For any number of reasons, 2015 has kind of got away from me. September’s almost over and I’m still knee deep in the 1993 music project that I fully expected would be posted over the summer. Turns out there was a lot more good music that year than I remembered, and drilling down into the various albums at my disposal in search of hidden gems has proven to be a much bigger task than expected. Needless to say my 2015 listening has fallen behind as a result, although I still manage to keep up with stuff at a reasonable pace.
But what of 2014? Yeah, the “Woof 200 for 2014” is done, but it seems I completely whiffed on posting my final album rankings, which have been more or less collecting spreadsheet dust since April. So I figured now was as good a time as any to throw ’em up on the site. My unofficial tally tells me I listened to 339 new releases in 2014, 249 of which I’ve deemed fit to rate and rank. That’s a lot of music, my friends, even for an admitted music lover like myself. Of course, the rankings themselves are a pretty half-assed stab at making sense of it all, considering there are more than a few albums in there that I can only vaguely remember ever listening to. The fact that there are 90 of them that I remember so little about that I couldn’t even rate them should tell you plenty. But what the hell, I love lists and given that I have a lot of other musical food on my plate at the moment, it’s highly unlikely I’ll be revisiting any of this stuff anytime soon, so now is as good a time as any to post the list.
2014 marked year three of my re-immergence into new music, which began in late 2011 when I first started streaming online. It was also the first year of the three where my #1 overall album wasn’t quite as clearly defined when all was said and done. I generally rate a handful of albums (somewhere between 5-10) each year with a “10” grade. These are albums which I absolutely loved front to back without hesitation. That being said, there is usually one of those 10’s every year that sticks out just a LIIIIITLE bit more. Sort of a 10 with an asterisk, if you will. In 2012 it was Big Wreck’s Albatross, while 2013’s Echoes From The Underground by Vertical Horizon kept pulling farther away from the pack well into 2014. But last year it was a little different. A number of albums sort of elbowed their win in and out of my #1 spot for several months. For a while I really thought Twin Atlantic’s excellent Great Divide was going to be my final pick for album of the year, but a late surge from the debut from England’s Lonely The Brave – The Day’s War – took the title thanks mostly to an overall sonic approach that I just couldn’t shake. I’ve yet to find an actual hard copy of the album to purchase (admittedly I haven’t looked very hard), and I have a feeling that if I did the album would really stretch its lead as best of the year in my estimation. Not having the ability to just throw it in the car CD player at random is hampering it’s standing a bit. That’s usually the place where albums really take off into Greatest Of All Time territory for me. In the end though, it’s the album that I find I keep going back to most often, so while it’s not a GOAT just yet, it’s certainly worthy of the mantle.
I also feel the need to point out that my current #6 album, The Tea Party’s The Ocean At The End has a very good chance of rising up even higher, maybe even to the top spot, given a few more months of listening. It was an album I was very much looking forward to after the initial single hit early in the year and became one of my faves of the year (“Water’s On Fire” – #2 on the Woof 200). Sadly the full album was never available to stream on Rdio, and it wasn’t until recently that I downloaded a copy off of iTunes. It’s a fantastic album that I’m still absorbing, but the more I listen, the better it gets. As always, these ranking are subject to whim and mood.
So yeah, it’s September of 2015 and I’m just putting the wraps on 2014, but so be it. I’m sure the three people that actually read my nonsense have been able to sleep at night knowing that 2014 was still floating recklessly out there. If not, they should be able to rest easy now. You’re welcome, world.