2014 was a great year for American music. The songs below represent some of the best albums released by artists and bands based in the U.S.A.
TV on the Radio - "Careful You": A stunner from the album Seeds; Tunde Adebimpe turns in the lead vocal of his career.
Run the Jewels - "All My Life": EL-P and Killer Mike dropped the best hip-hop album of 2014 and "All My Life" is the standout cut.
Sturgill Simpson - "The Promise": What is this, then? A lovely, psychedelic country take on When in Rome’s new wave hit! I'll have some of what Sturgill's smoking.
The Juan Maclean - "I've Waited For So Long": Italian disco and left-field house inform an instant classic! Like New Order before them, The Juan Maclean knows that synth-pop is most listenable when the machines sound like machines and the humans sound like humans.
St. Vincent - "Digital Witness": A giddy pop confection from the always-interesting St. Vincent!
Pallbearer - "Ashes": The most melodic track from the year’s best (and most melodic) doom metal record.
Benjamin Booker - "Violent Shiver": First single from the debut album by the New Orleans-based Booker; blues crackle and punk crunch at its best.
Spoon - "Do You": Veteran indie rockers Spoon score another winner with this barroom love song that invokes Springsteen and Thin Lizzy's Phil Lynott.
Angela James - "Drink and Try Not to Cry": An amazing song from the flawless debut LP, Way Down Deep. James is a Chicago artist who you might want to expect big things from in 2015.
Phish - "The Line": Often derided by critics for excessive musical noodling (and sometimes rightfully so), this veteran jam band does know its way around a song. "The Line" is smart pop all the way, owing a debt to both Steely Dan and Talking Heads.