Today is the 4th and final entry in the Aimless Skylarking Favorite Albums of 2014. Our top 5 albums are listed below. Once we get caught up, we have an interview to prep and a favorite songs list to finalize, we hope to speak about some of the albums we excluded from the list of 20. Many are fantastic and deserve mentioning here. If you missed out on selections 6-20, follow the links listed below.
1. Angel Olsen Burn Your Fire For No Witness - I enjoyed Angel's folky debut 'Halfway Home', her stunning sirenlike vocals, and lyrics from a poet's pen impressed me. But I never imagined she had this in her repetoire. She gathered a full band, plugged in, and her angelic voice lit up, hypnotizing with each track. I saw her in Birmingham at the Bottletree Cafe with 150 others and spent the entire set disinterested in my surroundings, mesmerized as she commanded the room with her thousand yard stare and haunting stories.
'Forgiven/Forgotten', 'Hi-Five', 'Lights Out', 'Stars', 'Windows'
2. PINS Girls Like Us - 2014 US release, and the album I listened to the most this year. Debut efforts aren't supposed to be this good, this full of cool, confident swagger. Guitar albums ooze those things, and this is a guitar album, but Girls Like Us isn't just guitars turned up to 11, the bass lines jump, and the drum kit screams for mercy. However, the band's greatest attribute is they know their way around catchy vocal harmonies. Then there's the infectious yelps. To say their 2nd LP is highly anticipated would be an understatement.
'Girls Like Us", 'Waiting for the End', 'Get With Me', 'Lost Lost Lost'
3. BIRD My Fear and Me - My Fear and Me feels greater than the medium upon which it is presented, resonating with many forms of art -- poetry, film, photography, and other forms of visual art drift in and out of the work. It feels as if it could be the soundtrack to an era defining epic fantasy film, or part of a long forgotten poetry journal tucked away in a dusty old trunk in the attic of a Victorian home.
Thinking of My Fear and Me as just a musical experience is foolish, fine art doesn't often come in the form of a debut LP, but the band managed to pull off the feat. Sadly, BIRD is no longer. The band will no longer perform under the name, but hasn't yet spoke of their future, but one can hope an announcement will come soon. As I said in an earlier piece about the band, their voices can't remain silent for long.
'Rain Song', 'Bullet', 'Blue', 'Dorothea', 'Sea of Trees'
4. Sturgill Simpson Metamodern Sounds in Country Music - Never in a million years did I think I'd ever consider a country album for this list, yet here is Sturgill Simpsons' brilliant 2nd album smirking at me. Part Merle Haggard, part Waylon Jennings, part spaced out hippie weaving tales of God, aliens, hallucinogens, and fairy tales of blood and wine. Toss is a kicked back take on When in Rome's 'The Promise' for a knockout blow.
'Turtles All the Way Down', 'Life of Sin', 'The Promise', 'Pan Bowl'
5. Amanda X Amnesia - The Philadelphia pop punk trio's catchy debut LP overflowed with songs of heartbreak and moving on. There's plenty of despair here, but also conflicted feelings, and that's what makes the album all the more special. It's real, and earnest, there are no clean breaks when it falls apart. As I listened to the album for the first time, the opening line to 'Parsnip' stood out ("I want to wear my heart like an amulet, hanging to every word you say"), and I knew then Amnesia was going to be one of my favorite albums of the year. Plus, their Twitter feed remains one of the most entertaining out there.
'Guatemala', 'Parsnip', 'Paranoia', 'Friendly Tones'