Top 10 Albums of 2014

Parks and Rec

Fun fact: When you wait until December 31 to finish your top 10 albums of the year post, your top 10 albums of the year post becomes, by default, your New Year’s Eve post! Before getting to the list, I just want to thank everyone who takes the time to read this blog, whether it’s once a week, once a month, or just this once. It’s such a gift thinking/knowing/believing that there are people out there who share your enthusiasms, and to everyone who left comments, retweeted links, reblogged posts, did guest posts, invited me to do guests posts, or interacted with YHT in any other way, thank you for being such awesome Internet buds.

Now for the 10 albums that meant the most to me in 2014:

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Top 10 RVA Albums of 2014

Bob's Burgers

A few days ago, I saw yet another malcontented article about how 2014 wasn’t a great year for music, and how there were “good” albums but no “great” albums. I can’t remember where I saw it, and I’m not going to bother trying to find a link, because it’s crap. I’ll give you three reasons why:

  • One person’s good is another person’s great.
  • The way an album is perceived can and will change over time, so good now can be great later.
  • This was a great year for Richmond music.

That last one warrants its own list, so here are 10 reasons we should join Tina Belcher in raising a glass and toasting RVA music’s 2014. Consider it an alphabetically ordered top 10 that doubles as a drinking game.

Avers — Empty Light


Reason We Should Raise Our Glasses: Because Avers shows how, in a tightly knit community full of talented people, the lineup possibilities are endless and endlessly rewarding.

Avers — “The Only One” [Spotify/iTunes]

Black Girls — Claire Sinclaire

Claire Sinclaire

Reason We Should Raise Our Glasses: Because the snuff rock sound took a giant leap in terms of realization and articulation.

Black Girls — “Buyin’ Time” [Spotify/iTunes]

Butcher Brown — All Purpose Music

Butcher Brown

Reason We Should Raise Our Glasses: Because truly groovy music — songs that find a pocket, set up shop and explore all the space it has to offer — can be enjoyed over and over, and in any situation.

Butcher Brown (ft. Nicholas Payton) — “Jellowstone Room” [Spotify/iTunes]

Dead Fame — Vicious Design EP

Dead Fame

Reason We Should Raise Our Glasses: Because you don’t have to choose between intensity and danceability.

Dead Fame — “Joan Crawford” [Spotify/iTunes]

Everyone Dies in the End — All Things Lead to This

Everyone Dies in the End

Reason We Should Raise Our Glasses: Because the cycle of creation and destruction is a powerful thing to witness.

Everyone Dies in the End — “We Bears Are A Proud Race” [Spotify/iTunes]

Lightfields — Junior


Reason We Should Raise Our Glasses: Because the chorus of “Junior” feels like an invitation — the kind of singalong that makes you feel like a part of something.

Lightfields — “Junior” [Spotify/iTunes]

Sleepwalkers — Greenwood Shade


Reason We Should Raise Our Glasses: Because every track being dynamite and not being able to pick a favorite is a wonderful problem to have.

Sleepwalkers — “Breaking My Heart” [Spotify/iTunes]

Sundials — Kick EP


Reason We Should Raise Our Glasses: Because Sundials’ Kick EP packed a full-length album’s punch into six tightly crafted songs that can be enjoyed over and over without losing an ounce of their emotional impact.

Sundials — “Gained A Grip” [Spotify/iTunes]

Trio of Justice — Pookie’s March

Trio of Justice

Reason We Should Raise Our Glasses: Because the roomy, thoughtful mastery of Pookie’s March tells us that Jellowstone’s success will be varied and fun to follow.

Trio of Justice — “Motherland” [Spotify/iTunes]

White Laces — Trance

White Laces

Reason We Should Raise Our Glasses: Because the word is getting out about White Laces, so Richmonders and non-Richmonders alike can cozy up to the many-splendored warmth of TRANCE.

White Laces — “Nothing Clicks” [Soundcloud]

Merry Christmas!


Look what was waiting under the tree for Baby YHT! Santa must really like vinyl. Solid dude, that Santa.

I hope everyone reading this has been having similarly lucrative holidays. Keep the spirit alive all day with Sleepwalkers’ “Under The Christmas Tree,” which you can hear below and buy over at Bandcamp.

Merry Christmas, y’all!

Sleepwalkers — “Under The Christmas Tree” [Bandcamp]

RVA Magazine

rva magazine

Merry Christmas Eve, y’all! I thought I’d check in and recommend some reading in case you need to grab your laptop and abscond to a guest bedroom after downing one too many gingerbread stouts and telling your in-laws what you really think about their political views…

RVA Magazine‘s Top 25 albums countdown! For the second year (Thanks for having me back, Doug!), I had the opportunity to submit a ballot and contribute a few blurbs, and the one I wrote about Sturgill Simpson’s Metamodern Sounds in Country Music just went up today. Check it out here. I’ll keep updating this post as the rest of the list is published.

[Update: The top five albums were posted today, including a Flying Lotus blurb by yours truly — read it here.]

[Update Update: Last installment (best RVA releases of 2014) is go — I got to write about Sleepwalkers’ outstanding Greenwood Shade album.]

Hope you enjoy, and good luck facing your in-laws at breakfast tomorrow morning!

Sturgill Simpson — “Turtles All The Way Down” [Spotify/iTunes]

Top 1 Song of 2014

Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr

I’ve never done a top-10 songs post, and I doubt I ever will. Too much like herding cats. I can’t imagine doing it without breaking down at the very last minute when I remember a song I left out and my carefully constructed scaffold of reasoning collapses under its own weight and shoddy construction.

Also it would take forever. No thx.

HOWEVER, I decided to do a Best 1 Song of the Year post this year, because there’s a song that made me want to do it. In fact, I knew somewhere around the second or third time I heard Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr’s “James Dean” that I’d be writing this. Around that time, I decided it was one of the best songs I’d heard in the last few years. 5, 10, who knows. I tend not to think in those terms — again, too many songs to wrangle — but something about “James Dean” made me.

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Hoax Hunters

Hoax Hunters

Look at you. You’re exhausted! This week has taken its toll, hasn’t it? What’s that? You say you’re just going to pick up a six-pack on the way home and drink it in your pajamas while watching episodes of Pawn Stars you’ve probably already seen before? That you’re going to use the weekend to “recharge the ol’ batteries”?

That’s crap, and I have just the thing to wake you up from your weekday-weary stupor.

To mark the second anniversary of its first release, Negative Fun Records just released a Hoax Hunters bonus track titled “Manteeth” — an evolutionary version of the song that first got me listening to Hoax Hunters. It’s about as fast and direct a blast of energy as you can get without breaking the law or consuming 2000% of your daily recommended B6 intake.

Listen to “Manteeth” below and click here to snag Hoax Hunters’ full-length, Comfort & Safety.

Hoax Hunters — “Manteeth” [Bandcamp]

Butcher Brown

Butcher Brown

Posting may suffer a bit as I work on year-end/top-10 stuff. I never used to be this interested in making lists (and the whole concept of ranking art is more than a little objectionable), but looking back at the songs and albums that stood out and why seems to be getting more fun and important to me with each passing year. Maybe because it gives me an excuse to go back and write about albums I already wrote about and would write about over and over if I didn’t think it would be annoying. Maybe I’m just getting old. Maybe both.

It’s both.

ANYHOO, I thought I’d share some whistle-while-I-work music.

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Early 2015 Album Preview


Damn. It’s December? Who let that happen?

It’s hard to believe, but year-end lists are starting to appear. I just saw Rolling Stone’s, which placed the U2 album at #1. OK then. My top-10 is in the works… sort of. I’ve been keeping a list of every new album I’ve listened to in full — first time I’ve done that — and I’ve made a spot in my living room for the albums released in 2014 that I bought on vinyl so I can give them a few extra listens. I’m certain this means they’ll get preferential rankings, but whatever.

While I’m in the process of making lists and checking them twice, I thought it would be fun to preview a few of the albums I’m looking forward to in 2015. You know what? “Looking forward to” is putting it mildly. I’m like a cat staring at a printer, impatiently waiting to grab what comes out. Here’s why:

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