Here’s some of our IndieBeat Family sharing their favorite 3 albums of 2014.
(From top-left to bottom-right // links lead to ALT RISING ACT INTERVIEW)
This one was hard for me. Not in the facet of narrowing down 3 choices from a huge list of music I can’t stop listening to but rather picking 3 records that came out this year that I actually liked. Not to say some really awesome music wasn’t made this year, the issue is I just haven’t been exposed to it yet. I, like many people I know get their music from trusted sources like friend recommendations, well spoken/ caring blogs, and the occasional radio station hit. Sometimes this process runs a year or 5 behind schedule. So, with that disclaimer, here are my choices for 2014.
1. First Aid Kit :: Stay Gold
I really enjoyed this record because in a way it was exactly what I expected and have come to like about these sexy Swedish sisters. They didn’t go and change the fundamentals and that’s okay with me. Along with their European/ American charm I find myself drawn back to the undeniable vocal harmony chemistry only kin can possess. The lyrics draw a beautiful image that is geniusly followed through by my idol producer/ engineer Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes, Sea Wolf, etc.) Hey Mike, if you’re reading this do you wanna teach me everything you know?
2. Shovels and Rope :: Swimmin’ Time
My wife turned me onto this minimalist southern rock duo back at the Way Over Yonder Fest on the Santa Monica Pier a few years back and I’ve loved em ever since. The group is composed of a young married couple hailing from South Carolina where I spent some time. This record is great because it gives people what they want- tight harmonies, a steady hard hitting beat, acoustic instruments and (if you’ve ever been to a show) borderline pornographic- down-home lovin’ type charisma. No wardrobe malfunctions, no twerking, just a couple of old souls making music that FEELS.
3. Vampire Weekend :: Modern Vampires of the City
Now I know this record was technically released in the Spring of 2013 but since they won the Grammy for Best Alternative Music in 2014 I figure it’s worth a mention. I like this record because it’s not like the other VW records. In fact, I like Vampire Weekend because all their records sound different. They are always progressing and serve the music industry as the “Program Update”. Now not everyone likes when Apple decides to come out with a new update every 6 months which makes your awesome 4s unserviceable unless you give in (which is a road that makes me so angry I won’t go down it), but Vampire Weekend is the good kind of update. This record uses “pop music” production techniques while cherishing the performance of the song. It’s like we got the flashlight in our iPhone dock without having to sacrifice battery life!
2014 has been a wonderful year for music and a lot of great albums came with it. We had a hard time picking out the best ones but here are 3 albums that definitely stood out among the rest!
3. Porter Robinsson :: Worlds
This album is one of the heaviest things we’ve heard this year. All the sounds compliment each other so well. The bass, tuned up voices and the arpegirated synths, they all have a role in the music and they give out an amazing sound.
2. Coldplay :: Ghost Stories
Not only does this album bring the major hits like “Magic” and “Sky full of stars”. It also delivers feeling, love, passion throughout every song. The album has alot of variation and it makes me happy in general. I could listen to this album in repeat for a lifetime.
I don’t know why I get such great feelings while listening to it. It’s just like “magic” to me.
1. Bombay Bicycle Club :: So Long, See You Tomorrow.
This album really got me hooked through this entire year. Ever since the single “Luna” was released, I knew this album was gonna be great.
What I like the most about the album is the variety of cultural influences they use. It’s a very oriental sound.
Second of all I love the rhythmic combinations in the album in songs like “Carry me” and “Overdone”.
Overall I think the album is very energetic yet experimental. It’s powerful as well. It may not be something that you get stuck into right away but it definitely grows on you :)
Our Fall Artist in Residence chose:
Jungle :: Jungle
FKA Twigs :: LP1
Plaid :: Reachy Prints
Of all the great albums that Warp Records released this year (including Aphex Twin’s excellent Syro and Clark’s self-titled LP), this one might be my favorite. This record sounds weirder and more melodic than past efforts, and also feels like the most human record they’re ever made.
Golden Retriever :: Seer
I spent about two weeks listening to nothing but this album back in April, a duo whose strange combination of saxophone and analog synthesizer bring to mind John Zorn and early Kraftwerk. Though the melodies on this record are excellent, however it’s the long, drawn out moments of abstraction that I find most breathtaking.
Wild Beasts :: Present Tense
I think it’s safe for me to say that Wild Beasts are probably my favorite band of the last 5 years, and their latest doesn’t disappoint. Here they’ve pared back the melodies even further from 2011’s Smother, making for an album that’s more ominous than mournful. And as much as I love Hayden Thorpe’s theatrical croon, drummer Chris Talbot is their secret weapon; it takes a lot of guts to play drums as minimally as he does, and I think his restraint is a big part of why this album is so spectacular.
3. Against Me! :: Transgender Dysphoria Blues
Such a powerful record. Punk in every sense of the word, the record drips with a righteous anger that could only come from someone personally transitioning their assigned gender and some of the stigmas and transphobia encountered—this makes it important…the execution is what makes it great.
2. Christ Staples :: American Soft
Intimate and sparse, yet so melodically compelling. I’ve followed Chris since some of his early emo bands and this work has brought me back to full attention of his songwriting skills.
1. Cymbals Eat Guitars :: Warning
A potent mix of indie, shoegaze, and stadium rock. Never knew a song a song about a dog’s passing could hit on so much profundity…and I’m a cat person.
Caribou :: Our Love
The Acid :: Liminal
Interpol :: El Pintor
PLUS the synthpop duo shared their favorite EP as well: the self-titled Movement E
Coldplay :: Ghost Stories
You knew I was gonna have to pick this. It’s not their strongest album, but it is an awesome interlude into their next release. It’s an album that needed to be made, and now they can go back to filling arenas and blasting anthems.
London Grammar :: If You Wait
This came out at the very end of 2013, but didn’t lift until 2014 so I have to add it. They are one of my favorite bands right now. Very relaxing and haunting sounds.
Ed Sheeran :: X
I actually think his debut was much stronger than this sophomore album, but I picked it because I am happy he pulled it off. He reminded me that songwriters can still run the industry and that to me is worth adding him to my top 3!
Here are our top 3 favorite albums of 2014:
1. Jenny Lewis :: The Voyager
Jenny Lewis takes the first spot in our hearts. Voyager is filled with every element that makes us fall in love with Jenny’s impeccable ability to articulate her own happiness and demise. “Head Underwater” is the standout track.
2. Ariana Grande :: My Everything
How can we not put our girl Ariana in here? Not a guilty pleasure at all, but more like a pop craving that we can’t get enough of. With a varied, and smart production aspect, My Everything takes #2 for us.
3. RAC :: Strangers
Finally, we loved RAC’s remixes for quite some time, and 2014 graced us with “Strangers.” The features alone make this album worth spinning once a week.
The Good Wives
Spoon :: They Want My Soul
Really excellent record. Every record they put out, I swear is the best they’ve ever done. I think I still feel that way.
Run The Jewels :: Run The Jewels 2
This album seems to have some weight behind it. It’s pretty deserving of attention. Plus, the record just feels cool. It’s got a lot of perspective.
Angel Olsen :: Burn Your Fire For No Witness
Another super cool sounding record. There is an attitude about it that I really dig. Great songs, too.