Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Top Ten Records Of 2014

It's mid-december, the nights getting longer, days shorter - so it's time to finish the year 2014 (musically).
It was an incredible year with stunning new music! Here they are - my Top Ten Records of 2014:

1. Dan Wilson - Love Without Fear

Love Without Fear has become an outstanding record with a strong collection of songs.
It starts with the title track Love Without Fear: beautiful harmonies and lyrics create an optimistic, catchy opener which draws the listeners attention to what may come next...
... and you won't be disappointed: songs like However LongDisappearWe Belong Together, When It Pleases You are mature work and perfect musical handcraft. 
The record closes with the amazing Even The Stars Are Sleeping (maybe my personal highlight of the record).
For me the most amazing aspect about this album is the awareness of having a honest piece of work which carries true emotions.

2. Jeremy Messersmith - Heart Murmurs

The singer-songwriter Jeremy Messersmith from Minneapolis has maybe created his masterpiece with his fourth album: Heart Murmurs. While his last record - The Reluctant Graveyard - was centered on death, Heart Murmurs is about love - with all its perspectives, such as addiction, self-laceration and desire.
If you like smart music, an incredible voice, and a record that has all the indication of being an instant classic, you'll be right with Heart Murmurs.

3. Vacationer - Relief

If you're still looking for the perfect summer-record, I think I can help you there: Vacationer - a group from Philadelphia - just released their second album ReliefVacationer are Kenny Vasoli, Matthew Young and Grant Wheeler.

Relief is not just the title of the record - it's the record's proposition.
From start to finish the album is the musical image of vacation, palm trees, wide sand beach and blue sky (the cover fits quite well).
Vasoli says: “Whether through love, exploration or relaxing, we all strive for relief. It’s just a quick flip-of-the-switch away, and think it’s good to be reminded of that.

Make sure you listen to: Onward & Upward, The Wild Life, Paradise Waiting, In The Grass and Heavenly

Official website:

4. The Cry! - Dangerous Game

The second studio album by The Cry! is called Dangerous Game. With upbeat songs full of pure energy, catchy guitar riffs and harmonies The Cry! are a reminiscence to the 50s, 60s and 70s. But they are surely more than that! You'll instantly recognize their influences like The Beach Boys, Exploding Hearts and The Sweet. The band brings back Rock'n'Roll, Power Pop, Glam and Punk, which makes them timeless.

Dangeous Game are 10 tracks - and 28 minutes of pure musical fun and Rock'n'Roll.

5. OK Go - Hungry Ghosts

The new record of OK Go - called Hungry Ghosts - was one of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns in 2014. And it was worth it for sure - just listen to the songs or better - watch their stunning videos: 

6. Ryan Adams - Ryan Adams (2014)

Three years after his last record Ashes and FireRyan Adams is back. The new record is simply called Ryan Adams. The album was produced by Adams himself and Mike Viola at his own Pax Am Studios in Los Angeles.

7. Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness

Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness is the debut record of Andrew McMahon's same titled band.

Andrew McMahon is a singer-songwriter and pianist known from bands like  Something Corporate and Jack's Mannequin. In 2013 he released his first solo EP - The Pop Underground.
The album was partially produced and co-written by Mike Viola.
Do yourself a favor and listen to his music NOW!

Listen to the first and second single "Cecilia and the Satellite" and "High Dive" here:

8. Sunday Sun - We Let Go

The new record of Sunday Sun - and after three EPs this is their first full album - is called 'We Let Go'. And it's at least as good as their EP 1 - 3, which may be the best compliment you can pay to them.

The first single will be I Call You Honey:

Order on iTunes:

9. Jeremy Fisher - Lemon Squeeze

Jeremy Fisher is back with Lemon Squeeze. It's available at (digital, CD, Vinyl).

10. She & Him – Classics

The fifth album of Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward consist of classic songs. The arrangements on Classics are handled by a full 20-piece orchestra.  

Deschanel explains: “We are incredibly excited to release a record of our favorite songs. It was a dream of ours to record these songs in a way that highlighted the brilliance of the songwriting and the beauty of their melodies. We had a wonderful time making the record and we hope people have a wonderful time listening to it.” 

Honorable mention:

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty OST

There are very few movie soundtracks that are so different, inspiring and outstanding to outlast the popularity of its movie - the soundtracks of Magnolia or American Beauty are two perfect examples for this.
All of a sudden The Secret Life of Walter Mitty OST happened to me. And it stuck since then.

Side A (yes, on vinyl) opens with the epic Step Out by José González to Dirty Praws (Of Monsters And Men) and Stay Alive(José González) - it left me breathless.

Side B continues without deceleration with two songs from Junip (Far Away and Don't Let It Pass) and the beautiful dreamy Lake Michigan by Rogue Wave. On Side C and D you'll find the gorgeous Rogue Valley with The Wolves & The Ravens but the second half of the record is dominated by cover versions: Escape (The Pina Colada Song) by Jack JohnsonDon't You Want Me by Bahamas, José González with #9 Dream and Space Oddity (it's the original David Bowie song except the first verse which has Kristen Wiig at vocals). A very different version of Maneater (by Grace Mitchell) closes the record.

By the way, if you didn't watch The Secret Life of Walter Mitty yet you should do it, just because the movie is equally good as the soundtrack. It's just an amazing experience.


Here Comes The Reign Again: The Second British Invasion

If you have a look at the right side of this blog, you'll find a complete index of artists I wrote about in the last four years. A great deal of these musicians came together on Here Comes The Reign Again: The Second British Invasion. I am lost for words... 

...well, not completely: Here Comes The Reign Again is a compilation by Andrew Curry. It's his second project, his first was Drink a Toast to InnocenceFind all information and updates also at the Facebook page of Here Comes The Reign Again.

Involved artist are: Mike Viola (Everybody Wants To Rule The World), David Mead (Save A Prayer),  Bleu (Don’t You (Forget About Me)), The Nines (Life’s What You Make It), Eric Barao (Tainted Love), Taylor Locke (Dancing With Myself), Cliff Hillis (Wouldn’t It Be Good), Chris Collingwood (Life In A Northern Town), Rachael Yamagata (Do You Really Want To Hurt Me), Kelly Jones (Something About You), Linus Of Hollywood (Every Time You Go Away), Ken Stringfellow (Digging Your Scene), Chris Price (Don't You Want Me), The Corner Laughers (Our House), Big-Box Store (Kids In America), An American Underdog (Things Can Only Get Better) - and many more!

Tinker Bell and the Legend of the Neverbeast OST

"Tinker Bell and the Legend of the Neverbeast" is the new full length Disney movie out in early 2015. The soundtrack features music from KT Tunstall and Bleu.
"Float" (written by Bleu, sung by KT Tunstall), "Strange Sight" (sung by KT Tunstall) and "1000 Years" (a duet by KT Tunstall and Bleu!) are three damn fine songs.  Especially the latter is Bleu at the top of his game.
Listen (and buy) the soundtrack at iTunes:


Ransom & The Subset - No Time to Lose

Ransom and the Subset is an American alternative rock band based in Seattle, Washington.
Ransom and the Subset is the brainchild of singer/songwriter/guitarist RanDair Porter. Along with producer/multi-instrumentalist Brian E. King (OranJuly and Parks) and Grammy-winning engineer/mixer Ducky Carlisle (Mike Viola, Bleu, Major Labels, Taylor Locke and the Roughs) the team collaborated to create Ransom and the Subset’s debut album No Time to Lose

Ransom and the Subset is one of the most interesting new discoveries in 2014 (just listen to "Anna" and "Million Out Of Me").

Tinker Bell and the Legend of the Neverbeast Soundtrack (KT Tunstall, Bleu)

"Tinker Bell and the Legend of the Neverbeast" is the new full length Disney movie out in early 2015. It is about the relationship that develops between Fawn, a compassionate animal fairy who thinks with her heart, and Gruff, a massive beast with glowing green eyes who seems to be on a mission.

The soundtrack may be of interest for the longtime PowerPopSquare reader - it features music from KT Tunstall and Bleu.

"Float" (written by Bleu, sung by KT Tunstall), "Strange Sight" (sung by KT Tunstall) and "1000 Years" (a duet by KT Tunstall and Bleu! ... wait ... !!!) are three damn fine songs. 
Especially the latter is Bleu at the top of his game.

Listen (and buy) the soundtrack at iTunes: