Top Five Albums of 2014.

In no particular order, they all rock:

Blues Pillsself-titled – Highly reminiscent of the British Blues boom of the ‘60s, particularly Green-era Fleetwood Mac and Stone the Crows. The musicianship and production are top-notch, as is Marijke Koger-Dunham’s trippy cover art. Elin Larsson’s vocals are strong and clear, with no problems cutting through the thick, lush sound. They’re currently touring Europe; I hope they make it out here in 2015.

New Electric RideBalloon Age – Picked this up back in February, and it brought much-needed sunshine to my cold, dreary winter. The songwriting is fiendishly clever, but keeps the focus on melody. I really love that there’s an illusion of sloppiness and chaos throughout the album, but in fact the musicians’ chops are quite solid and tight. Band member Jack Briggs is also responsible for the cover art.

DwellersPagan Fruit – Bluesy, spacey, heavy, and incredibly powerful stuff. Yet it’s never dull or plodding; there’s a grace and majesty to the rhythms, an exploratory nature that makes the music feel timeless. This is the Salt Lake City band’s second album, and the amazing, AMAZING artwork is courtesy of Adrian Brouchy.

TemplesSun Structures – This will already be on many other “best-of” lists; I was tempted to drop it, but as it’s spent many a night in my CD carousel that would be hypocritical. The production on this album hits all the ’60s sweet spots – Phil Spector, Mickie Most, Tony Visconti – it’s so good it overpowers the band a bit. But this is their debut, hopefully as they go along they’ll find their own sound and lose that hint of teflon.

Prince Rupert’s DropsClimbing Light – Their second LP just came out a month ago, but it’s a stunner. A heady blend of dark psychedelic whimsy and power-pop crunch, the songs run a gamut from catchy to sinister to grandiose. Band member Leslie Stein not only plays lead guitar and sings, she also illustrated the cover and is a cartoonist in her own right.