December 26, 2014 CrypticRock Presents: The Best Albums of 2014
In 2014 music had a plethora of exceptional new albums from seasoned artists, as well as many bright newcomers, in an array of genres. With so many great new pieces of music to dig into, it is clear the scene is as lively as ever and audiences’ tastes are more diverse than any other time in history. CrypticRock has carefully chosen the Top 5 albums in a list of respective genres to best represent the special year of 2014.
(Click on album artwork to read full album review)
Top 5 Alternative Rock albums:
Damien Rice – My Favorite Faded Fantasy: Taking eight years to release his third album, My Favourite Faded Fantasy, Rice’s captivating introspection did not just pick up where it left off, it has grown and blossomed into something even more powerful.
Jenny Lewis – The Voyager: Lewis makes a strong comeback with The Voyager filled with honesty and coming clean about her past. It is cohesive album proving why she is the Alt/ Folk Rock sweetheart that every girl wants to be.
Switchfoot: Fading West – Written as a soundtrack to the band’s feature film by the same name, Fading West shows the continue growth of this exception Rock band. With layers of texture and deep composition this album is magical from start to finish.
Top 5 Country Rock albums:
Brantley Gilbert- Just As I Am: With Just As I Am, Brantley Gilbert delivers an album that vaults him into A-list status in country music. On this new release, Gilbert displays a new level maturity in his signature rock influenced sound, personal lyrics, and outlaw attitude that his fans have certainly appreciated.
Dierks Bentley – Riser: With Riser Dierks Bentley creates one of the most intimate and personal country albums of the year. Bentley finds a happy medium by blending traditional county subject matter with pleasant contemporary production.
Dustin Lynch – Where It’s At: Even though Dustin Lynch has one of the strongest voices in country music, he does’t just depend on his vocals with Where It’s At. Lynch noticeably grows as an artist with this release, creating a more contemporary country sound, while maintaining his traditionalist roots.
Florida Georgia Line: Anything Goes – With Anything Goes, Florida Georgia Line continue their run as one of the hottest acts in country music. With lots of attitude, fun and even some controversy, Anything Goes is a must have for the modern day county music junkie.
Little Big Town – Painkiller: When Little Big Town created Painkiller, they crafted their most diverse, genre-bending album to date. This record gives fans Little Big Town’s signature harmonies with a twist, and it epitomizes meaningful progression within the country genre.
Top 5 Hard Rock albums:
Heartist – Feeding Fiction: Heartist are a new face in the hard rock scene of 2014, but one to be remembered. Their debut album ‘Feeding Fiction’ immediately establishes their personal style of heavier sounds and captivating melodies. Not too bad for the newbies.
Hellyeah – Blood For Blood: An incredibly well-written album from start to finish, this is the Hellyeah album people have been waiting for. Heavy and tight it seems Chad Gray and company silence naysayers with Blood For Blood.
In This Moment – Black Widow: Launched into stardom with 2012’s Blood, Black Widow ups the dosage in 2014. The best most striking album to date each song is intense, catchy, and well-written from start to finish. An absolute must listen.
Linkin Park – The Hunting Party: Following a couple of records successfully experimenting with Electronic Rock Linkin Park bring together perhaps one of their most straight ahead guitar heavy albums to date. Running the gambit of all their influences The Hunting Party is a bold statement at this point in the international stars careers.
Nothing More – Nothing More: Self-produced, Nothing More’s self-titled major label debut is one of the most impressive release in Hard Rock this year. Showing the maturity and poise of musicians twice their age this band know how to compose songs that do not only hit hard musically, but also emotionally. Sky is the limit for these guys.
Top 5 Metal albums:
The Amity Affliction – Let The Ocean Take Me: The epitome of fighting internal demons, The Amity Affliction’s fourth studio album is an emotional roller coaster. More than just an A-typical Metalcore record this album flows seamlessly without no down points. Heavy in more ways than one this is an absolute music listen.
At The Gates – At War With Reality: Nearly twenty years since their ground breaking album Slaughter of the Soul the kings of Swedish extreme metal have returned. Flawless production and uncompromising brutality, this album needs to cranked at “11”
Insomnium – Shadows of the Dying Sun: A superb marriage of emotion and heaviness weaved expertly into songs both catchy and timeless, the Finns show why they are the undisputed kings of melodic death metal today.
Primordial – Where Greater Men have Fallen: Captivating in its grandeur and thunderous in its delivery, Where Greater Men Have Fallen is an album for the ages. The Irish juggernaut once again delivers in stunning fashion. Essential.
Prong – Ruining Lives: Tommy Victor and company have kicked down the proverbial metal doors down with this epic release. Hard to believe but between this album and their last release Carved Into Stone (2012) this trio has put together back to back albums of their best works. Pure face melting, heart pounding, soul crushing metal that is sure to give you whiplash.
Top 5 New Wave albums:
The Birthday Massacre- Superstition: A true wall of sound unlike any of the band’s previous releases. Between Rainbow’s evolved programming and Chibi’s hypnotic yet frightening vocals, this will be stuck in your music player for days on end.
Echo and The Bunnymen – Meteorites: Returning with their first studio and five years, Echo and The Bunneymen completely surprise with Meteorites. Not simply a novelty release, this album is the Classic Alternative UK stars at their moody deep Rock best. A tremendous comeback from one of the ’80s most unique acts.
Erasure – The Violet Flame: A welcome return to form after some tumultuous times, Erasure prove that they can still create a perfect pop album. Aided by producer Richard X, their classic synth-pop sound is brought into the 21st century to the delight of fans, both new and old.
Johnny Marr – Playland: Smiths co-founder and guitar virtuoso Johnny Marr takes his solo career to the next level without straying too far from the style that he is best known for. Utilizing his experience from the various bands he’s been a part of, Marr has created a manifesto of power-pop that solidifies his legacy even further.
Peter Murphy – Lion: Combine Peter Murphy and Youth of Killing Joke and you have arguably one of the best duos of the year. Not only is this Murphy’s heaviest albums to date, but his best vocal work to date.
Top 5 Pop Rock albums:
Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence : Lana Del Rey’s classically melancholy and romantic mood is enhanced in her sophomore album, Ultraviolence, with the help of The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach. The rustic and deep guitar riffs derived from his work gave Lana Del Rey an unforgettable tone to her heartbreaking ballads.
Lights – Little Machines: Perhaps the Canadian songwriters best work to date, Little Machines is a marriage of Rock and Electro-Pop. Featuring an natural and warm feel it is safe to say Lights has found positive inspiration that will take her career to new heights.
Sam Smith – In The Lonely Hour: Smith’s debut album is poetic and honest with no boundaries. The overall tone quality of In The Lonely Hour, featuring violins, among many other instruments, makes for a soulful experience.
The Script – No Sound Without Silence: Following the major success of 2012’s breakthrough album #3, The Script do not let down with No Sound Without Silence. Staying true to their wonderfully hopeful lyrics matched with instrumental growth the album is a tremendous step forward for the Ireland based band.
Sia – 1000 Forms of Fear: Sia has always ran the pop industry from behind the curtains, but she finally shines on her own on her 2014 album 1000 Forms Of Fear. Her transition to mainstream pop and R&B is done in a completely unique way and never loses the quirky spark that makes her music magical.
Top 5 Progressive Rock/Metal albums:
Anathema – Distant Satellites: Continuing their evolution UK’s Anathema bring fans some of their best material to date. Unafraid to push the envelope Anathema define the true meaning of progression and Distant Satellites is a masterpiece.
Animals As Leaders – The Joy of Motion: Progressive Rock masters of seven and eight string guitars once again leave fans in awe with their wizardry. The Joy of Motion is a modern free-moving piece of technical brilliance exploring a balanced journey through the Metal spectrum while pushing the group to dazzling new heights as Progress Rock’s newest front runners.
Scar Symmetry – The Singularity, Phase 1: Neohumanity: A band many in the Metal scene had written off years ago return with one of their most cohesive and powerful albums to date. Featuring an blanket concept, extraordinary musicianship, and well composed songs this is one of the best Progressive Metal albums of the year.
Transatlantic – Kaleidoscope: Over a five year break between releases Transatlantic transcends the Progressive Rock boundaries with their 2014 Prog Award winning album. Kaleidoscope is truly a lustrous collection of music majesty that pushes the barriers and redefines the meaning of the genre.
Top 5 Rock albums:
Billy Idol – Kings and Queens of the Underground: One part the most diverse Billy Idol album and two part a true lyrical homage to his life and struggles. The duo of Idol and famed guitarist Steve Stevens develop an epic journey of sound and reflection marking their return with a bang.
Black Stone Cherry – Magic Mountain: Always regarded as a band to watch, Black Stone Cherry live up to the hype with their fourth album Magic Mountain. Showing they are ready to take the next step, the album is perfect mix of hard rock mixed with Southern soul no one can deny.
Night Ranger – High Road: One of the ’80s big Arena rock hit makers return with their eleventh studio album which is highly impressive. Filled with potent guitar riffs around well-written songs, High Road is a Rock album through and through.
Rival Sons – Great Western Valkyrie: A combination of buzzing guitar riffs and lilting vocals with the trippy psychedlia of the 1970s makes Rival Sons’ newest album, Great Western Valkyrie, one of the best blues rock revival offerings of 2014. Jack White and The Black Keys had better watch out, because Rival Sons might just edge them out of the spotlight.
Slash – Word on Fire: What else can be said about such great guitar player? Slash’s new album rocks hard and features some excellent composed songs. The chemistry between he and Myles Kennedy along with The conspirators is flawless.