Tag Archives: list

Michael Goldberg’s Best Of 2014 – Albums & Books – Dylan, Jolie Holland, Greil Marcus & More

The major musical event of 2014 was the release of Bob Dylan and The Band’s ‘Basement Tapes’ recordings – 140 of them (if you include the two songs included in the hidden track at the end of disc six). But beyond the six-plus hours of mostly better quality versions of these songs than we’ve heard before (along with a batch of songs that haven’t made the bootlegs – at least the ones I got my hands on), a lot of other noteworthy albums were released during the year.

The list that follows is based on what I heard and what I liked. No one can listen to everything, and I don’t pretend to try. But these albums are good ones, and if you haven’t heard some of them, I hope you’ll check them out.

1 Bob Dylan, The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 (Columbia): As I wrote when the set was released: Dylan’s best songs are not the straightforward protest songs from the early ‘60s – “Masters Of War” or “The Times They Are A-Changing.” Rather, it’s songs like “Visions Of Johanna,” songs that are opaque. Songs that defy literal understanding. Those are the great ones. I’ve listened to “Visions Of Johanna” 100s of times and still its mysteries remain intact. And a song such as “I’m Not There” – do you know what it’s about? … The lyrics to many of Dylan’s Basement songs are opaque too; as if they’re written in an invisible ink, or in a language that defies translation. And it’s that mystery that keeps bringing me back. One line stands out, gives up something one day, then pulls it back on another.

“Ain’t No More Cane (Take 2)”:

2 Jolie Holland, Wine Dark Sea (Anti): Jolie Holland moved into a whole other zone with the avant-garde guitar sounds that help define “Wine Dark Sea.” She takes her idiosyncratic version of Americana, integrates some wild noise (think Sonic Youth) rock guitar and the result is thrilling. Holland is an incredible singer and songwriter. Perhaps my favorite here is “The Love You Save,” which finds Holland trumping the late Janis Joplin with her take on the Stax/Volt soul of the mid-‘60s.

Jolie Holland – Full Performance (Live on KEXP):


First Sign Of Spring
On and On
Out On The Wine Dark Sea
Who Are you

3 Angel Olson, Burn Your Fire For No Witness (Jagjaguwar): At times on Angel Olson’s moving second album, as on “White Fire,” she sounds like a female Leonard Cohen. At other times it’s the Velvets I hear a faint echo of, but on the final track, “Windows,” what I hear is Angel Olson, what I hear is an exquisitely beautiful sound, even as she sings about a man who is oblivious to those around him. Her voice has a fragile quality, but there’s strength too.


4 Wadada Leo Smith, The Great Lake Suites (Tum): A musician friend of mine compares this album favorably to Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, and I agree. Over two discs composer/band leader Wadada Leo Smith (trumpet), Henry Threadgill (alto saxophone, flute and bass flute), Jack DeJohnette (drums) and John Lindberg (double bass) deliver music as intense and spiritual as Coltrane and his combo. And an hour and a half after you start listening, when the music’s over, you’ll want to start it up all over again. This is one for the ages.

5 Karen O, Crush Songs (Kobalt): This low-fi bedroom recording of Yeah Yeah Yeah front woman O’s “crush” songs is intimate and addictive. There’s a hint of the Velvets’ third album here, and that’s a good thing. Proof that anyone with the songs and the voice can make their own “Basement Tapes.”


6 Spoon, They Want My Soul (Loma Vista/Republic): The album title nails what’s going on these days, when corporate America won’t settle for anything less than turning us into unthinking all-consuming zombies. I’ve been a Spoon fan since the mid-‘90s and this album of smart poppy rock is up there with their best. “Rainy Taxi” is intoxicating, and “knock Knock Knock” as well, but the whole album is a keeper. These Austin rockers are fighting the good fight, and winning.

7 Sharon Van Etten, Are We There (Jagjaguwar): The trials of a woman trying to deal with a (sometimes not-so-good) relationship is the theme running through Are We There. Whether these songs are about Van Etten’s real life, when one listens to this album they might as well be – these songs feel so confessional. With haunting voice and music that perfectly suits her theme, Sharon Van Etten has turned pain into songs that are deep, self-reflective and at times confrontational. Check these lyrics from “Your Love Is Killing Me”:

“Break my legs so I won’t walk to you.
Cut my tongue so I can’t talk to you.
Burn my skin so I can’t feel you.
Stab my eyes so I can’t see
You like it when I let you walk over me.
You tell me that you like it.
Your love is killing me.”


“Your Love Is Killing Me”:

8 Tweedy, Sukierae (ANTI):Tweedy and his son Spencer recorded this 20 song album with help from a few musician friends. It’s beautiful and moving and wonderful. Tweedy says it’s a two record set and suggests the vinyl version is the best way to listen. Very Beatlesque at times – check out “Summer Noon.”

“Summer Noon”:

9 Ex-Hex, Rips (Merge): Mary Timony’s new band delivers a garage-rock explosion of a debut album. There are echoes of The Ramones and Patti Smith and Timony’s friends, Sleater-Kinney in the 12 songs. Great guitar riffs from Timony. There’s a priceless energy in these tracks. This trio is on fire.

10 tUnE-yArDs, Nikki Nack (4AD): Merrill Garbus has voice, a big soulful voice and she can really sing. And when you can really sing, and you have the knock for writing catchy songs with loads of hooks, you can go wild with the music and make it work. Sometimes it sounds like Garbus has utilized every object in the junkyard to make her unorthodox tracks, and at other times only her voice.

Also great:
11 Lykke Li, I Never Learn (Atlantic):
12 Lucinda Williams, Down Where The Spirit Meets The Bone (Highway 20)
13 The Hold Steady, Teeth Dreams (Razor & Tie)
14 The Velvet Underground, The Velvet Underground – 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition (Ume):
15 The War On Drugs, Lost In The Dream (Secretly Canadian)

The Velvet Underground, “I’m Waiting For The Man”:


(In no particular order – these are all great!)

The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll In Ten Songs, Greil Marcus (Yale University Press): Greil Marcus’ latest book is all about what Marcus hears when he listens to ten songs, and what he hears is unexpected and sometimes revelatory. It’s not any kind of history of rock that you or I have ever read before, because Marcus sees no point in revisiting the same old story that we’ve read numerous versions of since the ‘60s. Not a history so much as a theory about rock ‘n’ roll, and then ten examples that, in different ways, back up that theory. Amazing.

I loved You More, Tom Spanbauer (Hawthorne): Tom’s Spanbauer’s book is 466 pages of heartbreak. Think about the love affair that went so wrong for you, the one that tore you down, left you devastated and in pieces. Yeah, that’s this book. Beautifully written. Every sentence is a gem.

A Man Called Destruction: The Life and Music of Alex Chilton, Holly George-Warren (Viking): A superbly written biography of Alex Chilton, who is best known as one of the leaders of Big Star. If you start to read it, you soon will find yourself deep into both the Big Star recordings and Chilton’s solo work before you know it.

Those Who Leave And Those Who Stay, Elena Ferrante, (Europa Editions): The third in what looks to be a four book series that follows two girls in Italy from childhood to old age. With this book, Ferrante adds politics to the volatile mix of love, sex, family, money and friendship that fuels the first two.

Here Comes the Night: The Dark Soul of Bert Berns and the Dirty Business of Rhythm and Blues, Joel Selvin (Counterpoint): More than just a biography of Bert Burns, who wrote such classics as “Here Comes the Night,” “Piece of My Heart,” and “Twist and Shout,” discovered Van Morrison, produced records including “Under The Boardwalk” for The Drifters and so much more, Selvin also manages to detail the history of the New York-based rhythm and blues business.

My Struggle (books 1, 2 & 3), Karl Ove Knausgaard (Macmillan): This year I read the first three books of this six volume epic semi-fictional autobiography. Knausgaard goes deep into his first person narrator’s psychology, as he lays out his life for us in minute detail. Somehow it’s fascinating, even when it seems like he’s telling us way more than we need to know. Mesmerizing.

On Highway 61, Dennis McNally (Counterpoint): Actually, I’m only a third of the way through this incredible book, but it’s so good I have to include it. McNally has written the history of how blacks and whites influenced each other musically, as they created what he calls cultural freedom. Along the way he tells the stories of Mark Twain, Bessie Smith, Robert Johnson, Lead Belly, John Hammond, Sr., Thelonious Monk and many, many others. More on this book in 2015.

— A Days Of The Cray-Wild blog post —

Best of 2014 Dept.: Stereogum’s 100 Most Anticipated Albums of the Coming Year

Beck’s upcoming Morning Phase is #2 on the list.

This year isn’t over yet of course, but already Stereogum is hitting us with their list of much anticipated 2014 albums.

Check it out:

100 Bruce Springsteen – High Hopes (Columbia, 1/14)

99 The Rentals – TBD (Polyvinyl)

98 Broken Bells – After The Disco (Columbia, 1/14)

97 Empress Of – TBD (Terrible/XL)

96 tUnE-yArDs – TBD

95 Schoolboy Q – Oxymoron (Interscope/TDE, 2/25)

94 Thee Oh Sees – TBD

93 MØ – No Mythologies To Follow (Chess Club/RCA Victor, 2/24)

92 You Blew It! – Keep Doing What You’re Doing (Topshelf, 1/14)

91 Bleeding Rainbow – Interrupt (Kanine, 2/25)

90 The New Pornographers – TBD (Matador, Late Spring)

89 Sisyphus – Sisyphus (Asthmatic Kitty, 3/18)

88 Wu-Tang Clan – TBD

87 Drive-By Truckers – English Oceans (ATO, 3/4)

86 Mastodon – TBD

85 Phantogram – Voices (Republic, 2/18)

84 Wolves In The Throne Room – TBD (Southern Lord, Winter)

83 Meek Mill – TBD (MMG)

82 Mogwai – Rave Tapes (Sub Pop, 1/21)

81 Pusha T – King Push (Def Jam)

80 Actress – Ghettoville (Werkdiscs/Ninja Tune, 1/28)

79 Rick Ross – Mastermind (MMG/Slip-N-Slide/Def Jam, Early 2014)

78 The Horrors – TBD

77 ceo – Wonderland (Modular People, 2/4)

76 Johnny Cash – Out Among The Stars (Columbia/Legacy, 3/25)

75 Black Lips – Underneath The Rainbow (Vice, 3/18)

74 Da Mafia 6ix – TBD

73 Best Coast – TBD (Spring)

72 The Men – Tomorrow’s Hits (Sacred Bones, 3/4)

71 My Morning Jacket – TBD (ATO)

70 Belle And Sebastian – TBD (Matador, Late Spring)

69 Neneh Cherry – Blank Project (Smalltown Supersound, 2/25)

68 Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Piñata

67 The Notwist – Close To The Glass (Sub Pop, 2/25)

66 FKA Twigs – TBD (Young Turks)

65 G-Side – Gz To Godz

64 Perfume Genius – TBD (Matador, Fall)

63 Death Cab For Cutie – TBD


61 Lily Allen – TBD (Warner Bros.)

60 Liars – TBD (Mute, March)

59 Parquet Courts – TBD

58 Sampha – TBD (Young Turks)

57 Godflesh – A World Lit Only By Fire (Early 2014)

56 Pallbearer – TBD (Profound Lore, August)

55 The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – TBD (April)

54 The Hold Steady – TBD (Vagrant, Winter)

53 Twin Shadow – TBD

52 Caribou – TBD

51 Wye Oak – TBD (Merge)

50 Tombs – Savage Gold (Relapse, Spring)

49 Dum Dum Girls – Too True (Sub Pop, 1/28)

48 Linda Perhacs – The Soul Of All Natural Things (Asthmatic Kitty, 3/4)

47 Flying Lotus – TBD

46 Pharrell – TBD (Columbia)

45 Amber Coffman – TBD

44 Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence (Interscope)

43 Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness (Jagjaguwar, 2/18)

42 The Bug – Angels And Devils (Ninja Tune)

41 Warpaint – Warpaint (Rough Trade)

40 Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – Wig Out At Jagbags (Matador, 1/7)

39 Katy B – Little Red (Rinse/Columbia)

38 James Blake & Chance The Rapper – TBD

37 Damon Albarn – TBD (Warner Bros.)

36 U2 – TBD (April)

35 Hamilton Leithauser – TBD

34 Real Estate – TBD (Domino)

33 Julian Casablancas – TBD

32 Alcest – Shelter (Prophecy, 1/21)

31 Migos – Y.R.N. 2 (January)

30 White Lung – TBD

29 EMA – The Future’s Void (Matador/City Slang, Spring)

28 Sam Smith – In The Lonely Hour (Columbia, 5/26)

27 Bat For Lashes – TBD (Warner Bros.)

26 Jessica Pratt – TBD

25 The War On Drugs – Lost In The Dream (Secretly Canadian, 3/18)

24 Modest Mouse – TBD

23 Wilco – TBD (dBpm)

22 Future – Honest (Epic)

21 Sun Kil Moon – Benji (Caldo Verde, 2/4)

20 St. Vincent – St. Vincent (Republic, 2/25)

19 Charli XCX – SuperLove (Atlantic, Spring)

18 Titus Andronicus – TBD (XL)

17 Grimes – TBD

16 Swans – TBD (Young God)

15 TV On The Radio – TBD

14 Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 2 (Fool’s Gold)

13 Fleet Foxes – TBD

12 Fucked Up – TBD (Matador, Spring)

11 Robyn – TBD

10 Spoon – TBD

9 Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues (Total Treble, 1/21)

8 Taylor Swift – TBD

7 Agalloch – TBD (Profound Lore, April)

6 The Wrens – TBD

5 Joanna Newsom – TBD

4 Cloud Nothings – TBD

3 Frank Ocean – TBD

2 Beck – Morning Phase (Capitol, 2/14)

Beck performed “Wave” off the new album at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles this past November.

1 Kanye West – TBD (Summer)

-– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –-

Best Of 2013 Dept.: The Guardian Picks Year’s Best Albums

My Bloody Valentine make the cut.

The Guardian has finished rolling out it’s best albums of 2013 list. Brooklyn Vegan has been keeping taps and today makes it easy to check out the entire list in one quick read.

There are 40 albums in the list. Here are the Top 20. For the rest, go here.

The Guardian’s 20 Best Albums of 2013

20. David Bowie – The Next Day

19. Arctic Monkeys – AM
18. These New Puritans – Fields of Reeds
17. Laura Marling – Once I Was an Eagle

16. Kacey Musgraves – Same Trailer, Different Park
15. Earl Sweatshirt – Doris
14. Chance the Rapper – Acid Rap
13. Lorde – Pure Heroine
12. Haim – Days Are Gone

11. The National – Trouble Will Find Me
10. My Bloody Valentine – m b v

9. Janelle Monae – The Electric Lady

8. John Wizards – John Wizards
7. Kelela – Cut 4 Me
6. Disclosure – Settle

5. James Blake – Overgrown
4. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the CIty
3. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
2. John Grant – Pale Green Ghosts
1. Kanye West – Yeezus

-– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –

Best of 2013 Dept.: Stereogum Picks the Year’s 50 Best Albums

Stereogum has announced it’s 50 best albums of 2013.

Check out the list below, starting at the bottom and then rising album by album to #1.

Stereogum’s Top 50 for 2013

50. Phosphorescent – Muchacho (Dead Oceans)
49. Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience Pt. 1 (RCA)
48. Carcass – Surgical Steel (Nuclear Blast)
47. A$AP Rocky – Long.Live.A$AP (ASAP Worldwide/Polo Grounds/RCA)
46. Yo La Tengo – Fade (Matador)
45. Youth Lagoon – Wondrous Bughouse (Fat Possum)
44. A$AP Ferg – Trap Lord (ASAP Worldwide/Polo Grounds/RCA)
43. Cassie – RockaByeBaby (Bad Boy)
42. Autre Ne Veut – Anxiety (Mexican Summer)
41. Janelle Monáe – The Electric Lady (Wondaland/Bad Boy)
40. Pharmakon – Abandon (Sacred Bones)
39. Pure Bathing Culture – Moon Tides (Memphis/Partisan)
38. The Knife – Shaking The Habitual (Rabid)
37. Forest Swords – Engravings (Tri Angle)
36. Julia Holter – Loud City Song (Domino)
35. Gorguts – Colored Sands (Season of Mist)
34. Yuck – Glow & Behold (Fat Possum)
33. The Field – Cupid’s Head (Kompakt)
32. Iceage – You’re Nothing (Matador)
31. Speedy Ortiz – Major Arcana (Carpark)
30. Oneohtrix Point Never – R Plus 7 (Warp)
29. Phoenix – Bankrupt! (Glassnote/Atlantic)
28. Drake – Nothing Was The Same (Cash Money)
27. The National – Trouble Will Find Me (4AD)
26. Migos – YRN (Self-released)
25. Nine Inch Nails – Hesitation Marks (Polydor)
24. Bill Callahan – Dream River (Drag City)
23. Deerhunter – Monomania (4AD)
22. Superchunk – I Hate Music (Merge)
21. Chvrches – The Bones Of What You Believe (Virgin/Goodbye)
20. Blood Orange – Cupid Deluxe (Domino)
19. Tegan And Sara – Heartthrob (Warner Bros.)
18. Chance The Rapper – Acid Rap (Self-released)
17. Windhand – Soma (Relapse)
16. Waxahatchee – Cerulean Salt (Don Giovanni)
15. Kvelertak – Meir (Sony Music Scandinavia/Roadrunner)
14. Savages – Silence Yourself (Matador/Pop Noire)
13. Kurt Vile – Wakin On A Pretty Daze (Matador)
12. Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels (Fool’s Gold)
11. Volcano Choir – Repave (Jagjaguwar)
10. Arcade Fire – Reflektor (Merge)
09. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories (Columbia)
08. HAIM – Days Are Gone (Polydor)
07. Danny Brown – Old (Fool’s Gold)
06. Sky Ferreira – Night Time, My Time (Capitol)
05. My Bloody Valentine – m b v (Self-released)
04. Disclosure – Settle (Cherrytree)
03. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires Of The City (XL)
02. Deafheaven – Sunbather (Deathwish)
01. Kanye West – Yeezus (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam)

To see all the covers plus notes about each album and a link to hear the music at Spotify, head to Stereogum.

— A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post —

50 Best Debut Singles in Music History? Do You Agree?

The Clash’s “White Riot” comes in at #8.

Today Flavorwire offers up what they say are the 50 best debut singles in music history. Given that #1 is the Bad Brain’s “Pay To Cum,’ I’d say this list, like all such lists, is a big dodgy. Still, you might enjoy disagreeing. Or not.

1. Bay Brains, Pay To Cum”
2/ Azealia Banks, “212″
3. Bauhaus, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”

4. Boys Next Door, “Shivers”
5. Kate Bush, “Wuthering Heights”
6. Tracy Chapman, “Fast Car”

7. Neneh Cherry, “Buffalo Stance”
8. The Clash, “White Riot”
9. Leonard Cohen, “Suzanne”
10. The Cure, “Killing an Arab”

For the rest of the list, head to Flavorwire.