Jon Crary’s Sound Off Top 40 Albums of 2014

St. Vincent- St. Vincent : St. Vincent’s weird eponymous 5th release is my number 1 pick of the year – a statement about this year in music, her incredible songwriting,...
  1. St. Vincent- St. Vincent : St. Vincent’s weird eponymous 5th release is my number 1 pick of the year – a statement about this year in music, her incredible songwriting, guitar wizardry and a choreographed live show are magnificent. The St. Vincent album is a world within a world.
    Tracks to check out: “Rattlesnake” and “Prince Johnny” [soundcloud url=”″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
  2. Snowmine – Dialectsis a creative interpretation with many influences from of some of the dreamier/ shimmering moments of ‘80’s new romantic pop and new wave.
    Tracks to check out: “Rome” and “Safety in an Open Mind” [soundcloud url=”″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /] 
  3. Ex Hex – Rips: This is a collection of power pop punk tunes with a touch of glam and sassyness. Not one weak song on the record.
    Tracks to check out: “Warpaint” and “Waterfall” [soundcloud url=”″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
  4. The War on Drugs – Lost in The DreamThe War on Drugs hypnotic, spacey, atmospheric, rootsy-like gem is mind-bending.
    Tracks to check out: 
    “Under Pressure” and “Disappearing” [soundcloud url=”″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
  5. Strand of Oaks- HEAL: This record is an emotionally epic and cathartic collection of tunes mixing lots of synths with its atmospheric guitar. This is rock achievement.
    Tracks to check out: “Goshen 97” and “Same Emotions” [soundcloud url=”″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /] 
  6. Rush Midnight – Rush Midnight: Magnificent debut from Twin Shadow’s former bass player: He brings a disco and funk influences to the music, danceable and romantic, like night music, but it’s creatively updated and ethereal.
    Tracks to check out: “Fix Me Up” and “In Your Room”.
  7. Dum Dum Girls- Too True: Dee Dee Penny makes melodic rock reminiscent of finer times of the 80’s, bright shiny lush guitar, clever lyrics and a bit of goth. Phenomenal record.
    Tracks to check out: “Rimbaud Eyes” and “Are You Ok?”
  8. Wild Beasts – Present Tense : With a decidedly more of an accent on electro synth sounds on Wild Beasts fourth record, it ventures into an intensity from a lyrical and vocal perspective and takes their songwriting to a whole new level. This is their best record to date.
    Tracks to check out: “A Simple Beautiful Truth” and “Sweet Spot”.
  9. Tennis – Ritual on Repeat: This indie pop duo has been making music for years, but this one is far and away their very best because of the sheer beauty of the song structures, hooks and epic choruses- a heavier, melodic, and meatier body of work. Great record.
    Tracks to check out: “Night Vision” and “I’m Calling”.
  10. Hercules & Love Affair – The Feast of the Broken Heart: Heart pounding, thumping dance music that fills the soul. This is relentless feel good music.
    Tracks to check out: “Do You Feel The Same” and “My Offence (Feat. Krystle Warren)”
  11. Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness: With a voice that reminds me of Edith Piaf, lyrics which bring tears and songs that enriches the soul. This one is beautiful.
    Tracks to check out: “Forgiven/ Forgotten” and “Lights Out”.
  12. Future Islands – Singles Synth-pop melodic madness. This band scores with huge synth-pop sounds but it is Sam Herring’s vocals which is like 3 or 4 instruments or more!
    Tracks to check out: “Doves” and “Spirit”.
  13. Perfume Genius – Too Bright : This album is loaded with great songs with a bit of everything from glam to soulfully funky and melodic to weird and haunting. Every bit as thought provoking with great lyrics and instrumentation.
    Tracks to check out: “Queen” and “Fool”.
  14. Spoon – They Want My Soul : This band produces great tunes with each record. This one boasts such great choppy tunes with minimal type production but with carefully infused synths and shiny guitar.
    Tracks to check out: “Rent I Pay” and “Inside Out”.
  15. Wye Oak – Shriek : Wye Oak scores with this beautiful collection of tunes. Jenn Wasner’s voice is beautiful. Her accent on the synth/ keyboard /percussion production is a nice change from their last album, the song writing is as brilliant as ever even without the guitar.
    Tracks to check out: “Sick Talk” and “Glory”.
  16. Todd Terje – It’s Album Time : This is an electronic diamond. It’s as every bit as intoxicating as it is lovely, danceable and just a sheer joy to listen to.
    Tracks to check out: “Leisure Suit Preben” and “Delorean Dynamite”
  17. Bryan Ferry – Avonmore : Nothing stops Bryan Ferry from producing the most elegant, well crafted and executed records. This is his best since the mesmerizing albums of the ‘90’s like Mamouna and Taxi.
    Tracks to check out: “Loop De Li” and “Soldier of Fortune”.
  18. Warpaint – Warpaint : There is something incredibly haunting and yet disturbing and exciting all rolled into one when it comes to this self-titled Warpaint album. This is art rock/ a spacey journey with a primal-like feel.
    Tracks to check out: “Keep it Healthy” and “Love is to Die”.
  19. Caribou – Our Love Electronic jams, synths and percussion are all woven together to create this incredibly catchy, bright wave of sound, all very danceable and an enjoyable listen.
    Tracks to check out: “Can’t Do Without You” and “Our Love”
  20. Alvvays – Alvvays : Alvvays creates a garage lo-fi pop sound that is retro 60’s/ surf rock sounding, lots of dreamy sounds with a fuzz like edge. This album just gets better and better with each listen.
    Tracks to check out: “Archie, Marry Me” and “Adult Diversion”.
  21. TV on the Radio – Seeds A really good record. There are so many really great tunes from a songwriting perspective, a band that changes up things, this time with more of a accessible pop feel.
    Tracks to check out: “Careful You” and “Happy Idiot”
  22. How to Dress Well – What is the Heart? Tom Krell is just as soulful as ever on this new album. I found this one to have a wider range of instrumentation and not so obscure and noisy. It is brilliant.
    Tracks to check out: “Repeat Pleasure” and “Very Best Friend”.
  23. Avi Buffalo – At Best Cuckold There is something familiar and soothing about what Avi Buffalo offers: a perfectly crafted song and something to think about.
    Tracks to check out: “So What?” and “Can’t Be Too Responsible”.
  24. The Juan MacLean – In a Dream : This is synth-heaven with guitar, danceable and relevant from ex-LCD Soundsystem member, Nancy Whang. It sparkles and moves, and the songs are sing-able and danceable.
    Tracks to check out: “A Simple Design” and “Here I am”.
  25. The Afghan Whigs – Do The Beast : Lots of creative rock and roll and just great songwriting, searing guitar work which is super progressive and ethereal/ spacey yet sort of 80’s like at times. It’s a great rock record with a lot to think about.
    Tracks to check out: “Matamoros” and “Algiers”.
  26. Gruff Rhys – American Interior : Gruff Rhys songwriting shines through on this beautiful record. The songs glide and shimmer, keyboards and strings. The feel is upbeat and a bit psychedelic. This is a record you play over and over again.
    Tracks to check out: “American Interior” and “Liberty (Is Where We’ll Be)”.
  27. Phantogram – Voices : This is the breakout album from psych electro-pop duo as I like the big hits that have huge hooks, great voice, synths, sampling and percussion.
    Tracks to check out: “Black Out Days” and “Fall in Love”.
  28. Woods – With Light and With Love: This psychedelic folk rock-tinged album is gorgeous. With some weeping slide guitar, psychedelic guitar jams and synths, this is a fun ride.
    Tracks to check out: “Moving to the Left” and “Shining”.
  29. Hospitality – Trouble Each song is well crafted, a retro lo-fi feel with the hauntingly beautiful voice of Amber Papini. Twitter: @hospitalityband
    Tracks to check out: “Going Out” and “Rockets and Jets”.
  30. Merchandise – After the End : The deep toned hypnotic vocals and the lush instrumentation are reminiscent of early to mid 80’s Echo & the Bunnymen and Simple Minds with a touch of Peter Murphy.
    Tracks to check out: “Little Killer” and “Enemy”.
  31. Real Estate – Atlas From the very first guitar lines of the first track “Had To Hear”, this dream pop band from New Jersey makes a meatier more retro-like ‘70’s sounding album, all with the same kind of vibe their earlier work, but this one shines brightly. Brilliant.
    Tracks to check out: “Had To Hear” and “Talking Backwards”.
  32. Little Daylight – Hello Memory : This is a fun little Brooklyn pop band that belts out danceable retro ‘80’s electro-pop reminiscent of The Go-Go’s, Cyndi Lauper and others with an updated feel for today. This is a great little party record.
    Tracks to check out: “Mona Lisa” and “Siren Call”.
  33. Lia Ices – Lia Ices : Synth-pop with a West coast feel. The vibe is sunny and tropical. The shimmering guitar and angelic vocals with lazy psych-pop synth chops are beautiful.
    Tracks to check out: “Higher” and “Thousand Eyes”.
  34. The Horrors – Luminou: Slowly builds from the first track to the last. This is an epic art rock effort. I hear early Simple Minds when travel music was in vogue. Huge percussion with twinkling ethereal synths and a signature voice reminiscent of Stone Roses or early 90’s rave.
    Tracks to check out: “First Day of Spring” and “In and Out of Sight”.
  35. EMA – The Future’s Void : Spacey and raucous, Erika croons incessantly with a huge accompaniment of sounds from the band of spacey keyboards. There is a certain urgency with a bit of an industrial tinge. It’s breathtaking.
    Tracks to check out: “So Blonde” and “Satellites”.
  36. Sharon Van Etten – Are We There? : Sharon Van Etten puts out the most provocative and introspective albums and this one is just as good. Her voice and instrumentation are excellent.
    Tracks to check out: “Afraid of Nothing” and “Taking Chances”.
  37. Jessie Ware – Tough Love : Neo R&B diva, Jessie Ware does it better than anyone. With a tough act to follow up on her epic debut Devotion, but these songs are poignant with finer and dreamier instrumentation.
    Tracks to check out: “Tough Love” and “Sweetest Song”.
  38. Eternal Summers – The Drop Beneath : Great freewheeling power pop songs. There are big chiming strumming guitars, atmospherics, and fast drumming- one great song after the next.
    Tracks to check out: “Gouge” and “100”
  39. Quilt – Held in Splendor : This is a brilliant mesmerizing psychedelic folk tinged pop.
    Tracks to check out: “Arctic Shark” and “Mary Mountain”.
  40. The New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers : This is another great power pop record, great lyrics, cool song structures from this Canadian indie pop powerhouse.
    Tracks to check out: “War on the East Coast” and “Dancehall Domine”.
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Jon Crary is an avid music fan. Jon's roots are the late 70’s punk and the new wave scene, but his influences are early 70’s glam- Roxy Music and David Bowie. His tastes evolved in the 80’s to include his influences’ copiers – Japan, Duran Duran and New Order. He hosted a radio program where Echo and the Bunnymen and the Smiths were staples. Now, their legacy is well documented. Many people think he has great taste in music, and he actually has a good record collection. He is also a semi-musician having played the bass guitar in a French garage rock band. Now, you will see him enjoying the new music of this and the last decade…thanks to Interpol “Turn on the Bright Lights” album for which he will forever be grateful for revitalizing music for the new generation and old.