Tag Archives: Mary Lambert

Top 15 Albums of 2014 (Liv’s List)

This year has been a whirlwind for music releases; week after week, new albums have appeared left and right. Some have been amazing, and some…well, some could have been better (but we won’t name names). Anyway, here are my picks for TOP 14 Best albums of 2014 (in no particular order).

 

15. Lowborn by Anberlin, released on July 22nd, 2014, via Tooth & Nail Records.

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What a fantastic final album; it’s bittersweet, but such a work of art. It’s emotionally charged, with stunningly well-written lyrics, not that I’d ever expect anything less from Anberlin.

14. Cavalier Youth by You Me At Six, released on January 26th, 2014, via Virgin Records.

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The band’s fourth studio album is every bit of fresh, original, and entrancing as their first. You Me At Six seem to get more personal on the album, and approach a more pop-rock sound than on their previous releases.

13. Restoring Force by Of Mice & Men, released on January 28th, 2014, via Rise Records.

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You know an album is good when a band goes the extra mile and records an acoustic version of it in its entirety. There is a raw power throughout Restoring Force, and the brilliance behind it is impossible to ignore. The departure from the modern standard brings ripples to the scene overall, but also showcases the growth and artistic development of each member in Of Mice & Men.

12. Head Or Heart by Christina Perri, released on April 1st, 2014, via Atlantic Records.

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Personally, I adore this album. Not as much as her Ocean Way Sessions album, but it’s definitely up there as far as favorites go. There is so much vulnerability, personality, and vocal power on this album, it demands to be replayed.

11. Vessels by Stellar Young, released on December 16th, 2014.

 

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As said in my review, “Vessels has a sound that I could only imagine the musical lovechild between Anberlin and fun. would. Stellar Young prove to be a wildly talented group, not that there was ever any doubt about that. The album is beautifully executed, with a powerhouse presence and an undoubtable quality to it. ”

10. In The Lonely Hour by Sam Smith, released on May 26th, 2014, via Capitol Records.

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There is so much beauty and power displayed on this album. Every song is enchanting in its own right, launching Sam Smith into the limelight as the true star he is. Finally, the soul has been brought back to pop music!

9. 1989 by Taylor Swift, released on , 2014 via Big Machine Records.

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As someone who has followed Taylor Swift’s career from the beginning, it amazes me to see the personal growth of the songstress, typically known for tearing down her exes and writing every girl’s breakup anthem. On 1989, Swift shows a more mature, poetic approach, with an original artistic flare. There’s something on this album for everyone, including some of the catchiest lines…and the best misheard lyric of 2014. “Gotta love those Starbucks lovers…”

8. Bloom & Breathe by Gates, released on October 21st, 2014, via Pure Noise Records.

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Wow. A debut album that has a cinematic, sophisticated sound to it, and is genuinely a work of art. Throughout the album, the band’s dedication to their craft, and their limitless talent, is obvious. I’m expecting a lot from these guys!

7. Imaginary Enemy by The Used, released on April 1st, 2014, via Hopeless Records.

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If you didn’t rock out to “Cry” at some point this year (especially you Octane Radio listeners/gym rats!), you’re lying to yourself. That single set the spark for this album, and once I listened, I couldn’t get enough. I daresay I’ve played this album more than I should have, but it was worth it.

6. May Death Never Stop You by My Chemical Romance, released on March 25th, 2014 on Reprise Records.

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Another bittersweet listen in 2014; it was brilliant in its musicality and as an overall summary of an amazing band’s career, but so hard to listen to knowing it was the last MCR release. As far as “greatest hits” albums go, I’m voting this as one of the best. “Fake Your Death” is such an anthemic, brilliant new track, and I love delving into my nostalgic side through the older tracks.

5. Forever Halloween (Deluxe Edition) by The Maine, released on June 17th, 2014, via Universal.

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Forever Halloween was amazing; the deluxe edition? INCREDIBLE. As I said in my review for Infectious Magazine, “While Forever Halloween was near-perfect as it was, it is difficult to imagine the album without these extra songs now that they’ve been heard. The Maine continue to show growth and excellence as the years wear on.”

4. Duality by Set It Off, released on October 14th, 2014, via Equal Vision Records.

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Brilliant, catchy tracks, all decorated with the originality of Set It Off. This reminds me of a heavier version of The Cab’s Symphony Soldier in that I just want to play the whole album again and again and again.

3. Talking In Your Sleep by The Cinema, released on December 16th, 2014 [independently released].

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I have so much respect for this album. First off, because it comes from the minds of two very talented men, but also because the album took two years to make, and was accomplished while they both worked on different coasts. Just…wow. It’s an incredible group of songs, and, best of all, it’s another release that avoided the cursed “sophomore slump.”

2. Slow Me Down by Sara Evans, released on March 11th, 2014, via RCA Nashville.

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Catchy as hell, with a poppy, uptempo tone that is impossible not to love. It’s a perfect driving/car-aoke record; I promise, you’ll sing your heart out to basically every song.

1. Heart On My Sleeve by Mary Lambert, released on October 14th, 2014, via Capitol Records.

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Mary Lambert can do no wrong. The songstress has crowds enchanted with her stunning vocals and her fearless way of tackling subjects people don’t want to talk about. With songs like “Secrets,” Lambert has resonated with listeners, and opened up a beautiful story.

 

 

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS

House of Mercury by Ship Captain Crew

Fictionist by Fictionist

All That Gold by James and the Drifters

High Noon by Arkells

Get Hurt by The Gaslight Anthem

 

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To Write Love On Her Arms: Heavy & Light 2014

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To Write Love On Her Arms’ annual “evening of songs, conversation, and hope” is something I look forward to and am very proud to cover. Each year, I take away something different–and not just my new t-shirt purchase. Heavy & Light 2014 was no exception. With performances by Anis Mojgani, Jon Foreman of Switchfoot, Mary Lambert, Tristan Prettyman, and The Summer Set, along with some amazing speakers, this year’s event was just as spectacular as the last.

Whenever those words come on the screen, reminding everyone why they are there, and what the point of Heavy & Light is, something like pride swells up inside of me; even though I had no hand in putting the event together, and have no direct relation to To Write Love On Her Arms, when those words flash by, something grips me. That feeling stays with me for the rest of the night.

Starting off with Anis Mojgani, the spoken-word poet entranced the crowd, as usual, with his perfect timing and stunning words. I’m not dismissing the works of some of the greats, like Emily Dickinson or Robert Frost, because I cherish their words, but Anis may be one of the most spectacular poets of our time, and to see him speak these words is a wonder in itself.

Mary Lambert took the stage, and in all truth, charmed the crowd instantly. Well-known for her collaboration with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, the “Same Love” singer stepped behind the keys and entranced everyone with her words and her music. She openly spoke of her own struggles with anxiety and depression, even filling up on stage a few times, leaving no eye in the crowd without a tear threatening to fall. She relayed a story from the awards show she’d performed at, even including a Harry Potter reference. It’s always wonderful to see an artist who’s so unafraid to be themselves, and reveal their humanity. Mary Lambert performed with soul and an undeniable fire, while speaking to the crowd as though she too was stood behind the barricades, waiting for what would happen next.

Following Jamie Tworkowski’s introduction, comedian Kevin Breel took the stage. Breel, at just 19 years old, gave a TED talk, breeching a subject most speakers would hesitate to even approach: “Confessions of a Depressed Comedian,” it became known as. 

 

 

His words rang true with the audience; the feeling of depression creeping in when a person is deemed successful, and should be excited about an accomplishment. Each word seemed to nail the hammer on the head even further, and Kevin only framed this with ‘light,’ making jokes about promising to let someone “much more attractive and with a better voice” step on stage, introducing Tristan Prettyman.

Prettyman is like a musical version of Aubrey Plaza. There is something very real about her, and she jokes about the most normal things–feeling down because everyone on Facebook seems to have it all together, then stage-whispering about how she gets to tour and do what she loves. In her music, Prettyman keeps that same charming quality, unafraid to be vulnerable, or even silly.

The Summer Set provided a fun, upbeat set, making people sing at the top of their lungs, dancing as though they couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Brian Dales took an opportunity to speak about when he was feeling pretty down and out himself, leading to the band’s wonderful song, “Legendary.” Having seen them perform at Warped Tour, I knew that The Summer Set were brilliantly entertaining on stage, and over the years, that quality seems to have only doubled, if not tripled.

Once more, Anis graced the stage, and just before he left, he delivered one of the poems I could read in my sleep: “Shake The Dust.” For a moment, everyone was still. This poem has become tradition, one that people wait to hear. I notice a few people in the crowd miming the words, as though, they too, have read this to themselves in sleep.

When Jamie steps out again, it’s like the crowd is waking up from a trance. As one of To Write Love On Her Arms’s founders, Jamie seems to radiate pride, and always seems excited to see how many people have turned out, showing his appreciation for those that have traveled just to be there. When he introduces Jon Foreman, he offers the artist a thanks. Jon had recently had 30 stitches inside his mouth, and they had thought they might have to cancel. However, Jon had decided to push on.

A fan gave him a care package, and he quickly expressed his gratitude, dedicating a song to her.

Now, don’t get me wrong, seeing Jon Foreman perform is awe-inspiring in itself, but it was standing off to the side that it hit me. As he took to being completely unplugged, he led the crowd through the beginning of “Dare You To Move.” The unity in the room was almost too much to handle. In all honesty, I don’t think you’ve known what effects art can bring until you’ve seen a room of strangers grin at each other like old friends because of a song.

That’s what Heavy & Light is about; coming together and, just for a moment, realizing you’re not alone.

 

For photos from Heavy & Light, please go HERE.

 

Also, huge thanks to Mike of Decades In Spain! I lost one of my SD cards during the show, and he was kind enough to help me find it afterwards! Yes, yes, I know–“#PhotographerFail.”

 

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