Top Ten Albums of 2014

My 10 favorite albums of 2014 (minus Beyoncé’s last-minute 2013 surprise, the fascinating new D’Angelo record, which I’ve only listened to a handful of times since it dropped Dec. 15, and the new Spoon, which, though reliably stellar, sounds pretty much

My 10 favorite albums of 2014 (minus Beyoncé’s last-minute 2013 surprise, the fascinating new D’Angelo record, which I’ve only listened to a handful of times since it dropped Dec. 15, and the new Spoon, which, though reliably stellar, sounds pretty much like the last five Spoon albums since D’s last one, Voodoo, hit 15 years ago).

Caribou — Our Love


Dan Snaith’s one-man show is as dreamy as ever, but this time the beats are sturdier and the emotions deeper despite a newfound interest in moving asses.

FKA twigs — LP1

Desolate R&B noir with a twist of kink, it gets more beguiling with every listen. “Two Weeks” alone is worth the price of admission. Expect David Lynch to come calling to score his Twin Peaks revival.

Angel Olsen — Burn Your Fire for No Witness

A folkie broadens her sonic palette without sacrificing any of the intimacy inherent in her expressive voice and emotionally direct lyrics. Roy Orbison is smiling.

Parquet Courts — Sunbathing Animal

It’s as if Pavement never went away, each slanted song after the next bringing to mind Wowee Zowee crossed with Double Nickels on the Dime. The craftiest Post Punk outfit to surface since Stephen Malkmus went Pysch Prog. 

Protomartyr — Under Color of Official Right

The unlikeliest of frontdudes — the rumpled, dry-witted Joe Casey looks (and often sounds) like an inebriated librarian in a cheap suit — sets apart the craftiest Post Punk outfit to surface since Mark E. Smith became an AARP member. 

Run the Jewels — Run the Jewels 2


The second collaboration from El-P and Killer Mike is the sound of two serious dudes having serious fun. “Love Again” and “Crown” might be my favorite pairing of 2014, a sonically diverse one-two that moves from the pleasures of oral sex to God and country without skipping a beat.

St. Vincent — St. Vincent

The impressively coiffed Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent, is a mysterious lady whose meticulous output is informed by her expressive guitar playing and taut arrangements. She increasingly seems to have come from another planet. And this from a lady who opens “Birth in Reverse” with the following admission: “Oh, what an ordinary day/Take out the garbage, masturbate.”

Swans — To Be Kind

The ominous soundtrack to a distressing year. Ringleader Michael Gira is a relentless, often inscrutable man. As such, I can’t decide whether the title is ironic. Ultimately it doesn’t matter — To Be Kind’s 10 “songs” obliterate everything in their path. 

The War on Drugs — Lost in the Dream

Eight of the 10 tracks reach the five-minute mark, each searching for something that never seems to arrive. Dylan is an obvious touchstone, though so is so much more — guitar-driven, keyboard-aided Psych Pop simultaneously familiar and tough to pin down.

Wussy — Attica!

The Queen City’s finest export does it again, this time by fully integrating its current lineup into a sound that is noisier (check “Rainbows and Butterflies” or “To the Lightning”) and more nuanced (try the slow-burning “Acetylene” or the sweetly swaying “Halloween”) than anyone might have thought possible 13 years ago. 



Scroll to read more Music Feature articles
Join the CityBeat Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.

Newsletters

Join CityBeat Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.