From known artists to local finds, the Foghorn staff shares it’s favorite music
Foghorn staff recounts their favorite musical moments of 2014. While some were influenced by nostalgia and life situations, others chose the latest album of a local favorite. Each reviewer explains why they chose their album and what it means to them. Whether you’re into adult contemporary, country or club-
inspired rap, we hope you’re able to find one of our top ten albums of 2014 appealing. Sit back, plug your headphones in, and recall your favorite albums of the year.
“Auditory Hallucinations” – Kinderr and JoeCat
Carlos E. Gonzalez
From the moment you press play you will be hooked from the fast-paced electronic beats and the catchy lyrics. Each song is different and the album doesn’t have that mainstream sound you hear on the radio today. Local and published artist/producer Freddie “Kinderr” Perez and songwriter/producer Joseph “JoeCat” Reyna collaborated to create an amazing mixture of hip-hop and electronic/dance music and put it in a six-track album titled “Auditory Hallucinations.”
This whole album is filled with originality. The first track, the self-named “Auditory Hallucinations” wakes you up with its early drop, loud symbols and steady drumbeat. The whole song takes you on an adrenaline rush that will leave you wanting more once it is over.
Track two, “Da Funk,” slows it down a little bit and gets a little funky too. I wouldn’t doubt if they decide to bring back the television show “Soul Train” and have this on repeat. The album even has a love track for those who are searching.
“Fly Away” is a track that you need to cruise around the city with that special someone and feel the sparks fly. Then when you thought it was all a dream, you’re back on the adrenaline rush with the fourth track, “Stardust.” The buildup is unique and twisted, and way before its time.
“Moon & Star,” which gives the listener an electric chill, has actually been featured on your favorite MTV and MTV2 shows. The album finishes off with a slow-paced killer. “Dangers of Reality” takes you into the coming down phase of your music high. We all dread the reality part of life, and JoeCat calls out the exploitation on how big conspiracy theories are our main focus, distract us and run the way we think.
“Thrive” – Casting Crowns
“Thrive,” the latest album from Casting Crowns, has a powerful message of not only surviving, but rather thriving from adversity in life. The record is based on Psalms 1 from the Bible. The rock, contemporary Christian album also includes some folk and bluegrass sounds.
These worship songs are powerful and comforting for anyone going through hard times. The teaching behind it all is not only to learn and survive those hard situations, but to thrive from them.
The lyrics focus on reaching out and offering our sufferings to God, which in turn will give us peace and better understanding of what it means to be given chances to be a Christian. Some of the instruments used in this album include electric guitar, acoustic guitar and piano.
Casting Crowns continues to be the most successful group in the Christian music industry, helping millions with their healing music.
“People Keep Talking” – Hoodie Allen
The rap scene of 2014 was a big one with performers such as Nicki Minaj and Iggy Azalea but in my opinion 2014 was a great time for Steven Markowitz, otherwise known by his stage name, Hoodie Allen, with his first studio album, “People Keep Talking.” The story behind the title of his self-released album is that people keep talking to change his music and he just keeps doing his own thing and his own thing is definitely his strongest point on this album.
Unlike most rappers, Hoodie comes up with clever lyrics that make him flow smoothly. Whether he’s rapping hard on such tracks as “Movie,” “Sirens” and “Show Me What You’re Made Of” or showing a bit of a softer side with “Dumb For You” and “Overtime.” The highlight track on the album is “All About It,” where Ed Sheeran joins with him on the track and makes you want to turn up the music wherever you are in your room or in your car.
“People Keep Talking” by Hoodie Allen is a strong debut and is the best album of 2014.
“St. Vincent” – St. Vincent
St. Vincent, the stage name of Anne “Annie” Clark, released her self-titled fourth album earlier this year. For years I’ve been trying to describe a genre that included “songs I wanna bawl my eyes out to while simultaneously dancing around my room.” Little Miss Clark perfectly nailed such a genre while describing it as a “party record you could play at a funeral.”
The fuzzed out distortions of the guitar add a sexy undertone for the entire album. More digitally and electronic based than previous albums, St. Vincent showed a more mature side of herself while providing a tinge of childlike play that listeners are always eager for.
“Rattlesnake,” my favorite track from the album, combines Clark’s notorious moans with an eccentric blend of guitar and fuzzy, distorted keys. Album after album she’s refrained from apologizing for her unconventional musical taste and continues to challenge the norm of genres she’s placed in.
“Volcano Crowe” – Halfnoise
Picture this: You’re in your car driving with only the open road in front of you. No traffic. Blue sky. Maybe a friend in the passenger seat for company. You turn the volume up on your iPod and through the speakers Halfnoise’s latest album, “Volcano Crowe,” begins to play.
Track one, “Beginning Sounds,” is exactly what the title says — strings, piano, chimes and a soft voice in the background. Just like a movie, this album is the soundtrack to your “Life is good” moment in time.
Halfnoise is Zac Farro. If you recognize the name it’s because he is the ex-drummer/founding member of the band Paramore. Knowing that Farro would be laying down his vocals for the album made me worry that he would be leaving his glorious drumming legacy behind.
Thank everything he proved me wrong. Strong lyrics, powerful sound and overall greatness are what makes Halfnoise’s “Volcano Crowe” my top album of 2014.
“Ghost Stories” – Coldplay
Coldplay’s album “Ghost Stories” is one of the best albums of the year for several reasons. One of Coldplay’s reasons for success is their originality, and how different their sound is. When you listen to one of their songs like “Always in My Head” it is as if your sitting on a cloud with Chris Martin, dazing at a sky full of stars with him singing you love stories.
The album itself makes you feel as if you’re in another dimension, bringing out your inner emotions in a relaxing and soothing way. “Ghost Stories” is a work of art on a CD, literally — the band included art to give the listener a vision of their sound and lyrics. The album is expressing emotions of love, missing someone, or being apart. But no matter what happens you will always have them in the back of your head.
Every word from each song tells a deep story and expresses the emotions of past experiences with a loved one. Martin not only sings what he feels, but the sound and lyrics paint a memory in your head of not his past, but makes you dig and remember your own. “Ghost Stories” is the best album of the year, because of its honesty and quality.
“1989” – Taylor Swift
Losing the banjo and cowgirl boots, Taylor Swift’s new album, “1989,” marks the official breakup of Swift’s relationship with the country genre.
Anyone who pays attention can see that her lyrics, and her outlook on being a woman, have developed and matured. On her 2008 song “You Belong with Me,” Swift talks about being the underdog, to her love interest, and sings, “She wears short skirts, I wear T-shirts.” She plays a role that is ever-longing and misunderstood in this song, and this constrained and unnatural persona was clear in many of her other earlier tracks such as “Mean” and “Speak Now.”
Her new album portrays a much more powerful Swift. She has come a long way from distancing herself from bold, short skirt-wearing girls, to becoming one. Swift is both empowered and empowering.
This album addresses the buzz around Swift’s love life by owning the stereotypes, while gracefully saying something about women, and how women are “supposed to be.” Whether you’ve always been a Swift fan or not, this album gives you a lot of reasons to become one.
“Big Revival” – Kenny Chesney
Kenny Chesney’s “Big Revival” is full of inspiring, upbeat lyrics that make you want to jump up, flare your arms in the air and dance as you celebrate life.
If you have listened to any of Chesney’s previous music, you know that his style is unique. Mixing country into a tropical setting and adding words about love, life and unpredicted journeys is what he is all about.
Chesney has dedicated this past year solely to his 15th album, with no distractions from his sold-out concerts. As a result, “Big Revival” has captured his creative words and inspired many fans.
The music is mainly about his previous tours, the people he met during that time and how much life has taught him through this journey so far. It’s very different from his older albums. While his love songs and lyrics about heading to the beach were catchy and lovable, this album carries a new beat with a more mature BUT fun way to look at life. He also adds in a new style of guitar that you don’t exactly recognize in his recent songs that adds perfects balance to what he is trying to accomplish in his new music.
“Stn Mtn/ Kauai” – Childish Gambino
Childish Gambino released his newest masterpiece, “Stn Mtn (Stone Mountain)/Kauai” in October. This is exactly what Childish Gambino needed to prove to everyone that he isn’t burned out after his December 2013 album, “Because the Internet.”
I’ve been listening to this mixtape on and off since it came out, and I honestly can’t pick my favorite song. This mixtape makes me want to pile all of my friends into my car, turn up my bass all the way and drive up and down Ocean Drive singing along at the top of my lungs. Childish Gambino has worked hard to make his name known as a rapper, but he has also worked hard to distinguish Childish Gambino and Donald Glover as two different people.
Whether it is Gambino as the rapper or Glover as the activist/comedian/actor/writer/person, he can do no wrong in my eyes. Now it’s the waiting game until the anticipated collaboration with Chance the Rapper.
“Anomaly” – Trip Lee
With hip-hop artist Lecrae receiving so many good reviews on his new album, “Anomaly,” it’s not hard to see where Trip Lee stands in comparison. Both artists are in association with the 116 Clique, which consists of six other members. The Dallas native had fans worried when he decided to not do any more music but Lee’s two-year absence proves that he has chosen progression over lyrical profession by living “The Good Life” as he has been fulfilling his duty as a pastoral assistant.
The Christian-based artist, in not accepting that title, released his production and restored “Trip Lee” lyrics. His fans may hear the voice but they might not expect his new direction, which may be truly attractive to a new fan base.
Lee has put realistic situations into his album by covering topics about his own personal faith with God, what it means to be a self-aware Christian, and being conscious of our own success instead of our failures.
So if you enjoy good rap music and appreciate a positive message pick up a copy of “Rise” from Trip Lee.