11 Best Albums of 2014 That You Should Be Listening to

Photo by Renata Raksha/Courtesy of St. Vincent

2014 has been a year of the tragic and the absurd, with the former just about edging it. Israel-Hamas, ISIS, the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, Robin Williams, Ebola, Malaysia Airlines tragedies (twice!); the list of events that will characterize this year range from the God-awful to the apocalyptic. The most played song of the year, "Happy," seems particularly juxtaposed with all this.

With hard news dominating more so than any in recent memory, these best of end of year lists seem particularly trivial. However, through many of the albums listed here, there is an element of the somber, of quiet desperation. Perhaps it is coincidence. "Pop" music, on the other hand, seems more irrelevant than ever, propped up only by those that keep repeating that Taylor Swift writes her own songs and that One Direction really isn't that bad. It is, and it is not on this list.

Below is a list of ten albums worth checking out from the past 12 months. Sure it's subjective, and probably not as eclectic as others, and there's probably some great obscure record omitted by a Tibetan nose-flutist I'm not cool enough to have heard. Some that just missed the list include Todd Terje's It's Album Time (not played as often since the summer), Benji by Sun Kil Moon (great when a certain mood, that I'm glad I am not in that often) and Mogwai's Rave Tapes if I stared at this final list long enough.

With that said, here is the list of the top ten albums of 2014 to which you should be listening.

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Ten Most Underrated Artists of All Time

Photo by steve via Flickr cc
The recent catastrophe that was Robin Thicke's Paula album restores a degree of faith in humanity.

For a while, it was almost impossible to avoid this purveyor of misogynistic drivel clogging up the radio and television. The follow-up to last year's massive Blurred Lines sold a mere 24,000 copies in the United States, 530 in Britain, and only 54 in Australia.

So, as it seems the world has tuned out to Thicke, here are ten artists that were criminally underrated in their day, that deserved more airplay, sales, or critical attention than they were given.

Certainly more than Thicke deserved anyway. Sorry, Limp Bizkit is and will remain, shite.

See also: Aimee Mann of the '80s, You're My Dream Girl

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Ten Best Indie-Rock Albums of 2013

There's the age-old argument: which is better: the oldies of yesteryear or the untz of today? When you stop to think about it, music is always getting better. Not only do we have access to all the classic songs that influence current music but also to the newbies fighting to join the pantheon of today (AKA your playlist).

And so in 2048, when people of that time period are whining that music sucks, here are the ten indie-rock albums of 2013 that they can use to win the past-versus-present fight.

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Top 10 Best Florida Pop Punk Bands of All Time

Ian Witlen
Before she sang for The Kills and Dead Weather, Allison Mosshart was the vocalist for one of the best Florida pop punk bands of all time.

When people argue about genres, it's usually on the basis of authenticity. This or that band is or is not the personification of a truly random utterance that is meant to signify a noun for the abstraction of sound.

Pop-punk deviates from that tendency in a big way. Not only is it rare to find anyone parsing hairs over what does or does not qualify as catchy, melodic punk rock, the term is shared amongst a wide variety of bands that arguably come from different strains of rock altogether.

Nevertheless, bands like Dillinger Four, the Mr. T Experience, and Blink-182, none of which could be mistaken for the other, can all safely be described the same signifier.

In the course of compiling this list of Florida's ten finest pop-punk ensembles, my priorities were to represent the various strains with the top from each micro-genre, and annoy nerds.

Waka waka, motherfuckers.

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Top 20 Sexiest R&B Songs from the '90s to Today

See, sexy! Like really, really sexy.

Everybody's all like "Blurred Lines" this, and "Blurred Lines" that, and yeah the song is one of the most danceable R&B tunes to hit the radio since JT's "Sexy Back." But the hottest thing about Alan Thicke's son's semi-masterpiece is the video, not the song or the lyrics.

We at County Grind have a soft spot for the more sensual songs in life. We love those slow jamz that make you have to knock boots (or whatever the kids are calling it these days. Smash? Pork?).

What follows are 20 of the absolute sexiest R&B songs of the past two and a half decades. We're not kidding, not exaggerating; this is the real thing. So if you just had a heart attack or are experiencing a flare up, don't click ahead. You're entering the horny zone.

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Disney Actresses Who Ditched the Good Girl Image to Rise to Pop Stardom


To break free from the inevitable squeaky-clean image of a Disney star is a difficult task. It seems that the only options for child stars are to either get stuck with the same corny roles like the once adorbs Raven-Symone or have a total crackhead breakdown like LiLo or Amanda Bynes.

There are few Disney actresses who actually managed to hold on to their sanity and continue on to find success, mostly in the world of music. Not only did these ladies keep acting and singing but they also ditched their good-girl personaes to build actual career paths.

No longer are the following actresses innocent jits; they're edgy, versatile, young women who evaded the Disney curse to take over and rule pop music.

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Ten Greatest South Florida Folk Singers of All Time

Though it hardly seems likely from the look of the South Florida music scene these days, we were once a breeding ground for folkies that went on to change the direction of modern music.

David Crosby and Joni Mitchell were frequent performers in the clubs and coffee houses of Coconut Grove, Jimmy Buffett put Key West on the map and North Miami's hallowed Criteria Studios lured many an acoustic performer seeking to make the transition from their status as traditional troubadours to modern minstrels, finding a comfortable fit in the musical mainstream.

The Grove was at the hub of that thriving folk scene, but having been transformed from an idyllic bohemian village into something resembling an overgrown shopping mall, it's lost its musical lure, even though the historic Barnacle still hosts the occasional concert in its moonlit environs.

In recent years, the folk scene's moved North, embraced by the folk and blues clubs of Boca and Delray, and the occasional house concert. Nevertheless, South Florida's folk legacy still thrives, and happily, we needn't limit our bragging to Buffett! Here is a list of the top ten folk performers who helped shape the local scene.

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Top Ten Florida Hardcore Bands of All Time

Shai Hulud
Hardcore punk is an art form as distinctly American as jazz and competitive eating. The legendary scenes of New York, Boston, and California lay claim to the vast majority of bands liable to be referred to as "important" -- those whose T-shirts have been deemed worthy for wear by random hipsters in need of authenticity points.

However, Florida -- and South Florida in particular -- sustained a scene that spawned some of the best hardcore acts to ever stomp a stage or incite a microphone brawl. And though we're undoubtedly a little biased, we thought we'd compile a list to prove the point to those of you who may have forgotten (or never knew) the might of Sunshine State hardcore.

The following list is in no particular order.

See also:
- Ten Best Screamo Bands from Florida
- Ten Best Florida Metal Bands of All Time

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Ten Best Florida Metal Bands of All Time

Assück .jpg
Florida is an extreme state. We have extreme temperatures, extreme governmental corruption, an extremely large number of oddball news features detailing the extreme events taking place here. And, fortunately, we also do extreme music better than just about anyone (Nordic peoples not withstanding).

Depending on who you ask, and how much lutefisk they may have consumed in their lifetime, Florida invented and perfected the sonic horror-scape known as death metal. Maybe it's the rhythm of chaos that moves things in this subtropical vacation paradise-come-real life cartoon, but for whatever reason, Floridians blast, chug, growl, and churn harder than anyone.

Here we take a closer look at the best Florida metal bands -- those titans that sculpted the unholy musical bane of parents everywhere -- of all time, in no particular order.

See also:
- Ten Best Screamo Bands From Florida
- Ten Worst Florida Bands of All Time

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Top Ten Dive Bars in Palm Beach County

Continuing with our list of the top tier, grimiest joints to have a drink, here are the top ten dive bars in Palm Beach County.

See also
- Top Ten Dive Bars in Broward County

10. The Ugly Mug
About half an hour after the Eastside of Atlantic Avenue shuts down, across town, things are popping at the Ugly Mug.

Open until 5 a.m., this nondescript bar in Delray Beach is one of the city's few after-hours drinking holes. Its clientele consists of two sorts -- in the biz people knocking back a few after their respective shifts and stumbling lushes who had too much to drink hours ago, but refuse to hang it up for the night.

The mugs with sad clown-meets-court jester faces that hang from the ceiling here aren't so much ugly as they are creepy, though maybe a little cool if you're tipsy. Chances are good, if you've ever visited this grubby joint, it was at the tail end of a blackout.

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