JJ’s Top 40 Albums of 2014

Against-Me-Transgender-Dysphoria-Blues1

JJ’s Top 40 Albums of 2014

The older I get, the more my taste in music gradually mellows. It’s just hard to rock and roll past 10pm these days, I tell ya. But sometimes you just have to crank things up a notch. Well, this year the one album that instantly grabbed me from the get go and that I’ve constantly revisited since it came out back in January is a good old fashioned punk rock album. Since January I’ve been waiting for a band or artist to top Transgender Dysphoria Blues by Against Me! and it just hasn’t happened. Nothing has come close. Apparently ditching a major label, dropping Butch Vig’s slick production, and having a lead singer publicly document her journey as a transgendered person proved to be the right lightning in a bottle for Laura Jane Grace and company to release the album of their career. Add in a killer performance at The Exchange in Regina and Against Me! absolutely owned 2014.

Indie pop supergroup The New Pornographers also reached a career peak in 2014 with Brill Bruisers. After a couple of fairly low key albums verging towards chamber pop, AC Newman, Neko Case, Dan Bejar and company unloaded an album full of irresistible power pop hooks straight out of the ‘80s. Vancouver singer/songwriter Billy the Kid quietly put out one of the year’s best albums, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades. Produced by Frank Turner and released on Turner’s Xtra Mile Recordings label, Billy has strung together a flawless album of punk energy, folky introspection, and melodies that just can’t be denied.

Leonard Cohen continues to enjoy his late career renaissance with Popular Problems. At the ripe old age of 80, Cohen indeed gets better and cooler with age. U2 caused a big noise by joining forces with Apple and releasing the impressive Songs of Innocence for free to anyone with an iTunes account. However, in an age where people expect music to be free, millions of people on the internet still managed to find a way to bitch about a free album that could easily be deleted from their iPhone. Regardless of the hype and backlash, U2 were able to prove that they still have the goods over 30 years into their career.

Locally, 2014 was another stellar year for the YQR. Regina boasts one hell of a music scene and the past 12 months has once again proven that Queen City (and area) acts can hold their own with the best of them. Indigo Joseph, Library Voices, The Dead South, Government Town, Nick Faye & the Deputies, PandaCorn, Rebecca Lascue, and TB Judd are just a handful of local acts who put out top notch albums or EPs. On any given night you could see Rah Rah, Johnny 2 Fingers and the Deformities, JJ Voss, Val Halla, Chris Henderson, Black Drink Crier, Alex Runions, Desert Island Classic, Pile o’ Bones Brass Band, Megan Nash, Dagan Harding, Tiny, Coldest Night of the Year, Dan Silljer, Jason Plumb, Andino Suns, Fortunate Isles, Magnetic, The League of One, Herb and the Humans, Mother Night, Bastard Poetry, Scott Benson Band, Braindead Romeo, Third Ion, Whiskey Manner, etc etc etc.

So without further ado, here are 40 albums and EPs that made life much better in 2014.

40. Rise Against – The Black Market

39. Steel Panther – All You Can Eat

38. Kalle Mattson – Someday, The Moon Will Be Gold

37. The Pretty Reckless – Going to Hell

36. BRONCHO – Just Enough Hip To Be Woman

35. Brody Dalle – Diploid Love

34. PandaCorn – Synthesis of Opposites

33. Blondfire – Young Heart

32. The Baseball Project – 3rd

31. The Dead South – Good Company

30. Drive-By Truckers – English Oceans

29. St. Vincent – St. Vincent

28. Nick Faye & the Deputies – Worry

27. KONGOS – Lunatic

26. Library Voices – For John

25. Future Islands – Singles

24. Del Barber – Prairieography

23. Government Town – II

22. The War On Drugs – Lost in the Dream

21. Indigo Joseph – Collage

20. Bruce Springsteen – High Hopes

19. The Gaslight Anthem – Get Hurt

18. Shovels & Rope – Swimmin’ Time

17. Elliott Brood – Work and Love

16. Supersuckers – Get The Hell

15. The Pack A.D. – Do Not Engage

14. Chuck Ragan – Till Midnight

13. Stars – No One Is Lost

12. Royal Blood – Royal Blood

11. Foo Fighters – Sonic Highways

10. Ryan Adams – Ryan Adams

9. PIXIES – Indie Cindy

8. NQ Arbuckle – The Future Happens Anyway

7. Jack White – Lazaretto

6. Jenny Lewis – The Voyager

5. U2 – Songs of Innocence

4. Leonard Cohen – Popular Problems

3. Billy the Kid – Horseshoes & Hand Grenades

2. The New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers

1. Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues

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