December 22nd: Albums of the year 2014 (# 6 - 10)

6. Steve Gunn - Way Out Weather (Paradise of Bachelors)
A new favourite of mine, he made my best of list from 2013 also. Way Out Weather follows in the tracks of Time Off, just with a fuller more intricate band sound. This time around the songs are even better and the guitar playing sends vibes of John Fahey, Jerry Garcia, Duane Allman and Loaded-era Velvet Underground. The patterns are often circular in the same way as a lot of the heroes of the americana guitar soli-contemporaries of John Fahey. Hard to pin down just what I love about this album, but I think it's the circular melodies which really gets me. Love it! Paradise of Bachelors is probably my favourite label of the last couple of years. Only really good releases, both new and reissues.

Favourite song: Milly's Garden

7. Conor Oberst - Upside Down Mountain (Nonesuch)
Everyone who knows me know that I really love Conor Oberst, and I must say it's good to have him back in quality form. On Upside Down Mountain he paired up with Jonathan Wilson and the results are stunning. A kind of grown-up record of classic american folk-rock songs. I have stated sometime in a review of a Conor Oberst record that he's my generations Dylan, and I'll stand by that statement. He's a brilliant lyricist and always has been. A musically fun record with lots of great playing by all involved, which the Dawes did equally great on the following tour. Though they came along a bit to late to play on the record. Keep up the good work mr. Oberst.

Favourite song: Night at Lake Unknown.

8. Allah Las - Worship the Sun (Innovative Leisure)
At first I was a little disappointed with this record. I was completely floored by their debut from 2012. A brilliant album that has become one of my favourites of the last couple of years. I also fell in love with the single 'Had it All', but still, when Worship the Sun came out, I didn't feel satisfied. I felt the something was missing - I probably had set the bar way to high. What I have come to understand though, is that this one is a real grower. Ask me again next year, and I would probably say that it's to low on this list. These guys are the torchbearers for all my favourite Los Angelenos all the way back from the garagerock of the sixties via the eighties Paisley Underground and the brilliant Rademaker-brothers.

Favourite song: Had it All

9. Woods - With Light and with Love (Woodsist)
This one came in from the left wing this last month for me. I have listened some to Woods before but they have never really hit a nerve with me. This album though really found the spot, especially when I picked it up again the last month. Much better than I remembered they were. A bit of the smart-indie of the first couple of The Shins albums matched with 70s-era Neil Young and a dash of psychedelia in the middle. This playful mix is something I really never can get enough of. Good work lads, I'll definitely take the earlier albums out for a new spin!

Favourite song: Shining.

10. Beck - Morning Phase (Capitol)
Beck is back, and I'm glad to say that it's my favourite version of the guy. It's easy to catalogue this album as a sequel to Sea Change, and it sort of is, but do remember that Beck has made these kind of mellow albums all his career. In many ways I like Morning Phase even better than Sea Change. Lyrically it isn't as bleak, and musically I also think it's more even. When it was released in February it almost was the only album I listened to for a couple of weeks. It is almost as it's one of these classic Los Angeles singer/songwriter albums from the early seventies. Ah, it was good to have him back.

Favourite song: Country Down.