Perfect Sound Forever

PSF's 2014 Writers' Poll
Our favorite things

left to right: Tamikrest, Flying Lotus, Landlady, The Dead Milkmen, Jack White

What did our writers think about music that came out in 2014? Here's where you find out- the usual choice of 10 albums is too restricting for music nuts so we asked if they could come up with 20 records instead. See if you agree or disagree with their choices. Maybe you'll learn about some artists or albums that you didn't know about before too. Hope you enjoy these lists.


Jim Allen

Kevin Cowl

Peter Crigler

What a year this has been, so much great music, where to begin? This time around I decided not to rank them numerically, just throw them against a wall, that way everything gets a fair shake, except for the new Primus and Weezer, cuz they just reeked!

Lee Doptera

Michael Freerix

Michael Goldberg

From where I sit, the release of Bob Dylan's "Basement Tapes Complete" made this a memorable year. I've waited over 40 years to hear good quality versions of the music Dylan and the musicians who would become The Band made during 1967 and early '68 at three houses near Woodstock, New York. Over six and a half hours of music -- and a lot of it is excellent for one reason or another. But there was also plenty of great new music. Angel Olson's "Burn Your Fire For No Witness" is both timeless and stunning. Jolie Holland moved into a whole other zone with the avant-garde guitar sounds that help define "Wine Dark Sea." Karen O's Crush is an intimate lo-fi masterpiece. Jeff Tweedy managed to make a 20 song album that leaves we wanting more. And what a pleasure to revisit "The Velvet Underground" as part of a six-CD set that includes two CDs of live recordings from San Francisco's Matrix club, November 1969. It's all good. And 2015 is already off to a great start. Sleater-Kinney's "No Cities To Love" is the real deal -well worth the wait.

Jack Gold-Molina

Gary Gomes

Kurt Gottschalk

Occasionally, a record comes along that is so exciting, so much fun, so utterly unexpected that one wants to use whatever avenues open to them – radio, reviews, end-of-year lists – to tell people about it. U as in Utah by minimalist improviser Utah Kawasaki on synthesizer alongside the disjointed songs of the duo ju sei is, for me, one such album. It's a wonderful, inexplicable, odd, psychedelic, funny, childlike, schizophrenic double disc set released by Ftarri/Meenna in an edition of 500. The other discs listed here are worthy as well, but that one is, well, something else.

Jason Gross

See my full list of albums/singles/reissues at the Ye Wei blog

left to right: Jeffrey Lee Pierce Sessions, David Krauker, Karen O, Psyche Bugyo, Swan Dive

Edd Hurt

Whatever Gunn was singing about, it didn't register, except as mood, necessary verbalization to round out the edges on a gorgeous guitar album--post-post rock, or maybe just a record by a guy who likes the Allman Brothers and the Dead.

Kris Needs

2014 seemed to be the year of the reissue; whether big, small, fascinating or major labels squeezing last drops from the udders of the deluxe CD concept. Then along swelled a vinyl come-back, providing a fresh format in which to revisit back cata-logues. Personally, I relished no longer feeling like some dod-dery old museum curator poring over my 30,000 records and loved having my battered old Magma and Nick Cave originals replaced by spanking new 180 gram remasterings. While this remarketing of classics swelled from a trickle to a torrent, it was also fantastic to see the reissue concept taken to new heights of extravagance and care. The Third Man/Revenant cabinet containing over 800 songs from the Paramount catalogue was out of reach for most but established a new template for preserving vital music. It was also amazing to receive the first fruits of the Sun Ra reissue campaign on iTunes. I usually shun digital music but this was such a painstakingly gorgeous project it transcended earthly constraints. No doubt 2015 will see many more lavish reissues, saving the music industry. Here's 20 but I have to add the techno 12-inch also played host to a welter of storming treats by fresh new producers and old hands. Happy new year!

James Paton

Marc Phillips

Brett Stevens

These are "underground metal" albums because everything that has come since has been an impostor, using rock/late-punk style songwriting with metal riffs or shamelessly ripping off hip-hop with nu-metal. If you want a metal experience that is both intense and artistic, this is the thinking person's list for 2014.

Mark S. Tucker

I can't recall ever naming a disc #1, but Kastning & Clements' Watercolor Sky blew me so deliriously sideways that it's the first to cop the honor. The rest come in no serial or magnitudinal order. My list doesn't take into account anything outside my review work for the year: now the most prolific critic in America, I hadn't a moment of time outside those labors. Three of my selections are re-releases, two are time-lost newly discovered live gems, one is a DVD, the rest are CDs. If, like me, you're feeling a jones for humorous music, check out Petit Bisous; highly enjoyable. If you dig great rock docs, look into the Sexy Intellectual label and its DVDs. Should you hunger for killer South of the border fare, ya can't do better than the Zoho imprint. If, like me, you're a progficionado, then good luck to ya! Prog ain't dead, it just smells funny, the business side so filled with clowns and jackanapes that the best stuff is now indie and almost completely unknown. Maybe 2015 will be better…….but don't hold yer breath.

Kurt Wildermuth

left to right: Nausea, the Pop Group, Philip Selway, Lucinda Williams, Venetian Snares

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