My Top 10 Pacific Northwest Albums of 2014

albums of the year header

We’re less than a month away from the dawning of a brand new year to spend fearing our sad and inevitable demise, which obviously means it’s time to start pumping out year-end lists to keep our traffic high and our integrity low. In any case, 2014 was a pretty decent year for music both in and out of the Pacific Northwest. While it definitely didn’t have as many instant classics as 2012 or 2010, the year wasn’t without its fantastic releases, which is why I’m here today to share with you my list of the 10 Pacific Northwest albums of 2014 that I liked the most.

An important thing to keep in mind is that these rankings are based on the subjective amount of enjoyment I personally got out of each record, rather than by how many tender tongue-baths they received from nepotistic band member-approved journalists that all secretly wish that they were dead.  Sure, the Foo FightersSonic Highways continued the immeasurable success brought on by 2011’s Wasting Light by further proving that the band can be good in the most agreeable and least discussion-meriting way possible, and that The Mothership’s Bright Side of Dim made rock music fans all over Seattle simultaneously ejaculate enough sperm to flood Eurasia, but neither of those releases happen to rank very high on my love-o-meter, even if they may be, albeit in ways that aren’t lifting my skirt, good and solid musical endeavours. Don’t be surprised if you disagree with a lot of my picks on this list, but if it’s any consolation, at least this list isn’t Rolling Stone‘s hilarious joke 50 Best Albums of 2014. Let’s begin.

#10: Julie ByrneRooms With Walls and Windows
Orindal Records

julie byrneThis record probably holds the title of most obscure LP on this list, and that’s a damn shame considering its quality. Julie Byrne is a Chicago indie folk singer-songwriter that recently relocated to Seattle, and has been recording material for a few years now. She currently resides on Orindal Records, an independent label run by Owen Ashworth, the musician behind fantastic projects like Advance Base and Casiotone for the Painfully Alone. That’s just about the only context I have for Byrne’s debut LP Rooms with Walls and Windows, though. My fondness for Owen Ashworth’s material was the only reason I came across this album, but considering how good of a record it is, I’m very glad I did.

When you put on Julie Byrne’s latest LP, what you’re going to be listening to is super lo-fi and quaint-as-hell indie folk music, with vocals that are at the volume of a whisper, with gently-strummed acoustic guitar and the occasional minimal synthesizer, most of which seem to be performed in real time. Her songs, from an instrumental standpoint, are very simple, usually only consisting of just Byrne and her guitar, which helps to give this album a very intimate and personal feel to it. It really puts an emphasis on Julie Byrne’s very emotive, understated, and downright gorgeous singing voice. Her voice is somewhat of an acquired taste, but once I got used to it, I really fell in love with it.

However, Byrne’s very sullen instrumentation and her heartbroken singing voice wouldn’t have nearly as much impact without her lyrics, which, while they aren’t the most incredible and original for the indie folk style, clearly have a lot of emotion put into them, and really sell the whole aesthetic of the LP. There are a lot of songs about relationships, which is par for the course for this very personal style of folk music, and they’re vague enough to be relatable, but personable enough to feel empathetic rather than shallow. While at times her lyrics can be hard to decipher because of the recording style and the way she sometimes says lyrics under her breath, I do think they’re well-written and worth looking into. “Attached to Us Like Butcher Wrap”, “Holiday”, and “Prism Song” in particular stand out to me as very beautifully-constructed relationship songs.

If you can’t get enough lo-fi singer-songwriter music, I highly recommend checking out this record. Julie Byrne is a name that needs to be heard by more people, and Rooms with Walls and Windows stands as a perfect testament to why.


yung baeLet’s get one thing out of the way right now. Yes, YUNG BAE is an impressively stupid name, I agree wholeheartedly. It’s embarrassing to say, and I often times feel hesitant to recommend his material to people because it’s hard to, in good conscious, say, “Hey, so there’s this artist I really like. They’re called YUNG BAE.” It has nothing to do with the music; if Aphex Twin’s material was initially released under the name “LIL THOT”, I’d be hesitant to recommend it too. It’s also the timeliest name I’ve ever heard. As ridiculous as it is to me that there really is a legitimate artist called YUNG BAE, it’s going to be even more ridiculous in 3 to 6 months when the urban community has completely forgotten about the slang term “bae”, and he will be considered a relic of a bygone era before he even has the chance to take his shoes off and get comfortable.

However, forget about the name YUNG BAE. Forget about this album being simply called Bae. Forget about the zany album cover which features an artistically warped image of Sailor Moon wearing sunglasses with whom I can only assume to be YUNG BAE themselves in the reflection. Forget about all that, and what you’re left with is a set of ten very good and well-made futuristic electro-funk tracks. The music presented on Bae is too good and too promising to be written off as just no-effort ironic hipster garbage, which I’m all but certain 99% of you reading this already have based solely on the jokey name alone.

Bae is, in its most basic form, another vaporwave album. It often uses warped samples of older music, takes a lot of inspiration from Plunderphonics and chopped and screwed-style production, uses a lot of very serene and delirious effects, and has an ever-present obsession with vintage sounds and just nostalgia in general. However, if this is a vaporwave record, it’s easily the best vaporwave album released all year. With YUNG BAE, the whole vaporwave aesthetic feels like a legitimate stylistic choice rather than just a gimmick to get ironic Tumblr-addicted scenesters to tune in. The songs here have a lot of detail and prowess to them, using a lot of very retro-sounding synths that sound great atop the very dance-y electro beats that YUNG BAE works with. The “vaporwave” tag is a punchline at this point, but Bae effortlessly dispels the argument that the style is “dead” and doesn’t have any worthwhile musicians contributing to it.

If I had any complaints about this record, it’s how short a lot of the tracks feel. It’s almost reminiscent of a Flying Lotus record in how a lot of its songs just sort of show up, briefly explore the ideas that the producer had for a couple minutes, and then fade out. However, the shorter tracks on this record feel incomplete when put up against the longer tracks, and they don’t feel like they compliment each other. “I Want Your Love” is one of the catchiest and most memorable on the LP, but it randomly fades out in a pretty anticlimactic way after just the two-minute mark. “Tropical Hysteria” has a great funk beat to it, but it ends just as it really gets started.

However, the good songs more than outweigh the underwhelming ones. “Satisfy” is one of the best electro-funk tracks I’ve heard in a good while, and never manages to leave my head once I put it on. “Bae City Rollaz” rocks a groove that even the most snobbish of music fans will be forced to move their body to. I really dug the マクロスMACROSS 82-99 remix towards the end of this LP. Seeing one of my favourite electro-funk producers making a remix of another one of my favourite electro-funk producers just warms my heart.

At the end of the day, Bae is a short, but promising set of futuristic electronic music whose appeal I think extends far beyond just bedroom vaporwave fans. I could see YUNG BAE being a touring opener for someone like Com Truise or Neon Indian someday in the future if he keeps it up. Despite being a very young project, YUNG BAE has an insane amount of potential. YUNG BAE has a lot of hype to live up to come that next full-length.

#8: White LungDeep Fantasy
Domino Records

white lungI’ll be 100% honest and come right out and say that I think I underrated this album in my initial review of it. I had one main criticism of the sophomore LP from this burgeoning Vancouver punk outfit, and that was how one-note the album is, and still with each repeated listen through Deep Fantasy, I stand by this notion. All ten tracks on this sub-25 minute LP are very short punk tracks that recycle the same song structure, vocal styles and performance with little in the way of nuance or variety between tracks, and on a first listen, one may think they’re just listening to the same track over and over again.

However, what I failed to make abundantly clear in my review is just how solid and addictive the one idea this album runs with is. Despite White Lung not delivering much in the way of innovation and diverse playing on this album, the band has a whole lot going for them. The guitars on this album are incredibly punchy, Anne-Marie Vassiliou’s drumming is plain pounding, the choruses are catchy and will stick in your head (particularly “Down It Goes” and “Lucky One”), and lead vocalist Mish Way is one of the most hard-hitting and entertaining singers in contemporary underground rock. Her vocals on this album aren’t so much singing or screaming as they are gruffly-shouted, and there’s something about the inflection and overall tone of her voice that recalls to mind some of my favourite rock vocalists from the 1990s like Donita Sparks, Mia Zapata and Corin Tucker.

Really, I think this is a super sharp and concise punk album, and I’m really hoping that White Lung only gets more ambitious from here on out. I’m sincerely hoping that White Lung, among other contemporary punk acts like Perfect Pussy and War on Women, will be the trailblazers of a new riot grrrl revival, which, in 2014, I think we could use more than the derivative garage rock revival or the spotty emo revival. I’m expecting great things from White Lung in the future, and I predict you’ll be seeing their name atop many a rock festival lineup in the coming years.

(Read my review of Deep Fantasy here.)

#7: Mac DeMarcoSalad Days
Captured Tracks

mac demarcoSalad Days was my first exposure to British Columbian singer-songwriter Mac DeMarco, and when I first listened to this album around the time of its release, I didn’t really think much of it. It was sort of one ear and out the other for me, and its relaxed and hazy vibe made the album seem like fitting background music for clipping my toenails or surfing social media while half-asleep at 4 in the morning. However, after a great impassioned and high-energy performance at Bumbershoot this year, I felt compelled to revisit Mac’s latest studio release, and the album started to grow on me more and more with each listen, and by the end of the year, it stood out to me as a great record.

Salad Days doesn’t hit you in the same way that most pop-rock albums do. Straightforward riffs and drum beats that illicit body-moving and head-grooving from the listener are swapped out for very chilled and pleasant riffs and drum beats that don’t really demand much from the listener beyond a subtle head-nod. An overbearing insistence on clean and professional production is passed on in favour of a DIY smudgy and ethereally-light recording style that sounds just as indebted to ‘90s indie rock and ‘80s jangle pop as it does Slowdive-esque shoegaze music. Meanwhile, in-your-face vocal deliveries and range-testing gusto that you’d generally see in pop-rock is mostly ignored, instead opting for a vocal style that is way more laid back, which really helps to sell the whole slacker image that Mac DeMarco is known for.

For a lot of people, the vocals of Mac DeMarco are the biggest draw, and frankly, I have to agree. The instrumental style and playing on this album aren’t that far off from some downright boring and forgettable contemporaries like Alvvays and Best Coast, but it’s Mac’s vocal delivery and his somewhat personal and likeable lyrics that really enhance the personality of both Mac and his backing music, rather than just highlight a complete lack thereof. Not to mention some very catchy and earworm-y songs that are sure to get stuck in your head (“Goodbye Weekend”, “Treat Her Better”, “Passing Out Pieces”). While other relaxed and unwound rock albums released this year like Real Estate’s Atlas and Beck’s Morning Phasewere lethargic in the worst and blandest way possible, Salad Days stands out as the best and most memorable example of pleasant-on-the-ears pop-rock to come out in 2014.

(Read my review of Mac DeMarco‘s Bumbershoot 2014 performance here, and my review of his Chop Suey concert on November 13th, 2014 here.)

#6: Jen WoodWilderness

jen woodJen Wood’s first band Tattle Tale isn’t exactly the most remembered and venerated Seattle rock band of the 1990s, but I look back on their work positively, and they had a lot going for them – a really interesting blend of indie rock and baroque pop, progressive songwriting and structures, and most importantly, the vocal work of Wood herself. Her very passionate and high-register vocals really set the duo apart from other indie rock bands of their time. Despite the band breaking up a long time ago (three years before I was born, in fact), a lot of Tattle Tale’s style can be heard in Wood’s ensuing solo material, which I am very fond of.

Jen Wood’s solo material tends to fall into the indie pop-rock singer-songwriter category, akin to the likes of Sharon Van Etten or Neko Case. Her songs tend to be somewhat sappy, with a lot of relationship-type songs on display. This was a major theme on her previous LP Finds You in Love, which I personally didn’t think was a show-stopping album all the way through, but I thought it had some fantastic tracks on it like “Pills”, “Red Sun” and “People Like Us”. Wood’s newest LP Wilderness feels like Finds You in Love 2: Judgment Day: a follow-up that takes the predecessor and improves upon the original in every way, playing up the best aspects while adding some new tweaks to give us some extra luster. Wilderness is Jen Wood’s most refined work to date.

In contrast to Finds You in Love, which was really heavy on acoustic guitar, Wilderness is most focal on Wood’s piano playing, which works itself into the equation really well, and it gives the album a more matured and adult feel, while still having elements of the youthful indie rock ethos that shone through on her past material. Jen Wood’s trademark high-pitched vocals are just as emotional and enjoyable on this record, particularly on the most heartbroken tracks like “I Never Thought”. I’m not really sure if “indie adult-alternative” is a thing, but if it is, Wilderness is the best album in that style to be released in a long time. Its very likeable style has a pretty universal appeal to it; this album could probably be adored by fans of Wye Oak just as much as fans of artists like Jewel.

As far as I can tell, Wilderness is Jen Wood’s most thematic record thus far. All of the songs on the LP have a pretty strong theme of heartbreak and ensuing negative feelings towards the person Wood is singing to. They seem to be from the heart, and Wood sings these very heartbroken lyrics with such gusto that the feelings are successfully transcended onto the listener. At the risk of sounding anecdotal, it actually reminds me a lot of her vocal contributions to my favourite Postal Service song “Nothing Better”. Stick to what you do amazingly well, I suppose.

When you get right down to it, Wilderness is a great LP. It’s an emotionally-charged, instrumentally-lavish and consummately-potent listen from beginning to end. It’s an album deserving of being added to the ongoing list of great break-up albums, up there with Rumours and Blood on the Tracks. It sits alongside Angel Olsen’s Burn Your Fire for No Witness and Mitski’s Bury Me at Makeout Creek as one of my favourite indie singer-songwriter albums of the year. Jen Wood just seems to get better and better with each new release, and this record has me waiting with baited breath to see what she releases next.

#5: LoscilSea Island

loscilLoscil is awesome. I could probably leave this entry at just that, but really, Scott Morgan’s production skills are incredible. His very layered, grainy and expansive approach to ambient music makes him a really fun musician to follow, especially when taking into account how versatile he is from album to album. Endless Falls, with its very pleasant and rainy new-age feel and bizarre spoken word closer, Erebus, his bizarre collaborative album with Bvdub that saw him taking on psychedelic noise music with very ambitious song lengths, First Narrows, with its very isolated and eerie sonic atmosphere, and on Sea Island, we see Loscil experimenting with mind-bending manipulation of the binaural plane. Sea Island one of Loscil’s most meticulous works to date, and is perhaps the most rewarding release he’s put forth to date.

From a tonal standpoint, Sea Island is one of Scott Morgan’s greyest releases. It isn’t strictly dark and sinister a la The Haxan Cloak, but it has a very uneasy atmosphere to it, as if at any moment the album could unexpectedly take a turn for the scarier side of ambient music. The record reminds me a lot of Oneohtrix Point Never, not just in its very eclectically-paced and constructed ambient pieces, but because it sets a very abstract mood through its very inhuman soundscapes that isn’t quite pleasant, but isn’t quite dismal either. Though even in its bleakest, Sea Island never stops sounding beautiful. This record is the textbook definition of a headphone album, and when listened to with a great pair of headphones or a high-end stereo system, it makes tracks like “Sea Island Murders” and “Angle of Loll” feel like gently diving into an endless sea of blowjobs.

Sea Island also has a very unpredictable feel to it. At a moment’s notice, the album will randomly introduce distorted synthesizers, upright piano, and minimalist techno beats. The album feels like Loscil’s most aleatoric release to date. It’s also one of Loscil’s most demanding releases at a whopping one hour and 13 minutes in length. However, if you’ve got that long to kill and you can’t get enough abstract ambient music, consider checking out Sea Island. It’s by and large the best electronic music record British Columbia saw all year.

4: ODESZAIn Return
Counter Records

odeszaFor me, the last quarter of 2014 belonged to ODESZA. I had first heard of this Seattle electronic music duo through their pretty good set at the 2014 Capitol Hill Block Party, which presented some very textured and soothing beats and some very serene synth leads, but they didn’t realty stand out to me as an electronic music project I should really care about. Something just felt missing from the equation, and it made their full-length debut Summer’s Gone kind of underwhelming to me. However, just two months later, ODESZA came through with In Return, and took me and the underground electronic music scene by storm.

It wasn’t really until I listened to In Return that I realised what had felt lacking about ODESZA’s past material. The duo decided to go the SBTRKT route and bring on a pretty hefty amount of guest singers to perform atop their usual production. This in turn changed the duo’s formula from being very well-produced wallpaper chillwave to subtle, yet banging electro-pop on a lot of tracks here. However, unlike Rustie’s half-baked 2014 foray into vocal-heavy dance-pop with his album Green Language, ODESZA proved with ease that they have amazing chemistry with vocal guests, and they complement their style rather than distract from it.

“Say My Name”, the electro-pop banger that featured the fantastic singer Zyra was more or less the “Video Games” of In Return; the lead single that absolutely exploded the artist into the limelight, and got hundreds of thousands of people to flock to the rest of the material on the record it’s off of. Hell, I even saw “Say My Name” loaded onto dozens of display iPods at the Apple Store at my local mall. It’s definitely one of the best electronic music singles of 2014. Unlike Born to Die, however, In Return has plenty to offer beyond one or two good songs, with In Return only having a couple underwhelming moments.

Despite most of ODESZA’s vocal guests being essentially nobodies in comparison to their status, most of them hold their own incredibly well. Portland-based musician Shy Girls brings great falsetto charm to “All We Need”, Jenni Potts delivers an endearing Purity Ring-esque vocal to “White Lies”, and Zyra returns later in the record with an excellent track that I think even surpasses “Say My Name”, “It’s Only”. On top of that, I found their instrumental tracks to have more personality and distinction to them as well, utilising more bass, crescendo synthesizers, and putting more emphasis on ambience, making tracks like “Kusanagi” and “Bloom” absolutely wonderful.

Fans of all sorts of different styles of electronic music will easily find something to love about In Return, and not just fans of other futuristic downtempo acts like Slow Magic. ODESZA has the underground electronic music scene by the balls now, and one can only expect the duo to further progress their sound from here. For now, I think I’ll stick to repeating In Return until I get absolutely sick of it, which hasn’t come yet whatsoever, three months into its release.

(Read my review of In Return here, and read my review of ODESZA‘s Capitol Hill Block Party set here.)

#3: Perfume GeniusToo Bright
Matador Records

perfume geniusToo Bright is by and large my pick for art pop album of the year. The third full-length LP from this dynamic Seattle-based solo musician is everything I look for in art pop music: it’s ostentatious, it’s outlandish, it’s progressive, but it still manages to retain a certain sense of accessibility. Plenty of the songs on this LP are experimental, but not in an alienating way, and they feel unquestionably gorgeous and moving. Too Bright is a bold record, a record that demands to be heard. In the LP’s 33 minutes of runtime, mastermind Mike Hadreas pours his heart out before the listener in 11 short, but extremely effective tracks that will leave you amazed.

Right from the tear-stained opening track “I Decline”, Too Bright presents itself in a very delectably showy manner, with Hadreas’ very powerful and loud singing voice. It’s a pretty stripped back intro with just Mike at his piano, but as the record progresses, you’re hit with massive instrumentation and unexpected twists and turns at every corner. The songs on this record are written and presented in a very progressive way, with a lot of tracks here having a massive sea change partway through the song with no warning, such as the third track “Fool”, which suddenly goes from a pretty upbeat chamber pop track to a slow, vocal ambient piece a la Juliana Barwick for a long period of time out of nowhere, or “My Body”, which goes from another chamber pop piece to a weird noisy psych-pop piece randomly. Other tracks follow suit, and it feels incredibly compelling and innovative for contemporary indie pop whenever these stylistic shifts show up.

In my opinion, Too Bright is the best album in this very artsy, large and bat-shit pretentious take on indie pop to be released so far this decade. Other artists like fun. and alt-J have attempted this style with okay-to-moderate results, but to me, neither of them even come close to the level of tracks like “All Along”, “Don’t Let Them In”, “No Good”, and the LP’s lead single “Queen”. Too Bright is Perfume Genius’ best release so far, and is the best pop album to be released in the Pacific Northwest in 2014. If you’ve been avoiding this album like the plague because it’s a pop album, seek help, and then seek out a copy of it on vinyl.

#2: GrouperRuins

grouperPortland-based experimental ambient singer-songwriter Liz “Grouper” Harris’ 10th studio album Ruins is easily the quaintest album the Pacific Northwest got in 2014. Really, this album is so quaint it makes that Julie Byrne record sound like Pharmakon’s Bestial Burden. Liz’s latest studio LP Ruins was one of my most anticipated albums of the year by any artist, given that her 2008 effort Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill is one of my favourite ambient music albums of the 21st century, and her sister albums Dream Loss and Alien Observer were two of the best releases of 2011. I had every reason to be hyped for this album, and while I initially wasn’t really that big on the stylistic detour that was taken on this album, after letting all of this album’s 39 minutes sink in, I think Ruins is Liz’s best release to date.

If you’re familiar with Grouper’s material all the way up until this album, you may be surprised at just how subdued this album feels in comparison to the project’s most revered past work. Whereas Liz Harris’ vocals are usually a pretty major focus in her songs, but on Ruins, her vocals aren’t sung so much as whispered, and are barely audible over the comparatively loud instrumentation and recording style, which seems to be more straight-up lo-fi than heavily distorted with effects. While Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill had a very spacious feel to it, Ruins feels very dense and claustrophobic, but it still retains a fantastic sense of mood. The sounds on this LP do a stellar job of making you feel like you’ve been transported to another place; a very cold, colourless and joyless place. It may not sound like a very nice listening experience, but Ruins has a hauntingly-beautiful quality to it that few other records managed to capture this year.

Ruins feels a lot less psychedelic than Alien Observer, and doesn’t have the dream poppy quality of The Man Who Died in His Boat, but these elements are compensated for with a heavier emphasis on gorgeous and wispy piano that’s played throughout the entire album, as well as Liz’s understated and faint vocals that recall to mind some tracks off of Julia Holter’s Tragedy. Lots of organic sounds find their way into the mix, most notably the brief sound of a microwave oven on “Labyrinth” and the rainy field recording at the end of what’s probably the best track on the entire LP, “Holding”. Ruins is Grouper’s most consistent and focused release yet, and I find it to be her most haunting and replayable release too.

Overall, to me, Ruins is a breathtaking album. I’m sure a lot of long-time Grouper fans may be left out in the cold because of the shift in direction this album takes, but I think it really paid off for Liz. I never grew tired of listening to this LP, and with each listen I picked up on more and more subtleties in the music. It’s my pick for ambient album of the year, singer-songwriter album of the year, Portland album of the year, etc. If you haven’t heard this album yet, stop what you’re doing and listen to the track embedded below. It’s incredible.

#1: NickelbackNo Fixed Address
Republic Records

Nickelback - No Fixed Address…no, not actually.








ACTUAL #1: Manatee Commune – Brush

manatee communeI did a tonne of deliberating for this list, and thought about and relistened to my candidates for weeks, but ever since the very first time I listened to this album, there was only ever going to be one choice for my Pacific Northwest album of the year. I stumbled across Bellingham producer Manatee Commune’s full-length debut Brush in late July of this year, and it was love at first listen for me. There’s no other 2014 Pacific Northwest album I listened to more than Brush, and no other record stuck with me in the same way that this one did.

And the thing is, it isn’t like Brush is the most life-affirming and game-changing album of 2014 or anything. It isn’t very likely that this album will completely change your life forever, and it’s a rather familiar-sounding record as a huge fan of contemporary underground electronic music. To me, though, Brush is the sound of an emerging subgenre being perfected. I’m a fan of the “chillwave” style of music, as well as many of the artists that have been said to be kingpins in the style, but to me, no other album that could fall under this label feels as complete and as sound as Brush. Every song on the LP compliments one another, and there isn’t a dull moment throughout its 37-minute runtime.

Brush is an album that’s very much of its time. Its very sweet and sugar-coated synthesizers, in combination with its snappy and minimal beats, are highly reminiscent of other current producers including Baths and Tycho, except Brush doesn’t have the slightly-obnoxious vocals of the former and the predictable and rehashed song structures of the latter. Grant Eadie’s latest is also a record with plenty of surprises up its sleeves, including the shoegaze-esque “Island”, the tech-house-influenced “Routine”, and the post-rock closer “Weather”. However, even though it does sound “trendy” in a sense, it doesn’t just feel like a bandwagon-hopping record. It definitely has its influences, and manages to surpass them through and through.

Really, I’m not sure what else to say about this record. If it wasn’t outlawed, I’d probably marry this album. …Okay, maybe that’s going a bit too far, but this is a truly great release. I could see Manatee Commune really exploding in the underground electronic music scene given the proper exposure, and I’d love to see it happen. Brush is an album that badly deserves to fall on more ears than just those in the local scene. It’s my favourite Pacific Northwest album of 2014.

(Read my review of Brush here, and my review of Manatee Commune‘s Bumbershoot 2014 performance here.)

And there you have it, the ten Pacific Northwest albums of the year that tickled my hard-to-please fancy the most. Honourable mentions go out to This Patch of Sky’s self-titled effort, which was a good, if not predictable post-rock album from a talented group of musicians, Hart & Hare’s …And Action, which had some very good, cute and easygoing folktronica tracks, but sadly had equal parts unmemorable filler, Hustle and Drone‘s Holyland, which was an interesting beat-driven experimental electronic album, but didn’t really stick with me enough to really fawn over it when it came time to separate the cream from the crop, and Priory’s Weekend EP, whose title track is one of the best singles of 2014, but didn’t make the list by virtue of it not being a full-length, and therefore not qualifying, despite it being a pretty good EP. With that, 2014 is left behind as we look ahead to the distant future year of 2015, wherein Tool will hopefully finally buckle down and deliver to us mortals their long-awaited and much-teased follow-up to 10,000 Days. I’m expecting great things from you, 2015, so don’t fuck things up.

Your friend,
Jess Casebeer

(Jess’ note: If this list was too personal tastes-driven and “objectively incorrect” for you, you can always have your opinions shallowly validated by instead turning your attention over to our 2014 Reader’s Poll, where we asked our readers to choose what they thought the best Pacific Northwest albums of 2014 were. Click here to read it.)

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