2014 will always be the year that Christine McVie announced she was rejoining Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Nicks shared some previously unreleased gems, I listened to a disproportionate amount of country albums, there were several disappointing alternative rock releases, a popular country artist shied away from her country roots, U2 gave away an album for free (turns out there’s a reason it’s free ….) and Marc Broussard released a new album just in time to get me through a tough time
1. Stevie Nicks – 24 Karat Gold: Songs From The Vault
So, continue on your destructive road
Your life passes before me like an unknown circumstance
You and your friends are at odds
And you are not winning
At first I was disappointed to hear that Stevie Nicks’s latest album was some re-recordings of never before released tracks, after all I felt a bit cheated but there are definitely some gems on here.
Favourite songs: 24 Karat Gold, The Dealer, Hard Advice, Mabel Normand, All The Beautiful Worlds
2. Train – Bulletproof Picasso
We don’t need a reason
For anything we feel
Every year that Train releases a new album is a good year. Bulletproof Picasso is a good an all round enjoyable listen but doesn’t quite equal its two predecessors: Save Me, San Francisco and California 37.
Favourite songs: Bulletproof Picasso, Angel in Blue Jeans
3. Augustana – Life Imitating Life
Gotta little bit of faith in the hard times, oh oh oh
Gotta little bit of shade in the moonlight, oh oh oh
Gotta little bit of right at the wrong time, oh oh oh
Got you and I’m feeling alright
Babe I just need a little sunshine
Their last couple of albums have been lukewarm but they have found their feet again with this offering. I can’t believe American Heartbreak is merely a bonus track, it is my favourite song on the whole album.
Favourite songs: American Heartbreak, Love In The Air, Need A Little Sunshine, Ash and Amber, Alive
4. Lady Antebellum – 747
I’ll be right here beside you when these good times get tough
Baby, we’re in for a long stretch of love
You lift me up, you bring me down
You make me feel alive
You send my heart in overdrive
Stevie Nicks loves Lady Antebellum so I must do too!
I loved Bartender ever since the first time I heard it – it’s got such a catchy chorus. Long Stretch Of Love sounds like it could have been a song Fleetwood Mac came up with. She Is is a cover of a song I love by Dave Barnes.
Favourite songs: Falling For You, Bartender, Long Stretch Of Love, Lie With Me, 747, Just A Girl
5. Cole Swindell – Cole Swindell
Little sun left to burn in the blue sky,
Shinning of the cross hanging from the mirror of my ride,
Breeze blowing in, your hair blowing round
You’re scanning through the stations looking for that country sound
The good stuff iced up in the back seat,
Nowhere to go, nowhere to be
What an awesome debut album! If you like Luke Bryan then give this guy a try.
Favourite songs: Down Home Boys, Hey Y’all, Chillin It
6. Dustin Lynch – Where It’s At
It ain’t in a high rise looking for a good time shutting down the city lights
It ain’t in the water floating like a bobber soaking up that hot sunshine
I love the rocky edge to this.
Favourite songs: Hell Of A Night, To The Sky, After Party, Where It’s At, All Night
7. Switchfoot – Fading West
The sun goes down like a photograph
You try to stop time in the aftermath
But it’s gone, gone
Yesterday reads like a tragedy
I try not to lose what’s left of me
But it’s gone
Yeah, but we carry on
Probably my favourite album they have produced in recent years.
When We Come Alive really sounds like Coldplay.
Favourite songs: Let It Out, The World You Want, When We Come Alive, Who We Are
8. Marc Broussard – A Life Worth Living
Lucky to have come to know you
As much as it pains me to say
But still too unbelievable to fathom
That we won’t get at least another day
This album is more folk-rock than his previous albums and as such it takes awhile to get into but there are some hidden gems on here. Give Em Hell helped me through a rough time so automatically qualifies as one of the best songs of 2014.
Favourite songs: Give Em Hell, Hurricane Heart, A Life Worth Living, Man Ain’t Supposed To Cry
9. Taylor Swift – 1989
But I keep cruising
Can’t stop, won’t stop moving
It’s like I got this music
In my mind
Saying, “It’s gonna be alright.”
First listen: I have just one question: WHY?
I have been a Taylor Swift fan from the moment I heard Tim McGraw and have steadily followed her through all subsequent albums but I have to ask why on earth would she choose to cross genres and give up everything which makes her unique. I loved that she was a gifted young country music star that wrote her own songs and played her own guitar. I just don’t know why she needed to move into electropop territory.
Second listen: there are some annoyingly catchy tunes on this album and it is really growing on me.
Favourite songs: How You Get The Girl, Bad Blood, I Wish You Would, Shake It Off, Style
10. The Gaslight Anthem – Get Hurt
Now your pretty horse is running wild and free
You can go and find a lover, baby better than me
Talking snow for days with your friends in LA
Have Mercy is a wonderful song, especially where the female singer comes in.
Favourite songs: Get Hurt, Break Your Heart, Have Mercy, 1,000 Years
11. Dave Barnes – Golden Days
We were just chasing dreams,
Finding out in the meantime what it means.
To be young and wild and free.
We were twenty three
Love the album cover!
I always think that Dave Barnes is something of an underrated gem and this album just reinforces that belief.
Favourite songs: Can’t She Try, Twenty Three, Something More
12. Jason Mraz – Yes!
Sometimes I rock…
Sometimes I roll
Sometimes it’s not me in control
Sometimes I gotta jump
Before I know what’s below
Sometimes I gotta drop everything and go
Favourite songs: You Can Rely On Me, Out Of My Hands, Long Drive
13. Dan + Shay – Where It All Began
Nothin’ like you
Shades on spinning in a summer rain
Dancing in the rain no music
Just the right kind of crazy, baby
Something about you
Rocking that rock ‘n roll t-shirt
Favourite songs: Nothin’ Like You, What You Do To Me, Show You Off
14. Eric Paslay – Eric Paslay
I wanna be your Friday night sweet ride
Summertime sunshine barefoot in the moonlight
Favourite songs: Friday Night, Song About A Girl, Less Than Whole, Keep On Fallin
15. Andy Grammer – Magazines Or Novels
See, we won’t forget where we came from
The city won’t change us
We beat to the same drum
I really loved Andy’s debut album and unfortunately this didn’t quite live up to expectations on first listen. The good news is that it got better and better the more times I listened.
Favourite songs: Back Home, Honey I’m Good., Pushing, Sinner
16. Eli Young Band – 10,000 Towns
Your last broken heart was your last broken heart, baby
Say goodbye to goodbye, I ain’t ever gonna change my mind
This is the part where our forever starts
Favourite songs: Your Last Broken Heart, Dust, Drunk Last Night,
17. Florida Georgia Line – Anything Goes
Give me that little love on your pretty face
All I’m waiting is for is for you to just
Lay your pretty head on my shoulder
For a while and find your jam on my radio dial
Girl all I want, is just to see you smile
I loved FGL’s debut album a LOT. This album doesn’t quite meet the high bar set by its predecessor
Favourite songs: Smile, Anything Goes, Good Good, Smoke
18. Rascal Flatts – Rewind
I turn back that radio dial, reopen your door,
Try to talk George Strait into giving us an encore
Re-spin you around, replay that sound of you laughing when we hit the ground
Favourite songs: Riot, DJ Tonight, Rewind, Powerful Stuff, I Like The Sound Of That, Honeysuckle Lazy
19. Little Big Town – Painkiller
It’s a reach out, it’s a white flag, it’s a forfeit of the game
It’s a let go of the ego, and the whisper of your name
It’s a fight for, not a defend, it’s a stay out in the rain
It’s the knowin’ that you love me more than anything
We’re gonna ride the storm out on a lifeboat
Baby this kind of love is all that we know
We’re gonna take a walk out on the trapeze
Even in a wild breeze, we could be the best of them all
Even if we tumble and fall
Favourite songs: Tumble and Fall, Day Drinking, Good People, Live Forever
20. Ryan Star – A N G E L S + A N I M A L S
We’ve got style, yeah we’ve got faith
And I believe there’ll be better days
We might die, but never fade
Taking it on to the other side
I love Ryan Star and I’m so glad that the year opened with him releasing a new full length album. However, most of the best songs on here have already appeared on his Animals EP.
Favourite songs: Gone To Heaven, I Will Survive
21. The Script – No Sound Without Silence
When you’ve been fighting for it all your life
You’ve been struggling to make things right
That’s how a superhero learns to fly
Why do all Script songs sound basically the same? Like No Good In Goodbye and Army Of Angels. The best songs on here are the ones where they try and do something different like Paint The Town Green.
Favourite songs: Superheroes, Paint The Town Green, Hail Rain Or Sunshine
22. Maroon 5 – V
I like to think that we had it all
We drew a map to a better place
But on that road I took a fall
I’m not sure I like the electronic direction that so many alternative rock bands are taking nowadays. Still this album has a few catchy songs to offer.
Favourite songs: Maps, Lost Stars, Coming Back For You
23. Sam Smith – In The Lonely Hour
Why are you looking down all the wrong roads?
When mine is the heart and the salt of the soul
Favourite songs: Stay With Me, Like I Can
24. Sam Hunt – Montevallo
But there’s only so many streets, so many lights
I swear it’s like I can’t even leave my house
I should’ve known all along
You gotta move or move on
When you break up in a small town
This is a full length album following his EP release earlier in the year. Unfortunately all the great sons on here are the ones that were part of the EP, like Break Up In A Small Town and Leave The Night On.
It is worth noting though that Sam wrote Cop Car, even though it was made famous by Keith Urban.
Favourite songs: Break Up In A Small Town, Leave The Night On
25. Luke Bryan – Spring Break 6…Like We Ain’t Ever EP
Like we ain’t ever
All been together
And tried to make one night last forever
No new full length album from one of my favourite country artists this year so will have to make do with this EP full of songs about drinking and finding ‘the one’ at the beach.
Favourite songs: Like We Ain’t Ever
26. Sarah McLachlan – Shine On
Night falls heavy like an iron fist
The silence taut and frail
I weigh the depths of love and terror
In this test I cannot fail
‘Cause there’s no map to guide the human heart
Down roads we’ve never been
Sometimes I feel I’m running blind but I’m trying
Favourite songs: Turn The Lights Down Low, Love Beside Me
27. Chase Rice – Ignite The Night
You got the city girl with an uptown smile
Drivin this ol’ boy country wild
Favourite songs: Ready Set Roll, Country In Ya, Mmm Girl
28. The Fray – Helios
Come and walk that walk
Across the seven seas
Come on and start this fire
Bigger than you and me
Unfortunately I am really disappointed with this album. The only songs worthy of note are the lead single Love Don’t Die
Favourite songs: Love Don’t Die, Give It Away, Hold My Hand
29. Coldplay – Ghost Stories
In the darkness before the dawn
In the swirling of the storm
When I’m rolling with the punches, and hope is gone
Leave a light, a light on
After the awesome Mylto Xyloto and Viva La Vida albums, this one definitely comes as a disappointment. Following his ‘conscious uncoupling’ Chris Martin seems to have left his rock roots and gone on an electronic music spree. Needless to say, I’m not a fan.
Favourite songs: Magic, A Sky Full Of Stars, Midnight
30. U2 – Songs of Innocence
You’re breaking into my imagination
Whatever’s in there is yours to take
For me U2 is like The Beatles – good but undeniably overrated. It’s not that the songs are bad on this album, it’s just I’m struggling to find any that stand out (for the right reasons. Volcano stands out for all the wrong reasons!)
Favourite songs: The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone), Song For Someone