2014 was a sweet freakin’ year for music. I’m no music journalist, though, so I’ll preface this list by stating that I am not an authority, I just happen to really like these albums, and maybe you will, too.
What makes my list unique and interesting over all those other legitimate publications’ best-of lists is that I’m including the best song from each album to use as the soundtrack for a movie trailer. Clever, no?
Also, big disclaimer: this list is totally incomplete. There are too many albums for me to think of, and the longer I delay this post, the more I think of, so I have to just cut myself off and stick with what’s below. I apologize to all the awesome artists I omitted. Please trust that there is no rhyme or reason to it.
And now, in no particular order…
“Turn Blue” by The Black Keys
This melancholy slow burn of an album from one of rock’s most relevant acts of this century is as close to psychedelia as anything they’ve ever done. Produced by Danger Mouse, which means it’s necessarily melancholy and psychedelic.
Movie trailer track: “It’s Up To You Now”
Music video: “Fever”
“Blue Planet Eyes” by The Preatures
Much like HAIM in some ways, this band channels the best of the ’80s and ’90s pop/rock and squashes the mix into one solid album.
Movie trailer track: “It Gets Better”
Music video: “Somebody’s Talking”
“Amethyst” by Happy Hollows
This band was a happy discovery for me this year. Indie-pop-rock with a slightly spaced-out vibe.
Movie trailer track: “Supernatural”
Music video: “Endless”
“Ritual in Repeat” by Tennis
Tennis is fast becoming one of my favorite indie bands. I’m dying to see this act live.
Movie trailer track: “I’m Callin'”
Music video: “I’m Callin'”
“After the Disco” by Broken Bells
Danger Mouse again! This pairing of one of my favorite producers and one of my favorite songwriters (James Mercer of The Shins) plant their flag with Broken Bells’ sophomore effort. Dark and beautiful with disco influences through and through.
Movie trailer track: “Perfect World”
Music video: “Holding On For Life”
“Shriek” by Wye Oak
It’s rare that when a band does as big a 180-degree turnaround in their sound as Wye Oak did this year, it works out this well. They went from acoustic folk to electric dream-pop on this album, and it COMPLETELY works.
Movie trailer track: “Logic of Color”
Music video: “The Tower”
“Time Is Over One Day Old” by Bear in Heaven
This one’s a little hard to defend, I just really like it. It’s slow-jam electronica at its finest, and I appreciate the science fiction tint. I also find it’s really easy to think with this album on. Not sure why that is.
Movie trailer track: “You Don’t Need the World”
Music video: “Autumn”
“The Voyager” by Jenny Lewis
The crown jewel of L.A.’s singer-songwriter scene brings us the closest thing to Tom Petty I’ve heard since, well, Tom Petty. Fun fact: this is my three-year-old daughter’s favorite album ever.
Movie trailer track: “You Can’t Outrun ‘Em”
Music video: “Just One Of The Guys”
“Just Because” by The Belle Brigade
This quirky pop duo are the grandchildren of “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” (and other) film composer John Williams. That’s enough to sell me on giving them a listen, but as it turns out, this album is infinitely pleasing to my ears and absolutely one of my favorites from this year.
Movie trailer track: “Likely To Use Something”
Music video: “Ashes”
“Hesitant Alien” by Gerard Way
Debut solo album from the lead singer of My Chemical Romance. Hard rockin’, yet focused and in control. Did you know this guy is also a comic book artist? Amazing!
Movie trailer track: “No Shows”
Music video: “Millions”
“Education, Education, Education & War” by Kaiser Chiefs
I’ve been a huge fan of Kaiser Chiefs ever since they let me choose my own track order for “The Future Is Medieval” back in 2011, not just because I believe so strongly that track order matters, but because they seriously rock. This album proves the latter point.
Movie trailer track: “Coming Home”
Music video: “Coming Home”
“Hungry Ghosts” by OK Go
One of my all-time favorite bands. With this eclectically bombastic new collection, OK Go take their songwriting — and their music videos — to a new level.
Movie trailer track: “The Writing’s On the Wall”
Music video: “I Won’t Let You Down”
“Atlas” by Real Estate
Super-chill new album from New Jersey’s definition of mellow indie rock. Simplistic and beautiful, yet infinitely complex.
Movie trailer track: “Navigator”
Music video: “Crime”