Our executive staff weighs in on some of their favorite records released in 2014. First, some records we all enjoyed that just missed our lists: Vince Staples – Hell Can Wait, Real Estate – Atlas, Cymbals Eat Guitars – Lose, The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream, The Underachievers – Cellar Door
5. Taylor Swift – 1989: Roll your eyes, eat your heart out–I’ve been with Taylor since day one, and this album is a wonderful, ripened, matured effort that showcases her growth as an artist. Swift’s keen sense on how to write genius, catchy songs is sharper than ever.
4. Ariana Grande – My Everything: I struggled with the fact that 2/5 of my top albums are female pop artists, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t obsessed with “My Everything”. With tracks featuring Big Sean, Childish Gambino, and A$AP Ferg, Ariana gives the perfect amount of both phenomenal vocal talent and much-needed badass-ery in pop music today.
3. Perfume Genius – Too Bright: Arguably one of the year’s most underrated releases, “Too Bright” is the polished 3rd album any musician would hope for. It’s powerful, edgy, and sometimes breathtakingly personal, which is what makes it so enthralling.
2. Mac DeMarco – Salad Days: Although this isn’t Demarco’s first release, it was my first exposure to the Canadian artist. Whimsical, free-flowing, playful, but with just enough depth and charm to keep you intrigued throughout its entirety.
1. Owen Pallett – In Conflict: This album was the first I actually fell in love with in 2014 and still causes me to swell with emotion each time I revisit it. With Pallett’s incredible orchestration and storytelling, it’s impossible to not listen to “In Conflict” from start to finish.
5. Eagulls – Eagulls: First “punk” album I’ve heard recently that I really loved. This and “Cosmos” are at the top of my “under appreciated of the year” list.
4. Yellow Ostrich – Cosmos: A band I had to fight to get in rotation. “Terrors” may be my song of the year.
3. The Drums – Encyclopedia: Indie-pop at its best. The Drums continue their hot streak on their 3rd album.
2. Sylvan Esso – Sylvan Esso: I could probably listen to this album forever. Really chill pop that issimultaneously relaxing and exciting.
1. Cloud Nothings – Here and Nowhere Else: First album I thought of and my clear number 1. I was in love with this angry post-hardcore mess from the first few notes of “Now Hear In”.
5. Popstrangers- Fortuna: New Zealand melancholy fuzz. I get a strange, euphoric sensation of being underwater when listening to Fortuna.
4. YG- My Krazy Life: My favorite hip-hop release of the year. Gangster rap from Compton that holds nothing back. How can you go wrong with “Mustard on the beat?”
3. Joyce Manor- Never Hungover Again: The shortest album by length on the list, but a perfect album to listen to cover to cover. Plenty of great songs, plenty of emotion, and possibly the best one-minute song ever in “Catalina Fight Song.”
2. Cloud Nothings- Here And Nowhere Else: Some really cool kids from Ohio making an emotionally charged, lo-fi anthem that’s petal-to-the-metal from start to finish, and it works perfectly.
1. Protomartyr- Under Color of Official Right: Dark, post-punk music that just hits you at all the right times. The builds are huge, and the releases are huger still. It’s a solid unit, an album you can treat as a full experience, and an experience you should remember.
5. St. Vincent – St. Vincent: Annie Clark is really cool.
4. Mac Demarco – Salad Days: I know it’s a cliched “college radio” choice for a Top 5 Album list, but it was great and I really enjoyed it. Judge me.
3. J. Cole – Forest Hills Drive: I fully admit that this could just be recency bias considering the album just came out on Tuesday, but I think this album is the bet non-RTJ hip hop release this year.
2. Run The Jewels – RTJ2: It’s a shame it took El-P and Killer Mike this long to figure out they were always meant for each other.
1. The Antlers – Familiars: This album takes me places…they might not be places I want to go or feelings I want to explore, but this album made me feel something stronger than almost any other album this year.
5. PAWS – Youth Culture Forever: Scuzzy pop perfection from Glasgow, Scotland.
4. Caribou – Our Love
: I don’t listen to as much electronic music as I would like to. Very grateful when something catches my ear like Our Love
. It’s more challenging than previous Caribou releases, experimenting with previously unheard influences (hip hop, R&B) and song structure, but Dan Snaith’s beautiful pop vocals always keep it grounded.
3. White Lung – Deep Fantasy: Buzzworthy Vancouver punk outfit White Lung’s third album, Deep Fantasy, clocks in at a blistering 22 minutes. Lead singer Mish Way offers the best punk vocal performance in recent memory. Between Deep Fantasy and Perfect Pussy’s Say Yes to Love, 2014 saw two excellent, high profile feminist rock albums.
2. D’Angelo and the Vanguard – Black Messiah: R&B god/Soulquarian legend D’Angelo somewhat unexpectedly released Black Messiah on December 15th. I obviously haven’t had the chance to spend too much time with it, but I’m confident in calling it a masterpiece. It features similar instrumentation/production to 2000’s Voodoo (and D’Angelo’s voice is better than ever), but Black Messiah is a much darker, more political, and more mature record.
1. Run The Jewels – RTJ2: Killer Mike and El-P pull no punches on their second record as Run The Jewels. RTJ2 effortlessly blends horror and humor, irony and sincerity, the traditional and the contemporary. It’s been on repeat for me all year, and doesn’t look to be getting old anytime soon.
By: KSDB Staff