The Official Central Track List.

This is not our first rodeo. We've made quite a few of these albums of the year lists in our time.

So we're painfully aware that we're supposed to start this post with some sort of hyperbole about what a badass year for local music 2014 was.

Tradition aside, though, it really kind of was. Look no further than how well artists like St. Vincent, Old 97's, Parquet Courts, Sarah Jaffe and other locally-sprung artists have fared on numerous “best of” lists in national publications this year as an indication of how rich with talent and creativity the North Texas music scene really has been of late.

Of course, that's exactly the kind of sweeping generalization we were trying to avoid. Whoops, I guess some habits are hard to break.

Oh well. Our full list of our favorite local albums from 2014 is below just the same, along with selected quotes from our coverage throughout the year. — Cory Graves

SEE ALSO:
Local Albums of the Year: 2013 // The Official Central Track List.
The Top 100 Local Songs of 2014.

20. Catamaran
Weekdays

“They don't make songs much more ear-wormy than Catamaran's “All Around.” Impressively, the rest of the band's debut is nearly as catchy as that sparkling indie-pop gem. More remarkable, still, is just how closely to the album these guys manage to sound in a live setting.” — CG

19. Buffalo Black
REDPILLwondrland Part I

“Writing, however, is where Kelley's strength truly lies. It's this ability that offers a cohesiveness and fluidity to the disc, for which the artist used beats from some six different producers. Overall, the album's tone is somber — at times desperate — and makes repeated use of industrial kicks and snares, most notably on lead single 'Bad Seed.' But his words always stand out: On each track, Kelley's lyrics merit careful listening; they drive the album and are never wasted on banal hooks or typical rap cliches.” — Mikel Galicia

18. Natural Anthem
Thread

“Unlike the folk and country undertones that characterized so much of The Will Callers' 2013, Ray Wylie Hubbard-produced debut LP, Natural Anthem finds Slatton and Murphy shifting towards the world of psych-tinged dream-pop and '60s throwback rock — so much so that a name change proved itself necessary. Despite the band's lack of skins on the wall, though, we couldn't help but be won over by the laidback atmospherics of lead single, “Paranoid.” The reverb-heavy, retro-leaning groove is reminiscent of a more upbeat, less forlorn take on Chris Isaak's “Wicked Game.” Sure, those missing elements were precisely what makes Isaak's song one of the greatest ever committed to tape — but, nevertheless, “Paranoid” is an impressive thing in its own right. In any case, it's far and away the standout track from one of the year's best debut albums.” — CG

17. Eat Avery's Bones
T.M.D.U.

“For more than one CT staffer this year, the line in 'Proboner' that begs, 'Turning 30, I could never imagine / Pick up the phone and explain it to me' really hit home. Or maybe it's the unbelievable angular assault the band manages to pack into the song's 59-second blast.” — CG

16. Street Arabs
Bruised Fruit

“Unlike the DIY albums and digital singles the band released previously, Bruised Fruit is the closest thing to a big, glossy full-realized LP that Street Arabs has put out to date. And though there's some slick production and a more unified sound this time around, the band didn't sacrifice any of its lo-fi aesthetic or balls.” — CG

15. Wild Party
Phantom Pop

“The Killers-by-way-of-Strokes charm of that band's debut single, “Take My Advice,” was infectious…sure, these guys may be from San Antonio now. But they basically got their starts here in Dallas. Which is worth noting because, based off the strength of these early recordings, it sounds like they're going to be going plenty of places from here.” — Pete Freedman

14. Mystery Skulls
Forever

“Over the course of the past few years, Mystery Skulls has gained some serious traction. For starters, the act signed a major label deal with Warner Bros, which agreed to release his music. And, better yet for Dubuc, Mystery Skulls has found an audience, too: Foreverdebuted at No. 1 on the iTunes Electronic charts, and the official music video for “Ghost,” which was created by YouTube animator MysteryBen27, has already garnered over two million views in less than a month.” — MG

13. Daniel Markham
Pretty Bitchin'

“This time around, the band tracked most of its new album at the same time, giving the thing a noisier, more live feel. It's a natural progression, really — and one that sees the late-'80s-, REM-mining sound of Ruined My Life moving ever-so-slightly towards an early-'90s-, grunge-leaning alt-rock thing this go around. Hell, the album's tenth track, the trudging “Disconnected and Flying,” could just as easily be an Alice in Chains B-side.” — CG

12. The Phuss
On the Prowl

“Just behind 'sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll,' rock music's most enduring mantra has got to be 'live fast, die young.' It's a saying that Josh Fleming, Trey Alfaro and Forrest Barton of Dallas hard-rocking trio, The Phuss, are intimately familiar with, to be sure. Hell, the band's upcoming third long-player, On the Prowl sounds as much like a band of miscreants trying its damndest to live up to that maxim as it does a concept record glorifying that whole 'leave behind a pretty corpse' cliche.” — CG

11. Bummer Vacation
Creative Differences

“Bummer Vacation's somewhat hard-to-pin-down sound bears some passing resemblance to Torres-Reyes' previous outfit, Skeleton Coast, in that it pair's together post-punk and glittery dream-pop in a moderately challenging but completely approachable manner. But the immaculately layered guitar work found on Bummer Vacation's debut eschews Skeleton Coast's neo-psychedelic leanings in favor of something more akin to The Smiths.” — CG

10. A.Dd+
N.A.W.F.

“The release of DiveHiFlyLo left little doubt: In the world of Dallas hip-hop, 2013 was A.Dd+'s year. Funny: 2012 and 2011 were Slim Gravy and Paris Pershun's years, too. But, though not unkind to the twosome, 2014 hasn't been so unchallenged a contest. As contemporaries of the group have gained clout of their own, so too has a whole new crop of emcees risen. Suddenly, the realm once so dominated by this North Dallas duo is crowded. Well, for now. Tonight, as the duo will celebrate the release of its new NAWF EP, A.Dd+ sets to once again stake its claim on the throne that sits atop this heap.” — PF

9. The Paychecks
Honky Tonk Suicide

“After dropping the banjos, these four onetime members of 100 Damned Guns have been kicking around in this much-twangier version of its past self for three years or so now without a studio LP to its name. So this one is a long time coming. And what's especially interesting about the band's Honky Tonk Suicide debut is the fact that it was recorded by Mind Spidersmain man Mark Ryan at his Cool Devices Studio. It's a welcome departure for the noted garage and punk rock producer, who flexed his muscle presiding over a disc that sounds every bit as convincingly old-school as current leader in that clubhouse, Sturgill Simpson.” — CG

8. Howler Jr.
Getting Somewhere

“Throughout the long-player's breezy nine tracks, 19-year-old frontman and recent Booker T. Washington grad Spencer Kenney and his bandmates deftly channel a number of influences, ranging from funk to jangle rock, all filtered through an overly beachy (although not surfy) aesthetic. In this context, Kenney reminds us a good deal of fellow genre-hopper Robert Plant, fully entrenched in his Honeydrippers years. Maybe it's just the similar '80s reverb employed by both — or how laid back and inescapably summery each of their tunes from these respective periods are.” — CG

7. Son of Stan
Georgia

Georgia feels very much like a continuation of the vibe put forth by Divorce Pop — the main difference being the immediate sense that this is now a band with some shows under its belt. The energy of the band's live offerings is something that definitely shines through from the very first spin of the sweaty, dog-days-of-summer pop jam.” — CG

6. Danny Diamonds
s/t

“No matter what genre he's tried his hand at over the years — and he's tried plenty, from the prolific glut indie-folk gems he released early on his career to the drug-fueled countrified numbers he released under his Danny Rush & the Designated Drivers moniker — it's always been clear that Daniel Folmer's known how to craft a pop song. More than that, the one consistency tying his varied works together, it seems, is his persistence at penning, oft-morose lyrics regarding some particular bit of despair he's currently undergoing — well, that or his penchant for self-destructive behaviors. So, no, Folmer's move this year to make yet another sonic shift — this time into the world of slightly crunchy, mid-'90s-leaning power pop under his new Danny Diamonds persona — wasn't all that earth-shattering. For that matter, neither was the fact that his first single, “Hot Summer,” was full of casually detached references at blowing out his brains or slitting his wrists.” — CG

5. Booty Fade
Booty Fade EP

” It doesn't really matter when or where Booty Fade shows up to perform. When they do, a party is bound to break out. Loads of dancing, too. That much is pretty much guaranteed. And somehow DJ Sober and Picnic's debut EP is almost as fun to listen to at home or in the car as it is to see the duo performing the tracks live at a club. A deceptively impressive feat, to be sure.” — CG

4. Spooky Folk
Youth is a Notion

“As well received as Spooky Folk's 2010 debut LP was, the band's long-coming follow-up finds the Denton outfit branching out into harder, alt-rock territory — and doing it well at that. And after four years of waiting for the band to finally release new material, Spooky Folk was able to deliver an LP that somehow lived up to the kind of scrutiny an extended between-album buildup often brings. Even better, they did it with a batch of tunes that boldly pushed forward, relying little on the formula that once helped make them one of Denton's favorite bands.” — CG

3. Sealion
Heavy Fizz

“Over the course of the past four years, Sealion's put out three different releases, each one featuring a different bassist. And while each successive replacement member has wound up shaping the band's sound in noticeable ways, never has the band been so drastically impacted as it was when Samantha Villavert joined last year. Since then, she's not only added an extra dimension to the band's sound through her rock-steady backing vocals, but she even personally crafted songs such as “Automobile” for the band's July-released Heavy Fizz LP — tracks that stand out even alongside Sealion's best batch of material to date.” — CG

2. Blue, The Misfit
Child in the Wild

“There's no denying Blue's resume: From his earliest days in Sore Losers to his production work for national artists and, more recently, his cultivation of an impressive hip-hop collective to call his own, the guy's accomplished plenty. Child In the Wild, however, is his greatest accomplishment to date.” — MG

1. Old 97's
Most Messed Up

“After a handful of so-so LPs, these alt-country heroes now find themselves responsible for not just the ballsiest local album of the year, but maybe of their 20-year career. You probably want to be careful who you listen to this one around — not everyone will be as appreciative of the band's newfound embrace of the f-bomb as we are — and, let's face it, you're probably going to want to drink more than a few adult beverages as you take this disc in, too.” — CG

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