Top 14 Albums of 2014

The second to last list of the season! It’s coming a little later than expected, but I have other stuff I’ve been working on for those of you who care. Music is a hard thing to write about, so I’ve done my best to express my feelings about what I loved below. I struggled with the top three, but ultimately came to a balance of what I think I will love for a long time and what my heart is telling me in the moment.

As always I don’t recommend all of these albums, some may have objectionable content for your conscience.

Top 14 Albums of ’14

14. Joyce Manor “Never Hungover Again”

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“Never Hungover Again” is a great party record if you’re into loud punk-heavy rock songs. They are fast and often short (the whole album is only 19 minutes long), but this doesn’t stop it from being a great album and one that does have depth to it.

13. Cymbals Eat Guitars “Lose”

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A great indie rock album lead by the unique high pitched vocals of Joseph D’Agostino, but equally matched by the guitar driven sound of the rest of the band.

12. Hospitality “Trouble”

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A late in the year discovery for me, Hospitality hits hard at this women-led raw indie rock phase I’ve been going through lately. Though the band is divided between a tougher indie rock group and a more synth-y indie pop band, the songs that lead toward the former are some of my favorite of the year.

11. tUnE-yArDs “Nikki Nack”

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tUnE-yArDs’ brand of eclectic, world tinged pop music won’t be for everyone. It’s not even for me half of the time, but those times it does hit, it hits hard.

10. Parquet Courts “Sunbathing Animal”

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Parquet Courts will likely continue to crank out their post-punk, garage rock, laid back rock ‘n roll music year after year and I will likely buy into it every time. I’m not sure if “Sunbathing Animal” is quite as good as “Light Up Gold”, but it is more of the same witty rock tunes.

9. The Hotelier “Home Like No Place is There”

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This piece of new wave emo and pop-punk brought me back to my high school days where I got plenty of that sound. The Hotelier tend to transcend that genre (not that it really needs to be transcended) through poetic lyrics and songs that have emotional payoffs.

8. Iceage “Plowing Into the Field of Love”

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Iceage took a step into a new direction this year, bringing their post-punk sound a more alt-country feel and to me this was an improvement. The songs retain all the heaviness of their last albums, but add a unique change and wit to them.

7. Vince Staples “Hell Can Wait”

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Staples was one of my favorite discoveries this year and though this is technically an EP it was one of my records to listen to all year. “Blue Suede” and “Hands Up” got all the credit they deserve around the internet for their look into Staples’ life and commentary on current events, as well as their absolute musical brilliance and the rest of the album keeps up with those two standouts.

6. Jenny Lewis “The Voyager”

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A solid pop/rock album from the former Rilo Kiley lead vocalist. Here she lays herself bare while also making catchy and witty tunes.

5. Run the Jewels “Run the Jewels II”

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A fierce barrage of a hip-hop album offering non-stop and brutal verses from El-P and Killer Mike. It’s surprises you at every corner and does so in the most brilliant of ways.

4. D’Angelo “Black Messiah”

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I wasn’t some big D’Angelo fan before this year, sure I had heard the story, but it did little more than pique my interest. When the new album dropped I waited a couple of weeks before I even ventured to listen. Once I did listen, I guess you could say that the groove took a hold of me. This album is all groove and it is infectious.

3. Cloud Nothings “Here and Nowhere Else”

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A great rock ‘n roll album, Cloud Nothings reached their peak for me this year with songs that reached anthemic heights with their fuzzed out guitars and impassioned vocals. “I’m Not Part of Me” was my favorite song of the year, but the rest of the album was nearly just as good.

2. The War on Drugs “Lost in the Dream”

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This one is a continuous grower for me with his folksy elongated tracks breezing through my ears in its soothing fashion. It’s strangely reminiscent of Dylan for me, though more calming than his work is known for being. I can’t help but think when asked to point to a great album of the decade that this one will be toward the front of my mental catalog.

1. Makthaverskan “II”

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Maybe this won’t hold up whenever I look back at this ten years down the line, but for now Makthaverskan’s blend of punk and 80s new wave has got a hold on me. They are at times aggressive, at times melodic, but always emotionally bare. Its breadth of style and sound makes me interested in what will come next from the band, but also makes the album really work on multiple levels.

Honorable Mentions: FKA Twigs “LP1”, YG “My Krazy Life”, Jessie Ware “Restoration”, White Lung “Deep Fantasy”, Sharon Van Etten “Are We There”, First Aid Kit “Stay Gold”

Top 75 Songs of 2014 (75-51)

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This is the first of a three part countdown of the best songs of the year.

(Note: Not every song is for every person, there may be some songs that you consider innapropriate; I do not recommend everything that I like for everyone. Proceed with your own discretion.)

75. Lupe Fiasco “Deliver”

Lupe’s track about the pizza man not being willing to deliver to the ghetto is a great track for our current climate, it does lose points for all the mentioning it does of various pizza places.

74. Lost in the Trees “Rites”

73. Sohn “Artifice”

72. Norma Jean Martine “No Gold”

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A great indie pop song, a singer that likely deserves more attention.

71. Mac DeMarco “Salad Days”

70. Jenny Lewis “Slippery Slopes”

69. Schoolboy Q “Collard Greens”

The best track from Q’s album, which I liked not loved, it’s got Kendrick who elevates just about anything he is on.

68. The Notwist “Kong”

67. Cloud Nothings “Psychic Trauma”

66. Sharon Van Etten “Taking Chances”

65. A Sunny Day in Glasgow “In Love With Useless (The Timeless Geometry in the Tradition of Passing”

Heard this band described as a bunch of school band nerds coming together to make music with a punk-tinge. That fits this sorta catchy sort of chaotic orchestral track.

64. Howler “Don’t Wanna”

Howler makes great beach rock/punk for slackers everywhere. This song assures the listener that they have the autonomy to do whatever they want, the greatest line being a battle between “you don’t have to listen to The Smith’s if you don’t want to” and “you don’t even have to date girls if you don’t want to”.

63. Sia “Chandelier”

62. Manchester Orchestra “The Ocean” (from “Hope”)

From the acoustic version of their album “Cope” which was released a few months later, the song is changed completely into a piano led ballad relying on Hull’s voice entirely–which is really the best part of the band.

61. The War on Drugs “Burning”

60. White Lung “Drown With the Monster”

59. Cymbals Eat Guitars “Child Bride”

58. Sharon Van Etten “I Love You But I’m Lost”

Van Etten’s album is filled with love long lost songs and this one expresses her feelings completely as she mourns her own failures in love.

57. Lykke Li “Sleeping Alone”

56. The War on Drugs “Eyes to the Wind”

55. Iceage “Forever”

54. Manchester Orchestra “Girl Harbor”

53. Cloud Nothings “Now Hear In”

52. Joyce Manor “Christmas Card”

51. Parkay Quartz “Uncast Shadow of a Southern Myth”

The side project of Parquet Courts (who you will see on plenty of upcoming lists) that features most of the original band. This song could actually fit perfectly on a Courts record, as a slow stripped down song that slowly builds.