My 30 Favorite Albums of 2014: 20-11

20. Tweedy - Sukierae (ANTI)
The Tweedy family matriarch, Sue Tweedy, is still going through a bout with cancer. And with some time off from Wilco, Jeff Tweedy and son Spencer began recording a batch of songs last year and it turned into a 20-track double album. It was a solo album (or "Tweedy" album anyway) in almost every sense using Sue as the muse as Spencer plays drums and Jeff plays pretty much every other instrument, with a little help from some guests on a few tracks. The expected themes of love, life, loss, and family are all present.

19. Guided By Voices - Cool Planet and Motivational Jumpsuit (GBV Inc.) 

After releasing five albums total in 2012 and 2013, the sheer volume was bound to start affecting the quality of songs a bit. But not too much. All the usual stuff to like is here for GBV fans - experimental tracks, pop/rock brilliance, indie rock. And then Bob Pollard announced that the reformed GBV was back on hiatus a few months ago, so these may be the last releases in awhile.

18. Blank Realm - Grassed Inn (Fire Records) 

Next to the Twerps, Blank Realm is probably my favorite of the Aussie invasion bands of recent years. This an extension of the Flying Nun sound with nods to Pavement, the Velvet Underground, and other similar artists.

17. Parquet Courts/Parkay Quarts - Sunbathing Animal and Content Nausea (What's Your Rupture?)

This is a bit of GBV kind of album release sequence by Parquet this year, with two very different albums, with expected filler. But with so many tracks, fans should find quite a bit to like. Sunbathing Animal is more my taste, as Content Nausea is more experimental with some tracks that could pass for a raw open mic poetry jam, in a good way. They work together as a nice companion release.

16. Against Me! - Transgender Dysphoria Blues (Total Treble/Xtra Mile)

This release was bound to get a lot of attention just due to the back story about the very public and ongoing transformation of front-woman/guitarist from Tom Gabel to Laura Jane Grace. And the album sort of documents the transgender transition in a very personal way with songs about confusion, self-doubt, self-loathing, and triumph. The result is a quite powerful, personal artistic statement.

15. The New Pornographers - Brill Bruisers (Matador) 

After six albums you start taking the New Pornographers for granted a little. Ho-hum just another really good power-pop album with catchy songs that get stuck in your brain for hours. The highs on Brill may not be as high as other albums, but as I've always said they have never put out a bad song, let alone a bad album.

14. Clearance - Catalogue Nos. (Unsatisfied Records)

This is more of a compilation of all of their EPs and singles from 2012 and 2013 with a few new tracks included. But it's nice to have all these songs together in one collection. And it ends up sounding like a proper album since the tracks were all recorded around roughly the same time. For people looking for their Pavement fix from a new band with really good catchy songs, Clearance fits the bill perfectly.

13. Cayetana - Nervous Like Me (Tiny Engines)

This debut LP by Philly-based fuzzy pop/punk trio was a surprise treat. Power trios seem to be the trend on my list this year and this is among the best, recalling contemporaries like Cloud Nothings among others. Augusta Koch's unique vocals, at times shrieking or quivering, strike the perfect tone on this collection of songs.

12. Old 97's - Most Messed Up (ATO)

After a battle with pills and booze over the last few years, Rhett Miller and the Old 97's emerged after 20+ years together with their booziest party record since Too Far to Care. And the result is one of the best albums in their catalog and the funnest mid-life crisis album in recent memory.

11. Amanda X - Amnesia (Slitbreeze)

This is another debut LP by a Philly-based female pop/punk power trio. These bands will rightly or wrongly get lumped together by sound (or by gender due to lazier writers), but they all have their own unique spin. Their sound is a little less poppy and more heavy so they recall influential bands like Sleater-Kinney or Blake Babies and many 90's Grunge stalwarts.

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