Friday 12 December 2014

My Top 20 Favourite Albums of 2014

I've listened to a helluva lot of albums this year. As per usual, I'm going to list my favourites, because lists are fun. Feel free to tell me your favourite albums too (not that I care about your opinion because my opinion is the best!). Diehard listophiles can also hit the following links to check out my 2013 and 2012 lists. 

20 – 11

20. Self-Titled - PRhyme

Rap veteran, Royce da 5'9", and production wizard, DJ Premier, team up for this tasty slice of old-skool hardcore hip hop.

Favourite Tracks: 'PRhyme', 'You Should Know'

19. So Long, See You Tomorrow - Bombay Bicycle Club

Indie rock, electronic and a bunch of exotic world music sounds come together to create this lively cosmopolitan cocktail.

Favourite Tracks: 'Carry Me', 'Come To'

18. Michael - Les Sins

QEx-Chillwave producer, Chaz Bundick (AKA Toro Y Moi), tries his hand at deep house under the alias Les Sins. A refreshing, rustic house alternative to the David Guettas and Calvin Harrises of this world.

Favourite Tracks: 'Bother', 'Call'

17. Bestial Burden - Pharmakon

Quite possibly what Hell sounds like. Margaret Chardiet AKA Pharmakon, makes black metal sound like Disney music on this industrial/noise record. Definitely not for everyone.

Favourite Tracks: 'Body Betrays Itself', 'Bestial Burden'

16. Broke with Expensive Taste - Azealia Banks

Harlem rapper and singer, Azealia, shows other female hip hop artists how it's done. This is fun, catchy, eclectic music suitable for twerkers and voguers alike.

Favourite Tracks: 'Desperado', 'Chasing Time'

15. Nikki Nack - Tune-Yards

A complex but infectious pop album with some African-flavoured melodies thrown in and bizarre lyrics that make no sense but are adorable regardless: 'A two pound chicken tastes better with friends!'

Favourite Tracks: 'Find A New Way', 'Real Thing'

14. To be Kind - Swans

These experimental rockers have mastered the eerie build-up. Some songs are a tad long (one track extends the 30 minute mark) but the creepy atmosphere and killer suspense makes it all worthwhile.

Favourite Tracks: 'A Little God In My Hands', 'Oxygen'

13. The Church - Mr. Oizo

The complete opposite of my last entry. This is snappy, schizophrenic EDM from intuitive French house producer Mr. Oizo for AD/HD listeners. Likely to irritate as many people as it impresses. 

Favourite Tracks: 'Bear Biscuit', 'iSoap'

12. The Physical World - Death From Above 1979

This Canadian drummer-and-bassist rock duo return after ten years with more catchy riffage and groovy percussion that's just as loud and gritty as their debut. 

Favourite Tracks: 'Cheap Talk', 'Government Trash'

11. No Mythologies to Follow - MØ

A fun nocturnal dance-pop album from Danish songstress, MØ, whose name I still don't know how to pronounce. Moo-ee-er? Moi-ea-eu-ai-oo-ee-eih?

Favourite Tracks: 'Red in the Grey', 'Waste of Time'

10 - 1

10. You're Dead! - Flying Lotus

Instrumental hip hop producer, FlyLo, delivers some crazy, impressively-detailed jazz-electronica featuring guest appearance from the likes of Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, Thundercat and Herbie Hancock. 

Favourite Tracks: 'Never Gonna Catch Me', 'Descent Into Madness', 'The Boys Who Died In Their Sleep'

9. Pom Pom - Ariel Pink

A lo-fi pop record brimming with 80's inspired instrumentation and odd love songs told from the perspective of the romantic loser. Its campy, sleazy, hilarious and creative.

Favourite Tracks: 'Put Your Number In My Phone', 'Dinosaur Carebears', 'Black Ballerina'

8. Reality Testing - Lone

Chilled-out electronica from UK producer, Lone, filled with chords that are as warm and bright as a childhood summer's day. Less dancey than his previous releases but just as vibrant.

Favourite Tracks: 'Meeker Warmer Energy', '2 is 8', 'Airglow Fires'

7. LP1 - FKA Twigs

A hypnotic vocal performance from rising underground London pop singer FKA Twigs, accompanied by slow and spacious 808 instrumentals that float in the air like incense. 

Favourite Tracks: 'Preface', 'Lights On', 'Numbers'

6. It's Album Time! - Todd Terje

Norwegian electronic producer delivers this epic instrumental disco odyssey. Its unashamedly nostalgic and charmingly feelgood. 

Favourite Tracks: 'Svensk Sas', 'Strandbar', 'Inspector Norse'

5. RTJ2 - Run the Jewels

A solid follow-up to the rap duo's 2013 debut. If the fiery disses and speedy flows don't leave you floored, the cinematic seismic beats will.

Favourite Tracks: 'Oh My Darling Don't Cry', 'Early', 'Crown'

4. Benji - Sun Kil Moon

One of the most powerful folk albums I've ever listened to. The record is pretty much just a middle-aged man rambling nonchalantly about his life for an hour, but his method of storytelling is so tragic, so funny, so genuine and so beautiful.

Favourite Tracks: 'Carissa', 'Truck Driver', 'Ben's My Friend'

3. Clppng - Clipping

Cali experimental hip hop group, Clipping, pair rapping with industrial/noise beats. The album's extreme relying on violently dark lyricism and a palette of deliberately unpretty audial textures (white noise, drill sounds, the ringing of an alarm clock for a beat!). However, whilst being extreme, the group still manage to inject a fun catchiness into the record. Daveed Diggs is also an exceptional emcee - delivering hyperspeed flows and a knack for vivid storytelling.

Favourite Tracks: 'Body and Blood', 'Get Up', 'Story 2'

2. Sacred White Noise - Thantifaxath

Too many black metal albums sound like they were recorded with a potato. Sometimes this makes the music sound old and scary, but a lot of the time it just sounds shit. Thantifaxath's sound is polished but still monstrously evil. Alternating between disorientating dissonance and bleak melancholy, the band create a demonic landscape more rich in atmosphere than anything else I've heard this year.

1. Self-titled - St. Vincent

This album finds the perfect balance between wild eccentricity and easygoing fun. The US artrocker's sound here is bizarre - guitars are distorted to sound like synthesizers, melodies often border on dissonant and the lyrics include such strange images as snorting pieces of the Berlin wall. However, the experimentation and weirdness is all made accessible through tight grooves, catchy earworms and an extremely polished production quality.

Favourite Tracks: 'Rattlesnake', 'Prince Johnny', 'Digital Witness'


Alt-J - This is All Yours
Isaiah Rashad - Cilvia Demo
Bent Knee - Shiny Eyed Babies
Arc Iris - Self-titled
Big KRIT - Cadillactica
Mastodon - Once more 'round the sun
Kasabian - 48:13
Jamaica - Ventura
The Marmozets - The Weird and Wonderful Marmozets