As part of our annual year-end coverage, we’ve collected the finest features — pieces that were sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking, always incisive — that were our pleasure to write, edit, and publish in 2014. Once again, we share them with you.
His City of Ruins
As friends and neighbors flee town, Protomartyr frontman Joe Casey still lives in the same Detroit house in which he was raised. And he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Corporate Cats Still Suck: The Improbable Tale of Indie Superkitty Lil BUB
How a freakishly cute orphan found an owner, changed his life, and became the only celebrity cat that matters.
You Will Ache Like I Ache: The Oral History of Hole’s ‘Live Through This’
Released just seven days after his death, Courtney Love and company’s breakthrough LP was an alt-rock monument born in the shadow of Kurt Cobain. But as they recall, its considerable power was indelibly and undeniably their own.
Nashville’s Son: The Life and Death of an Indie-Rock Prince
Ben Todd booked the best underground shows in Music City. He also ran an influential record label, website, and DIY music festival. He lived by the mantra ‘Forever Young’ — and he died by it too.
Marvel Music’s Strange, Brief, and Totally Doomed Rock-Comics Revolution
What do Alice Cooper, Billy Ray Cyrus, and Onyx have in common? A noble mid-’90s failure.
Hundred Waters Run Deep
Getting lost and found in the Arizona desert as the OWSLA-signed band celebrate the release of their exquisite new record, ‘The Moon Rang Like a Bell.’
The Hitman and the Trickster: Todd Terje’s Improbable Disco
After ten years of dance-floor curveballs, the Norwegian producer expands the playing field with a slyly self-aware debut LP.
Eric Church Marks His Territory
Sidestepping bro stereotypes and rapping carpetbaggers, the Nashville badass navigates the dangerous wilds of country radio and conservative demos with an album that challenges both from the inside. Best believe, though, this outsider will regulate.
I Did It My Way: Hamilton Leithauser Enters His Second Act
With the Walkmen on “extreme hiatus,” three of the band’s members have gone solo. Now, the group’s frontman reintroduces himself with his most personal, polished work yet.
Dance Like No One’s Watching: Future Islands Break Out On Their Own Terms
With their quietly ambitious album ‘Singles,’ a big new label, and a meme-i-fied ‘Letterman’ performance, these oh-so-sincere synth-punks find themselves on the cusp.
The SPIN Interview: Kelis Talks ‘Milkshake,’ Feminism, and Inspirational Love
Over the past 15 years, the singer has gone from raspy, soulful R&B to David Guetta house anthems. With her latest funk-laden release ‘Food,’ she’s trying to find her way back home.
Northern Lights, Southern Cross: The Gentle Devastation of Doug Paisley
Whether you call it folk or country or none of the above, the Canadian singer-songwriter’s aptly titled ‘Strong Feelings’ is a master class in aching, breaking, heart-wrenching songcraft.
Ty Dolla $ign’s Permanent Vacation
The sly, sleepy-eyed R&B star behind the ‘Beach House’ series has more going on upstairs than he lets on, musically and otherwise. Pray that your girl is not involved.
Q&A: Miranda Lambert on Her New ‘Platinum,’ Country Radio, and the Damn Tabloids
“I’m actually really excited to be 30 — I’m looking forward to getting smarter.”
Get Yourself Control: The Oral History of Soundgarden’s ‘Superunknown’
In crafting their magnificent, mainstream breakthrough, the Seattle-rock lifers dug deep, locked horns in the studio, and emerged a stronger band — one with a grunge-obliterating masterpiece to its name.