lone

2014 Albums of the Year: Part One - 10 through 6

Following on from my list of the of 2014 best songs, which starts with Part One here, here is the first of two parts covering the best albums of the year. It has to be said, 2014 felt like a better year for songs than for albums - lots of interesting emerging artists released EPs, but there were less breakthrough albums that really lived up to the hype. In comparison to an individual track or an EP, creating a compelling album is incredibly hard. In my view, these were the best.

You can check out the concluding part, which includes my album of the year, here.

 

10. Liminal - The Acid

Liminal - The Acid

The debut album from Adam Freeland's new band was something of a surprise... Down-tempo, soulful and full of angst. There are hints of inspiration - take the vulnerable mumbling of Thom Yorke, the sub-bass from Burial - but the whole thing feels distinct. An organic, distinctly human snapshot that seemingly came out of nowhere.

Amazon [affiliate links]: CD LP MP3 / Spotify

 

9. I Never Learn - Lykke Li

I Never Learn - Lykke Li

Lykke Li's boldest album yet, I Never Learn turned up on your doorstep with tears in its eyes and hair that has been dragged through a hedge backwards. Such intensely personal music would be difficult to listen to if it wasn't for such compelling song-writing. Even when it is belting out power ballads, as on Never Gonna Love Again, I Never Learn was always uniquely Lykke Li's.

Amazon [affiliate links]: CD LP MP3 / Spotify

 

8. You’re Dead! - Flying Lotus

You're Dead! - Flying Lotus

It almost always feels too easy for Flying Lotus these days, his experiments boldly carving out new approaches to sound like they were always the most obvious thing in the world. You're Dead! is FlyLo's most overtly jazz influenced album yet, and it is impossible to shake the sense that if some of the experimental jazz pioneers of the 50s and 60s were warped to today, this might be exactly what they would sound like... And that's a massive achievement.

Amazon [affiliate links]: CD LP MP3 / Spotify

 

7. LP1 - FKA Twigs

LP1 - FKA Twigs

2014 was FKA Twig's year more than any other musicians. The most impressive thing about LP1 is that prior to 2014 very few had even heard of her - by now she is undoubtedly one of the most revered stars in R&B. LP1 has moments of confused, electrified brilliance, but I can't help but feel like the best is yet to come.

Amazon [affiliate links]: CD LP MP3 / Spotify

 

6. Reality Testing - Lone

Reality Testing - Lone

Full of moments of experimental brilliance, Lone made one of the most interesting albums of beats I've heard in years. Reality Testing combined every genre Lone could get his hands on, but rather than the candy cane explosion of someone like Rustie this felt like a pleasant trip through the mind of a friend with an enormous record collection.

Amazon [affiliate links]: CD LP MP3 / Spotify

2014 Songs of the Year: Part Four - 30 through 21

Just got here? Get up to speed with Part One, Two and ThreeClick the Prev post button at the bottom of this post to get to Part Five once it is out.

 

30. I Ain’t Gonna Tell You - The Dedication

As I posted back in May there is something a little bit inspirational about this record. Proper disco, but made for now. So much energy, passion and drive that it is hard not to feel ashamed if you didn’t bounce out of bed this morning with a grin on your face. Get on it!

 

29. Hey Mami - Sylvan Esso

Sylvan Esso make folky influenced pop with garage and bass influences and from the moment I heard this opener to their self-titled debut album I knew I’d never forget it… Hey Mami is basically ridiculous - more bass and pop sass than you can possibly know what to do with.

 

28. 2 Is 8 - Lone

Lone’s album has been a sleeper classic for me this year - one I keep going back to. 2 is 8 is one of it’s most immediate and infectious moments.

 

27. Real - Years & Years

Years & Years caught my attention supporting Say Lou Lou earlier in the year, and it was hard not to come away thinking the headliners had been upstaged. As we near the release of their debut album their recent tracks have felt a little less urgent and essential, but Real was them at their best… Olly Alexander’s vocals pitched and desperate and the electronics raw and insistent.


26. ILYSB - LANY

I know nothing about LANY, nor this song, but it found it’s way to me towards the end of the year and I’m utterly in love with the way it captures the intensity of loving like nothing else matters. The killer line: “And you need to know that nobody could take your place … And you need to know that I’m hella obsessed with your face”. Nothing else this year made me feel so much like an infatuated teenager.

 

25. I Don’t Need Another Lover - Billie Black

The first track I heard from Billie Black remains her best so far - her vocals are steadfast and determined and the electronics bounce and skitter along full of all the modern soul the song can muster. Definitely one to watch in 2015.

 

24. Sweet Spot - Wild Beasts

Wild Beasts hit 2014 like their lives depended on it - Present Tense is easily their best album yet, more taught, focused and ultimately theirs. Sweet Spot was one of the finest songs on that album, full of all the refined minimalism that defined much of its best moments.

 

23. Return - Eno + Hyde

Brian Eno and Karl Hyde delivered several surprises this year… Following on just weeks after their conflicted first collaboration Someday World was High Life, and it was at times a revelation. This epic opener combined elements of the African style that inspired the album’s name with some of Eno’s signature production styles, whilst simultaneously reminding us that the best thing about U2 is actually an Eno trick… Just feel those guitars.

 

22. Rootwork - Trees

Crazy, epic, confused and utterly beautiful. Trees was unknown to me before this year, but there is no forgetting him once you have heard Rootwork - it’s simply fantastic, inspired and genius.

 

21. Alena - Yumi Zouma

Bloggers’ darlings in 2014 following their self-titled EP and breakthrough track The Brae, but it was the warm shot of Balearia that was Alena that really showed what they Yumi Zouma are capable of.