Thursday, December 25, 2014

Best Albums of 2014 (Albums 20-11)

My music-loving friends and I had many a conversation this year in regards to how it was a "slow year." It seems we all kept waiting for that life-changing album to surprise us and, while there were some solid albums released, the life-changer never arrived. Certainly the top few will withstand the test of time despite the bands' freshness and certainly the releases from tried and true artists (Spoon, Beck, and The New Pornographers) will be stand outs in their large catalogs.

But I suppose that's how music releases go; we can't always have as heavy hitting a year as 2013. So why make a list on a slower year? Or, why make lists of music releases at all? Well, I mostly view it as a way to celebrate and share the creative outputs of the last year even if ranking them is a flawed system.

It should be noted that the top spot was a fairly easy pick for me this year and I added a few late 2013 releases because, well, I listened to them a lot. All qualifiers out of the way, enjoy my list of my favorite 20 albums from 2014!

20. SOHN - Tremors
I don't have much context for this artist but I kept coming back to this album during my office hours. Chock full of reverb and electronic beats, I'll be keeping my ears peeled for more SOHN music in the future.

19. Vacationer - Relief
I was introduced to Vacationer at one of my first B-Sides concerts here on Messiah College's campus a few years back. A few albums later, they've still got beach vibes galore.

18. Damien Jurado - Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Sun
Certainly Jurado's most other-wordly album, Eternal Sun is a great addition to the Jurado catalog that spans back a decade or so of solid releases.

17. Azealia Banks - Broke with Expensive Taste
While Iggy dominated the radio charts (ugh) and Nicki Minaj released a solid album late in the year, Banks brought us the most worldly, interesting rap album of the year, Kudos for some legit female rap albums this year.

16. Chad VanGaalen - Shrink Dust
Another newbie (to me) on the list, VanGaalen has created some of the most bizarre sounds while maintaining the singular artist/creator persona.

15. Tennis - Ritual in Repeat
This husband/wife duo provides a fantastic sound. Lead vocals are smooth yet full and the backing music is straight forward without being overly simple.

14. Ray Lamontagne - Supernova
A welcomed divergence from his tried and true soulful, bluegrass sound, Supernova is a fantastic exploration into new areas, including some great psychedelic influences. If you've been growing tired of Ray, this one might bring you back.

13. Sam Smith - In the Lonely Hour
Breaking onto the scene by lending vocals to Disclosure's Latch a year or so back, Smith came with high expectations. His lead single, Stay With Me, was powerful and heartfelt and the follow-up, Money on my Mind, proved Smith was still capable of creating a strong pop trackThe remainder of the album provides some hits and misses but was also one of my most-listened to of the year.

12. Coldplay - Ghost Stories
Coldplay definitely isn't in their glory days but they also continue to produce some decent music. While Ghost Stories had a Bon Iver knock-off and a few other appropriated tracks, the album, as a whole, was a welcome listen.

11. First Aid Kit - Stay Gold
This Swedish duo brings delightful harmonies and a throwback sound that is impossible to dislike. Great sophomore album for these ladies.

Thanks for reading! Albums 10-1 can be found here.

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