Today Now I’ve Heard Everything begins presenting its Best Albums of 2014, with the Best Songs of 2014 to follow. Each of those lists will be presented in two parts. Although in past years most of the bands on the Now I’ve Heard Everything year end lists were locally based, that is really not the case this time around. Chalk that up to 2014 being a banner year for the type of music covered here. I’ll also admit to not getting to everything that I could have listened to this year.
We’ll begin with the Best Album of 2014, with the remaining records presented in alphabetical order.
Lydia Loveless – Somewhere Else: After listening to this record back in February when it was released, my first thought was “is it to early to start thinking about the best record of 2014?” It wasn’t. Blessed with a voice which conveys emotion and urgency, Lydia leads her band through 10 songs, mostly dealing with the less than wonderful side of love. Although I’ve seen this record misdescribed elsewhere, this is rock record, and a top caliber one at that.
The Baseball Project – 3rd: Take Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Scott McCaughey from R.E.M., add Steve Wynn and Linda Pitmon from Steve Wynn and The Miracle 3, throw in the history of baseball and stories about its storied and less than storied players and you get The Baseball Project. This time out you’ll find songs about baseball cards, box scores, a player who got lost on the way to the stadium, a pitcher who entered the game and promptly injured himself without throwing a ball or ever getting a chance to pitch in the majors again and a steroid using player who is only referred to by his number (13). There’s the definitive punk version of Take Me Out to The Ball Game here as well. If you like rock but aren’t too keen on baseball, this record will still appeal to you.
Elizabeth and The Catapult – Like It Never Happened: It’s impossible to put Elizabeth and The Catapult in a niche. Call their music classical tinged indie pop if you have to call it something. Underlying the 11 songs on this record is both Elizabeth’s sense of humor and bemusement at life. The songs here come from all over: being cut by a record label (Happy Pop), close encounters with bed beds (Sugar Covered Poison), recognizing that sometimes things are going well (More Than Enough), and dealing with the morning after the night before (Like It Never Happened).
Israel Nash – Rain Plans: This marks the third time that Israel Nash (formerly Israel Nash Gripka) has placed an album on the Now I’ve Heard Everything Best of the year list. Israel gets inspiration from early 70s psychedelic rock, with the instrument providing the psychedelic element frequently being a pedal steel guitar. No matter the inspiration, everything here is fresh and bracing.
Jess Klein – Learning Faith: Jess Klein lets Americana, blues and rock blend together on this album as easily as it does in her home base of Austin. Jess gets inspiration for her songs both from both what she is going through (Learning Faith) and what is going on around her in Texas (If There’s a God, Dear God). She even gets to tell off that person who wasn’t particularly nice to her (So Fucking Cool). Jess’s singing is impassioned, her songs are literate and the band her strongly backs everything up.