Best of 2014

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This marks my 6th annual End of the Year listing. As usual, there’s plenty of great music I either missed out on this year, didn’t give enough listens in order to justifiably put it on my list, or stuff that just really didn’t catch my ear. I hope if nothing else, this gives you a few new artists to enjoy. Thanks for reading through my list, and please be sure to share your favorite albums of the year in the comments.

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Album Review: City and Colour – The Hurry and the Harm

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City and ColourThe Hurry and the Harm
Dine Alone Records
Release Date: June 4th 2013

Recommended if you like: Ray LaMontagne, James Vincent McMorrow, Glen Hansard

There’s just something magical about a person who’s really talented at their craft. Sure, you have those actors who are really great at being the awkward fat guy in the new great comedy movie, but those actors who can play the lead role in any kind of film are the ones that are remembered for years. While it’s common for actors and actresses to switch movie genres frequently, very rarely do you see a musician do it. Even more seldom do you find one who does it with such incredible success.

Back in 2002, Alexisonfire released their self-titled debut album. Known for being a cornerstone of the post-hardcore scene, their influence brought a totally new style of music into the mainstream and helped usher in countless bands inspired by their heavy guitars, syncopated drumming, and clean/screaming vocals combination.

While still heavily involved with Alexisonfire, guitarist Dallas Green began a small side project comprised of him and his guitar that he called “City and Colour,” a play on his name. His first three releases had great success, all going platinum in Canada. Green’s ability to switch from the aggressive and harsh music of Alexisonfire to the poignant, laid back, folksy music of City and Colour without losing quality is the sure sign of a fantastic craftsmen.

City and Colour has certainly raised the bar with the release of The Hurry and the Harm. The instrumentation has grown with the each record, starting with just guitar and piano in Sometimes to a full band in the latest release. Despite the presence of all the instrumentation, Green’s acoustic guitar and succulent vocals stand out front and center throughout every track.

Opening with a James Taylor like riff, “Harder Than Stone” instantly catches your ear and keeps your attention for the duration. The bridge brings home the song as Green sings out, “When I was young, I didn’t know too much; I thought that I could rule the world. Then I grew up, I found out life was hard; harder than stone.”

Certainly the most rock and roll song on the album is “Thirst.” Starting out with a heavy bass line and layered vocals in octaves, the song offers a good break between halves of the album. The final song of the album, titled “Death’s Song,” offers an appropriate close to a spectacular album. Lyrically speaking a fairly simple song by Green’s standards, the song is still penetrating and leaves you humming the final melody until you’re ready to spin the album another time.

In an interview with NPR, Green talks about how he hopes that people will hear his music and find something in it they need. He says, “I’ve always really appreciated the fact that I can write a song about something that means a lot to me, and has to do with something in my own life, but I can meet someone on the street who, the same song has affected them in a different way or helped them through something in their life. That they were just able to listen to that song and relate to it completely, without knowing or having met me before — I think that’s the greatest part about music.” When one song can affect different people in different, yet equally powerful ways, that’s a sure sign of a man who’s great at his craft.

Rating: 9/10

You can order the album on Amazon and iTunes. You can also like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.