Nick Manna’s Top Albums of 2014

Photo courtesy of BrooklynVegan
Radiator Hospital live in NY at Glasslands; Photo courtesy of BrooklynVegan

Nick Manna will host a weekly program called Roadrunner beginning January 2015. Here are his favorite albums of the year from bottom to top:

20. Brown Rainbow – Lucifer

Brown Rainbow is Sean Reilly on guitar and vocals, and Kevin Paschall on drums. Lucifer is effectively Reilly’s autobiography, detailing the life and thoughts of a 23-year old in living in Philly. The lyrics are specific, but he is at a point in his life that we have all paralleled, so the listener can connect.

Brown Rainbow flirts with existentialism while mixing subtle and clear lyricism. “Bananus” starts with blunt discussion about the inevitable death of friends, and there is no way to massage it. Reilly continues to ponder the transient nature of life throughout the song and album. “Cops” details a clueless adult with an uninteresting job, but he is not interested in anything else either. He skips work to listen to Pavement, and plays in a band nobody likes. He considers joining the police force “because cops get to shoot anyone they want to,” a rattling chorus following recent events.

Lucifer is one of the best fuzz albums of the year. Brown Rainbow does not stray far from the sounds of Mumblr, but the duo takes a more all-or-nothing approach. They mix aggressive highs with calming lows to create a surreal listening environment, and an album unlike any other in 2014.

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19. New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers

18. Martha – Courting Strong

17. Allison Crutchfield – Lean Into It
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16. PUP – PUP
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15. Bellows – Blue Breath
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14. Sheer Mag – 7”
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13. Ex Hex – Rips

12. Steve Gunn – Way Out Weather
11. Real Estate – Atlas

10. Cloud Nothings – Here and Nowhere Else

9. Alex G – DSU
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8. Frankie Cosmos – Zentropy
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7. Cayetana – Nervous Like Me
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6. Mitski – Bury Me at Makeout Creek
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5. Mumblr – Full of Snakes
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4. War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream
3. Saintseneca – Dark Arc
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2. LVL UP – Hoodwink’d

1. Radiator Hospital – Torch Song

Torch Song is Radiator Hospital’s best album yet. Sam-Cook Parrot is one of the best songwriters and recruiters, bringing in friends Allison and Katie Crutchfield and Maryn Jones to sing.  Jones’s “Fireworks” was the only song I cried to all year, and while most songs are sad lyrically, Radiator Hospital still picks me up when I need it. Torch Song played when I was lonely, with friends, studying, and more.  No other album in 2014 was there for me as often.