The past 12 months have been so-so for music. The top-selling album was a soundtrack to a movie released last year (“Frozen”) and Taylor Swift is the only musician who sold more than a million albums. Still, there always are must-listens and must-buys. Thanks to the continuing vinyl revival, there were some brilliant releases on wax in 2014. These are my five favorite purchases of the year.
Future Islands, “Singles”
My only basic black vinyl on this list is also my favorite album of the year. The band gained popularity thanks to a wonderful performance on the “Late Show with David Letterman” – and noone deserves it more. In four records, Future Islands still keeps its mixture of a Tom Waits growl and synths; this album is just a tad poppier than previous efforts.
Thom Yorke, “Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes”
Paint me into a corner, and I’ll say Radiohead is the greatest band of our generation. I’ll even defend “King of Limbs” as underrated. I find joy in any Radiohead-related release, and Yorke’s surprise record is no exception. Housed in a static-free bag, this white vinyl is full of smooth electronic sounds. It’s not as soulful as his Radiohead output, but it’s a nice sneak peek into Yorke’s mind – and possibly Radiohead’s next offering.
LCD Soundsystem, “The Long Goodbye: Live at Madison Square Garden”
This three-years-in-the-making, five-LP boxset is the swan song of LCD Soundsytem — my favorite band. Recorded during its nearly four-hour final concert at Madison Square Garden in 2011, it’s the perfect outline of what makes the group so great. Featuring guest stars from Arcade Fire to Reggie Watts, this monster album is a rollicking ride through the band’s discography. At $129.99, it’s my most expensive record, yet my most essential.
The War on Drugs, “Lost in the Dream”
One part Tom Petty and one Kurt Vile, The War on Drugs’ 2014 album is a masterpiece in guitar rock. From the blistering “Red Eyes” to the quiet title track, it’s a wonderful listen. I was lucky enough to grab the limited edition marble purple vinyl — I really enjoy color — so it looks just as beautiful as it sounds.
Perfume Genius, “Too Bright”
This may be a cheat because I didn’t quite select it; it was one of my monthly records from Vinyl Me Please. But the ivory white vinyl is gorgeous and it matches the breezy sounds of the music. It’s easily the best album I got from the mail-order service.