Top 10 Albums of 2014
Twin Peaks – Wild Onion
Jack White – Lazaretto
Frankie Cosmos – Zentropy
Porter Robinson – Worlds
Hozier – Hozier
Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire for No Witness
10. Caribou – Our Love
Caribou (a.k.a. Dan Snaith) can do no wrong currently. With the release of Our Love, we have been graced with one beautifully crafted soundscape after another. This summer Snaith garnered attention once again with the marvelous single “Can’t Do Without You” and backed up the single with a marvelous album whose second track “Silver” is just as repeatable as it is deeply moving. -Kevin Hyland
In ten songs and 38 minutes, Spoon once again proves that minimalism doesn’t necessarily mean simple. For example in two-and-a-half minutes, the cover of the Beatle’s “I Just Don’t Understand” takes the listener on an dissonant-sounding journey, explaining a “one-sided love” that’s torturing lead singer Britt Daniels, evident through his emotionally-charged delivery and the repetitive lyrics. Eight albums later, Spoon has created one of the most creative, unique and just simply good albums in recent rock history-all without selling their souls. -Jessica Yarvin
8. Flying Lotus – You’re Dead!
Flying Lotus (Steven Ellison aka Captain Murphy) dropped his fifth studio album You’re Dead!, after a brief hiatus to produce an album under the moniker Captain Murphy. You’re Dead! gained hype after the release of the single “Never Catch Me” featuring the raw emotional rap styling of Kendrick Lamar. Bumping drum loops and jazzy guitar riffs comprise the backbone of Flying Lotus’ method of musical production. Multiple short tracks off the album demonstrate the differentiation Flying Lotus uses, plus it showcases his tasty skills as a producer.
“Turkey Dog Coma”, “Never Catch Me”, and “Tesla” encompass the jazz fusion side of Fly Lo’s palette, while tracks like “The Boys Who Died in Their Sleep” and “Your Potential/ The Beyond” slow things down revealing a deeper emotional side to the album. On the whole You’re Dead! delightfully fuses electronic production and jazz oriented harmonies, while integrating lyrically powerful raps. If you can’t find yourself bobbing, weaving, and all out jiving you may want to check your plus, you might be…. DEAD! -Brian McMahon
7. Hurray For The Riff Raff – Small Town Heroes
Okay, this whole album is full of important songs but “The Body Electric” is so pertinent to what’s been going on this year. It’s a goddamn anthem. -Mary Lunceford
6. Aphex Twin – Syro
Much speculation surrounded the release of Aphex Twin’s (Richard D. James) first full length album in over a decade, especially with the sighting of a lime green blimp carrying his logo over the skies of London earlier this year. Just by looking at the track titles (“CIRCLONT14 [152.97][shrymoming mix]”) on Syro a listener can get the feel for infatuation James has for electronic music equipment.
Syro combines beautiful overarching melodies with twisted electronic beats and noises to produce a truly unique sound of only Aphex Twin’s nature. Inaudible vocals fluctuate throughout tracks, which have been said belong to James’s family members; an interesting style point uncommon of old Aphex Twin. One simply can’t help but feel the need to groove to eerie tracks like “4 bit 9d api+e+6”, “180db_”, and “u473t8+e (piezoluminescence mix)”. Numerous tones and dissonant beats float throughout the songs providing an intense experience as if the listener had stepped into portal to a twisted future. -Brian McMahon
5. Saintseneca – Dark Arc
Though it’s rare, occasionally I come across an album that has come out recently that I rather enjoy. This year that album is Dark Arc by Saintseneca. The Columbus, Ohio natives killed it on their most recent release. The album flows really well (which is one of my biggest criteria in judging an album), but also has songs that can stand on their own. Some of those tracks include, but are not limited to, “Daendors,” “Takmit,” and the epic “Only The Young Die Good.” Also, who hasn’t caught themselves singing “Happy Alone” in their room at least once this year? -Carolyn Suna
St. Vincent: Futuristic Cyborg or Human? The release of her self-titled album St. Vincent, Annie Clark’s performance name transcends more than just a name to release music under. St. Vincent has become a persona, a stage character, a futuristic warrior come back to help humanity, and so much more. St. Vincent comes at a time after St. Vincent finished touring with Talking Heads creative mastermind David Byrne, some of the robotically choreographed actions seem to have rubbed off on Ms. Clark. “Digital Witness”, “Rattlesnake”, and “Prince Johnny” offer crisp lyricism about the triumphs and follies of attempting to relate to the world around, while lively guitar licks fill the spaces in between contemplation. The mixture of extroversive up tempo tracks and introspective reflective pieces give the album a complete array of emotional portrayal. Cyborg or not, St. Vincent knows exactly what she’s doing and man does she do it well. -Brian McMahon
3. FKA Twigs – LP1
40 minutes of pure sensuality.
From the screeching guitars of “Lights On” to the muffled bass line of “Two Weeks” we haven’t seen an R&B album as progressive or ambitious since Jai Paul’s self-titled (possibly leaked) mixtape. FKA Twigs has no time for subtlety, LP1 invites you into an intimate place and leaves you panting in a lustful desire. Her airy voice lingers with all who hear it, leaving little doubt that she’s 2014’s breakout artist. -Kevin Hyland
When you listen to Run the Jewels 2, do Killer Mike and El-P a favor – bump that shit. The producer/rapper meant for his beats and rhymes to be heard at full volume, going 90 down the interstate. And feel free learn all the words to “Close Your Eyes and Count to Fuck”, the hottest track of the year. Shake your head and spit your flow to each of these 11 darts, and experience this album the way it was meant to: full force and intensity, no holding back.
In all seriousness, Run The Jewels 2 is an experience to listen to. Call it a work out album, a pump up album, or just plain badassery, but this thing turns up. If you’ve missed the RTJ train until now, I’d get on soon. Or at least before Killer Mike turns “this motherfucker up like Riker’s Island bruh.” -David Elder
Whether you call it “jizz jazz” or just good old-fashioned slacker-core indie rock, Mac DeMarco definitely has a distinctive sound, all lethargic vocal deliveries and greasy guitars. It’s the kind of music that’s made for hanging out in your hammock to while the sun beats down and the breeze blows, and ever since his debut EP, the glam-rock flavored Rock and Roll Nightclub, DeMarco’s sound has only gotten looser and more laid back.
Just a couple years ago, Mac DeMarco was known mostly for putting drumsticks where they don’t belong while giving drunken renditions of U2 songs. Salad Days puts some of that to rest and stands on its own as a remarkably mature record from a 23-year old artist. -Bryan Brussee