Tuesday, December 30, 2014


We know you all have been very patiently waiting our year end list just to see what music we enjoyed in 2014, and what we recommend you check out if you have not yet done so.  There is an apology that needs to be made here, as we feel we have been somewhat neglectful of our blog lately, which was something we really wanted to pay more attention to when Electric Avenue opened.  Most of this neglect can be attributed to the fact that we were coming to terms with running a new business on our own, and one which has also grown over the past year more than expected (in other words, time was spent in other areas).

While we have had little time to think about updating our posts here, we have channeled the time we did have into interacting with many of you face to face.  It has been inspirational getting to know many of you personally in 2014.  We would like to take a moment to dedicate the following post to our friend, Gary Schade and his wife Katherine, who passed away suddenly two days following Thanksgiving in a tragic house fire.  Gary was one of our best and most involved customers here, and while his loss put a huge damper on the holiday season in many ways, his spirit lives on in all he did to help Electric Avenue, whether alerting us to music he liked by ordering and making purchases, promoting us at every opportunity, or doing little simple fixit jobs to help out around the store.  We would like to remember him as an Honorary Electric Avenue Team Member, and he is already greatly missed.

Enough of the sad and depressing...

Now comes the part Gary was looking forward to and would have enjoyed...our year end list.  Here are the records that moved us the most in 2014.  They are not always the top critical faves (sorry Rolling Stone, U2 was not our #1), but they either had something fresh to offer, were great guilty pleasures, or a return to form for artists from the past.  Some you may have heard of, and some not. Some you may have only heard a clip and really need to take in the whole project to get a true picture of the image being painted.  Without further ado then...

Our favorite record of the year was from a little known Baltimore band with a charismatic frontman in Sam Herring.  It proves that electronic pop music doesn't have to be twee or silly, and with reflective lyrics and riveting vocals, every track on Singles feels like a single.


POBPAH released their most confident album in 2014, with Kip Berman handing some of the vocal reins over to Jen Goma of the similarly cool A Sunny Day in Glasgow.  The tradeoff works well, and songs like "Simple and Sure" and "Eurydice" were some of the best songs of 2014 not to be featured in a John Hughes movie.

Days Of Abandon

3  PAUL HEATON & JACQUI ABBOTT--What Have We Become?
Unbelievable that a record as good as this was not released in the US.  Heaton is a UK national treasure, between his work with the Housemartins and the Beautiful South.  Jacqui Abbott was the best female singer in the South, and left when she needed a break to raise a family.  Now, Heaton and Abbott are back together with a band that sounds like an amped-up early Style Council, suiting their barbs perfectly (the album ends with the lyrics "Phil Collins must die").  Worth seeking out!

What Have We Become

4  MORRISSEY--World Peace is None of Your Business
Even with all the personal, tour, and label turmoil in 2014, Morrissey released his best solo album in nearly 20 years.  Worth the price alone for "Staircase at the University", Morrissey is about to reenter the studio to bang out another one while he's got a great band in tow.  Smart move...

World Peace Is None Of Your Business

5  LANA DEL REY--Ultraviolence
Some say overrated, some say underrated.  Regardless, she should be rated as one of the best jazz-rock singers out there now.  This album was decidedly more downbeat and hazy than the debut, but the fractured rock details provided by Dan Auerbach of Black Keys work in Del Rey's favor, even if it was difficult getting these tracks to radio.  Voice of a generation?

Ultraviolence [Explicit] [+digital booklet]

6  BECK--Morning Phase
An early contender for album of the year, Beck's first album in six years was the best Sunday morning album of the year, and featured orchestrations from his dad.  This might just be the album we will all be listening to for the longest time in the future.

Morning Phase

7  WILD BEASTS--Present Tense
The Beasts have similar ethics to those of elder statesmen, Radiohead, yet they still remember how to write a good melody.  Seemingly, their best songs sound like deconstructions of fuller arrangements, and with more keyboard textures and vocals from two excellent singers (graduating from the Peter Gabriel School of Brooding Singers), Wild Beasts have quite a future ahead of them.  Now, if people just knew who they were...

Present Tense

The best album to come out this year from a legendary producer and the lead singer of an electronic band (Underworld), this Eno collaboration was one of two releases to come out from this pair in 2014 (Someday World was the other).  This was our favorite of the two, as the songs stretched close to 10 minutes, and the vocals were more sporadically placed, allowing for breath in the arrangements.  A stunning work reminiscent of Eno's work with Talking Heads on Remain in Light...

High Life

9  NEW PORNOGRAPHERS--Brill Bruisers
Made up of a core trio of amazing artists in their own right (AC Newman, Neko Case, and Dan Bejar of Destroyer), somehow New Pornographers manage to get together and sync up their schedules every few years to make a record, and this one was a corker.  Bejar is such a quirky presence alone, and here he contributes the catchiest track with "War on the East Coast".  Relentlessly catchy!

Brill Bruisers

10  DAMON ALBARN--Everyday Robots
Damon quietly turned in his most intimate album in 2014 away from Gorillaz and Blur.  He sounds like the kind of guy you'd hang around and trade stories with, and this one is what you'd want to hear after stumbling home from the bar late at night.  

Everyday Robots

11  THESE NEW PURITANS--Field of Reeds
How did these guys get this together and make it work?  Quirky British art rock goes cerebral...

12  BRYAN FERRY--Avonmore
His best album in 20 years is so confident and self-assured, he never needs to change style again.

13  SNOWBIRD--Moon
One Cocteau Twin (Simon Raymonde) finds life worth living with wildlife and Stephanie Dosen.

14  MARIANNE FAITHFULL--Give My Love to London
This is the latest brilliant record from the Grand Dame.  Nick Cave, Roger Waters, Brian Eno, etc.

15  SUN KIL MOON--Benji
Mark Kozelek may need an attitude adjustment but this was one of the best albums of the year.

16  TENNIS--Ritual in Repeat
Fantastically hummable album from great married duo--for fans of Beach House and Best Coast

17  KYLIE MINOGUE--Kiss Me Once
Guilty pleasure with best pop album of 2014, executive produced by Sia Furler (#44)

18  JAMES--La Petite Mort
Lyrics about the loss of loved ones meets optimistic music for one of the best in their long career 

19  THE HORRORS--Luminous
Fearless band goes through so many style changes.  Too bad about cancellation of the US tour though

20  SCOTT WALKER & SUNNO)))--Soused
Dark septuagenarian meets metal with songs about dictators and such.  Happy New Year!

21  ROYKSOPP--The Inevitable End
Their last album with many songs about death and the end.  Sad, yes, but production of the year?

22  MR. TWIN SISTER--Mr. Twin Sister
Another incredible production from NY band who have been through tough times.  More to come??

23  MUSIC GO MUSIC--Impressions
ABBA are alive and well and making albums called Impressions.  Addictive!

24  EX HEX--Rips
Riot girls dig up the ghosts of the Runaways and Go-Go's for a fantastic record of short, sharp songs

Dears lead singer does it all alone with more electronics on this visceral project.

First album featuring original 3 members in 22 years!  Worth the wait!

UK dance maven goes acoustic and dark on this Ed Harcourt aided project.  More please?

28  NEIL FINN--Dizzy Heights
Latest change from Split Enz/Crowded House leader, featuring both sons and his wife on bass...

29  2 BEARS--The Night is Young
We love Hot Chip, and 2 Bears featuring Joe Goddard of HC are not far behind.  This one's great!

30  KAISER CHIEFS--Education Education Education & War
Cruelly underrated album of political and societal reflections on the UK.  Catchy stuff!

31  WYE OAK--Shriek
Baltimore band WO pull off moving more electronic due to Jenn Wasner's hypnotic vocals.

32  PREATURES--Planet Blue Eyes
Haim didn't release an LP in 2014, but with records this good, they aren't missed as much...

33  ST. VINCENT--St. Vincent
The more popular Wye Oak, #1 on Entertainment Weekly's list...yeah, it's pretty darn good...

34  LYKKE LI--I Never Learn
Raw and personal album from U2 collaborator, dark and lovely

35  APHEX TWIN--Syro
Qrrky...blip blip blip...what's a syro anywhoo???

36  JIMI GOODWIN--Odludek
Solo record from the Doves leader.  Some great experimental stuff here and help from Guy of Elbow

37  TEMPLES--Sun Structures
Best 60's prog-pop album of 2014.  Can't wait to hear what they'll do for a second act!

38  LA ROUX--Trouble in Paradise
Sadly overlooked return after five years from troubled duo (now single).  NME agrees.

39  FIRST AID KIT--Stay Gold
How can two Swedish teenage girls do Americana better than Americans?  Breathtaking!

40  OWEN PALLETT--In Conflict
Arcade Fire orchestrator finds his voice with this complex and candid album.

41  SPOON--They Want My Soul
Best mainstream indie-rock album of 2014 perhaps?  They hit their stride again...

"I saw my dad f**k a redhead whore, I never thought I would..."  Overlooked fuzzy masterpiece...

43  ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN--Meteorites
Their best album in 20 years.  There, I said it...

44  SIA--1,000 Forms of Fear
"Chandelier" chanteuse who refuses to show her face makes another very good album.  Why Sia??

45  TV ON THE RADIO--Seeds
Hip band returns with their most catchy and polished album to date after personal tragedy

46  WAR ON DRUGS--Lost in the Dream
One of the best breakthough albums of the year even if Mark Kozelek doesn't think so...

47  ELBOW--Take Offs and Landings of Everything
Quietly making another album we'll be listening to in 20 years...

48 JOHN HARLE & MARC ALMOND--The Tyburn Tree
Companion type of album to Marianne Faithfull's exploring the darker side of historic London

49  SWANS--To Be Kind
Visceral, uncompromising, long, tortured, long, St. Vincent, long...

50  SIMPLE MINDS--Big Music
Another great alternative to the new U2 album (they've actually been around longer)

Honorable mentions:

SMASHING PUMPKINS--Monuments to an Elegy
WEEZER--Everything Will be Alright in the End
SINEAD O'CONNOR--I'm Not Bossy, I'm the Boss
D'ANGELO--Black Messiah
RYAN ADAMS--Ryan Adams
TODD TERJE--It's Album Time
ALT-J--This is All Yours
MERCHANDISE--After the End
DAMIEN RICE--My Favourite Faded Fantasy
TOY--Join the Dots
SUZANNE VEGA--Tales from the Realm of the Queen of Pentacles
BOB MOULD--Beauty & Ruin
JACK WHITE--Lazaretto
PRINCE--Art Official Age
PRINCE & 3RDEYEGIRL--Plectrumelectrum
COLDPLAY--Ghost Stories
ENGINEERS--Always Returning
ROYAL BLOOD--Royal Blood
BROKEN BELLS--After the Disco
CYMBALS--Age of Fracture
SAM SMITH--In the Lonely Hour
ERASURE--The Violet Flame
FRESH & ONLYS--House of Spirits
VISAGE--Hearts & Knives
U2--Songs of Innocence

Happy New Year!