2014 felt like the fastest year of my life; it began with an eager attitude to accelerate and outlast the worst winter I could remember in my 29 years of living in the Midwest. And from there, even as warmer weather finally rolled in, the year, unsurprisingly, never slowed.
Following 2013, a year in which many of my favorite artists released albums, I didn’t know exactly where to direct my 2014 anticipations. Yet, as I look back on the past year and collect my favorite albums, it is evident that 2014 was another year rich with talent, promise, unwavering dedication to the craft, and, of course, countless spins.
10. Spoon – They Want My Soul
I’ve known Spoon’s music for years: “I Turn My Camera On,” “The Underdog” “The Way We Get By.” However, it wasn’t until I heard the band play “The Ghost of You Lingers” live this past fall that I first felt Spoon’s music. It led me to a thorough retrace of 2007’s excellent Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga and a fond appreciation of this year’s sharp and untiring They Want My Soul.
9. Cold War Kids – Hold My Home
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts was one of my favorite albums of 2013. Just a year later, the Cold War Kids returned with another sincere and expressive collection of songs. “First” and “Go Quietly” spark with catchy jubilation, while “Harold Bloom” and “Here My Baby Call” showcases the Cold War Kids’ powerful, unique brand of Long Beach soul.
8. Canopies – Maximize Your Faith
The highly anticipated debut LP from the Milwaukee synth-pop rock band. Maximize Your Faith excels with an engaging blend of lush soundscapes and glistening rock arrangements. It’s often difficult to incorporate a vintage glow while still making a sound that’s all your own, but Canopies succeeds in a grand and exciting fashion.
7. TV On The Radio – Seeds
TV on the Radio has consistently delivered impressive, eclectic and thoughtful albums their entire career. Tracks often find a way of offering themselves as perfect companions to very different moods and feelings; the tracks on Seeds are no different. Currently riding high on “Quartz,” “Careful You” and the enchanting title track.
6. Interpol – El Pintor
The first time I heard “All The Rage Back Home” it rushed me back ten years to my college campus, listening to Antics on my walks to class. El Pintor reestablishes the emergency, energy and frustration of the band’s beloved earlier work. The new album proclaims a refreshing and determined next chapter for the New York trio. El Pintor highlights “My Desire” and “Breaker 1” rank among the best the band has ever written.
5. FKA twigs – LP1
LP1 is a skillfully produced, intimate album and FKA twigs masterfully delivers the songs in a very sincere and serious manner. The album’s entrancement is sexy, intense and meticulous; songs never seem to come up for air. “Two Weeks” is the hook that sends you reeling through “Pendulum,” “Lights On” and the rest of LP1.
4. Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence
It seems there are a lot of opinions out there on Lana Del Rey, but I have yet to give any of them a second thought because I’ve been too caught up in the music. Ultraviolence is brimming with well-crafted songs that build off of the nostalgic glow of American attitude and elegance. Get lost in the the soaring “Sad Girl” and heist-rousing “Pretty When You Cry.”
3. The Jezabels – The Brink
For me, Brink was released in the sub-zero depths of February, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. The Australian four piece are champions of brooding and rousing alternative-rock arrangements. With Brink, they incorporate more dance-igniting beats and melodies and the result is an absorbing collection of songs. “The Brink,” Got Velvet” and “All You Need” are excellent starting points.
2. Lykke Li – I Never Learn
I was first introduced to Lykke Li’s music years ago by an ex-girlfriend and ever since, I have yet to fully separate that seemingly automatic overlapping of my impression of the music against my lived memories. To call I Never Learn a breakup record is beyond an understatement; it’s a comprehensive map of heartbreak with no clear destination.
1. Sharon Van Etten – Are We There
The growth Sharon Van Etten has demonstrated over four albums in five short years is beyond impressive. Are We There features the beloved sincerity and intimacy of past albums but also showcases a new commanding awareness and cohesive fearlessness. With Are We There, Sharon Van Etten is there and beyond, and the future is limitless.