The last five albums on my Top Ten Rock Albums of 2014 list (continuing in alphabetical order) are:
Smashing Pumpkins — Monuments to an Elegy
The Tea Party — The Ocean at the End
Jack White — Lazaretto
Within Temptation — Hydra
The new album from Weezer was a great surprise with its solid return to the form of their classic first album. There’s even a musical apology, “Back to the Shack,” with an exhortation to rock out “like it’s ’94” and to “turn off those stupid singing shows.” And it even has a prog-length, three-part closing epic track, “The Futurescope Trilogy,” with references to the poetry of T.S. Eliot and Homer!
Within Temptation also gave us a totally fun album, and I recommend the deluxe edition that has bonus tracks consisting of a bunch of terrific covers that are better than the originals. On the album itself, my favorite track is “Covered By Roses,” which quotes bits from the end of John Keats’ “Ode on Melancholy“:
She dwells with Beauty—Beauty that must die;And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lipsBidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh,Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips:Ay, in the very temple of DelightVeil’d Melancholy has her sovran shrine,Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongueCan burst Joy’s grape against his palate fine;His soul shalt taste the sadness of her might,And be among her cloudy trophies hung.
I also ended up liking the new Jack White album much more than I expected too, in no small part because of really great songs like “Entitlement.” It’s the most fun I have had with his music since The White Stripes.
The Tea Party also released a brilliant album (The Ocean at the End) that is solid from start to finish. It has what is arguably the guitar solo of the year on its title track (“The Ocean at the End”), which is stunningly effective in the full musical context of the entire song. The title track is then followed by the last song on the album (“Into the Unknown”) which is a full-on prog experience of a Brian Eno-style soundscape. With it, we musically arrive at the ocean at the end!
Smashing Pumpkins also surprised us with a fantastic album that has simultaneously a fresh and a classic sound. The songs are all great, so don’t miss this one either.
That’s it! You now have my Top 20 — a balanced blend of the very best of prog and rock from 2014. By the way, I make no claim to omniscience, so take this simply as the best of what I myself had the opportunity to hear this year. I very much enjoy reading your own “best of” lists and learning about new music from you which either escaped my ears or that I didn’t give enough of a fair chance to. I look forward to discovering, in the beginning of 2015, any albums that you recommend from 2014 that I can add to the upper echelon of my prog archives.
Long live rock! Prog on!