Become a Member

Now Playing

Current DJ: Eric Wiersema

Julia Shapiro Death (Xiii) from Zorked (Suicide Squeeze) Add to Collection

Listen Live

Requests? 773-DJ-SONGS or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

The CHIRP Blog

Nicole Oppenheim: Ear Candy writesCHIRP Radio Best of 2014: Nicole Oppenheim

CHIRP Radio Best of 2014

Throughout December, CHIRP Radio presents its volunteers’ top albums of 2014. Our next list is from Board Member and DJ Nicole Oppenheim.

2014 was an incredible year for music. I went to more shows and bought more records than any year since maybe 2010--another stellar music year. If you listen to my show, Ear Candy (Friday mornings, 9am-12pm), you know I'm a hip hop/shoegaze/pop/occasional metal/punk girl. That said, there are no surprises here. Enjoy, kids!

#1Broke With Expensive Taste by Azealia Banks (Prospect Park)
Azealia Banks Broke With Expensive TasteBUY: Reckless / Permanent / iTunes / Insound / Amazon

Back in 2012, I put Azealia Banks' debut EP '1991' in the second position on my Top Ten list. In my review, I warned Nicki Minaj to watch her back because there was a new sheriff in town. This record has absolutely borne that opinion out. It took a while for this record to be released, but it was absolutely worth the wait. She sings and raps masterfully in both English and Spanish; each song is done in a slightly different style (some are straight up club bangers, others are '60s girl group throwbacks, you'll hear slow jams and '80s-style R&B, etc.). Ms. Banks showcases her not insignificant talents in almost every way possible. This record is just incredible. Number One with a bullet. For realz.

#2Taiga by Zola Jesus (Mute)
Zola Jesus TaigaBUY: Reckless / Permanent / iTunes / Insound / Amazon

I love Nika Roza Danilova. I've followed her career for years and am so, so happy that she is gaining fans. This record was a departure of sorts for her--a little less goth-y, a little less dance-y, a lot more brass-y (she included trombones on several tracks). She's maturing as an artist and it's beautiful to watch. This is an outstanding record to be sure, but I think she's got even better things in store for us. Also, I've gotta give her props for representing the state of Wisconsin in such an unexpected way. She no doubt grew up on beer, sausage, and the Packers, and yet she channels Bjork, Lykke Li, and other fabulous Scandinavian oddballs with aplomb. She has a gorgeous voice, gives energetic/otherworldly performances, and is closing in on the top of her game. Love her, love this record, can't wait to see what she comes up with next.

#3Run the Jewels 2 by Run the Jewels (Mass Appeal)
Run the Jewels Run the Jewels 2BUY: Reckless / Permanent / iTunes / Insound / Amazon

I love it when the good guys win. Killer Mike and El-P are two of the best MCs around and they don't have to grandstand to prove it. I was lucky enough to see catch their set at Lollapalooza this year where they premiered some of the content of this record--a few songs so new that they joked about not having the lyrics entirely memorized yet. True to form, they killed it. Every. Single. Time. This may end up being CHIRP's Record of the Year for good reason. (It also sets the bar pretty high for 2015's 'Meow The Jewels'. Don't know what that is? Google it, kids. You won't be disappointed).

#4Completement Fou by Yelle (Kemosabe)
Yelle Completement FouBUY: Reckless / Permanent / iTunes / Insound / Amazon

The wonderful thing about music is that you don't have to speak multiple languages to appreciate it. Yes, I speak some French, but that's not why I love this record. I love it because it's good fluffy pop fun that you can drown your troubles in for a while. It's also why I love Robyn and Annie. Nothing too serious; lots of opportunities for serious booty shaking. Yelle's not reinventing the wheel here. She's just having a great time and it's contagious. And the fact that she puts on a high-energy show complete with dueling DJs and multi-colored lasers doesn't hurt either...

#5The Luxembourg Signal by The Luxembourg Signal (Shelflife)
The Luxembourg Signal The Luxembourg SignalBUY: Reckless / Permanent / iTunes / Insound / Amazon

This was my stop-the-car-in-the-middle-of-the-road record of 2014. In other words, the first time I heard this, I was in the car and I had to pull over because I was so overwhelmed. It is the perfect combination of shoegaze and dream pop that made my 90s heart sing--and it's only their debut! They perfected their sound right out of the gate!! If you only remotely like shoegaze/dream pop, you MUST hear this record. Even if you have no idea what shoegaze/dream pop is, you MUST hear this record. It's that good. I hope this band tours soon because I will absolutely camp out in the rain to get tickets.

#6Eagulls by Eagulls (Partisan)
Eagulls EagullsBUY: Reckless / Permanent / iTunes / Insound / Amazon

Remember Ian Curtis? Take away the mental illness, leave the voice and the talent intact and you've got George Mitchell (aka Eagulls' singer). Like The Cure? New Order? Jesus & Mary Chain? Yep. They're all here. This band is made up of five lads from Leeds all in their early 20s whose parents probably raised them on these bands. That said, Eagulls is not a copycat band. There's serious talent here. I won't go so far as to say this record is ushering in a post-punk revival, but it's great to hear a new generation of musicians put a fresh coat of paint on a well-loved genre.

#7Sun Structures by Temples (Fat Possum)
Temples Sun StructuresBUY: Reckless / Permanent / iTunes / Insound / Amazon

This is a fun record that I like to call "psych pop". It's much more Byrds than Beatles, but not as psych rock-y as, say, T Rex. How good is this band? They opened for Suede. For a Britpop fan like me, that's better than a stamp of approval. That's winning the Homerun Derby of life. The best part is that they landed that gig with a single self-produced debut record. As with the Eagulls record above, what I like most about this album is that it is a foundery of influences (in this case Psych and British Invasion) that creates a fresh musical alloy. Also, despite being released in February, this record is clearly best heard at the beach.

#8Hierarchy by Lightfoils (Saint Marie)
Lightfoils HierarchyBUY: Reckless / Permanent / iTunes / Insound / Amazon

It's no secret that Chicago has an incredible local music scene. As a fan of dream pop, it is especially nice that a Chicago band put out one of the best records of the genre this year. There are deliciously textured/hazy guitars, ethereal vocals, and a great mix of energy on this record. It's an infinitely accessible album that die-hard dream pop fans and newbies alike can appreciate. The Big Takeover's description of this record as a "fuzzed out blissfest" is right on target. Good, good stuff here, kids.

#9Careers by Beverly (Kanine)
Beverly CareersBUY: Reckless / Permanent / iTunes / Insound / Amazon

Okay. I'll admit it. I love--LOVE--Frankie Rose. Vivian Girls? Crystal Stilts? Dum Dum Girls? Sign me up! No shocker that her latest endeavor is on my Top Ten of 2014. Granted, all the songs were written by bandmate Drew Citron and Ms. Rose has since left Beverly to focus on her solo career, but that doesn't change how much I love this record. You'll hear my favorite fuzzy guitars on some tracks, but it's mostly the contrast of sugary sweet harmonies over Citron's aggressive, chunky guitar playing that really puts this record over the top. A variety of tense songs about the typically angst-ridden teenage experience? What's not to love?

#10Rips by Ex Hex (Merge)
Ex Hex RipsBUY: Reckless / Permanent / iTunes / Insound / Amazon

OMG! Garage pop! The guitar parts on this record are all courtesy of Mary Timony absolutely shredding on a 1977 Les Paul Special--no wonder the album is reminiscent of The Runaways. When I listen to this record, a little roller derby team appears in my head and annihilates their opponents. There's definitely that 70s rock radio sound with a little pop twist, which is all you really need in a fun, garage-y record. As with the rest of my pics this year, this record is a party start to finish. The lyrics aren't deep or confusing. The riffs are fast and catchy. Play it while driving and you're likely to get a speeding ticket.

Honorable Mentions:

Jessie Ware "Tough Love"

Little Dragon "Nabuma Rubberband"

TR/ST "Joyland"

Flying Lotus "You're Dead"

St. Vincent "St.Vincent"

Nothing "Guilty of Everything"

Tacocat "NVM"


comments powered by Disqus

Share December 24, 2014 Share on Facebook Tweet This!

Categorized: Best Albums of the Year

Topics: best of 2014

Next entry: Top 25 Christmas Songs: #2 - The Ramones, “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight)”

Previous entry: Top 25 Christmas Songs of the Last 25 Years: #3 - The Cast of SNL, “I Wish It Was Christmas Today”