolab-fronted-by-Nico vibe here that’s quite nice.
Have a Nice Life - The Unnatural World: I saw a publication refer to this music as “shitgaze,” which made me want to cry. But I guess that’s shorter than calling it shoegaze/post-hardcore/post-rock.
The Horrors - Luminous: Now they’re making songs that would play during the edgiest scenes in John Hughes movies. Yes, that’s a compliment.
Mogwai - Rave Tapes: They continue to mellow, but are no less fine, like a barrel-aged stout.
Sturgill Simpson - Metamodern Sounds in Country Music: Alt-country gives way to psych-folk freakouts on what’s maybe the 2014 album with the most staying power.
Trust - Joyland: I got a lot of recommendations for EDM in 2014, and the most Teutonic of them was the best, dark and brooding.
The Vaselines - V for Vaselines: No signs of rust here. Weird, weird power pop, same as it ever was.
Lydia Loveless - Wine Lips
Freddie Gibbs and madlib - Shitsville
War on Drugs - In Reverse
The Horrors - I See You
The Fresh and Onlys - Animal of One
Lust for Youth - New Boys
Parquet Courts - Pretty Machines
Sturgill Simspon - The Promise
Total Control - Flesh War
The Brian Jonestown Massacre - Food for Clouds
Mogwai - Remurdered
Against Me! - True Trans Soul Rebel
Beer (either new to the DC market in 2014, or new to the brewery, in no particular order):
Hill Farmstead-Cambridge-Kissemeyer Arctic Saison - Lemony deliciousness.
3 Stars-Millstone Brandy Lyn - a 60/40 blend of beer and cider that's perfectly balanced and blended. Light malts, nelson sauvin hops, apples, and brett all shine.
Great Raft Reasonably Corrupt - Schwartzbier is a hard style to get right, and I'm not being a homer when I say this is great.
Off Color Troublesome - Kinda Gose-y.
Oakshire Hermanne - Vinous, bright, and sour.
Anderson Valley Gose - Either the regular or blood orange version. I'm not picky.
Deschutes Black Butte 26 - An imperial porter with the kitchen sink in it, including pomegranate molasses and cranberries. I love that I can walk into a grocery store and buy this.
Adroit Theory Brandy barrel-aged B/A/Y/S - It seems like it's not a year-end beer list unless these guys have a barrel-aged stout on it.
Virtue Ciders Sidra de Nava - I can't wait for these guys to distribute in DC.
Lost Rhino Bacterium Blondus - Their first attempt at a sour was so good they didn't even have to blend it, they just bottled a barrel.
Albermarle Ciderworks Gold Rush - My favorite all-purpose apple now has a cider.
Additional shouts to the entire state of Virginia, which is killing it. Devils Backbone, 3 Brothers, Strageways, Hardywood Park, cideries... to DC Brau's Alpha Domina Mellis, which is Hopslam for people who know better.
I've done this before, and I'll do it again: