10 Best Music Books of 2014

From the stage to the page: The year's best biographies, rock crit, photo essays and more

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'Songs Only You Know: A Memoir,' by Sean Madigan Hoen
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6. 'Songs Only You Know: A Memoir,' by Sean Madigan Hoen

"My bandmates saw me at my most inspired, screaming every pain I had access to," Sean Madigan Hoen writes in his gritty, gripping punk-rock memoir, "though I had told them next to nothing of where I'd come from." Hoen, it turns out, had plenty to scream about — a father addicted to crack, a sister consumed by depression, his own feelings of alienation, helplessness, adolescent angst; if his former band, Detroit art-core self-immolators Thoughts of Ionesco, was his young-adult self's cathartic outlet, Songs Only You Know is his older, wiser reevaluation, no less vein-bulgingly visceral but infinitely more nuanced and poetic. It's funny at times, always brutally honest; a half-healed bruise, tender and multi-colored. Few books convey the fever-pitch intensity of youth with such vividness and so little glamorization, or as deeply explore the heartbreaking complexity of family — both those we're born into and the ones we choose. By Brandon Geist

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