Top 15 Austin Albums of 2014
It’s that time of year when we all toss up our arbitrary lists of what we think is best, and seeing as we’re based here in Austin, we opted to go with our Top 15 Austin Albums first. Why 15? Well, there were a lot of great releases all over the place, covering different styles, and appealing to our different writers. Sure, the list isn’t perfect, and it doesn’t reflect singles and EPs, as that could get entirely too crazy. I included links to the labels so you can buy these albums from the hard-working folks in our town. Also…there are two releases on our label, but I have no qualms about that; I didn’t set out to put out a bad LP, so obviously, they’re going to be in here. And without further meaningless words…here’s the best records from Austin that you should already own!
15 – Letting Up Despite Great Faults – Neon
This is a pop record filled with insane hooks built around washes of electronics and really warm vocals, bordering on bedroom pop but with a huge sound that will keep you coming back for more. Get it from the band.
14 – The Sour Notes – Do What May
The group have been working really hard the last few years, and that hard work pays off in a successful album that demonstrates the band’s abilities to maneuver back and forth between heavy indie rock sounds and classic pop sensibility. Get it from the band.
13 – Love Inks – Exi
This group always seems to amaze me with their simplicity. Electronic flourishes laid between careful guitar chords and balanced out by Sherry LeBlanc’s polished vocals. This is the LP that caught me letting my mind drift off endlessly. Get it from Republic of Music.
12 – RF Shannon – Hunting Songs
In a landscape as large and diverse as that of Texas, one needs the perfect soundtrack for those never-ending road trips. If you need something to fit that bill when driving at dusk from Houston to El Paso, you won’t find a better piece of work. Get it from Punctum Records.
11 – Roger Sellers – Primitives
It seems to have been a banner year for Roger Sellers, with huge press and a growing following beyond the confines of our fair city. He’s probably one of Austin’s most interesting composers, on the pop side of things. Get it from Punctum Records.
10 – Abram Shook – Sun Marquee
Perhaps one of my favorite songwriters of the last few years in Austin; he’s got such a unique voice and interesting approach to his work. It all pays off here with a collection of songs so complete that it will play on my stereo for years to come. Get it from Western Vinyl.
9 – Hundred Visions – Spite
I have a feeling that had this come out in May or June that it would have been battling for the top of this list. It’s this exuberant piece of work combining elements of pop, garage, punk and glam into this amalgam of awesome. Get it from Pau Wau.
8 – Ramesh – The King
Former Voxtrot frontman creates an album of lush arrangements and introspection. I don’t need to say more than that I couldn’t have been happier to have been part of this effort going out into the world. Get it from ATH Records.
7 – Jess Williamson – Native State
I’ve said enough about Jess and her songs over the course of this year. But, as I’m sitting here writing this “piece,” I go back and listen to her wordplay; it’s the oft-overlooked aspect that makes her songs so unique and emotional. Get it from Brutal Honest.
6 – She Sir – Go Guitars
In a town that’s so musically diverse, it’s strange that there ins’t a larger scene for incredible indiepop here. But, if there was, the fathers of that movement would be these guys; there’s no one better at it in town. Get it from Shelflife.
5 – Spray Paint – Clean Blood, Regular Acid
This is one of those bands that you can’t define. They can move back and forth between sounds and structures, be it propulsive or noisy, and it all makes perfect sense. Bummed they only had one album out this year. Get it from Monofonus Press.
4 – Jonly Bonly – Put Together
Remember all those old mod records with huge hooks and lyrics that begged to be sung along? That’s this record, except kicked out by a band that’s much more knowledgeable, and probably cooler, than me or you. Get it from 12XU.
3- Shivery Shakes – Three Waves and a Shake
After honing their craft with countless shows and hard work, the four dudes put together a pop record that incorporates the sounds of your parents kitchen growing up and your best friends garage yesterday. Love it. Get it from ATH Records.
2- Flesh Lights – Free Yourself
Sometimes you pigeonhole a band based on their sound or their live set over time. The band holes up, records, then they kick you in the teeth, tell you to fuck off and deliver a record you love and you should have expected…you should have known better. Get it from 12XU.
1- The Dead Space – Faker
You ever buy one of those albums where you loved the single, then you come home, and the next month of your life is spent spinning that LP over and over? Yeah. Except more like it’s been on rotation for four or five months. Ridiculously good. Ridiculously so. Get if from 12XU.
So that’s our list folks, and I’m not moving on it. Clearly the winner for best local label goes to 12XU with 3 of my Top 5 albums; it makes writer Norman Wanklord feel like more of a dick than you already thought he was. Punctum Records and our little label also had a good year, with a few hits on this list. Sorry we didn’t do top songs or EPs, but our friends over at Side One Track One have you taken care of on that note if you go HERE.