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Articles Home » Best Of » Best Of 2014 - 2015 Jeffrey343
Best Of 2014 - 2015 Jeffrey343

ARTIST: Best Of 2014
ALBUM: Jeffrey343
YEAR: 2015


I thought 2013 was a solid year, with several excellent releases that remain in heavy rotation. But 2014 - wow. Unlike most years, the quality albums started in the early months. And they didn't let up. I had a few albums on my radar from the start. H.e.a.t had my top album of 2012. White Widdow had my top 2011 album, with their 2010 album trying to unseat the excellent Treat album from that year. The two Work Of Art albums had grown on me to the point I was playing them as much as anything else I have. I knew Steve Overland was coming out with a solo album. House Of Lords had been pretty consistent. So my expectations were high. I was not prepared for a couple of releases that were not in the style I usually embrace, both of them being sophomore platters. There ended up being several albums that I played four, five, or more times a day for a few days when I got them. And I'm pretty sure I played more albums from 2014 than from all other years combined. So yes, it was a good year.

I started a thread comparing the quality of current music with the classic stuff. I gathered that I'm more optimistic than most of you. The new material is definitely somewhat different - aside from a few carefully-selected songs, I can pretty easily hear the differences between the eras. But I'm glad to say that I'm liking much of what I'm hearing these days. I believe many of these 2014 albums will be played for many years.

Enough rambling - here is what I liked best in 2014. The order has evolved quite a bit over the year, as I've kept a list all year. And it may shift some more, depending on whether I'm more into the harder or more mellow stuff at any time.

White Widdow - Crossfire
This is no surprise to anyone who read my dissertation in the comments section of this album. I fully expected this one to be great, and I was still blown away. It's good enough to get by with being a bit on the samey side - having ten excellent songs is the key. And I love it when an artist kicks my ass on the last track - 'Never Again' is up there with 'Breathless' (Treat - Coup de Grace in 2010) and 'One More Night' (Marcello-Vestry in 2008) as the best final tracks of this century for me.

Work Of Art - Framework
The first two Work Of Art albums were slow growers for me. But grow they did, to the point of getting as many spins as any album in my collection the past couple of years. These guys know how to write not only a song but a collection of songs that flows perfectly. This is actually a better overall 'album' than the White Widdow one as far as a diverse collection of songs that are each outstanding in their own way. For someone who was not really a big Toto fan back in the day, it's impressive how much I love what these guys do.

Overland - Epic
This one was an early 2014 release, and it set the tone for the year. I really enjoyed the two FM albums from 2013, and I listened to a lot of other albums featuring Steve Overland. The influence of Mike Slamer ensured that it would be of high quality. This is one that I mentioned as being an album that works no matter what musical mood I'm in. It is unfortunately one of the last albums where we get to hear the late guitarist Christian Wolff.

Sonic Station - Next Stop
I mentioned a couple of real surprises earlier. This is surprise number 1. The first album from these guys didn't do a lot for me. But adding two excellent vocalists put them over the top. And giving them interesting material that is expertly played, well, that'll give you something special. The 'making of' videos also added to the overall experience.

H.E.A.T - A Shot At Redemption
'Address The Nation' in 2012 put these guys in the top tier, with Erik Grönwall being a real discovery. If album number 3 is the album that puts a band in the big time, then album number 4 needs to be good enough to keep them there while showing a bit of musical growth. Losing a key member of the band is never an optimistic sign, but these guys toughened up their sound a bit while taking a few musical chances on some songs. It actually made for a stronger album, even if those risks didn't appeal as much to me as their tried-and-true sound. But make no mistake - this is definitely a very good album.

State Of Salazar - All The Way
Surprise number two. If I listen to an album for the first time with no real expectations and I'm going 'wow' song after song and then want to play it again, they've obviously done something right. Like Sonic Station, the debut didn't really catch my ear. But better songs and better production make a big difference. This is a lot like the two Lionville albums that are still fixtures in my rotation. These guys even pull off the more lyrically-quirky songs that don't usually appeal to me.

Stan Bush - The Ultimate
I've really enjoyed what Bush has done starting with his 2004 album 'Shine'. This is a continuation of that body of work. He's all about the anthems, and this one contains several outstanding ones. But he's also all about the 'yearning for love' song, and he nails several of them here as well. I await his next album that follows this formula, and I'm sure I'll love it too.

Seven - 7
This sounds like those solid AOR albums by the big names back in the 80s. Of course, these guys were hoping to join those ranks, but they were a couple of years too late to the party. Glad they got a chance to get these songs out there. I would have played this a lot in the mid-80s had it come out then.

In Faith - There's A Storm Coming
The early release of 'Does It Feel Like Love' got me very excited about this one. I played the heck out of that song, and then 'Where I Wanna Be'. Glad to say that the rest of the album meets the lofty expectations set by those two songs, with a couple of other killers standing out among the other fine songs.

House Of Lords - Precious Metal
Another one that came out early in the year, and I actually had this one at top of the leaderboard at times. These guys have been both prolific and consistent for the past several years. This has a heap of good songs delivered in their trademark razor-sharp manner. If I'm in the mood for this one, I enjoy it as much as just about anything.

Other Good Stuff
It was a very deep year, and there are some more good albums that will be in my rotation. Plenty more that have some good moments, but these are the ones that I have as the 'best of the rest'.

Nigel Bailey - Long Way Down
Three Lions - Three Lions
Dion Bayman - Afterburn
Moonland - Moonland
Houston - Relaunch II (minus three of the songs)
Angels Or Kings - Kings Of Nowhere
Night Ranger - High Road
Harem Scarem - 13

Stuff I Didn't Get To (Yet)
I make an honest effort to listen to everything that seems like it's a fit stylistically to what I like and has a good buzz either on this site or others that promote new music. But I don't always to it quickly. Here's a list of albums I hope to get more of a chance to listen to soon:

Miss Behaviour - Double Agent
Skyscraper - Elevation
Vega - Stereo Messiah
Rated X - Rated X

These were some I expected to like more based on what other people liked. None are terrible; I just had higher expectations.

Dalton - Pit Stop
Adrenaline Rush - Adrenaline Rush (this is the only one I purchased - digitally)
L.R.S. - Down To The Core
Winger - Better Days Comin'
Alien - Eternity
Brother Firetribe - Diamond In The Firepit
Aniday - Aniday

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