Saturday, December 20, 2014

My Personal Top Albums of 2014

Welcome to my 6th annual end-of-the-year album-list.
As always this list is based on my own personal favorite albums, and contains albums, released in 2014, that I have played and appreciated the most over the last year.

I haven't bought or listened to a lot of new music this year, during work I prefer to listen to the Radio...
Usually Dutch Radio1 for the news and backgrounds in the morning, and often SublimeFM (jazz/funk/soul) in the afternoons...
There are a few albums that did get some airtime in my houseboat and car this year...
Here they are, in random order... (kinda)

St Vincent - St Vincent
Well... okay, this is my #1 favorite....
I had never heard of St Vincent before this year... shame on me ;-)
Her latest album, filled with some truly beautiful songs and some edgy music in a beautiful mix of electronic music and with herself playing on guitar impressed me a lot.
On a lot of tracks you'll also hear the horn section, probably a leftover from the collaboration that she did with the legendary David Byrne (that i also missed) before making this album. (see THIS)
Her live performances are always very strong... and brilliantly choreographed up to the second, what might take away some room for improvisation from time to time...but anyway, just brilliant.

Video: St Vincent - Birth in Reverse

" From St. Vincent -- Nominated for a GRAMMY for Best Alternative Music Album. Out Now via Loma Vista Recordings
Directed by Willo Perron"

Otis Brown III - The Thought of You
Interesting things are happening on the legendary BlueNote label lately...
Last year they released Robert Glasper's magnificent 'Black Radio 2', and this year it was time for Drummer/Composer Otis Brown III's debut-album.
One of the finest modern jazz albums to date, an album you shouldn't miss...

Typhoon - Lobi di Basi
I'm not a big fan of Hiphop in my own language, but this one is without a doubt my (and almost anyone else's) favorite Dutch(-language)  album, poetic 'hiphop' with a deeper meaning...  how it is supposed to be... together with some great live-performances that he did in 2014 i find this very impressive.

Jose James - While You Were Sleeping
One of the weirdest in this year's list, because i still can't find out how to describe this album because of the variety in styles. Perhaps also not the most coherent, but i like the strong and recognizable voice of Jose.
It's in someway a soul album with many influences from jazz, rock, hiphop and electronica...
A great one for in the car on a long drive, or on my boat out  in the sun.

Zoot Woman - Star Climbing
I have always been a fan of Stuart Price's production-work so I'm glad he took the time to pick up an old synth-pop/project again and release this album after almost 5 years of silence.
Although they can't impress me with their live-performances, the production of this album is in tip-top shape again with lots of dance-able tracks.
The best track of the album is the powerful and hypnotic The Stars are Bright...

Video: Zoot Woman - The Stars Are Bright (Berlin Festival 2014)

"Zoot Woman live in concert @ Berlin Festival 2014"
Video uploaded by Zoot Woman
These are the Pet Shop Boys of this millennium IMHO ;-)

Pink Floyd - Endless River
It's good to see that Pink Floyd can still impress me with their epic atmospheric tracks...
This year, 25 years ago I had the opportunity to see them play live in Nijmegen, and since then I am a big fan.
This one is almost as good as Dark Side of the Moon IMHO

Michael Jackson - Xscape
Michael Jackson is still making money for the uncreative people at Epic/Sony.
Although i have second thoughts about these kind of remake/remix-albums, i do believe this one is worth a listen, especially if you have been a MJfan in the early days.
The new producers have been good at re-capturing that good old 80s-90s vibe, MJ's topyears IMO.

Babyface and Toni Braxton - Love, Marriage and Divorce
Last year Toni's youngest sister Tamar made it to my Album list of 2013
Toni's youngest sister and former member of the Braxtons delivered an excellent album that was almost as good as Toni Braxton's early albums...
Now Toni is back, and in combination with Babyface's voice and production this was guaranteed to be a succes (at least to me, a fan since Toni's first albums)
A great combination of voices too... especially Toni's low voice with Babyface's higher notes.
Just plain and simple, timeless songs about what the title suggests, made possible by the divorces in their lives that they both went through.

Performance of the year: 
Henrik Schwarz at the Boiler Room in the majestic Muziekgebouw aan't IJ concert hall, as part of a contemporary music ensemble.
He performed in a trio alongside classical/jazz virtuosos Dan Berglund and Bugge Wesseltoft.

Video: Bugge Wesseltoft, Henrik Schwarz & Dan Berglund Boiler Room Amsterdam x ADE Live Performance

Following from 2012’s phenomenal solo set – one of Boiler Room’s true early-era highlights – we’ve always sought to get Henrik Schwarz back on our screens. This time, he was back with a difference: in the majestic Muziekgebouw aan't IJ concert hall, alongside jazz virtuosos Dan Berglund and Bugge Wesseltoft. Get familiar with their exalted new album, 'Trialogue' now if you haven't already!
Soundcloud: "
Video uploaded by Boiler Room
Also worth mentioning:
SOHN - Tremors lovely experimental electronic music to chill to...
Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga - Cheek to Cheek... cheap, but effective, but why not a full Christmas album?
Common - Nobody's Smiling My favorite rapper of the moment can still deliver
Nathan East - Nathan East still a legendary bass-player with another great album... bringing back sweet memories
Mehlania - Taming the Dragon Jazz legend Brad Mehldau and Mark Guiliana on another brilliant Jazz/electronics collaboration album

(I was also impressed by Mark Colenburg this year, who did a very cool demo for Yamaha this year with that other great bass-player Derrick Hodge)
Also check out: