My Favorite Music of 2014

Last year on my other blog I wrote a series of posts about my favorite music of 2013.  It was a list that covered many genres, from Arctic Monkeys, Snarky Puppy, Kimbra, the Fitz and the Tantrums, John Meyer, and Esperanza Spalding  (just to name a few).

It was an eclectic year, full of lots of music listening.  I spent a lot of time on the road.  I can only handle so much radio before I feel like I’m going crazy.  I’ll be honest, I would prefer silence to listening to the radio.  So I tried to have my Spotify playlists full of new music that I could listen to on the go.

This year hasn’t been as ecclectic as last year.  I haven’t explored as much new music.  My new job gives me less time to listen to lots of music, and with a toddler and newborn at home I haven’t had as much time to listen to music at home either.

Even with less variety in my music this year, I still think that I’ve found some great music this year and am looking forward to listening to it all again while I write out my reviews and recommendations.  Below I’ve posted just one song from each of them just so you can get a taste, I’ll also post my complete playlist on another page if you wanted to hear all of my favorite songs/albums.

My top music picks for this year:

Janek Gwizdala

Janek is a British jazz bassist.  He went to Berklee School of Music, and in my opinion is one of the best bassist composers alive.  He is also one of the few jazz electric bassists that I know of who embraces technology, pedals, and different sonic qualities as part of his musical process.

Janek Gwizdala

His music is well thought-out, introspective.  He pays special attention to harmony, and how all of the instruments work together in a cohesive arrangement.  Many bassists fall into the trap of taking too many solos on their albums.  Most of the time us bassists spend the majority of our time playing in the background.  We lay down the groove, support the group, and give the soloists a solid foundation to build their solos on.  Janek doesn’t fall into the trap of “showing off” his own playing.  He shows off the music.

Janek has quickly become one of my favorite bassists.  He has a strong sense of harmony and melody, great compositions, he embraces modern technology and uses it to help him compose and perform in a traditional jazz setting, and additionally he’s a great teacher with many YouTube videos dedicated to teaching jazz and harmony fundamentals to other bassists.

Tal Wilkenfeld

Tal Wilkenfeld

Tal somehow didn’t show up on my radar until this year.  She’s an amazing bassist, who writes complex songs that still  groove hard core.  She looks super young, and it kind of blew my mind that she and I are pretty much the same age.  She’s  way better at the bass than I am (obviously considering she’s famous and I’m not), and her album is a solid exposition of  both her talents as a bassist and younger composer.

Eldar Djangirov

Eldar kind of blew my mind with the first song on this album.  The music is different than most jazz trio/quartet music I’ve      listened to.  His compositions are exciting, fresh, and complex.  His piano playing is impressive, and his band is solid.  All in  all, I’ve enjoyed Eldar’s music a lot this year.

Hiromi

Hiromi gets a lot of the same comments that I bestowed on Eldar as well.  Great pianist, great group, I mean she got Anthony Jackson to play bass for her.  So performances from Hiromi and Anthony are beyond compare.  Her compositions and arrangement are extraordinarily complex and exciting to listen to.  I think you’ll like what she does.

Pentatonix

Pentatonix hit the scene when they won a season of “The Sing Off”, an acappella TV show similar to “The Voice” and “American Idol”.  From what I’ve read, after they won, the label didn’t want them.  So they got dropped before they could even begin.  Instead of giving up they took to the internet and started making covers of popular songs and collaborated with different artists.  They got a huge following on YouTube and eventually the label came back after having rejected them and begged them to come back.

Pentatonix

This album is their Christmas album.  I think that their arrangements are spectacular, best new Christmas album I’ve listened to in a long time (pretty much since Harry Connick Jr’s “Harry for the Holiday’s”).  Tons of good stuff in this album, its’ definitely going to be on my Christmas playlist next year and the year after.

Dirty Loops

I saved the best for last.  Dirty Loops is a Swedish band that started out making covers of pop songs on YouTube.  They got famous from a cover of Justin Bieber’s “Baby”.  I have never heard the original (I’ve never liked Bieber-head), but when I heard their cover I almost (almost) wanted to listen to the original.  To me, Dirty Loops’ version of “Baby” is the only version worth listening to.  It is absolutely awesome.

When they came out with their first album I started listening immediately.  They do not disappoint.  They bring so much originality and musicality to a genre that has been lacking both of those things for years.  They are the first pop group that I have listened to on repeat since I was recording songs off the radio when back when cassette tapes still existed.

By far the best album of the year, in my opinion.  Definitely worth a listen, and hopefully you feel like me and just keep listening to it over and over again.  I absolutely love what they do.  Can’t wait for the next album.

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