Favorite Music of 2014 (So Far) . . .

I love music. I mean I LOVE music. I know that is the equivalent to "I love pizza." but it is true. And it turns out that I use music the "right" way - based on mood and what I want to get out of it and the environment in which I am listening to music.

My tastes have evolved, greatly, over the years and especially in the last few years. There are lots of artists in my ears these days you would have been hard pressed to trick me in to engaging with years ago and the 18-year-old me would punch this version of me in the face (HARD) for the tunes I listen to most frequently.

ONE thing that has remained pretty standard over the years . . . respect for the all-purpose musical talent. You know . . . the one-person act. The singer/songwriter. The writes, records, etc. their own stuff talent. Some of my all time favorites: Prince, Stevie Wonder, Ben Folds, etc. are all great examples and even the ones that are not on their own (The Weepies) still do their own writing, recording, producing, etc. My point?

Well - after years and years of women being the leading icons of the "do it all" musical talent (trace the line from Jewel to Shakira and throw in Adele and even Lady Gaga for good, trendy measure) the fellas seem to be taking a turn at the mike and they are making some of my favorite music of the year in the process. Some examples . . .

Trey Songz -
While he does collaborate quite a bit (writing and particularly production) he makes some damned catchy tunes - including this little slice of infidelity:

Mali Music - 
Maybe the only artist I have ever seen to anger fans by not being "Christian" enough (he used to file his CDs in the "Gospel" section) - I'm sorta glad he is now singing the praises of a more generic G-d and all the gifts provided.

J Mascis - 
The first time I heard J Mascis I was immediately reminded of my first exposure to My Morning Jacket and how I just sort of wished I had heard him/them far, far sooner because I felt like I was missing out on not just them but a whole genre of music that was, to that point, foreign to me. Now I'm wide awake . . .

Vance Joy - 
The vibrato on this guy kills me - in a good way. If you have not yet sampled him, get it going. Mess Is Mine might be one of the best songs I've heard in forever. For. Ever. For ever-ever? For EVER-ever.

Passenger - 
Yeah, yeah, yeah - the "Let Her Go" guy (I do love that song and you thought it was a group, admit it) but much, much more. He reminds me of a less-quirky Sufjan Stevens. And I love me some Sufjan Stevens.

Beck - 
Yes. He has been making music I love for twenty years and every one of his albums is different and magical for entirely new reasons. This is fine with me. This latest album sounds 40 years old and makes me want to rent a convertible and drive through the foot hills of a mountain chain while the sun sets over and over again.

Sam Smith - 
He's far, far too young to have this sort of emotional torment but (like Adele before him) there he is in all his falsettoey goodness. He makes a MEAN cover but I love his original stuff best. Latch. The way an awkward love song should be.

John Mayer - 
I don't care. Laugh. That's fine. I don't like his PERSONA but I love, love, love John Mayer's music. Even when that means covering a (dry heave) BEYONCE song.

and, of course, THE MAN . . .

Aloe Blaac - 
This guy struggled and was beyond frustrated as an emcee and then, one day, someone (maybe even himself) decided he should try crooning and the rest - thankfully - is history.